Monday, 23 June 2014

Notes from the Garden in June

My favourite fruit and veg harvesting basket was looking a little tired and grubby.  It is a special one, given to me by an old friend (not in age, but in connection), Karrie, from her trip to Malawi.  I wonder if she knows what a cherished and useful item it has been over the years!  Well, I thought it was about time I pimped it up, so I found a few old scraps lying in my fabric pile, stitched them together and 20 mins later, I could wander into the garden and fill her up!  Oh, I do so love pretty, practical things!

Before the pimping...

My veggie and fruit ride, all pimped!
Another new addittion to our home, is the arrival of hand-knitted socks!  If anyone remembers my previous sock blog, well, suffice it to say, I am not a sado-masochist, so no, I did not personally knit these new arrivals!  These have a little story to them....... they were knitted by a Swiss lady, living in Italy, using German wool!  She then onsends them to her daughter in New Zealand, who sells them on her behalf for the princely sum of $24.  My hand-knitted pair, cost me about $70, after buying the needles and wool, and paying for the workshop.  Not to mention my time.  They took about 5 weeks!  And much frustration and bad words to express my annoyance.  Mike and I both have a few pairs and they really have revolutionized our winter cold feet syndrome!  Beauty!  They feel so great on, real warm and cosy.  And there is the added benefit: my hubbie declared they don't give him stinky-feet syndrome.  

A collection of Internationally-connected socks!
Finally, we have gifted one other our long-awaited belated Christmas present; a 2000L rainwater tank.  Yay!  We normally don't do the mandatory gift exchanging at Christmas, opting rather to agree on a combined gift.  One year it was a flat-screen TV, one year a portable back massager cushion that performs our daily morning coffee/massage ritual, the previous year it was the solarium build.

We waited a while for this gift, as we had to first solve the challenge of where to put it (all our gutters were running the wrong way and we needed the water supply to be closer to the garden for ease of use).  Lots of discussions, talking with experts, comparing tanks from different companies etc. and then waiting for a plumber to schedule installation in.... brings us to 2 weeks ago.  Perfect timing, to gather the tonnes of rain that fell and filled it in 2 days!  Why the water tank, when we have relatively cheap water (costs about $1 per day)?  Well, we figured we could survive in a natural disaster and eat happily from our household and garden food supplies for a few weeks.  We have enough drinking and household water supply to last perhaps 3 weeks, but this big un is for the garden, to keep it alive, which will hopefully in turn, keep us alive!  Planning ahead...
Our wintery Christmas present, all installed and ready to use.
2 weeks ago, I noted that it was a pruning window according to the Lunar Calender, so I tackled my 2 plum trees behind the cottage.  In no time at all, I had reduced them both by 1/3 and had a great big pile of branches to show for it.  They will be mulched in our trusty little Masport mulching monster.
Pruning; figs are born on new wood.

2 fig trees now shapely skeletons

The trusty little Masport which turns pesky prunings into compostable
material, or ground mulch to suppress weeds.  Magnificent stuff.
The next project was to reduce the rather overgrown feijoa which was almost totally clouding the grapefruit tree at the bottom of the garden.  A bit of huffing and puffing, and a couple of hours later, the feijoa looks like it has had a great grooming session.  The grapefruit tree was struggling to get it's fair share of sun, so I think it's one happy grapefruit maker now!

Before:  Overgrown feijoa crowds the other trees.
 Note frost damage to bananas on left.

After:  Feijoa greatly reduced in size allows sun to penetrate to grapefruit.
The main harvests in the garden have been straggly last-of-season guavas, persimmons (yum), green apples, lemons, limes, chillies, chokos and mandarins.  Orange fruits mostly.  I have been making lots of fruit juices for breakfast, combining much of the above fruits, adding a little ginger zing to boost the immune system.
I have planted more silverbeet, kale, leek, spring onion and brassica seedlings.  The garlic is starting to shoot.  This time I have only planted half a bed as I overdid it last year with 1 1/2 beds.  We have garlic for Africa!  I've also sowed green peas in-situ.  Am patiently awaiting their birth, and watching for pesky snails.  Nothing nicer than snacking on fresh peas in the pod in Spring.

Stunningly beautiful sun fruits.  Persimmons.  Radiating health.
Lemonades.  A tangy cross between a lemon and navel orange.  

Grapefruit relishing in the newly acquired sun aspect!
The afternoon light in winter becomes so soft that colours seem to intensify.  It is a wonderful time to wander aimlessly through the backyard and capture some images that sing out to you in passing.

Beautiful wood fungus growing on an old tree stump.
Stunning colours of Bright Lights Silverbeet.

Josephine, our non-scarecrow, may need a Spring rejuvenation.  Hair, make-up
and a new necklace, maybe.  The harsh weather had chipped away at her appearance.

Colours of Autumn.

Autumn gives way to Winter in the garden.  The last of the leaves cling tenaciously, still.
The silvery threads of a hungry spider.  Fine workmanship.
There is not much more I can plant at this time of the year, besides a few sweetpeas and calendula.  I shall just keep the weeds in check and prepare the grounds for the business of Spring planting.  Gives me a thrill just to think of it.................

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Shadows on the Wall

My husband and I have been making shadows on the wall for 27 years.  Though this July, we will celebrate 25 years of marriage.  We have weathered the storms of relationship conflict.  I think the only way to sustain a relationship is by communicating.  Stay talking and listening.  And of course Compromising.  Funny thing is that out of conflict, comes growth.  And we often grow more alike as the years pass by.   We learn from each other.  Sometimes we are the follower, sometimes the leader.  Sometimes the weak one, sometimes the strong one.  Sometimes the teacher, sometimes the pupil.  There are shifts and changes along the path we tread together.  Morphing.  He's become softer, calmer.  I've become a little more headstrong and fiery.  We've taken on a bit of the other.  Blended characters.   So when we took a wee romantic stroll around the Mount a couple of weeks back, I looked at our photos of the shadows we were creating and it came to me that they expressed a sentiment of singular and combined forces of a relationship.
Man blending in with environment
Sometimes, he would walk ahead of me, while I lagged behind, taking photos.  Other times he would wait for me and we would walk together, some way, till he would lag behind to get a closer view of something that had caught his eye.  Then I would get to walk ahead..... a little like our relationship.

Temporarily on my own.

Hamming it up, always having fun!

Capturing the moment of alone-ness.

"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction"
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"Happiness is a healthy mental attitude, a grateful spirit, a clear conscience, and a heart full of love."  Anon.

Dancing to the rhythms of Life Together.

"Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit."
Peter Ustinov

"Love is a fabric which never fades, no matter how often it is washed in the water of adversity and grief."

"Not all those who wander are lost."  J. R. R Tolkien

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."   Lao Tsu
"The path to a happy relationship begins with a twinkly smile, and mutual sense of awe and wonderment in each other."
Jizzy Green

"Shall we dance?"

Hanging in there......

A sense of peace and alone-ness

Self portrait

All of Life, is a Journey into the Unknown
There have been times over the last 27 years, as in all real relationships, that I could gladly have run away from my twin shadow, but I was determined, like my twin shadow, to stay and figure it out.  We talk, we laugh, we whisper, sometimes we shout.  But at the end of the day, we try to go to bed at peace with one another and ourselves.  And make more shadows on the walls.......

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Protective iPad case using Recycled coffee pouches

As always, I try to find new and innovative ways to deal with the waste we generate.  Mike was gifted a book one Christmas by our lovely German friends, Michael and Lindelies,  It's called Cool Hunting Green and has many ideas of recycled objects in it.  Below is one little project I tried out; we were given an old adding machine at kindergarten and it had outworn it's play life, so before throwing it out, I got the children to help me take it apart. The keys have a hole drilled through them and threaded with elastic as hair tie ornaments.  The stretchy elastic came from some Warehouse shoes we bought a while back - they use the elastic to hold pairs of shoes together!
Our Balinese lady holds my hair ties with computer key buttons.
And as Mike is still trying to steer clear of milk, in favour of soy milk, I try to use as many of the tetra-paks as possible and up-cycle them into coin purses as gifts.
Coin purse
Then there are the crazy little upcycled projects like this sleep shirt I made my daughter in the holidays.  Mike had a few old bamboo shirts which had stretched beyond comfort and as I like the feel of them, I turned 2 of them into a hoodie-sleep-shirt which my daughter ABSOLUTELY loves and wears often.  I love that she is not a label girl and will wear crazy upcycled gear happily.
3 ultra-stretched t-shirts...
become a crazy sleep shirt with attitude.

Sleep Ezy
 So when my work laptop started to die, I was given a replacement iPad.  (Now that is a whole other story - me and technology - groan!!)  I asked for a keypad cover as I am a touch typist and can't do that on-screen.  So it looks like a mini laptop!  But of course, it's still hard and needs a protective cover, so as is my habit, in order to save extra costs, I decided to make an upcycled one.  I looked around to see what I could use and this is a step by step guide of how to make one!

Step-by-step guide to upcycled iPad case

1.  I gathered the resources:  some old coffee pouches, an old suitcase strap, a windscreen cover that's coming apart.

2.  I measured around the iPad keyboard, adding extra width for seams.  Then I cut the coffee pouches and sewed them together to fit the padded windscreen cover.  I cut up an old t-shirt to line it, so that it wouldn't scratch the iPad and pinned them all together.

3.  All 3 layers are pinned together and then sewn together at both ends.  I have hand-sewn on the cut-off top bits of the coffee pouches, to act as loops for my closing act.

4.  Opened out, this is what the bag looks like with the t-shirt inner.  You can see where the coffee pouch loops have been attached by hand.

5.  An Interesting clasp - an old Opp Shop find which cost $1.  A Maori carving souvenir which fits through all three loops to close the bag.  Note the sides have been sewn by hand in double back-stitch.  This is because my sewing machine had a hissy-fit and absolutely refused to sew through all the 6 assembled layers!

6.  The handles are attached to coffee pouch loops, hand-sewn onto the back, at each end.

6.  Detail shows the hand-sewn loops, with a small curtain ring to hold the old suitcase strap.

7.  One loop sewn at each end to form strap attachment point.

8.  Bag ready to go.  Last step, drill a hole in carved souvenir and attach to central loop with bungy elastic cord.  This will ensue that I don't lose my closing clasp.
9.  There she goes!  Ready to transport my iPad safely, and all using "junk" found around the house.  Cost:  One whole morning of inventive fun.  I think it's kinda funky, and functional at the same time.

We'll call it the FUNKtional iPad Case.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A Photographic Stroll around the Mount

We celebrated a beautiful Winter's day with a walk around Mount Maunganui.  Now there's double barrel mimicry in that name.  Commonly known as The Mount.  Or Mauao. Breaking down the Maori  name, Maunganui gives you "Maunga" - mountain; "nui"- big.  So by saying Mount Maunganui, you're basically saying Mount Mountain Big.  Why don't we just call it Maunganui?  Just so.  Kapish?!

I have divided my many photos into 2 categories: water and boats, and then, scenery.  It really was a stunning day to walk around a stunning landscape.  And a wonderful opportunity to celebrate what a magical part of the world we live in.

Water and Boats

Study in Blue.
 There were heaps of people walking around Maunganui at this time of the day (about 4pm), some loping, jogging, pushing prams, running, sitting in the sunshine - we even spied one man with a huge leg cast, leaning on a kneeling scooter.  He seemed to negotiate the flat terrain just fine. 

Serenity at Sunset
My father gave me my first camera as a teenager.  It was a Minolta.  I remember I spent all my spare cash on rolls of film and processing photos.  What a difference it would have made to my life then, to have had digital opulence.  Have camera, can take 1000's of photos and view them online, @ no extra cost!  One of my favourite hangouts as a student, was to go down to the harbour and take endless shots of the boats in Hout Bay and Kalk Bay, Cape Town.  So this walk on Saturday took me back, a mini trip down memory lane.

Kotuku (White Heron)

Gale.  Though she don't look like she would fare well in a gale.
There is something truly magical about boats.  I have always been drawn to them.  The irony of it is that I do not own a pair of sea legs at all.  In fact, the only time I ever went out on a boat, was when I was 19 years old and my father sent me and my step mother for a 5 day cruise from Cape Town to Durban on a luxury liner.  We stepped on board and as most of the passengers were rich elderly folk, the crew were virile young Italian and Greek men, within minutes I had several "appointments" set up, from a lowly deck hand right up to the ships purser.  What a great time I had, trying to make each appointment at a designated place, and time.  In between severe bouts of sea sickness.  My stepmother and I desperately lurched our way to the on-board pharmacy to buy sea-sick tablets, which we'd swallow - only to spew them up within 2 minutes.  We were fine if we stuck to the upper decks but you can't sleep on deck!  We had these lavish meals we simply could not eat, as we couldn't stomach them!!

Our fellow passengers would laugh sympathetically at us as we would eject ourselves at top speed to run kamakaze-recklessly, upstairs to gulp the fresh air in crazy desperation.  They told us that they had come through a severe storm in the Bay of Biscay, and that they had lost much of the deck furniture in the catapulting swells.  They had all huddled together in the dining room, sleeping side by side and praying for their lives to be spared.  So they were highly amused that we couldn't handle such calm seas!
The glow of the reflection on the water....
 I remember also, a seemingly ancient English gentleman who was travelling alone around the world, who put his gnarled hand on mine and said something to the effect:  "If you get lonely, remember I'm in room 301.  The door is always open.  Remember; room 301."  I later learned that he had leaned over to my stepmother and whispered the same endearment into her ear.  We had a good giggle over that one!  What were we to do with him?  Read a bedtime story to him??

One evening, it had been suggested that we go to the ship's night club as they had an event on that night.  So we duly dressed up, remembered to pop a sea-sick tab as the club was below deck and burst through the club's swing doors to realise at that moment of arrival, that the entire off duty crew were scrubbed, dressed and standing around the walls of the club.  We were the only females in the club!!  Totally scarey.  We didn't stay long, lest we become the objects of a feeding frenzy!

The sculpture of Tangaroa, God of the Sea, stands in challenging position to welcome passing shipping trade.

Amazing wind power

Ghost vessel seen through witchety branches

A barge in the distance, this rock reminds me of a sunken ship wreck

Stunning Sunset Scenery

Searing Sunset lighting up the way
I loved the long shadows on the beach of a mum and daughter

Sand artists at work

Giant jellyfish art installation
 It's days like this that makes the cold, dark days of winter bearable.  They lift the spirit and inject a lightness of being.  I felt drunk on happy rays.  The light was amazingly saturated prisms of colour.  Like looking at a changing landscape painting.
The colours.......

A glimpse from the track, of the beach boulders.

Sun burst 

Leaves you breathless....


The magical, mystical path around the sacred mount.

This one reminds me of Australia.  Not sure why.

The view of the ancient trees hugging the side of the mountain.

Simply Stunning

Looking up at the peak.

Beauty abounds

Taking a pic of someone taking a pic of someone else taking a pic of a loving couple.

The Way

Coming around the back of Maunganui.

Rosy cheerful light

Mauao, bathed in end of day light.

Last glimpse before descent

Hobbitville-ish tree

This has to be the colour of Love.

See ya there on the track, next Saturday?