New life, in more ways than one

Forgive me bloggers, for I have disappeared. It has been over a year since my last post.

And so much in my life has changed. The past year has been an absolute whirlwind of change, and I welcomed it with open arms.

My job in Wellington ended in May last year. Thanks to a wonderful woman I used to work for, I was blessed to begin two part-time jobs in Christchurch, to make up one full-time job. For the first three months after my job ended, I lived in Christchurch and Ben stayed in Wellington with our lovely kitties until our lease there ended.

Ben and the kitties joined me in July, when we were lucky to find a reasonably priced rental in Christchurch among horrible rising rent prices. So many houses were damaged or demolished due to the earthquakes, which has resulted in a shortage of affordable housing here. It’s not a spacious house, by any means; it’s about half the size of our home on the Kapiti Coast, and only $30 cheaper per week, but it’s a good little house.

Ben found a new job as well and life for us resumed the familiarity that we once knew; we were home again.

While we were up north, I was on my way to being diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. I had started that journey before we left Christchurch in 2012, but it took forever to find a doctor’s office that was accepting new patients on the Kapiti Coast/in Wellington. I picked it up again when I returned to Christchurch. My very first blood tests pointed to the possibility of me actually being pregnant, which hadn’t happened on its own even though we hadn’t been preventing pregnancy for over two years. Ben and I really thought it wasn’t possible for us to conceive naturally at that point, but alas, we finally did it!

We built dreams and hopes for the new life I was busy growing. We planned and prepared. We were so ready. We had been waiting for this for so long.

In June 2014, our family grew by two tiny feet when our daughter was born. Her birth story and journey thus far will come in another post, one that I desperately need to write for myself.

For now, I am amazed at how quickly days blur into nights and back to days again. And at how well I am surviving on naps (reminding me of my days as a breakfast chef). And how astonishing it is that I can love someone so fiercely that I’ve only known for two months. And how lucky I am to have such a devoted husband, who is becoming the most wonderful father to Vivian.

Vivian

What’s new in your world?

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?

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?

Snapshot sort of Sunday

I finally got all my pictures on to one computer — having a bit of computer dramas here and having to reformat!

I thought I’d show some of the small end harvest I had at the end of this summer and this autumn.

Some of the pictures were taken on my phone, so apologies for poor quality!

My purple dragon carrots were awesome.  I will be growing these again.

Still orange on the inside! :)

A couple of the pear tomatoes that were in my tomato mix

Harvested scarlet runner beans and green beans to dry out

Crystal apple cucumber (this one was pretty bitter and it was early on in the season.  The last couple I harvested were really nice, but the skin is a bit thick and they have so many seeds.  Probably won’t grow them again.

The raised garden bed next to the fence still has plenty of spring onions left in it — I try to use them as much as I can when cooking, but there’s still a lot! I’ll have to give some away to neighbors this week.  I’ve decided to let these marigolds go on their own for a bit so I can save some seed heads to take with us when we move.

Yep, we are moving.  To Wellington!  More on that in a future post.

How are your gardens looking?

Wedding (not tomato) season

Well!  I picked a really bad year to start a blog about gardening (amongst other things).  This summer has been really crappy weather-wise, at least for tomatoes, which was supposed to be my bumper crop this year!

It’s (again) been a while since I posted.  And I don’t feel horribly bad about that (sorry!).  I’ve  fallen behind on reading all the awesome blogs I follow, but I’m slowly catching up!  I blame the annual leave I took in January.  Blogging has been an outlet for me, and when I took time off, I didn’t need to say as much because I guess I had more time to do other things?  Plus, the weather has still been really…not summery, so my garden (sadly) is not as awesome as I thought it would be, hence the lack of garden updates.

I’m on annual leave again!  And I’m getting married next Saturday.  Surprise surprise!

By Ícaro Moreno Ramos (Wedding Photography) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ícaro Moreno Ramos (Wedding Photography) via Wikimedia Commons

I do love the idea of being engaged, but Ben and I have been together 7+ years.  I really don’t see the point in a long engagement, or a big wedding, so I looked at the calendar and picked a day that I would like to celebrate for the rest of my life.  The 3rd of the 3rd sounded awesome, and it’ll definitely be easy for Ben to remember (jokes, I swear).   Plus, it’s half way between my birthday and Ben’s birthday, and if you include valentine’s day being a week and a half before my birthday, I’ve successfully wrangled us a month of celebrating!  I’m pretty satisfied about that! :) Not that we really do Valentine’s Day, in a commercial sense.

I’ve also turned 30 since the last time I posted.  Being 30 doesn’t feel much different from 29, but that combined with getting married soon has made me miss my family a lot.  Especially my mom.  I always thought she’d be here for this, but life doesn’t always work out the way you thought it would.

I know some folks might be wondering about our wedding plans — there really aren’t many.  We’re having a private ceremony at home with a celebrant and Ben’s parents as our witnesses.  Afterwards, I think Ben and I will just enjoy our wedding day together.  No reception.  We don’t really know heaps of people and Ben’s a fairly private person, so I think it would be awkward to have a lot of people over when we really just want to be married, for us.  I’m hoping our friends will understand that and not be offended that they’re not getting invited to a reception. We’re not even doing a wedding cake (neither of us are crazy about cake).  We thought about having a barbecue, but I’m not really sure we’ll even do that.

By Johnnie Allen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Joe Falcon and Cléoma Falcon on their wedding day April 27th, 1932

Having spent the last few weeks looking at wedding stuff, it really amazes me.  The money there spent in the wedding market is unbelievable.  I can’t imagine spending thousands of dollars on a wedding. Many of the Western wedding traditions as we know them didn’t really exist until the last century, honestly, not a lot of it appeals to me.  Don’t get me wrong — I’ve been to a few weddings and they’ve been really beautiful.  They’re just not for me.

I wasn’t keen on the idea of wearing a dress, as I’m not really a dress (or skirt) kind of person, but I know Ben really would love to see me in a dress, so I managed to find one on my birthday.  It wasn’t an easy feat considering most of the stores out there don’t even carry my size (NZ 18).  It’s not a traditional wedding dress because it’s royal blue, but it fits me well, and I feel beautiful when I wear it.

I want to find some cheap live flowers (white and purple maybe?)  to plant in my tire planters (which have remained bare after I pulled out the nemophilias), but that’s about all the decorating I’m doing.  We’re still saving for a car.  The highlight of my birthday (after finding my dress) was buying a beautiful kaftan top for $5 when it was originally $60.  I don’t want to blow money on dead flowers, however pretty they are.  At least with live flowers we can enjoy them for a few weeks after the wedding!

Call me crazy if you want (a few people I know seem were flabbergasted by me not really wanting to get a dress), but I’m really happy about it all.  That’s what matters, right?

Have you ever gone the non-traditional route with something important?

Planting again & staying busy

Time for a quick garden update!

It looks like it’s time for me to replant my tire planters with flowers — the nemophilias were lovely, but they decided they’d had enough and started drooping horribly over the sides.  I’ve pulled them all out and will plant some new seed tomorrow.

I also pulled out my sugar snap and snow peas.  The snow peas had stopped producing and the sugar snaps were really yellow.  I discovered the sugar snaps had powdery mildew towards the bottom of their vines, which has now spread to the crystal apple cucumber plants. Doh!

I did find that there’s a cucumber growing!  Exciting news!  I’ve seen heaps of flowers but this is the first fruit on the vine.  The cucumber vine is super prickly — I get little splinters stuck into my fingers if I’m not wearing gloves.

I’m thinking I might put some lettuces in the tire planter on the back patio, now that there’s really no room for them.  I really loved that red sail variety.

It’s still raining here, and when it’s not sprinkling, it’s extremely muggy, so I haven’t been outside much this week.  I have been keeping busy with zumba and free-stepping while watching tv on the Wii.  Tomorrow, I’ll do some running (ever so briefly…) on the treadmill I think.  Super tired today from zumba, but I really did well.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to get into the workout but today I pushed myself to commit to every song.  It’s a good feeling.

What are some ways you enjoy getting exercise?  How are your gardens looking?

January 2012 Bloom Day

It’s the 15th!  For some folks, it’s pay-day.  For me, it’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, kindly hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens :)

This is the most exciting Bloom Day I’ve ever experienced!

Some things are coming to an end in the raised garden beds — the peas look like they’re about done, and the marigolds are being heavily deadheaded, but other things are still on the up and go.  It’s been pretty warm here (for New Zealand, anyway) so trying to keep on top of the watering with the water restrictions we’ve got in Christchurch have been hard on everyone.

Fiery marigolds

More marigolds

Lemon blooms

The new lemon tree Ben’s parents gave me has so many blooms on it! They smell so good!  I’m not sure whether to leave them or to pinch them off though.  There are so many, and it already has fruit as well.

Meyer lemons

My coriander’s going to seed! Will plant some more shortly.  It’s so easy to grow, and even easier to eat! :)

I spotted the first flower on my capsicums!  Exciting.  I wonder what kind it will be — I ordered a ‘rainbow mix’ of tomatoes and capsicums.

I know he’s not a bloom, but I thought he was pretty, so Sir Jumpsalot gets to be in this post.  I thought he was going to jump on me several times — he kept following my movements and then turning towards me lol.

Some kind of cute bug in a rose! :) Some weird things have been popping up in Ms. Chameleon’s foliage lately…

And that’s why today has been so exciting! :) Ben finally asked me to marry him.  Or in his words, “make it official,” because he’s considered me his wife for quite some time already.

What’s blooming in your garden (or life)?

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