One of these weeks...

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. When I wrote here two weeks ago, David was feverish. He had woken up with a swollen hand and a temperature. No clue what happened during the night, but we soaked it, couldn’t see anything in there, so he should be better soon. Or not...
Overnight he worsened, the beginning of a couple unpleasant days.
Over the next weeks he improved, he worsened, then improved again, but not enough. An ultrasound: an abscess that needed draining, after several consultations, it turned out to be something for the surgeon and anaesthetist. That was crazy Friday, now he is happily running around showing everyone his boxing glove (which safely hides his drain). He should be able to do without it by Wednesday.
Just before his operation. He was having a ball, flirting with nurses, running amok through the kids ward. Not a care in the world, as kids should.
A couple of weeks ago, our miniature horse, Moony, lost her equine friend next door. Ever since she has been lonely. As a result, our run down fences, that were great for those 5 years she’s been with us, were no longer able to keep her in. Our lovely neighbour behind us, notified us that she was there, harmless, chatting with the horses from the next neighbour. So we went to get her, and again, and again, we patched up one weak spot after another, but she would just find another one. Then the owner of another property send a couple of texts to squabble (Moony couldn’t get in, but the owner worried her horses would be stirred by our mighty miniature). After many bad nights and crazy busy weeks, I was starting to loose the plot.
About a month ago we had a fencer in for a quote, to replace a part of the fence and add some new gates, which he could start in November. He saved the week when he came to help out with some sturdy repairs on crazy Friday. She has been in ever since, looks like we’re winning the battle.
But the fact remains, she is lonely.

We’ve asked around for another family with horses that could take her, a couple of close calls, but no luck so far. We love the little girl, she’s a great kids pony, very patient, I would hate to loose her, but it’s hard to see her so miserable.
The other option is to add another horse, so she has companionship. Risking double trouble, but I think it would solve the problem, especially now the fences are soon to be upgraded. I’m looking at a Haflinger, a horse breed that has always been very special to me, I learned to ride on one and have ridden many more since then. They’re quiet, sturdy, versatile, with a very sunny nature. They make great kids ponies, but are big (and strong) enough for adults (me!!!!) to ride. Decisions...
Having had bags full with hand-me-down clothes and toys, the kids had a bit of a Christmas week. They’re down to their last week of the term, soon we’ll be catching up with my parents!!! 
We’re having a couple of really great things planned to look forward to. A break, yeah... ;-)


Spring Garden

After a two year break with little babies, this is the first garden bed that got planted a couple of weeks ago. It has taken off, a bit of a green jungle, since I don’t believe in tidy rows. It just makes it too easy for pests to work their way along the banquet. The interplanting of different types of plants creates balance where plants help each other out with providing shade, mulch and while pests get confused. 
Beans, peas and tomatoes along the trellis with herbs along the front for easy access. All kinds of different annual flowers are mixed in along the seedlings to attract some friends to the party.
Since the kids helped planting here, its a bit of a surprise garden bed too. Turns out they love parsnip and beetroot (chips)!
On the right you see the next garden bed, which got planted out a month ago.
A close up:
dill, parsley, parsnip, spring onion, silver beet, bokchoi and mixed lettuce.
While on my garden break, I’ve let the beds go, but focused my attention on the border, which keeps the grass from sneaking up on the vegetables. Here you see asparagus alongside the other permanent plants, trees and bulbs.
Only a meter deep, but this permanent border bed has capsicums, eggplants, chillies, flowers, asparagus and bananas in the back. Along the left you see the proper garden bed with garden waste piling up, the chicken coop is due in a couple more weeks. The chooks will clean it all up, compost, fertilise then spread the mulch and it will be ready to plant out again. And so we go, round and round in this mandala garden.
Along the entrance, in the border a kaffir lime tree shares the space with ginger, parley, mint, flowers, asparagus, while a sweet potato plant is making plans to invade.
Flowers and chillies are alongside a mandarin tree and a lillipilly shrub, bordering eggplant, capsicum and beans before the proper garden bed starts. 
  A dry spot in the garden has now Aloe vera flowering
 A mulberry, mandarin and a plum tree are happily sharing spaces with some grevillea.
The drier top of the border is perfect for an olive tree, rosemary, lime tree, curry plant, callistemon, bay leave and thyme. While a passion fruit is starting to make a pest of itself. The chook dome in the background, home to 6 lovely chickens keeping us in eggs.
The view from the deck, homegrown dinner taste even better when you can look out onto your hard work.



Spring! The rockmelons have been planted...
I’ve organised my scarily big collection of seeds (I hate shopping, but love going into a nursery, like a kid in a candy store). 
Well, the collection has been seriously plundered. 8 types of tomatoes? Why not! 
Lettuce, herbs, onions, carrots, beetroot, cucumbers, beans, flowers. All sowed in at least 3 varieties. No pretty rows in sight, just little bits of everything to confuse pests (and kids). It’s one wild medley that is sprouting into a mad jungle of fresh goodness. This is going to be one fun summer cooking.
 It has become our favourite place, for a coffee and watching stars.
Making pizza as requested by our junior chefs.
 Fathers Day breakfast
Bunting finished for a friends 1st birthday.


Project Pool: Rope Therapy

 The freestyle balustrade is ready!
Sander hard at work
Just the last finishing touches and Project Pool is finished!


Out of the trenches

I’ve noticed that after many years on survival mode, at last I’ve started to crawl out of the trenches and reintroducing myself to society.
Hello there!

Making an effort to be more social, getting in touch with friends, having friends over. 
It’s been so long, it almost feels like a novelty!

First step was getting rid of all my maternity clothes, we’re not having any more kids and David has waved nursing a year ago. Time to invest in some real bras and clothes that actually fit and that make me feel nice just wearing them. You know something other then those yoga pants and stretchy shirts that have felt many babies grow. They’ll be great for the garden, which has come back to life again. Spring is definitely in the air! I’m doing some serious planting with the kids to make the most of these new beginnings. They’re completely fascinated by putting in all kinds of little seeds in the ground that turn into plants and flowers. It won’t be a neat garden, with tidy rows, but the fruits will be all the sweeter.
The last couple of weeks have had their ups and downs. 
I’ve been very busy keeping the household on track, I still miss my cleaners, but have made a schedule with all the tasks sprinkled throughout the week into doable jobs. With being sick for a week I’m still catching up on many things that have accumulated while I slept. Sewing has been on hold, which I hope to pick up again next week.

We’ve had our first brush with nits, just thinking of it makes me itchy again. We’ve been mouse hunting in the pantry where that cute little mouse had a large nest of babies. The mess they make is all but cute, a good thing just about all my goods are in containers. Safe from harm, they did manage to get all the paper of the emergency cans. It has made for some very interesting meals this week...

Alex’ climbing keeps getting him into all kinds of trouble. A quick dash to the clinic when he burns his arm with hot tea, a foot stuck in barb wire. But also into places he shouldn’t be, like the top shelve of the pantry feasting on honey. Or into my handbag doing a runner with my car keys and locking himself in the car, refusing to open it, his siblings were a little later at school that morning...
One of the many highlights was seeing my sister Lisa at the opening ceremony at the Olympics where she was on a rowing holiday (reserve for womens quadruple sculls that took home silver).
 Making “I love farmers markets” wraps for hungry swimmers
Having friends over for lunch, 11 kids behaving themselves beautifully and having lots of fun in the water holes.
David with his highly treasured minions beanie, send by grandma, waving and smiling on our grocery run.
Sophie wanting piggy tail plaits for school to tame her mad halo of curls. This is a steep learning curve for me, I’m so not good with the girly stuff!
 Friday night cooking with Tim
For me a highlight, for Tim & Alex not as much. Only one more training and game to go and the soccer season will be finished. It’s been a lot of fun to see the teams grow and develop, they have really loved their first year of soccer. But I’ll be happy to have my Saturday mornings back!
Sander has started the balustrade, going with a nautical theme.
500 meters of rope therapy, but it looks stunning.


Baby quilt #4

Casper, the second baby for my sister-in-law, Nienke was born over the weekend.
Nienke asked for something small, for the bassinet, green, blue, fresh, not gender specific.

For me this was also the first quilt with my new sewing machine.
I’ve chosen an Irish chain pattern, which is fun to make and looks very effective.
It was also a great way utilising the scraps I had laying around. Can we say it has become my trademark?
The quilting is “stitch-in-the-ditch”, 
my new machine even has a special foot for it!
 The white looks so very fresh, combined with the green and blue, with a very subtle butterfly print.
 The border is a mix of widths, not wanting to get too serious.
It’s so nice to see all these old favourite fabrics back out to play!
 More butterflies on the backing, bringing out the rich chocolate colour of the binding.


Magic Forrest Quilt

This quilt started out with a piece of calico, an old woollen jumper, a ripped tea towel, an old sheet, a dress shirt beyond repair and a drawer full of scraps of fabric. It all got turned into a quilt for my little niece Vera, the second child for my sister Tineke.
Since my sister also runs a family daycare from home, I hoped to make it into something she could use once Vera outgrows her crib.
The old, red and honey jumper, felted in the washing machine, used as the top of the mushroom. The ripped tea towel makes a perfect home, with the old shirt just perfect for a door (and tree branch).
It opens up into the gnomes house, with a quilted chimney.
The sun, utilising little scraps, free motion quilting over it to keep it together.
A little soft pocket for hands and teddies to hide
Adam, the 2year old brother, with creative colour changing thread in brown (stones) and green (grass) giving the quilting a more natural look. Our kids love finding letters of their own name.
Using leftover bits from the backing of our picnic rug, turning them into stones. Inside there are ladybugs hiding (the lizard that I planned here was deemed too scary for babies by my oldest)
A pocket for little friends.
I’m planning on making a similar quilt for our own kids, turning it into a wallhanging where they can keep their favourite teddies in, once they outgrow them. Like this little mouse, that used to keep me company as a baby in my crib.
Flowers and a fairy for Vera. Using metallic thread for the flowers and her name. Which gives it a very subtle shimmer of magic.

The branch, with the leaves all moveable.
Hiding these little lovebirds.
A preloved flannel sheet for the backing, which worked out well with the colour scheme, but is also so very nice and soft.

This was my first go with free motion quilting. I’ve tried to use it not only to keep the top, wadding and back together, but also to bring the quilt alive. And string all the separate elements together as a whole. For in between these elements, my daughter gave me inspiration with her favourite song:

Somewhere over the rainbow
Blue birds fly
And the dreams that you dreamed of
Dreams really do come true

This quilt goes very well with the baby quilt I made for Adam, an other appliqué quilt: Owls In The Tree. I just love the freedom and creativity that goes with these types of quilts! And how I love my new sewing machine, it has made it so much more fun.
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