Monday, October 28, 2013

July to October

Well our wedding is just over 7 weeks away and although things are pretty much all set to go the anxiety is building. Nervous excitement but a some fretting does go on. Planning parties is not something Mr. Fox and I do often so planning a big and very special one is a big ask. We are hoping for a fun and relaxing day. It is shaping up to be that way.

The garden is doing well from my has never looked better. I unwind completely there and forget all my cares. This Saturday I put in 2 cubic metres of garden mix by wheelbarrow and shovel. It was a sunny day and when you are doing such physical work it hones your focus on to nothing but dirt, shovel, wheelbarrow! It is great to see a big pile of dirt turned into useful surface area for growing yummy food.

The winter crops are still providing lots of greenery and should tide us over til our summer crops are ready. The Broad beans are growing fantastically and survived the blustery winds we have had. Garlic and potatoes are quietly doing some growing too. The wee flowers dotted about are keeping the bumble bees busy.

Clearing out the flax bush, making room for a compost bin

Tools of the trade

New to me terrarium...must plant out and bring inside

Broad beans in August

August winter garden

Newly filled boxes from a roadside find. Great spot for lettuces etc that tend to bolt in full sun. Just enough dappled light here for growth. Mmm yummy Basil, Coriander and lettuces seeds in

Friends with chainsaw cleared the privet tree and the tree pushing on fence. Great usable space for fruit trees and berries

Broad beans in late early October and strawberries forming

Toby's seeds all planted out

Yay for a sunny spring day
The weeks whizz by. Our lovely friend was up in Auckland with her dear wee boy. Her little one was very unwell and in hospital but is on the mend now. It was wonderful to be able to spend so much time together despite the circumstances. Coincidentally a gorgeous family friend's little boy had to have an operation and I also got to catch up with her, so great to sit in the sun and chat. Not much of a summary of the past few months but the night is going fast...will post another time soon.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Busy Sunday

We had some dear friends stay over last night after a quiet evening.  Mr. Fox and I were more than a little jaded after bottling 20 litres of home brew beer just before they arrived. What a very messy caper bottling was. Quite a lot of the brew ending up on the kitchen floor.  The bottles are now all cosy, tucked away in the hot water cupboard....I have my fingers crossed that none of the tops pop off! It was certainly nice to sit down after the clean up and chat into the wee hours.

The sun has been shining today with a nice breeze so we got out in the garden.  The area at the rear of the house is rather a jumble of big flax, Lily and fallen tree trunks. It is very boggy in the winter and is not a very productive space.  The plants are all about 1.5 metres from the fence which means there is a large area of space waste. Our aim is too grow as much of our own food as possible so we set too work clearing some of those plants away. Every bit of land will have to be functional to help us reach a more sustainable lifestyle (and hopefully save some money too!)

View of the jumble at the back of the house

The pile of felled trees and a huge Lily

A lovely Lily that was way too far from the fence

 It didn't take long for the two of us too get this space cleared.  Mr. Fox dug out the small tree in the corner and we both yanked out the Lily. It was full of snails, centipedes and other creepy crawlies. The base was sodden with water and it stunk! Glad to get this out.  It is lovely for cut flowers so we replanted a small one in the corner closer to the fence. Hopefully it will grow into a lush big plant.

The space clear. I think we will get a composting system going here in the future.

A bit of a surprise at how much space was left behind. 

 Looking at these photos reminds me how badly I want to water blast those fences and paint them black. The brown paint is everywhere in the suburb like some kind of infection. Ugh it's even the choice of colour for the trims on our house.

Our garden has no flowers in it apart from a few violets and geraniums at the back.  We don't like to use sprays or chemicals in the garden. At the moment we do use natural sprays/powders as there are soo many slugs. By increasing the biodiversity in the yard we hope to attract some beneficial bugs in.  The bird table has been such a success at attracting birds so it would be nice to see a few more ladybirds, bees etc. With this in mind we thought a small flower/herb bed by the clothesline might help. It is close to the vegetable garden and can be seen from our lounge.

Waiting for plants. Off to the garden center tomorrow!
I have been researching flowers that can handle clay soils. There is about 5cm of topsoil here before hitting clay.  I think Asters, Chamomile, Carnations and Marigolds will go here, hopefully the garden center will have some suggestions too.

We have decided that the area by the letter box through that gate will be planted out in flowers for the bees and butterflies. There are too many roaming dogs for me to be keen to eat any veges that we could have grown here.  It is very boggy and too wet to plant in at the moment. We have given up conditioning the soil out there. Will pop some hardy plants in here and encourage survival of the fittest.  Once we get a functioning composting area we will add lovely compost to the top of the soil and let worms do the work.

The vegetable garden is recovering from near death by slugs and very wet weather. Despite it being attacked so ferociously by slimy thieves we have been eating quite a bit.  With more goodness on it's way soon. I can't wait for those cabbages.
Spring onions, lettuce, spinach, silver beet and some parsley

Mmm look at that cabbage and broccoli

 Mr. Fox commenced the annihilation of the cabbage tree stump today. It is huge and by all accounts very hard to kill. He drilled some holes into the stump and poured in the recommended poison. I hope it won't take too long to die. It will be good to get some soil in the big planter box and cover that sucker up.

A bit hard to tell but that wee spike is in the middle of a big stump about 1 msq.
It was so great to get out in the garden today. Such a sense of satisfaction and a whole lot of hope for the future goodies to come from the garden to our bellies. I hope the sun shone wherever you are today. x

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sunsets, walks, flowers and general catch ups

The past few months have really whizzed by. Ma Fox. has had two major operations and these amongst work and other commitments mean that the weeks sometimes feel like days and the days like hours. So here is a big muddled up catch up from February to May. Gosh it feels like Easter was only a week or two ago.

Gorgeous Autumn Sunset
 This Autumn was mild and had some spectacular sunsets. It was lovely to watch the world settle in for the evening in a colourful manner. The living room window is perfectly placed to view the show.

Some crafting for the home
 A few wee home projects to make the place feel like home. Crafting home decor on a budget.

Take two for the hanging basket

New flowers to spruce up front entrance
 New flowers.  A succulent for the hanging basket is faring much better than it's predecessor. Also using plastic liner before putting in soil is helping so much with water retention.  Happy flowers = Happy me

Oh so that's why the flowers are getting crazy.... remorse whatsoever. Surely her fresh water bowl would be nicer?
 We decided to strip the kitchen drawers and cupboards before using Danish Oil. Naively we thought this would only take a couple weekends. How wrong could we be. We toiled away for a couple of weekends and some evenings. Then I went to Dunedin for three weeks for Ma Fox's operation leaving Mr. Fox to finish up. He worked away sanding, stripping, sanding again. Then oiling them all and putting them back in the kitchen. That man is a legend. Not only did he work his magic in the kitchen but he weed whacked the backyard into submission. Can't wait to marry that dude. He is awesome. Oh and the kitchen looks so much better.
Stripping back the kitchen

Morning sunrise
 One sunny morning we took a short walk around Te Atatu. It was a gorgeous day. Lovely views..shame about the motorway noise. Would love to come back in the Summer. It was good to get out and explore a little more of West Auckland.
Te Atatu walk; looking out to city and harbour bridge

Busy birdies

Can you spot the two skinks hiding?!
 Mr. Fox hung this shelf that I had stripped back and stained. Originally it was very dark brown. Now it is lighter and brighter; the perfect spot to keep a few sewing supplies.

The music scene has been very quiet for us this year. We miss it dreadfully but it was one of the major finacial drains on our funds.  Lol if we ever want to get away on our much talked about overseas trip then we have to save. We did get to Dinosaur Jr and Bloc Party earlier in the year which were both fantastic. At the end of the year seven of us are heading to Fleetwood Mac....oh my gosh!!! So can't wait.  Hmmn I am sure there are many important things I have missed recording here but I need some lunch. x

Other corners of the garden

A new bird table (that's really a shelf!) is creating much joy for us.  Both my maternal Nana and Mum have bird tables that they can see from their kitchen window.  Now that I have a kitchen of my own I wanted to continue the tradition. So when a shelf didn't seem to fit anywhere in the house...the fence outside the kitchen seemed to be the perfect place to hang this birdie snack station. It only took a few days for the birds to realise it was there and now everyday lots of birds come to fill their hungry tummies.

Bird shelf!

We feed them soaked rolled oats and apples. It attracts mostly wax eyes and sparrows but also blackbirds, chaffinches and myna birds. No sugar water as I didn't want to encourage the territorial Tui birds who although natives and very lovely, chase off the smaller birds.  With the weather so cold I am sure many birds are struggling to find enough food. They are very eager to dig in whenever we replenish the supplies. Right now an apple and a bowl full of soaked oats lasts just one day.

Wax eye and sparrow catching up on the morning gossip

The Garden....

Although not blogged about the garden hasn't been left neglected over the past few months. My parents came up for a weekend which was total bliss for me. We got to show them our first wee home and tell them all our plans for it. It was more than lovely to have them here and show them a little hospitality.

A wee mantis that did not appreciate having dirt all over..hehe look at that tongue!

Pa. Fox and Mr. Fox worked on turning some pallets into gardens over the weekend.  While Ma. Fox and I made the most of being together and chatted up a storm.  The boys did an amazing job. Before we knew it the gardens were assembled and in need of filling up.  A couple of trips to the garden store later and two winter gardens were finished.

Dad and I having fun in the garden

A few months later we are reaping the rewards and eating spring onions, spinach, lettuce and silver beet. There are some cauliflower heads starting too.  It is nice to look out the window and see the gardens, even on a wet and windy winter day.  And more than that it is a reminder of that lovely weekend my parents came to stay.

All done!

Get growin babies
The garden looks so different now. I will have to get some more photos soon but it is far to cold and wet to venture outside today. x

And so we brewed...

Months ago I posted about getting a brewing kit.   Mr Fox spent some hours researching brewing and decided upon making cider for the first project.  It was a simple recipe using store brought apple juice, yeast and I think a bit of sugar?

Bottles cleaned and sterilised.

The bottles and other equipment were all thoroughly cleaned and sterilised.  This seem to take a long time. Mr. Fox then mixed everything all in a great big stainless steel pot (which is ever so handy when I make laundry liquid!) and syphoned it into the glass demijohn.  It all looked like fun to me but the kitchen is so small I couldn't get involved in the action.

Brewing in progress

After about a week of fermenting in the spare room we decanted the cider into bottles and popped them in the fridge.  For a total of $12 we got 24 litres of cider.  It was mighty strong and barely palatable but with a bit of lemonade it can make for a cheap tiddly night.  Our Samoan neighbours have been loving a few bottles....apparently it tastes like one of their traditional brews back home!  They drink it straight.

My job was putting on the lids

We are going to try making beer next time.  I don't drink beer but I am looking forward to seeing the brewing process.  I can't wait to try cider again.  We think we brewed it too long and that may be why it is so dry.  Not enough sugar and a tad too much alcohol content.

The finished product

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mothers Day

If you are lucky enough to know my Mum then you are privileged.  She is wonderful and never more so than on this Mothers Day.

My lovely, brave and positive Mum is celebrating Mothers Day barely 24hrs post being discharged from hospital. She is recovering from massive surgery and doing so with a smile. How can you even begin to thank someone as remarkable as that? I certainly try but goodness knows I don't think she can ever understand how much she means to much of me is she.

So Happy Mothers Day Mum. You mean more to me than ever. You are a legend and a bloody brave warrior. I love you.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Potential brewing and wedding frivolities

Two weekends ago a kind friend and I missioned up to a farmhouse inland from Warkworth to pick up some home brew gear.  The request of two cars was a little overkill (sorry Fraser) but it was a nice drive there and back.

The gear looks like it hasn't been used in many a year but it is a complete kit.  The guy kindly offered a few wee hints to get us started.  Mr. Fox is keen to make a start next weekend though it will certainly need a good scrubbing and sterilising before we begin.  A little research into the art of brewing wouldn't go astray either.  All going to plan, cheap beers should be the mainstay of Friday nights.

Little bit dusty but aren't the boxes cool?!
Poor Mr. Fox's back was still very painful and stiff over the last couple of weeks so we went for a gentle stroll up to the end of the street and back one evening.  The street may not be picturesque but the clouds were striking and the vineyard equipment interesting.  I am keen to taste the wine from there so will have to pop in and ask if they sell locally.
Vineyard at end of the street

A little follower

A view from our driveway
Friend's weddings are such a wonderful celebration and last weekend was the wedding of a very dear friend.  It was a busy few days and meant that we had to fly south to Christchurch then drive to Geraldine.  We had fantastic road trip buddies and laughed til my side hurts. Su-lin and Greg you rock.

 The Hens and Bucks day started with white water rafting.  After Mr. Fox hurt his back we both thought we might sit it out but on the day the numbers needed to be off I went.  The Rangitata Rafts company was really nice.  The safety brief and signing a waiver made me feel more than a little hesitant to jump on in but it was too late. There was 14 of us that were also attending the wedding  (including the lovely bride and her groom).

Lunch was served, we were kitted out and on our way. The first 30 minutes or so on the river was pretty calm and involved lots of safety drills/practice. We then got to try out a few grade 3 rapids ( Grade 1 being calm water and Grade 5 being the biggest white water).  The first grade 5 rapid was short and intense.......our boat did not make it through upright. All of us fell into the water and the next few minutes were so terrifying.

 Much of the river was swallowed by me as I was pulled through/under the rapids. I was so relieved to make it to another boat, thoroughly exhausted and waterlogged. My darn foot was caught in some rocks when my legs were pushed under the boat by the current. Greg was trying to tug me in but the boat kept trying to go over me, my foot stayed stuck and the water kept going over my face. Finally I spun round (not sure how) and he pulled me in. Lol I must have been a sorry sight.....and not in the least graceful or dignified. It was exhilarating to be safe.

The second grade 5 rapid is much longer but the guides were confident we had done everything right when the two boats were emptied. Most of us were shaken but keen to continue. So off we went. There were a few hairy moments but our boat staying the right way up while some others didn't. The rescuees became the rescuers...not sure what was worse really. Seeing people in the water desperate to be in a boat was not nice. Especially when two went missing for a few minutes. Everyone was located and some of us leapt off a 4m cliff for fun (a few jumped 9m but I didn't)  The trip was soo much fun and a real bonding experience. It provided much to talk about over the weekend as we compared our adventure.

The excited team (I'm on the far left with the light blue helmet)

Oooh grade 3 that was fun

Coming at you grade 5


Nailed it......

.......or maybe not! Oh dear!

At least the guide stayed on!

Being rescued
Stay left...crikey

Made it through the second grade 5, the boat behind us didn't!
 After recovering from the excitement, the rest of the weekend involved old friends and new too meeting up at various places for a chinwag.  The batches out at Ti Moana Gorge that belong to the brides family, the Geraldine pub,  cafes and of course the wedding. The ceremony was lovely and held at Castle Claremont which had beautiful grounds to match the loveliness of the house.  Hannah was a beautiful and radiant bride and Pat a handsome groom. The vows were sweet. The reception was fun and we danced up a storm.

claremont castle
Photo source

Seeing our friend so happy to be married was wonderful.  As was catching up with our friends of 10 years. It  all went very quickly. Now I can't wait to plan my wedding and hopefully have those same friends come to celebrate our marriage.