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No More Assignments For Twiglet

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I have been working on my assignment. Obviously, that is why I’m on my blog right now. This was my final assignment for my final paper for this course. So, my last assignment ever, unless I nutheadedly decide to do more study some time in the future. This final paper has seen me procrastinating like nobody’s business. It just doesn’t seem as relevant as looking at plants, holding chickens or watching videos with The Little Fulla of himself being himself. I found myself doing almost anything to avoid doing my assignment. Folding washing. Tidying up random things. Rearranging a kitchen cupboard. Cleaning the chicken coop. ‘Accidentally’ going on Facebook. Doing the dishes. Dishes! Doing the dishes hovers around the bottom of my ‘Things I Ought to do’ list. I would much rather clean the chicken coop. Anyway, I finished my assignment last night so now I am freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Now, I am playing the game of What Shall I do First? My options range from catching up on housework to catching up on garden tasks to getting some of my 10 million projects started to sitting around like a blob watching presentations on this week’s 2017 Home Grown Food Summit. The results are inclining towards a crazed combination of all of the above.

We were at the Auckland Botanic Gardens last weekend: a happy place that always gives me inspiration, especially when it comes to native plants.

Auckland Botanic Gardens

I could spend so many hours loitering around Auckland Botanic Gardens, but a small child on foot means everything is now done in fast-forward.

The Chickens

I have whittled my flock down to what seems like a rather small number: 8. It probably still sounds like a lot to some people but I feel like I’ve offloaded a lot of chickens in a short space of time! I sold my second black Orpington pullet last week. Now I’m back to two breeds or part-breeds: Australorps and Wyandottes. And Mr Bingley is still hanging around.

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Hello, Mr Bingley! Yup, he’s still here. Behind him are Lizzie, Georgiana and Kitty. PB is hiding behind the tree.

I celebrated my selling efforts by letting the chickens back into The Orchard Pen, which has grown back some grass and had a nice rest from chickens. Kitty celebrated by going broody and my “Look, it’s a new pen to explore!” plan didn’t prove a good enough distraction to keep her from a stint in the broody breaker. Frodo celebrated by starting to go broody too and ended up in the broody breaker straight after Kitty. I got Frodo in there early before she got too far into the broodiness to stop laying. She hasn’t missed a day of laying yet in 22 days. Wow! This is a new record for her and I don’t know how she’s managing such production in winter! I’m wondering what happens if I manage to break her broodiness before it interrupts her egg-laying hormones. I legitimately asked The Husband, “Will she explode?” I’m happy for her to miss a day of egg laying, I just don’t know how that will fit into her current system of laying every day before having a big broody break. She’s currently in a weird, quiet, trance-like, half broody state but still laid early this evening.

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The chickens are back in The Orchard Pen: Lizzie (front) and Georgiana. The parts that had hay spread around when the chickens were last in there have grown some nice grass. I think I shall spread some hay in the empty Cedar Pen.

I got a good, sunny day to do a full coop clean and spray this week, which always makes me feel satisfied. Then Georgiana gave me a nice assignment-finishing present today: her first little egg. Yay! On one hand, I wasn’t expecting her to start laying in winter but on the other hand it’s about time! She is 32 weeks old today. Words like ‘slacker’ were starting to come to mind, so I am very pleased that she has joined the layers club.

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Georgiana’s sweet little egg.

PB is getting a proper name. It has been so long that it’s hard to stop calling her PB, but I’m going with something not too much different: Jane B. She is still getting bigger and is currently being super-scared of me when I’m in the pen. Partly, I blame her nutty ‘brother’, Mr Collins, but I think it’s also because I keep taking her friends away, first, Mr Collins, and then the black Orpington. Georgiana was the same when I took some of her buddies away around the same age. Hopefully Jane B will settle down now that I’ll have a bit more time to just hang out with the chickens. She still sits in my arms nicely and eats from my hand when I get her out at night but she’s scared of me during the day.

Jane B

PB shall henceforth be known as Jane B. She is almost 15 weeks now.

I have been asking members of a Wyandotte group about my SLW pullet, Lorelai, aka Slow Feather Butt, and opinions are still divided as to whether she is a boy or girl, so I will have to wait some more…

The Garden

The garden has been getting scarce attention lately owing to sickness, winter weather and that assignment. It is due for so many things and I’m looking forward to getting some quality time in my garden. The Little Fulla and I did a little bit of weeding today and the other day we had a family leaf raking session out the front, as the walnut tree has suddenly decided to dump copious amounts of leaves on the drive and thereabouts. So far, some of the leaves have been put on the compost heap and some have been dumped on top of the weeds in front of the compost heap. More raking will be needed to keep the leaves clear of the gate. I am hoping to plant my garlic tomorrow and am finalising my Vege Plan, which is a lot less orange than I thought it might be. I have been eyeing up the space out the front in front of my corokia and flax hedge as a place to plant Atlantic Giant pumpkins as well as another variety or two. I just need to deal with the weeds.

I have so many plans for things I want to do outside. I have been giving a lot of thought to shelter plant options, as we are getting a lot of wind through the backyard since a) we cleared out some shrubs/trees that were giving shelter on the west side and b) the neighbours cut down some good shelter shrubs. I am also thinking about trellis ideas along the paddock fence on the east side of the vege garden. The Great Vege Garden Expansion Plan still has stages that need to be done and I have a lot of plants that need to be planted in various places. I need to hack away at stumpy in The Herb Garden.

The Husband keeps throwing a rope up into the doomed plum tree and I keep telling him that we need to cut more off the top before any felling attempts. It doesn’t look like there’s much of it left but it is actually quite tall. The Husband has also been working on tidying up the ‘firewood storage area’ at the side of the deck. In a bid to dry out the wood that keeps getting pounded by the rain, he knocked up a quick shelter with lengths of timber and some black plastic. I am trying to bite my tongue because I know that the wood needs to dry out, but a) the black plastic is cutting out some light from the lounge, b) it doesn’t look very good, c) it keeps falling apart and d) I have longer term plans of paving the area and putting clear or white corrugated roofing above it to turn it into a BBQ and tidy firewood shelf area. We have almost used all the firewood in one bay of the woodshed in the chicken pen, so we could just move all the wet firewood there…

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Stumpy needs to be evicted from The Herb Garden. He just keeps getting wet feet.

The doomed plum tree

The rest of the yellow-fleshed plum tree still needs to be removed. Just not in one foul, misaligned swoop.

Firewood area

The Husband’s firewood area at the side of the deck. In the high winds yesterday one of the wooden supports between the black fence and the deck roof fell down and the black plastic that was covering them blew off. It’s a work in progress. Of sorts.

Bitten by Pumpkins

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If you were following my blog at this time last year you may be aware of my fascination with giant pumpkins. It all began at The Great Pumpkin Carnival. Actually, I think I already had a predisposition to giant pumpkin attraction, but it really kicked into gear at the carnival. The GIANT PUMPKINS sparked something within me that would not be ignored. An interest, an excitement, a need to grow giant pumpkins.

And so, I grew a giant pumpkin. I only grew one. I planted a second plant but I accidentally removed the sole young pumpkin when I was removing small fruit off my main Atlantic Giant pumpkin plant. The thing was, I didn’t have the time to look after my giant pumpkin very well. I planted it in the compost heap, which, thankfully, fed it to some extent, I watered it occasionally, but not often enough, and I removed all the other young fruit that were growing on the vine, eventually, so all the energy could go into the one pumpkin. Otherwise, despite great intentions to tend to its needs, I did nothing. There were just too many other things to do.

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My first giant pumpkin.

A month or two before The Great Pumpkin Carnival I knew that my giant pumpkin wasn’t going to be GIANT. Sure, it was by far the biggest pumpkin I’d ever grown, but I had seen the size of the pumpkins at last years’ carnival and mine wouldn’t match up. The day before the carnival I decided that I wouldn’t bother taking it. I had pulled it onto an old chicken feed sack before it got too heavy, and I slowly dragged it onto the lawn, where it was to become an object for The Little Fulla to play with.

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The Little Fulla has a new plaything. Until I figure out what else to do with the orange mass.

At the carnival on Sunday, when I saw the size and small number of entries in the open class for Heaviest Pumpkin Under 200kg, I was kicking myself. Duh, it wasn’t just my lack of nerdy pumpkin coddling, the season had been bad for everyone! And almost every kind of vege in the garden. The sun did not play his part well and the bees said, “Well, if the sun’s not going to perform, we’re not going to perform either!” Upon sizing up the pumpkin entries against the memory of my own, I figured that my giant pumpkin was probably 20-30-something kg and could possibly have gotten third place. Oh well! Next time, I will take everything that has a chance.

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The open class for Heaviest Pumpkin Under 200kg was less competitive than I thought it would be this year. I was eyeing up the 27kg one on the left trying to figure out if my pumpkin could have beaten it.

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The Pumpking strikes again with his GIANT PUMPKINS. His heaviest was over 100kg less than his record breaker last year, so the lacklustre growing season has affected everyone.

But, never fear, for I did enter two other competitions: Best Mature Miniature Pumpkin and Lightest Mature Miniature Pumpkin. My entry for lightest was noticeably bigger than its pumpkin counterparts, but I didn’t care. Best Mature Miniature Pumpkin was my only real shot. I had wanted to enter some pumpkin baking but didn’t have time to do any.

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My entries for Lightest Mature Miniature Pumpkin (left) and Best Mature Miniature Pumpkin, which I was considering entering in Most Perfect Pumpkin but I thought I might have a better shot with just the minis.

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Checking out the competition. Can you tell which one is mine?

We were going to The Parents place for lunch and by the time we left they hadn’t started judging the competitions I entered. I wasn’t feeling super confident, but they had my contact details if I did happen to place anywhere. Finally, on Sunday night, the results went up online and as I scrolled down my name popped out at me. Best Mature Miniature Pumpkin (Open Class) – 1st place. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My lovely, smooth little pumpkin that I had been eyeing up in the garden and handling very carefully and that I considered my best shot at anything had done me proud. I didn’t know what I’d won or if I would get anything but I didn’t care. This was the first time I’d ever entered any of my produce in a competition and I had done something well!

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My lovely wee pumpkin, fruit of my garden and joy of my heart.

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It is nice to have something to put on the wall. And The Husband and I might be having a pie date at Wild Bean Cafe.

I suppose it would have been nice to be at the prizegiving, but I hadn’t planned for a big win. Then again, maybe it’s better that I wasn’t there to receive my accolades in person. I might have squealed, “Wheeeeeee!!!” and bounced around like a crazy person. I don’t know if the pumpkin people are ready to see how nutty I can be. But maybe they will next year…

After discovering my winning result I somehow found myself looking at pumpkin seeds online. I had conquered one category this year, but there were more categories and there was next year. I wanted to conquer more categories! So many pumpkin varieties, so many options. Somehow, I have ordered seeds of another two pumpkin cultivars, and have one more I am planning to get. Add those to what I’ve already got: Crown, Austrian Oil Seed (although I have yet to try one to see how useful the seeds are), Atlantic Giant and Wee Be Little, and I have a lot of pumpkins that need a lot of space. What is going on? I have been bitten by the pumpkin bug. I want to be the Pumpkin Queen. I want pretty, perfect pumpins, I want GIANT PUMPKINS, I want mini pumpkins and I want tasty pumpkins for baking.

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This man may be Pumpking of the Heaviest Pumpkin Over 200kg every year, but I want to be the Pumpqueen of everything else! Ok, this is starting to go to my head…

This is what my crop rotation plan is roughly supposed to look like for next season:

Vege Plan 2017

And this is what it might end up looking like:

Vege Plan 2017 pumpkins

Although, I think I need more orange spaces…

Bumper Pumpkins

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I am feeling a lot of warm fuzzies towards pumpkins right now. I finally finished using last season’s pumpkins, at which point I must say Crown pumpkins have most excellent storage abilities, by making a chunk of baby food and giving one away to the pumpkin-obsessed Little Sister. Also, there is this thing called The Great Pumpkin Carnival that we went to on the weekend. I had to be there. It sounded fascinating. There were categories to enter, like heaviest pumpkin, best carved pumpkin and pumpkin scones. Unfortunately, I didn’t have pumpkins worthy of entering any of the categories. Although, had I read the list better, I could have entered something in the Oddest Shaped Vegetable class. I can usually find an odd-shaped vegetable lurking around in my garden without too much trouble. There was a downhill pumpkin rolling race, but we missed it because The Little Fulla was getting tired. What really fascinated me was the giant pumpkins. I mean GIANT PUMPKINS.

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Some entries for Most Perfect Pumpkin.

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Some entries for Oddest Shape. I rather like the look of the mouldy-looking pumpkins.

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There were a lot of decorated or transformed pumpkins too.

There is something very exciting about giant pumpkins. Well, to me anyway. Who knew they could get so big? There was a class for Heaviest Pumpkin Under 200kg and they were huge as it was, but then there were a few in the Heaviest Pumpkin Over 200kg class. Do you know how heavy the winning giant pumpkin was? 789.5kg. Yup. Obviously, I want to grow a giant pumpkin now. I must. I have no delusions of it being of that kind of size but I have to start somewhere. I also want to grow Most Perfect Pumpkin, Oddest Shape, Oddest Shaped Vegetable and maybe get some baking done for next year’s carnival. Right, I am going to need more vege beds.

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GIANT PUMPKINS!

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They’re getting bigger…

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Things start getting technical when you have a really GIANT PUMPKIN.

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I have saved the best ’til last. I’m not the only one who was fascinated by this pumpkin.

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Oh, there are no words to describe it!

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A big crowd gathered to see the mother pumpkin get weighed.

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The winner of Heaviest Pumpkin Over 200kg, weighing in at 789.5kg. Wow.

Anyway, what I was really going to talk about, before I got swept away in awe by the GIANT PUMPKINS, is this season’s pumpkins from my garden. They are not giant, but I am rather pleased with the pumpkins that have spurted forth from my garden, considering the lack of time and effort I put into them. I have harvested seven from my two pumpkin plants and there is one more pumpkin yet to harvest. This is only the second time I have grown pumpkins. They are so easy. I barely did anything to them, other than an occasional water and an occasional hacking or rounding up of creeping stems to keep them under control. However, if I want to get bigger pumpkins I am going to have to up my game. They must be fed. And GIANT PUMPKINS, well, that’s an entirely new game. But I wanna play! Bring on the GIANT PUMPKINS! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to peruse the pumpkin seed listings…

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My fairly humble pumpkins. The biggest three are a pretty decent size though.

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I’m just enjoying looking at my pumpkin lineup at the moment.

Tales from a Twiglet Holiday in Christchurch

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We had a lovely holiday in Christchurch, The Husband, The Little Fulla and I. Well, most parts were lovely. There were a few ‘interesting’ situations. We’ll get to that in a bit. Christchurch still holds a special place in my heart. I think living in Christchurch through massive earthquakes and ongoing smaller ones was an experience that brought people together in many ways and such a collective experience has made me more attached to the city. When we go back and visit there are many things that still kind of feel like home: extended family, good friends, our church, the familiar streets, complete with damaged buildings, containers and all, and just the feeling of understanding, that I’m a part of what’s going on, even though I’m not there anymore. We even got a strong quake in the night while we were on holiday.

The Sign of the Takahe, one of Christchurch’s iconic historic buildings that is being repaired.

Containers aren’t just for shipping, they’re for holding up damaged buildings.

While so many parts of the city, commercial and residential, are still in damaged disarray, there are always new creative things popping up, like the re-start mall and the Margaret Mahy Playground, and new buildings are slowly appearing. I’m trying to re-become a Waikato lass because family is here or near and they hold a more special place in my heart, and I do feel I belong here too. But I still can’t help feeling sad when I leave Christchurch. And I may be a little more red and black than I should be… (That’s a rugby team reference for the international readers.)

Half of the tallest things in central Christchurch at the moment are cranes.

Much of the central city still looks like a bomb site or gravel desert.

It’s hard to believe that just a matter of years ago this was a normal, thriving central city full of historic buildings.

New beginnings: The Little Fulla explores the epic Margaret Mahy Playground. He might be a little more red and black than he should be too… 😉

One of the things I love about Christchurch is the climate. The cool breezes and low humidity were an amazing break from the sweltering north. Although, since we’ve been home the weather has thankfully been cooler. Mostly. Not today. Another thing I love is looking at people’s gardens as we drive around. Christchurch people have some beautiful gardens that they obviously spend a lot of time in. In comparison, my garden is looking very raw. So raw, it’s dripping with things that need to be done. Baby steps.

I suppose I should recount an interesting tale. While in Christchurch we took a holiday within a holiday to Hanmer Springs for two nights. The holiday house we stayed in, while very basic (and affordable) had a couple of nice surprises: a green grapevine and a plum tree. This fruit discovery was rather exciting since we hadn’t taken much fruit with us. Hanmer Springs is a beautiful place to visit, with favourite activities being the beautiful hot pools and the walking tracks through alpine forest. Going with a baby is a little different, as we found out…

The festivities began on the road. It was a one-and-a-half-hour trip and we timed it to coincide with a nap for The Little Fulla. After a wee while he fell asleep. Sorted! He only slept for about half an hour then progressively became screechy. “It must be either his nappy or he’s hungry” I said. I had fed him not too long before we left and checked his nappy. He must be hungry again. We arrived at our holiday house and as I got The Little Fulla out of the car I smelt poop. Oh dear. Of course it was poop.

We have had poohsplosions before; defined as when poop escapes the confines of the nappy; but this was something else. It was a poohnami. The poop went through two layers of clothes. The Little Fulla is well-known as a fidget. By the time I got his soiled clothes off it was on his hands and legs. I called The Husband for reinforcement. The Husband held his arms to prevent further spread but when I took the poop-laden nappy off, The Little Fulla kicked his foot in it. Then his foot touched his other foot. There was nothing for it but to burst out laughing. Poop reached his tummy, the change mat (thank goodness I had put that down), our hands; it was getting everywhere. The Husband ran to put the shower on while I tried to control all the fidgety, flailing  limbs, still laughing at the hopelessness of trying to control the poop. But there was no hot water since it gets switched off when guests leave the house. Oh dear. The Little Fulla had to be washed down. We carted our wee poop child off to the bathroom, The Husband holding his arms and I holding his legs, and the poor thing had to have a quick cold shower before we bundled him up. Fortunately, it was a sunny afternoon so it wasn’t too traumatic. Welcome to Hanmer Springs.

Walking around Hanmer Springs is too beautiful for words.

The rest of our Hanmer holiday was fun, with The Little Fulla’s first ever swim at the pools, walking in the beautiful forests and baby nap-induced quiet times, which were probably what I needed. But I think we will always remember that trip for its poohnami. Luckily for you, I instead have photos of nice naturey things.

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My favourite trees in the world.

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I took this photo of the bridge into Hanmer Springs on our way out. Three days later it was threatened by a forest fire on the cliff right beside the bridge, temporarily shutting off the town. My original plan would have had us leaving that morning. What a blessing I changed it. And they managed to save the bridge!

In which Twiglet Takes a Holiday

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I was on holiday last week. I thought it was high time I had a break from the craziness of life. And I needed a decent chunk of time to get some of my crazy projects done.

Monday

I spent the first two days in Auckland, staying with The Big Sister. I took her some spare seed packets I had, thinking she might want to try them at some point. She wanted to try them right away. So impressed! The Big Sister is making good gardening progress. Since moving into her own house with The Big Brother-in-law and The Cutest Nephew, she has, with help from myself and her Mother-in-law, gathered a small collection of herbs and leafy vegetables, mostly in planters and pots. And she is really enjoying using the fresh herbs in her cooking. I’m so proud of my little gardening student! Naturally, we ended up at Kings Plant Barn, which is conveniently close to The Big Sister’s place. She bought some lettuces and coriander to replace her last lot. Then we used the seed tray and small pot from these to sow her some cherry tomato seeds and cucumber seeds. The Cutest Nephew was very interested in our gardening foray. So was the wind.

Tuesday

The next day I did some gardening for The Big Sister; tidying, trimming and weeding. I was all set to crack into the weird overgrown vege garden they have inherited, hiding in the back corner. However, I discovered that the mound of soil, covered in weed mat, happily growing weeds, mint and thyme, is all sitting on a thick plastic sheet, which is sitting on concrete. Oh, what? And oh, darn. That ‘aint how you make a garden bed! Naturally, I suggested the creation of a raised bed on part of the lawn instead. I don’t think The Big Sister is as excited about that prospect as I am. We’ll see. I almost finished knitting the second square of my rug too.

Wednesday

DSCF0688 cpThe next day I was back in Hamilton and I spent a large part of the day doing a busy gardening job for a friend. This was great exercise after my crazy-spring-weather-imposed lack of outdoor activity. But seriously, how many times can it rain off and on in one day? Over a week? It was like that in Auckland too. When The Big Sister, The Cutest Nephew and I ventured into their back garden on Monday, we got trapped in a sudden shower behind a locked gate, blown shut by the wind. I scaled the fence and saved the day. But not my pants. Anyway… after all this time spent on other people, my holiday time was starting to disappear. And I had a wedding on Saturday. It occurred to me that I wasn’t going to get many projects done after all. While I was on a mid-week gardening roll, I did manage to weed the bluebell garden later in the afternoon once I had finished the friend’s garden. Then I was a blob for the rest of the evening.

Thursday

DSCF0722 cpWhen Thursday rolled around I just wanted a sleep-in and a blobby morning. That doesn’t sound very productive. But I did some important research from my lofty position on the couch. I discovered recipes for how to make coconut milk (both from whole coconuts and from dessicated coconut), how to make coconut oil (I want to start using it but it’s so expensive) and how to make ghee. All of these were exciting to me, but the thought of making lactose-free ghee from butter to use instead of vegetable oils and margarine is the most provocative. After my blobby but thought-provoking morning, which stretched into the afternoon, I did the grocery shopping, bought some cocoa butter online (to make my own chocolate) and sowed some seeds for the vege garden. I thought I better at least make some contribution to the garden that day. I sowed capsicums, celery and rocket plus Nasturtium ‘Top Flowering Black Velvet’ (Tropaeolum minus) and Meadow Foam (Limnanthes douglasii) for some pest control in the vege garden. This means there is a growing population of seed trays on the dining room table. And I haven’t finished sowing yet. I just need to get some hole-less trays!

Friday

As Friday approached I realised I had somehow gathered more projects instead of getting projects done. Ah, I am doomed to be a project nut for the rest of my life! Well, I don’t think I will ever be bored again. I have been filling up my computer desktop with sticky notes about what I want to do and get. I began Friday morning by going to the secret nut sale. I arrived later than last time but still managed to bag some excellent bargains – sesame seeds, linseeds, dried apricots, wholegrain oats, coffee beans and a dried fruit and nut mix for snacks. After this excitement, and the mandatory calculating of my savings, it was time for some mandatory house cleaning. This was made a bit more exciting by my first foray into homemade cleaners – bathroom disinfectant and laundry detergent.

The afternoon found me researching essential oil suppliers in a quest for additions to my homemade cleaner stash. There are far too many places to buy essential oils! I decided to think on it. Then I went outside to face the weeds in the carport garden. DSCF0720 cpDSCF0724 cpThey had assembled into a great army. They weren’t very big and none of them had set seed, but they were taking over with sheer numbers. A closer inspection revealed that violets were the main force. I love violet flowers, but I don’t like the invasive plants. I attacked. Not far in, I toyed with the idea of surrendering, or forming some sort of truce with the violets. Maybe they could have part of the garden bed? Then I came to my senses. They were never going to honour a truce. They would take it all! Though I was vastly outnumbered I fought on bravely until the bitter end. I will not tell you how long it took.  Then I rejoiced in my victory by smiling smugly to myself and taking a photo.

 

Saturday

DSCF0746 cpSaturday was wedding day. The Husband and I had been enlisted to the set-up and pack-up crew for our friends’ ceremony, which meant we had to be there at 9:30am. It was to be an outdoor ceremony, followed by an afternoon tea, with numerous bits and pieces to be done, including hanging up many buntings, setting up tables and, my favourite part, getting creative with foliage and glass jar table decorations. I planned to take some photos of the decorations after the ceremony. The ceremony was very sweet and genuine. But part-way through I had a crisis. The camera batteries were suddenly almost out. Someone had taken the spare batteries out of my bag at some unknown point and put them in some unknown place. And it wasn’t me. This is a good way to infuriate a Twiglet. Fortunately, I got to take a photo of the wedding kiss, then I was out. So no decoration photos. I suppose I did get more time to just enjoy everything though. Afterwards, we bought some batteries. The reception was a lot of fun and rather emotional. So much love for and from these guys! By the time we got to bed it was after midnight, but it was actually 1am because of Daylight Savings. Argh!

Sunday

Sunday, sleepy Sunday. I hate the Daylight Savings changeover, but love having extra daylight hours once my body adjusts. I felt like a zombie through most of church on Sunday. I wasn’t much good for the rest of the afternoon either. We did a little shopping, mostly for The Husband, who had been scolded for wearing an old, huckory pair of pants to church and his work boots, which were a repeated offence. He now has some new jeans, thanks to SaveMart (oh, how I love you, SaveMart) and some nice new shoes. That evening, the world just about stopped turning when Mr Whizzy died. The Husband was making peanut butter when the blade plastic just started melting everything together. Seriously?! Not another food processor! We’ve only had Mr Whizzy for 2 months. So much for his great Consumer rating. I wasn’t so much sad as I was annoyed. Now we have to start researching and forking out money all over again. Pooh sticks.

After writing this last night, I discovered an apparently decent food processor on sale at Briscoes for half price, finishing that day. It was recommended by someone who also had their Mr Whizzy cousin die. Since it was already late at night I purchased it online, with just an extra $5 delivery fee. Now we just have to take the old one back and wait for the new one to arrive. It better be a good one this time! It will be put through its paces from an early age. If it fails, we’re going to have to step up our game.

Is it time for my next holiday yet?

It’s a Stake-out

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Something wildly exciting happened this morning. Well, some people may not think it quite as exciting as I. But it’s things like this that keep my world fascinating.

Recently I have been reading about and staring in awe at photos of bamboo tomato cages and A-frames for growing climbing or sprawling veges up. Spring is in the air and I was starting to get fidgety about bamboo. I wanted some really badly. I needed it to grow stuff on. The few bamboo stakes I had left were old and small. I wanted nice big hefty bamboo stakes to make awesome garden structures with – like the beautiful tall bamboo A-frames of Charlie and Jo at Let’s Face the Music. And I did not want to pay for them.

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Bamboo stash

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Bamboo that was too tall to stand up in the garage

Someone must have read my mind. Last night, a lady in my neighbourhood had posted on Neighbourly that she had some bamboo available if anyone wanted it. I wanted it! So, this morning I went bamboo hunting. Not really hunting, more like gathering. I was instructed to take as much as I wanted to from her gully, where they had chopped a whole lot down, as they were going to take whatever was left to the dump in the near future. The dump! No! Must hoard the bamboo! Getting the bamboo out wasn’t exactly straightforward. I had to park my car at the top of the road, walk down into the adjacent reserve, squeeze through a fence, throw my bamboo selections (restricted to car and carrying size) into a pile, squeeze back out the fence, pick up all the bamboo (nicely judged), carry it back up the slope and down the road a bit to the car and squeeze it all into the car. If anyone saw a crazy lady walking down the road with a load of bamboo and stuffing into a car, yup, that was me. A lot of the bamboo poles still had branches and leaves attached, so it was not particularly graceful. But it was awesome.

When I got the bamboo home I cut all the side branches off the poles and stacked them in the garage. Some of them are already dry and some are still green. I kept all the cut offs that weren’t too small to use as dibbers for potting up seedlings, garden markers or mini stakes. The smallest bits and the leaves went into the compost bin. Everything got used. Excellent.

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Thinner bits of bamboo can also be useful

I wanted to get more bamboo, and bigger bamboo. There were some massive poles that I eyed up, knowing they wouldn’t fit in the car. But I had many other things to do, like grocery shopping and work. I almost put off the grocery shopping, but I knew I had to get chicken if I wanted chicken, bacon, leek and mushroom pie for dinner. Pie. Bamboo. Pie. As much as the bamboo excited me, I love that pie. Anyway, a little patience goes a long way. I have arranged for The Husband’s Father to drop the trailer around tomorrow, and, provided The Husband gets home from work at a a reasonable hour, I will proceed to persuade him to help me get some more bamboo before it gets dark. I mentioned this to him tonight and he kind of grunted. I took that as an ok! Or at least it will be if my powers of persuasion win out. He may be a little bit bamboozled…

A Visit to Taitua Arboretum

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“Where are we going?” asked The Husband. “To Taitua Arboretum”, I replied. “What’s there?” “Um, trees…”

Cream roosterThe Sunday before last, I decided that The Husband and I would go to Tatiua Arboretum for the first time. I had heard that it was a nice place to walk around, but all I really knew was where it was and that it had a lot of trees. On Taitua Road, just a little east of Hamilton en route to Raglan, Taitua Arboretum is a great collection of mature trees across 20 hectares of mixed farmland, stands of trees, woodland plantings and small lakes. It is maintained by the Hamilton City Council.

The first thing I noticed was the chickens. I love a place that has chickens wandering around, and Taitua has a fascinating collection of chickens and roosters of all different colours and varieties. My favourites were the little family of chocolate-speckled chickens, which were friendly and oh so cute. I wanted to take them home.

Chocolate chickens

Chocolate chicken

Ok, enough with the chickens. It is hard to describe the rest of the place, other than using the word ‘trees’. Simple tracks meander throughout the property, leading you past different collections of trees. There were some natives, though not nearly enough for my liking. The carpark area is actually planted with some beautiful natives; perhaps that’s why I was expecting to see more native under-plantings around the trees. In any case, I was delighted to see two tui sitting in the trees, singing to each other.

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There was a Prunus collection, the family that consists of many of our fruit trees, including peaches, plums, cherries, apricots and almonds. They are not particularly interesting in winter though. There were maples, many, many conifers, oaks, blue gums, birches, bamboo and so much more. Groups of the same kind of trees can be so fascinating. They just require a bit more space than mass planting with, say, grasses! The Husband soon left me behind, as I was being my usual slow, photographer self. Also, I was looking for a half-wild kitten that was hiding in the bushes. It refused to be photographed.

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My favourite stand of trees… I don’t actually know what they were, as I was hurrying to catch up to The Husband, who had disappeared from all sight. They were tall, pale and deciduous, with gnarled roots spreading on top of the swampy ground beneath them. I also liked the blue gums (Eucalyptus species) and the redwoods (Sequoia species), which reminded me of being in Hanmer Springs. I will definitely have to go to Taitua Arboretum again during all the other seasons. Winter is, perhaps, the least exciting time to go, however, the low afternoon soon does beautiful things amongst the trees and I loved the place.

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