Happy Ramblings: January 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

A pleasant morning at the local market

We have a lovely little local market once a month in our village. I am so lucky that it is located at the end of my road. It's really fun to go to. There are all sorts of stalls from different foods to clothes, books, jewellery...so many different things.

Here are few of the stalls that really stood out on my last visit:

This stall sold amazing sauces and they let me try samples....Yum!

The colours of these tea cosies are so gorgeous. I really liked the multicoloured turquoise and orange srtipey one. It is a pity that my teapot is too big for them.

It would be fun to make a tea cosy myself, all I need is to find a pattern and pretty wools...hmmmm...another project for me sometime?

These tartlets were made by a French baker and they looked so delicious. My favourites are the strawberry ones.

I loved these adorable wooden building collages, so colourful!

There is always something new to see at the market each month. One time there was a sea shell stall and I bought quite a few shells and sea urchins to add to my growing collection.

And there is always a van there selling speciality cheeses. My favourite cheese at the moment is Old Amsterdam Gouda...my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Here's to hoping that we have good weather for the next market.

See you soon,


Rose x

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A week at the Sheraton Mirage Resort and Spa

Earlier last year I spent a glorious week at the Sheraton Resort and Spa on Australia's Gold Coast. I was thoroughly spoilt with wonderful meals every day and the surroundings were so beautiful.

We didn't have to worry about snakes coming into the resort from the sand dunes on the beach as there was a glass wall surrounding the whole resort! That was such a relief as I don't know how I would cope if I saw a snake! We don't have snakes in New Zealand.

There was one difficulty though. To get to the beach we had to walk through the sand dunes....hmmmmmm. Luckily there was a great swimming pool for anyone who wanted to swim.

My room was huge and very modern with new furnishings. Very comfortable. Room service was great too.

To get to the main hotel complex from my room I had to walk along boardwalks surrounded by water. Very relaxing.

I had a great time :)

Lots of smiles

Rose x

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The first month of my vegetable patch

Everything started growing so fast! The weather was perfectly warm and gradually got hotter. I had to do a lot of watering as we didn't have much rain.

You should have seen me planning what I was going to grow and where. The vegetable bed in the first photo is 1 meter and 20 centimeters wide by 7 meters long. I didn't want the bed to be too wide as I wouldn't be able to reach the back to weed it and I didn't want to ever stand on the soil.

I drew up a scaled plan, on graph paper, of where each plant was to grow, using the distances on the seed packets and from books I read on intensive vege growing. I also included a strip of wildflowers for beneficial insects at the back of the patch against the garage wall. Plus I included some other companion plants in amongst the veges. And I tried to grow veges together that liked growing next to each other.

Then when it came to planting I marked out meter lengths and measured the distances with a ruler between my plants and where I was sowing seed!!! I won't be doing that again, but I had no idea that I didn't have to be that accurate. But I wanted to fit as much in as I could and make sure all the soil was shaded from the sun by the leaves to reduce watering needs.

This first vegetable patch is mainly for perpetual harvesting/cut-and-come again vegetables.

The second larger vegetable patch is for the larger plants and ones that are to be uplifted when ready for harvesting.

All around the outside of the vegetable garden I placed a wide, deep strip of used coffee grounds. This is doing an amazing job of keeping the slugs and snails away from my plants. Then I placed more flowers in pots on top to attract more of the good insects that would hopefully pollinate my crops and/or eat the baddies.

I grew 6 plants of Rainbow chard and was able to harvest some within a few weeks. The young leaves were so tender and full of flavour that I will never eat big old leaves again!

I am finding now that the plants are growing so quickly that I can't keep up with them for eating, so we are giving veges to my sister too.

This is some of my Mizuna and perpetual silverbeet which are also growing very well.

And here are my bok choy and celeriac plants.

I have been experimenting with different recipes and am having a great time with it. Everything cooks quickly when it is young and freshly picked. Yum!!! Now I am hungry, luckily dinner is ready....Soupe au pistou with foccacia bread here I come!

Looking forward to your next visit here.


Rose x

Monday, January 27, 2014

Two seasons through my bedroom window

It was a lovely misty Summer morning this morning and I just managed to catch the sun shining on a patch of land as it rose over the hill.

The day has turned out breezy which is quite nice as it has chased some of the humidity away. The cicadas are chirruping happily and little puffy white clouds are scuttling across the sky now. A perfect lazy day for a Summer holiday.

This is an old photo which was taken on a Winter morning when everywhere was covered in frost. The whiteness really made the orange of the red hot poker flowers stand out.

Frost where I live thaws out by 10 a.m. at the latest, usually followed by gloriously sunny days and blue skies. We usually get 10 or less frosts a year and never any snow, so this is the closest thing to snow we get :)


Rose x

Sunday, January 26, 2014

My thrifty bedside table makeover

This month I decided to do a makeover of my bedroom to make it look more restful, but I wanted to see if I could do it frugally.

Here is the thrifty makeover of my bedside table. The lamp and escritoire remain in the same place as before and I kept the cane table. I bought the distressed painted wirework candle holder from a Thrift shop for $2, cleaned it up and put a candle inside it that I already had. It was a perfect fit! The little box with the bird and nest picture on holds note cards and was a Christmas present.

The picture frame on the other side of the table was also a Thrift shop find for $1. The glass just needed cleaning up and I didn't mind that the pressed flowers had faded as they match my decor. I printed the bunny picture that I put in the frame from the internet.

The white ceramic trinket box was a candle holder with a candle inside that I was given a few years ago. In front of this I have placed a L'Occitane soap which was also a Christmas present. You can see the soap in the next photo.

On the bottom shelf of the table I placed a while oval bowl which is actually a platter from the kitchen. I decided to keep the bowl empty as there was so much on top of the table. Quite often I will collect different items from around the house and re-arrange them in different rooms giving them different uses.

I really enjoyed myself with this makeover and have been working on little changes in different parts of my bedroom.

Lots of smiles and hugs,

Rose x

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The story of Choggie the hedgehog

A few years ago I found Choggie our resident hedgehog wandering by the house in a terrible state. He had lost almost all of his prickles, was covered in maggots and was running in circles trying to keep the flies off him.

I put him in a box and ran inside to phone Hedgehog Rescue to see if they could help him. But Hedgehog Rescue had no more room for another hedgehog! They gave me instructions on what needed to be done to help Choggie and how to feed him. I was told it would be a 3 month struggle.

I found a friendly local vet that doesn't charge for treating wild animals. All the visits were free and so were the medications. The vet even refused to accept any donations!

The vet and a vet nurse cleaned Choggy up and gave him antibiotic injections, plus an injection to kill the mange mites which had caused his prickles to fall out.

I then had to learn how to give Choggie antibiotic injections every day for 5 days and then repeat them after 2 weeks. I was told that hedgehogs in this condition don't usually survive and not to get attached to him and if he managed to survive 2 more weeks he would be fine.

When the vet first weighed Choggie he was 300 grams, then after 3 weeks he weighed 600 grams. This is the perfect weight for hedgehogs to go into hibernation. Such a relief since Autumn was approaching.

We kept Choggie in a cat cage in the laundry with lots of newspaper and old rags to snuggle up in. I had to clean his cage and feed him twice and sometimes three times a night. It is amazing how much a little hedgehog can eat.....we should have called him Piglet!

Then one morning he had disappeared from his cage. We searched the house but there was no sign of him. We thought my father had put him outside, but he was adamant that he hadn't. I had a look on YouTube and found videos of hedgehogs actually climbing cage walls! So that is what he had done, plus got through the cat door! I was quite upset because he was half way through his second course of antibiotic injections and he still had no prickles.

Then a couple of months later he showed up again with lots of soft new prickles all over and he was still tame. We left tinned catfood out for him and drank water from the bird bath on the ground. I was told to never give hedgehogs cat food containing fish or it will make them ill....and never to give them bread or milk.

Mum took the photo at the beginning of this post when Choggie re-appeared. He has such a cheeky face and is really quite sweet. We made sure he had enough food to build himself up again for hibernation time which wasn't far off. Hedgehogs go into hibernation when there have been a few days in a row of temperatures below 10 degrees C.

And here is another of our little garden helpers finishing his meal of cat food. We don't know if it is Choggie or not. I would like to think it is.

See you soon.


Rose x

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The beginnings of a wildflower garden

It all started with a patch of muddy paddock where the cows had churned up the clay soil. A place where they were fed hay and in the process they had "enriched" the earth.

The cows had since been moved off the land and I saw the opportunity for establishing a wildflower bed.

I was sure it would work. Again I wasn't able to dig the soil because my shoulder was still recovering, so I improvised. I dragged a rake across the drying soil so that it was broken up 5 cm deep, per some instructions I had found somewhere on the internet.

Then I decided to cover the whole area with a 10 cm deep layer of composted pine tree sawdust that we had. I mixed that into the soil with the rake. After that I covered it with straw to compost more and to keep it moist.

I kept my fingers crossed that earthworms would move into my wildflower area and do their work, helping to make the soil deeper.

I checked after a month and it had worked, there was wonderful soil under the hay and hundreds of earthworms of all sizes!

In the meantime I was busy buying wilflower seeds:

- shirley poppies of many colours

- blue cornflowers

- yellow, orange and red cosmos

- red coreopsis

- linaria in jewel colours

- orange Californian poppies

- and lots more.

I was in heaven!

I finally lifted the hay off the prepared area and raked the soil to 5 cm deep again. Then mixed together all the seeds that I had bought and sprinkled them over the whole area. It was great fun.

Then I gently watered the seeds in and waited.

I watered every day and finally seedlings popped up. I was so happy. I carried on watering for a few weeks when the weather was hot and dry. The seeds should really have been sown at the beginning of Spring 2 months before, but I was lucky, my plan worked out.

Lots of smiles,

Rose x

Edit: You can see an update of my wildflower garden here.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My first vegetable patch!

What made me decide to create a vegetable patch you may ask? Hmmmm, that is easy to answer with a list:

- I had been inactive for so many months over the Winter.

- We were half way through Spring here in New Zealand.

- I had been stuck in the house for too long.

- I caught Spring fever!

- I needed the exercise.

- I needed an absorbing hobby.

- I love growing things!

- and I had never grown vegetables before apart from a few herbs.

After pondering over these things it was very easy for me to make my mind up about what I needed to do. I thought about it for a few days and started making plans:

1) Where was the best place in the garden to grow my vegetables?

- at the side of the garage was the answer.

- the area is sheltered from wind.

- sunny.

- close to the house.

- close to a water supply.

2) How could I set up a vegetable patch without having to dig solid clay soil that hadn't been cultivated for over 15 years?

- Dad agreed to remove the weeds by spade (my garden is herbicide and pesticide free)

- Dad also agreed to break up the soil a bit by spade for me.

- I was to remove some of the clay soil and add lots of gypsum to what was left.

- To buy 3 cubic meters of loam which was a mix of good soil, sand and compost.

3) Would it be better to have raised vegetable beds or ones without borders?

- I chose raised beds so that it would be easier for me to bend to plant and weed.

4) What could I use for the raised bed borders?

- I saw that our neighbour was replacing the fences, at the joining boundary of our bottom paddock, through my bedroom window one morning. The fencing was being loaded into an industrial sized skip to be taken away to the tip. So I rushed down after quickly changing out of my pyjamas, not even brushing my hair! The workman said to help myself from the skip. I managed to rescue some of the smaller batons then decided I needed help. My brother-in-law and father came to the rescue and I ended up with plenty.

5) Who was going to make the raised borders?

I kindly volunteered dad hehe.

6) Who was going to shovel the purchased loam into the beds?

Me. However after completing only 1/4 of the shovelling, which took me 3 days, my shoulder complained in such a big way I yelped and had to stop. So dad took over and finished the shovelling for me. Thanks dad.

7) How was I going to stop the cats using the new vegetable beds as a cat litter tray?

With a fence made of chicken wire.

A gate at each end to let the ride on lawn mower through.

The gates made from salvaged wood and more chicken wire.

That was my formula for the bones of my vege patch!

There were a couple of glitches. How to keep the slugs out (I found a great solution). And I found that Oscar my Kamikaze cat can climb chicken wire arrrrrrgh. He went crazy meowing because I had shut him out of the vege patch while I was working in it. Then all went quiet and then I heard a thud behind me as Oscar landed on the ground in the newly smoothed out soil. Luckily he is only interested in going into the vege patch while I am in there!

See you again soon,


Rose x

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A belated Happy New Year to you!

Wishing you a very happy New Year!

I have been rather slack at blogging for such a long time. Quite a few of things happened last year. My health decided to let me down and I ended up having to have 3 different operations:

- One to remove a painful ganglion cyst from my right wrist and at the same time they released a tendon at the base of my thumb. So no writing or working at the computer for a long time.

- Then I had to have shoulder surgery to remove bone and bursa from inside my shoulder as my shoulder became too painful to use due to inflammation. My right arm again and I am right handed! I was out of action for 5 weeks after that and enduring lots of physiotherapy.

- And finally last month I had to have my pacemaker replaced.

I have mostly recovered at last and now just have to be careful how I use my arm until my muscles have strengthened.

I was a little silly after the pain had gone and my arm was out of the sling. I had decided to set up a vegetable patch and was shovelling topsoil for 3 days, then arrrgh, I strained my shoulder badly. So now I have to sleep on my back because I can't sleep on my right shoulder and I can't sleep comfortably on my left until the pacemaker surgery has settled.

So my resolutions this year are:

1) To have a healthy fun year

2) To make the most of my spare time

3) To relax and spoil myself. I think I deserve it!

Looking forward to catching up with you and hearing about your resolutions.

See you soon.

Hugs Rose x