Golden summer days

Hello again.

I know it has been far too long since I last posted.  Work has eaten me up and I haven’t had much time to garden or do much else, aside from catching up on housework & laundry on my days off.  I also left our old faithful digital camera outside during a fine, misty rain a few months back and my phone’s camera is not as good as that one.  So my photographs have all been very fuzzy and not post-worthy.

On the garden front, not much is happening because I have no time!  It’s been a tad disappointing to have let my veggie garden get completely overgrown, but one day I’ll have it weed-free again.

Finally caught up on laundry today so I harvested our two tubs of Agria potatoes.  They are so golden.

Picture of this year's Agria potato harvest

The summer is flying by- we’ve been to the beautiful beach a few times and have had very lovely sunny days here.

My succulents on the porch are all very happy and low maintenance, which is awesome.  Finally found the name of my favorite one!  It’s a sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’.   Very happy flowers :)

Secum rupestre 'Angelina' bloom

Also, the first tree in our backyard that flowered this spring is a plum tree.  I’m not sure what kind though, but  the fruit is small and sweet, with red flesh.  Unfortunately it’s up on a ridge so I can’t really get to it.  I’ve only eaten a few windfall plums that the birds & bugs didn’t get to.  The back yard smells like fermenting plum wine at the moment, and I have to clear them in order to get to my clothes line.  YUM!

There are also heaps of blackberries taunting me from up on the ridge.  I wonder if I can talk Ben into climbing up there & picking some.

Hope your gardens are going well if you’re down under!  And if you’re up North, stay warm!  Lots of snow pictures circulating through my Facebook feed at the moment.

How is your season going?

Busy spring is busy

Just when I think I’ve settled into a nice routine, another big change happens.  There’s no way I could’ve done the Ultimate Blog Challenge this month.  Kudos to those of you who are!  And to those of you preparing to do NaNoWriMo.

No more working from home on the weekends soon.  I’ll be working a more solid Monday-Friday.  No more days off in the middle of the week that were so handy for running errands!  I have never had weekends off for any extended period of time, so it will be different.

Ben’s job has had a major delay that means he has the next 2-3 weeks off.  Although we could really use the money, part of me is sort of happy about that, because I’ll have more home-cooked meals made by his hands.  I enjoy cooking, but I am a firm believer that things taste better when someone else cooks for me.    He’ll have more time to bake new healthy treats for us.  I keep meaning to post a bran muffin recipe that he’s been making every two weeks or so.  Must do that this week sometime.

Weeds, weeds, everywhere!Garden updates:  I’ve discovered that this place is heaven for weeds.  There are thousands of weeds sprouting in that veggie bed…I’m going to spend the next year picking them out.  It’s horrible.  I’m guessing this is because the landlord just turned the soil over before we moved in.  I really don’t know.  I never had so many weeds to get rid of in Christchurch at either house we lived in.

My arch-enemy cleavers is here as well, smiling at me from beneath the camellias and mandarin bush out front. Ok, I’ll stop grumbling now!

I planted some peas and beans in the garden bed about 10 days ago, and remember dreading the weather shortly after that.  So much rain in the past week and a half — some really torrential downpours — I thought for sure the peas and beans wouldn’t sprout due to rot or being washed out.  As I was glaring at the weeds today, I spied them pushing through the soil, so I’m very happy about that!  Will need to get some twine to make a trellis for them soon.

Growing cherries on the treeI’m fairly sure the lovely flowering trees on this property are cherry trees now.  Still not sure if they are eating-cherries or not, though!  They are still beautiful, even without their flowers, but they add to the weeds too.  Hundreds of cherry seedlings beneath the trees to weed out…it’s going to take me two weekends to get all the weeding done around here!   Not grumbling again, I swear.  I’m sure it’ll be good exercise.

And on the topic of exercise, I’ve managed to lose 12 pounds since August.  I’m feeling really good about that.  Ben and I joined a gym and for the first time I have a regular exercise commitment to myself.  I really enjoy Ben being my work-out buddy and I think having him involved is the difference this time around!  While he was working he was too tired to go, so I have been by myself quite a few times.  I am down a pants size and I can finally see my collarbone again.  Another thing I’m happy about.

Taking time to note these positives is what keeps me motivated!  Only 38 pounds to go to reach my long-term goal.

Have you made any goals lately?  Reached any goals lately? Let me know!

Pushing past challenges & finding joy

Progress isn’t always easy, as I’m sure you know.  Sometimes the most satisfying type of progress is the kind you have to work at.  The kind that puts you outside of your comfort zone.

You might find you have to grow a bit in order to stop feeling overwhelmed.  Push past the discomfort and fear of failure and make things happen.

I’ve discovered that’s what’s happened to me over the winter months.  It was so easy to get overwhelmed with the move, a new rent rate, new city, new neighborhood.

A new budget to make my pay go further while Ben looked for a job.  Having to make sure I actually have a packed lunch and snack, instead of wandering into the kitchen while working from home.

A new morning routine to make sure I’m up and on the early train in to work in a new office environment.  New commute costs.  New car costs (we’ve never had a car while I’ve been in New Zealand).

On top of all that I’m certain that I suffer from SAD — seasonal affective disorder, so I felt really crappy for a lot of this time, and was very tense, which didn’t help my marriage any.  Ben and I fought a lot during the first few weeks we were here.  I think most of it was the stress from everything being so different, and all the adjustments we were having to make.  All of these new things to adjust to and new challenges to push past at once where a lot for us to take in.

I realize that with those new challenges came some amazing rewards to enjoy.

A new house to make into a home.   A new garden with new secrets and new plants to discover.  New sounds to enjoy as I work in the garden.

I’d never had the privilege of hearing a tui in person before moving up here. If you’ve never heard one before, you should check out this video of a tui singing:

On a quiet night with a gentle breeze, I can hear the waves crashing nearby.  It’s a wonderfully calming sound, and I hadn’t realized I actually missed living near the ocean.  It felt a bit like coming home when we moved here.

Ben really loves the area we moved to, and it makes me really happy that he does.  If he hated it I would feel horrible, because we moved here for my job.  He has luckily found some temporary work on a construction site not too far away, where a retirement village is being built.   I’m hopeful that he’ll find something he really enjoys soon, as I know it’s not what he really would like to do for work.

Spring has definitely given me a different outlook on everything.  More sunlight hours means more time for me to get things done.  The sun also helps me not feel so overwhelmed by things that would seem insurmountable during the dark & dreary months of winter.   I feel much happier about all the changes we’ve made now that things have settled down and we’re able to actually take time and enjoy the little things.

Do you ever notice you feel down or in a bit of a rut during winter months only to have the sun help you break through it all come spring?

Hello, spring. Please stay a while.

It’s officially spring here in New Zealand.

Yesterday we received glorious rays of sunshine all day on the Kapiti Coast, and Ben and I spent as much time as we could outdoors.  I was able to get some more weeding done, along with getting all of our laundry dried outside.  I made a note to myself to never use bark for mulching on top of weed mats.  Weeds love it.  You can’t keep them away.  They grow through the weed mat, honest to goodness.  I still have a ways to go in some areas of the yard!

We had the kittens (they’re not really kittens now) out for a bit, so I decided to get the camera out and capture a few action shots.  It’s harder than you think!  Especially with our little old camera that isn’t very fast.

Ben and Leon having a go at tug of war.  Or possibly Leon thinking he should be walking Ben, instead of the other way around?  Leon loves to take toys and just walk off with them in a very determined fashion, tail held high.

Behind them is what I believe to be a passion fruit vine, and a jasmine vine trying to take over the wire trellis going up the wall.

Winters and Moose (the big cats) are never far away when we’re outside, and before long they decided they were kittens again, too.   They’ve both been more playful since we moved here, both inside and outside.

There’s more green here for them to enjoy, I think.  The yard is huge compared to our last house.  The grass will need a trim soon…the house was advertised with the condition that the owner would take care of the lawns, but the land lord hasn’t said anything to us about it yet.  I want to find a good old push-mower anyway.

Moose decided watching was far better than trying to actually catch the thing everyone else was chasing.

Today there wasn’t a true patch of sun at all.  A slight chill was back in the air, and it was raining before long.  Have I mentioned that it rains at least once every two days here?  I’m not kidding!  In a way I don’t mind it, but I’m itching for it to stay warm and dry for a few days in a row.  As I type these last few words, the rain has turned into a pour.  At least I like the sound of rain on the roof!  It’s very comforting. :)

Have you done anything to greet the new season?

Snapshot sort of Sunday

Hey again!  Slowly getting back into things.  Two posts in one week is an improvement, at least in my mind.  Blessed Ostara to friends here in the southern hemisphere and happy Mabon to you folks up North!

Even though I haven’t been posting much, I’ve still been taking some snapshots here and there over the past few months.

One of the lions at Wellington Zoo.  I was lucky enough to go twice last month, as they had $5 Wednesdays in August.  It was nice, but I couldn’t help feeling bad for some of the animals there — some of the enclosures were pretty small.

There are so many honey bees here in compared to our last house.  I stood very still beneath this tree at the top of our driveway and could hear them buzzing away.

Does anyone know what kind of tree this might be? We have two like this on the property.

This is one of my favorite plants — our friends Anthony & Alicia gave Ben and I this planter full of succulents they picked out as a wedding present.  Unfortunately the largest plant in the middle of the planter was damaged during the move, but I think part of it will recover.  Succulents are amazingly resilient!

Random garden update:  I’ve popped some spinach, lettuce, and kale seedlings into the back garden bed.  The days are getting warmer here, and although the nights are still pretty nippy, they haven’t died yet.  First time growing spinach or kale, so I hope they go well!  I read that you can grow them in spots even if it doesn’t get full sun.  The placement of the garden bed is on the south side of the house, so it doesn’t get full sun.  Hopefully it gets enough to give me some salads!

How are things going in your garden?

Another beginning

It was around this time last year that I began my blogging  journey that led me to meet all of you.  I thought about not renewing my domain, but I’ve decided I need to make time for myself, and I want to spend that time blogging.  I want to get back to posting daily.  This could prove to be slightly boring for you readers, but it’s more of a therapy for me, so deal with it!

I know the past few posts I’ve made have mentioned my lack of posts, and my intentions to write more.  I have to say that sometimes life gets in the way.  The last few months have been a whirlwind.

Ben and I have landed in the North Island and are settling into our new home and trying to find a new routine.  We absolutely love it up here.  The neighborhood is beautiful, and the people up this way are even lovelier.  Ben was very surprised, on his motorcycle ride up, at how friendly the locals were to him.  At that point, he looked like someone out of Sons of Anarchy — bushy beard, leather jacket, black beanie, sunglasses.  He had three people in the supermarket ask him if they could help him find things on his first trip there.  I know that Christchurch folks are just as lovely…but honestly I think they’re all a bit tired, and they’ve been through hell.  It’s been a long two years in Christchurch, and that sometimes showed.

It could be that I’m looking at things from the eyes of an outsider up here at the moment.  Only noting the differences.  Although I really do like it up here, my heart is still in Christchurch.

The cats did really well with the move.  They had to go into a cattery while we emptied the old house and then I flew up with them after Ben drove up from Christchurch.  Moose decided to pee in my empty suitcases the first week we were here.  I realized that he didn’t want to use the litter box, so I made the decision to let the big cats outside earlier than I wanted to.  I was afraid they’d go missing, but I guess with the lack of aftershocks this time around, I didn’t have as much to worry about.  As soon as I let them out, Moose stopped peeing in the suitcases.  I really expected at least one of the cats to end up with a urinary tract infection (Leon was the most prone) after all the stress from the cattery and the flight and then the new house, but luckily nobody developed one.

I admit to completely underestimating how stressful and tiring this move would be.  Almost all of the plants I brought up got badly damaged during the move, and more than a few household items broke. There are still a few boxes left to unpack in our spare bedroom.  I’ve been avoiding them.  I didn’t get my office set up in a way I liked until last week.

The house is still a bit empty in some places because this house is the biggest we’ve ever lived in and we don’t have a huge amount of furniture.  I’m not in love with everything about it, but I don’t hate it. Some parts just look funny to me.  It really could be worse, considering we didn’t even do a walk through before we moved in!

I didn’t think I’d have the energy or time to garden this year because I’m back working in an office now, with a long commute to and from work. I’m not home as much.  That contemplation was part of the reason I haven’t made any posts since June.

I was just so overwhelmed with everything, and I think part of me was mourning the garden I left in Christchurch.  I spent so much time and money getting that how I wanted it.

But, with the lack of rain today on my day off, I managed to get the garden bed on the side of the house weeded finally.  I’ve decided to begin again, and am now ready to see what I can make happen here.  It’s a totally different climate here, though.  And so much windier than Christchurch.  Even if it’s not windy during the day, the nightfall always seems to bring strong winds.  I’m trying to work out where I can plant things so I won’t lose them to those.

On the bright side,  I have no doubt that I will be able to enjoy the full glutton of my courgette plant this year.  There will be no plantnapping happening in my garden!  I’ve already got one waiting to be transplanted.  Ben made sure I bought one on our first trip to the gardening center.  It’s not quite big enough to withstand the wind here yet

I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things now that Spring is finally here, both in the garden and in blogging.  I’ve missed reading your blogs and writing here.  I hope I haven’t missed too much.

Expect to see more of me!

Last winter in Christchurch

We’re saying goodbye to Christchurch in about a month.  We still haven’t found a place in Wellington yet, but we’re looking every day.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we find a place that will allow us to have four cats (and a dog, Ben says) that isn’t too expensive.

Last time we moved, it was a year ago this week.  It didn’t seem as cold then as it is now, though.  Maybe it was?

My days this week were filled with pinning down details for our move.  Cleaning out the shed.  Making lists of things to tidy, things to give away, and things to pack.  Can’t really do much outside now.

This is what it looked like at our house last week.  If you look very closely, you may find a Winters in the winter!

I’m glad I didn’t bother trimming the grasses…no point, unless our landlord asks me to.  When we moved in, everything was really overgrown, though.  Hopefully he won’t ask me to!

Russell, along with everyone else in Christchurch, was pretty shocked by the blanket of snow we got only 6 days into winter.

Leon has discovered that with the cold, the doors in our house have shrunken a bit.  This means he can pop the bathroom door open, if he takes a running start at it, and in turn has access to the open window.  Not good!  At least he comes right to me when I call him still.  He’s a good mama’s boy :)

The older cats wanted to go out in the snow, and then came right back inside after they realized that everywhere they stepped was wet.  Both were horribly disgruntled.

Leon & Damara really wanted to go outside, but we deemed it ‘too cold for kitties’ and told them they weren’t missing much.  They watched it snow from their beds on my desk instead.

I tried to get good pictures of them watching the big, fat snowflakes fall, but black cats aren’t fun to photograph unless it’s really bright inside, and the lighting was not on my side.  Their view of the winter wonderland outside:

It took a few days for the snow to melt.  There’s still snow on top of my raised garden beds and the containers I grew potatoes in.  We’re experiencing another cold snap this week.  This is probably the last snow Ben and I will see for a few years.   It doesn’t snow (much) in Wellington, from what I hear.

I can’t wait for spring to come.

How is your season going?

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