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?


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!

Versatile Blogger Award Goodness

A little while back, Yashikibuta nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award!

I really couldn’t believe it when I read her comment — it was definitely the last thing I expected to happen after taking a couple months off from blogging! :)  Thank you so much for nominating me, Yashie! <3  If you haven’t seen her blog, Thriving Pessimist, you should check it out — her dogs are as spoiled as my kitties! She definitely loves her furbabies :)

When you’re nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award, there are seven things you need to do:

1.   Nominate 15  fellow bloggers.

2.  Inform the bloggers of their nomination.

3.  Share seven (7) random things about you.

4. Thank the blogger who nominated you.

5.  Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture on your post.

Well, I’ve got 4 and 5 down, so I guess it’s time to do the rest!

Seven random things about me:

– Somehow I find it easier to clean the house when Ben isn’t home.  I have no real idea why this is a fact, but it is.  It takes me a lesser amount of time to get things done if I’m home alone, and I have a stronger feeling of contentment about it when it’s done.  Probably because I know it’s not going to get messed up again in five minutes (kidding, Ben, kidding *cough* )

– I love bad reality TV shows.  I know that makes me a horrible person, but it provides a nice distraction at the end of a long day.  My favorites include: Geordie Shore, Wife Swap, Come Dine With Me, and Jersey Shore.  Don’t judge.

– I weigh more now than I ever have before and it freaks me out, yet I’m having trouble sticking to a solid diet (or healthy eating/smaller portion sizes) and exercise plan.  :( Something I struggle with on a daily basis.  I’ve managed to lose 2kg in the past few weeks, so that’s a good start, but I need to stick with it this time!  I don’t eat horrible food, but I don’t get enough exercise and I know this.

– I would call myself a Pagan at this point in time.  I practiced Paganism for almost 10 years of my life, before becoming a Buddhist, but Buddhism just wasn’t doing it for me.  I would like to find a group of Pagans to celebrate holidays here in New Zealand, but I’m not sure where to start looking.

– I sometimes isolate myself when I’m going through anti-social bouts.  It could be a mild form of anxiety, but it’s definitely not because I don’t want to see people.  I’m not sure why I do it, but yeah. I wouldn’t say it’s depression, but a general feeling of “I’d rather stay home than go out somewhere” can, and does, happen with me sometimes.  I’m getting better at pushing that aside.

– I would love to volunteer at an animal shelter one day when my work schedule allows for it.

– I love socks.  What do I want for Christmas usually? Socks. Why? There’s a 5th dimension in my house (wherever I live) that eats socks.  I’m not kidding. This is absolutely the truth.  So when you see a website like Not Socks Gifts, just know that socks will always be a welcome gift under my tree ;)

11 bloggers I’d like to nominate for the Versatile Blogger Award:

NZ Ecochick

Craving Fresh

My little corner of Rhode Island

Moon over Martinborough

Jimmie Chew

Promenade Plantings

Sarah the Gardener

Eight Acres

Nigel Gnome Grows a Vegetable

Moonlight Micro-Farm

The Kitchen’s Garden

I had a hard time listing the blogs to nominate, as I read so many at the moment, but these 11 really stood out lately! :) I do think a few of them have already been nominated for this award, but I don’t see anything wrong with someone being nominated more than once — definitely check out those links if you’re looking for new blogs to follow!

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?

I love spam.

It’s been a while since I posted! Apologies!

I spent the rest of my annual leave frolicking in the garden,  catching up on good television and laying around with my kitties.  And getting engaged!  I think most of you saw that one, though.  I just wanted to type it.  Again.  I swear I’m done saying it now :)

Tomorrow now & gwen will resume to regularly scheduled posting with a Snapshot sort of Sunday post for you to enjoy.   Today I want to share with you my love of spam.

Not spam in a can.  The spam I receive here!  The comments lately have been amazing.

Here are some of my favorites from this week, along with awesome cat pictures, because the cats have all told me that they’re not getting enough face time on now & gwen.  I picked photos as random as the spam.  Enjoy!

Oddly sleeping Damara

Hello! Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog article or vice-versa? My site discusses a lot of the same subjects as yours and I think we could greatly benefit from each other. If you’re interested feel free to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Wonderful blog by the way! — Navy seal spam site

Why yes! Your site does discuss the same subjects as mine.  I would LOVE to guest post on your blog!  Everyone knows I like to jump out of helicopters and run around with a gun and do other navy seal sorts of things, like gardening and playing with my cats…

Oddly sleeping Leon

In my house when I take bored, after that I just ON my PC and open YouTube web page to watch the YouTube video lessons. — Youtube spammer

Me too!  When I take bored (which really isn’t often), I just ON my PC and open YouTube to watch the video lessons too!

Like lessons on how to win at being a funny cat!!

And then the ultimate comment, made of much win…

The gift of Leon! Not spam!

With it, I had a pork belly sandwich, which I chose after some dithering because face it, I love pork belly.  — Dithering pork fan

I’m not sure what that had to do with my Plantnappers & Christmas post, but hey.   Some people just love pork belly sandwiches, and want to tell the world about it while using interesting vocabulary, like dithering.

Can you say random? Have you had any awesome spam love lately? Please share!

Summer holiday

I’ve taken some annual leave, so I might not post as much for this week & next week!  I know I haven’t posted horribly much yet this month, but I’ll get back into the swing of things very soon, I swear :)

I want to use this time to establish some new habits, like making use of the Wii Ben got me for Christmas, and walking everyday, if the weather permits (when it doesn’t, I can use The Beast instead).

I’m also taking some time to notice the small things again — it was much too easy in December to rush around trying to get a million and one things done.

Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses.

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Ms. Chameleon is in her third batch of flowers now, and putting on a spectacular show.  I could take pictures of them all day.

Have you noticed any small things today? I hope you have! <3

New Year’s wishes

I can’t believe this year is over.

It’s gone amazingly fast (most of it), except for when I was waiting for seeds to grow and moaning on here about that!

We’ve had some awesome things happen in our lives this year, for better and for worse.  I’m hoping 2012 brings more happiness for the now & gwen house, and that the ground stops moving in Christchurch.  I already have new ideas for the garden next spring if we’re still in this house by then.  I guess only time will tell :)

Starting this blog is probably one of the best things I’ve done for myself in ages.   I never really expect people to read it, but it’s always a blessing to receive lovely comments from you, and it’s been awfully therapeutic for me.  I’ve needed an outlet for a while and gardening, while quickly becoming my most favorite hobby, is quite a solitary experience for me.  It’s been wonderful reading so many blogs and (e)meeting so many lovely bloggers out there!

Things are still full steam ahead outside!  I picked my first King of Blues beans today and blanched them in some salt water.  They tasted amazing, and were longer than my hand — I wasn’t expecting them to grow so long!  The kittens had to inspect them before cooking, of course.  In the picture, I’d snapped all of then in half, so picture them twice as long as that.

I think this variety of beans would be really great to grow if you have kids.  Watching them turn from a dark, purple-black to green while they blanch is lots of fun!  The magic happens very fast. :)

I also tied up the peas a bit more today, and pushed them over the top of the fence so they’ll grow in that direction instead of flopping over.  Some of them have started to yellow.  I’m not sure why exactly!  I’ve always read that peas don’t need much fertilizing/feeding, so I haven’t really feed them in a while.  I’m wondering if it’s a deficiency or if they just really dislike being so close to spring onions.

I picked a bunch of sugar snap pods and lots of huge snow peas that I’ll be eating for dinner tonight!  I’ve found that the pea pods have a really sweet smell when you pick them, even though the flower has dropped off of it days before then.  It lingers on your fingers like marigolds do when you’re deadheading them.

I moved the red sail lettuces from bed #2 to bed #1 to make room for all the tomatoes and capsicum plants.  They were touch and go for the first day, but they’re settling in nicely and look like they’ll be bolting this week.  We had some really hot days last week that made my green lettuces bolt, so I pulled them from bed #1.

I spotted our first tomato today as well and let out a little cheer!  Nearly all the full-sized tomato plants and pear tomato plants have flowers on them now.  In a few weeks I think we’ll get a lovely first crop!  I can hardly wait :)  We’re going to attempt making our own chutney & tomato sauce with what we harvest in 2012.

The nemophilia is looking as lovely as ever, with the white snowstorm poking up through the baby blue-eyes.  I think this flower will be a keeper for me.  I’m going to look forward to growing them every year.

Best wishes from now & gwen to you and yours! :) See you in 2012!

Leon & Damara’s first Christmas

We needed a pick-me-up after the plantnappers hit again, so Santa came on Christmas Eve for Leon & Damara…

What did Santa leave for Leon & Damara?

What is this thing?  What do we do with it?

Hmm...what is it?

It smells really interesting.  Let’s see what’s inside!

Damara always lets Leon do the hard work.

I can help with the twine, Mom.

Damara finally decides to help

Maybe if we both pull on it…

I need to floss anyway!

Maybe if I pull on this one…

It's green!

Wow, it’s fluffy, like us!

How... exciting.

Thanks, Santa!

Thanks to Ben for taking pictures!

Did Santa leave anything for your pets?

Plantnappers & Christmas

Sorry for the lack of posts!  Work has exploded with activity, I was out-of-town for a bit and then before I knew it, Christmas had come and gone.

Things in the garden are exploding, too.  I can’t keep up with the lettuces, and I’m getting so many snow peas that I could eat them at every meal and still have more! :) Luckily, I love snow peas.

I can finally tell the difference between the sugar snap peas and snow peas, by the way.

King of Blues BeansMy king of blues & scarlet runner beans are starting to come out.  It’s really cool to see these little sticks on the vines turn into beans!  Even though Ben doesn’t eat as many veggies as I do, he loves the idea of being able to grow your own food, so he’s getting a real kick from how much our garden beds are giving us this season.

Our Christmas was really lovely.  We got to spend the day over at Ben’s parents’ house and have an amazing lunch there.

I really got spoiled this year!  Ben got me a Wii with the new Zumba game & Wii Fit because he knows how much I love Zumba and how the original dvds are getting a bit boring for me.  I also got two pairs of glasses.  I haven’t had glasses in about ten years — my old optometrist used to yell at me for that.

Ben’s parents have been reading along here and spied my garden wish list post from a few months ago.  They gave me a dwarf lemon tree and english lavender for Christmas!  And Ben’s brother got me some socks (I love socks! I always need socks!) and some new gardening secateurs.

On a sad note, the plantnappers struck again early Christmas Eve morning (or Christmas Eve Eve? night).  I went outside to water the garden late on Saturday and opened the door to find that Mr. Courgette had been stolen. They weren’t so neat about the roots this time and left quite a few of them, which looked really horrible because they were still bringing up water and just sticking out of the bed, dripping.

I’m not sure if whoever doing it is just screwing with us, or if they really like courgettes, but I was (and still am a bit) heartbroken.  Ben is really upset as well…we just feel a bit powerless at this point to really try and stop them from ripping out everything else that I’ve worked so hard to grow.

Pretty fly on a pretty marigoldI was really discouraged about bringing any of the plants I’ve grown from seed out from around back, but I really have no where else to put them and what’s the point of having two new raised garden beds if I can’t use them?  I’m trying to not let the plantnappers keep me down, so I’ve done some rearranging in the garden beds since then, and I’ll do a picture post tomorrow to show you the updates! :)

Leon & Damara want me to post about their holiday as well, so stay tuned for that!

We hope your holidays are going smashingly well! 

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