Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What have I been up may ask?

How time flies! In a matter of a couple of very short weeks the kids finished school (all on different days), there was a year seven graduation, a review performance and so many more engagements that I care not to think about them for fear of feeling exhausted all over again!
And all the while the rain fell and the grass grew. It seems(not seems...I really have been) mowing grass twice a week to keep up with it. Please believe me when I tell you that I am not complaining however as it is so nice to have green lush grass to mow.
The garden has been a seething mass of life as it has been warm and humid. There is so much life everywhere. It has been so wonderful to see the number of butterflies this summer. Sometimes I just sit and watch them as they flutter all about in that ever so magical way they have about them. It's not only me that has noticed and appreciated them but also my Sam. He just this very day said, "Mum. Aren't the butterflies nice? They're magical like in a storybook or something."
Somehow Christmas has appeared on the horizon, that is not so distant now, as fast as a bare-footed person on a bed of hot coals! I have slowly been putting a few things up with much encouragement from the kids. I am really looking forward to doing Christmas dinner for the family, including John's Mum . We often have it elsewhere and so I don't get to be host much. I have a wealth of recipes rattling around in my head and when the time comes (usually the last minute) I will decide what to do and hopefully everything will come together.Basically, I just like to stock up well on everything and make the decision as the mood takes me.
Over the next couple of days I will be doing my mad last minute rush for gifts, some cooking and some more decorating. I hope everyone has a very Happy Christmas full of family, friends and happy memories.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Beautiful Afternoon.

The weather has been so kind to us of late. A very delightful 20-25 degrees and rain every week. The garden is growing like mad and if I'm not careful to keep up with maintenance, it might just engulf everything in its path! Oh what a joy to be gardening in a garden that is growing and thriving for once after such terrible drought conditions.

There is so much beauty in the late hours of the afternoon that I can't stop taking photos. There is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for this beautiful place that we call home. Of course, it's much easier to feel like this when everything is green and the temperature is near to perfect. Having said that, even when the climate is being a little cruel, it's still a nice place to be. My cute little shetland, Timmy, is always very curious when I'm getting around with my camera. I think this time though, given the time of day, he was hoping for a carrot. He's quite a spoilt boy! I'm often undecided whether I'm being kind to feed him his daily carrot or whether I'm killing him with kindness.....given his rather large stomach! Late Sunday afternoon with chainsaw in hand, John chopped down four of the five scrabbly old wattles that we had left there for shade until some of the more desirable trees we had planted had grown. It felt like some sort of cleansing. SO good to be rid of their very ugly appearance. The whole area looks so much better.
This is some of the pile of branches we cut. We are slowly working through the pile with secateurs and saws making smaller piles of usable fire wood, mulch and a mass of medium sized sticks to help with water control near the dam (which is usually empty and leaks badly). It feels like our little quest for the environment to be using this very valuable biomass and not just adding to the greenhouse gases by burning it all.
An enjoyable week's end to everyone......Angela.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Busy Days

Yes, once again I have been neglecting my blog and playing far too long in the garden. We have had the most rain we've had in years and so everything is growing so well it is just too hard to resist spending time there.
What a busy couple of weeks I have had. Sunday before last (while we had three other boys staying over) my son had to have emergency surgery for something that came totally out of the blue but all is well with him now. He didn't mind having the week off school despite the fact that exams are just around the corner- that boy is way too laid back if you ask me! It never seems to do him any harm though.
I had a busy week mostly gardening and I managed to make this charm for my cousin's daughter for her birthday. I have decided to put vintage paper on the backs of some of my charms as the paintings although small, are quite time consuming to do.
One of the things I love about making charms is making the little box to package them in.

I start with a paper mache box, collage it with papers new and old and then bees wax it. Sometimes I scan the original painting that is on the charm and print that off to use, that way I know the box will match the charm.

This past Sunday I think we had 17 visitors over the course of the day. It was wonderful to catch up with some of my many cousins and family. For this week I plan on getting some more charms done and I will hopefully have some to show everyone soon.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Missed Opportunities

Opportunities are constantly throwing themselves at me and I don't know what it is but I think I feel like if I go with it that it will consume too much of my life and I won't be able to do ALL the things I want to. Take for instance a couple of days ago. I went to an art gallery with my mum and two of my aunties to see an exhibition of very good paintings done by local artists...some of which were superb. Anyway, while I was there one of the ladies that volunteers at the gallery noticed the charm that I had made that I was wearing. The gallery has a gift shop and she was very keen for me to make some to sell in the shop. At first I'm very delighted that she would think they are good enough to sell in there and kind enough to offer. Then, the same old thing that always happens when I go home-I start to have self doubt and talk myself out of it. Normally I'm not like this as I'm a firm believer in the old saying..."if you don't open the door, you'll never know what is behind it". This has happened on several occassions but now, all of a sudden, I think I am up for the challenge. To really make a go of it and to see what I can do. I have had offers from a couple of outlets to sell my charms so I think I will decide on themes that are unique to each shop. Because my charms contain miniature water colours I think that I will make batches of them and offer these for sale, that way I'm not hurredly trying to fill last minute orders. I have to be in the mood to paint so rush orders just wouldn't do.
If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, I would really appreciate if you would leave me a comment. Happy days to everyone until next time. I think I will make a coffee and relax for awhile in one of my favourite parts of the garden...where the smell of honeysuckle scents the air.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Stop! Cleaning in Progress!

Cleaning cupboards....need I say more. What a job. Not much fun while you're doing it but very rewarding when the job is done. The one I'm doing today is one that I haven't ventured into for quite some time for fear of everything falling on me! Lots of fabric remnants, clothes that need a new home and bits and pieces that MIGHT come in handy one day. What to do with it? I think it is time to be brutal and to make the hard decisions.

I must say that tidy cupboards is definitely not one of my strong points. Once upon a time when the kids were little and we hadn't accumulated SO much stuff, I did have clean cupboards. I think the main problem is that we have grown out of our cupboard space. No matter how much I get rid of, there always seems to be an abundant supply of things to take its place.

My cupboards are home to a rather alarming number of unfinished projects....some from years ago. This fabric painting/stitchery was to be the middle block of a quilt that I was making when I was pregnant with Isaac. I am ashamed to say that Isaac is now 16 and there is no finished quilt in sight. I'm sure it would have turned out to be a very lovely quilt!

I've also found that as I get into more and more baking and cooking the number of ingredients I need doesn't actually fit into my pantry in any organized manner. Every time I clean it and think I will keep it good, I get into a mad cooking frenzy and well, that's the end of it. Lucky to last a week!
Anyway, I must keep going on this cupboard cleaning or I will run out of day.
Yes, yes, I know these photos are of my garden but I think it's a much nicer place to be than staring at the inside of a cupboard.....don't you?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Warm Days and Visitors

I had a really good time at the beach...both the air temperature and the sea temperature were just right. It was a nice little break from the normal routine. I went to a market at the marina that sold mostly jewellery, soaps, lotions and potions with a few home wares thrown in for good measure. Not an old thing in sight so needless to say, the only thing I bought was a selection of soaps for my good neighbour for looking after our animals while we were away. It all looked very colourful with the cute little tents each stall owner had. Since being back the days have been very warm ( around 30c) and you know what that means....SNAKES and GOANNAS.

Early one morning I noticed that the wild birds weren't using the bird feeder and were kicking up quite a ruckus. I stepped out onto the verandah to find a large carpet snake making its way through the bamboo right at eye level. Then, horror of horrors, it made its way onto the barbecue on the verandah. Judging by the large lump in its stomach, I think it may have already eaten a large bird or something similar! These snakes usually eat a couple of our chooks over the summer which is a bit sad but it stops the number of chooks building up too much. The blood curdling screech of the chook being crushed is definitely not one of the best noises to hear in the middle of the night though!

Every year without fail as the weather warms up this goanna makes its way from the bush to our place. I think he comes up for some water and eggs. I can hear him coming as the birds in the bush sound alarm signals as he crosses their paths. If I go near him he usually runs up the closest tree where he is very good at camouflaging himself.
On a brighter note, I thought I would leave a couple of flower photos from my garden.

I love all the different sorts of iris'.

It has been such a good spring this year as far as the number and quality of flowers. There has been so many insects.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My Cubby House

I thought I had better touch base before we go away for a few days to the beach....I'm really looking forward to it as it has been quite some time since I have felt the sand between my toes.
The wisteria has been looking a picture in the garden. It is such a lovely shade of mauve and the beautiful blue of the spring day just sets it off.

Down in my garden there is a little play house....Lavender Cottage. It is very special to me as my Dad made this for me in 1974 when I was seven. I remember feeling so lucky and feeling like it was like a dream to have something so wonderful being built just for me. I have no sisters and three brothers so I guess Dad and Mum thought it would be nice to have a girly cubby house to play in....and that I did for hours on end. When I shut the door I was in my own little world and my dolls of course would turn into real babies. Sometimes Mum thought that I was lost in the bush or something because I was quietly playing in my cubby for so long.

When we moved away from the town in 1977, we left it at my cousins place to use. To cut a long story short, we eventually were given the opportunity to have it back again for my own children and after a couple of moves, here it sits (for thirteen years now). It's been painted several different colour combinations over that time and I finally named it a couple of years ago. Lavender Cottage because I love lavender so much and it is surrounded by lavender. It has been so nice to see my only daughter, Erica, also grow up with it and maybe one day she will have a little girl to play in it too.

It was always so much fun to do it up for open garden days. A cute little hutch with a vase of flowers, a little table with more flowers and a tea set, pretty little curtains, a little bed with pretty covers and big colourful butterflies all over the outside were a few of the girly touches. One year Mum and I could hear giggling and squeals of delight as we walked by. Ducking our heads around the door to watch the little girls having fun we were taken aback and some what amused to find that the little girls were in fact grown up little girls....Grandmas! It's always hard to resist a good tea party!

It is currently stacked to the brim with toys that we are not quite ready to find new homes for. One day I think we will line the walls with book shelves and have it as a little garden library with a comfy reading chair in it.....ONE DAY. Before I go I'd just like to leave a couple of leaf photos for my good friend Aina at Modern Country. I know how much you like them Aina and thought you would especially like the "heart leaf" ( Cercis "Forest Pansy"). I hope the week ahead and weekend will be a good one for everybody....mine will...I'll be AT THE BEACH!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A New Book...

Pull up a chair and I'll tell you about this ever so lovely recipe book that my very generous and thoughtful friend Cathy gave me earlier this week. ( A treat for looking after Cathy's cute little goat Barbara while she is away enjoying the sun and surf.)

"At Home with Magnolia" by Alyssa Torey is a beautifully presented cook book packed full of delicious recipes that are simple to prepare and full of fresh ingredients....just what I like.

She has included pretty pictures throughout the book, not only of the food she has cooked but also of her lovely home and garden.

I can't wait to try some of the recipes!

I've been busily working away in the garden again this week and I guess, this is where I will spend most of my time creating. Oh it's been so good since it has rained to watch plants grow and flower instead of watching them deteriorate as the drought worsened.

I found this old tub at a secondhand shop recently and planted it up with Lavender "Kew Red" and English Lavender. I painted the lattice behind it and planted some sweetpeas and blue rescue. I think it will be lovely when it all grows and it will add a bit of zing to an area of the garden that has been in desperate need of a makeover.
Every year I look forward to this very hardy species tulip coming up....Tulipa saxatalis. It's from the Middle East I believe and so it can take a lot more heat and dry than the normal species. It also spreads under the ground and so the clump is slowly getting bigger. I don't ever water or feed it and up it comes every year without fail...THAT is my kind of plant!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Nature's Artwork...

There are remnants in our garden of the ancient forest that once covered this area. Huge stumps of trees that once towered overhead. I feel very privileged to be the custodian of these beautiful pieces of nature's art. I love the texture of their weathered surface.
Within the crags of this beautiful stump there is new life springing forth.

There is a myriad of life in and and around the stump...insects, lizards, the odd snake and possums. And, I am quite certain that if one was to be very quiet and wait for a while the odd fairy might be seen. (Or should I say, a fairy or two, not an "odd" fairy as such.) When my oldest son Isaac was a little fellow, he would check the stump regularly for fairies. Then one he didn't find one...but a spider had spun a shiny silvery web just outside the "fairy door"entrance. As the sun shone on it, it was bejewelled in a rainbow of water droplets....a sure sign of fairy dust...or so it seemed to anyone with a modicum of imagination.I also love the texture of the bark on the gum tree next to the old stump. Its girth has almost doubled since we have lived here and, if I have anything to do with it, will hopefully grow very old and become an ancient tree itself.

For now it is loved for its sculptural form, its shade and habitat and its branch that is just perfect for a swing!