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!

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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?

A snapshot sort of Sunday

Goodness!  Another week gone.  I swear time goes so fast in the spring.   I love doing these snapshot Sunday posts — it’s fun to see how plants change from week to week, and what things were like! This week’s post makes number five.

Since it rained quite a bit, I didn’t get to take too many photos.  I think a lot of these were taken on the same day, but I think they’re still pretty in some way!

Stealth potato. UGH.

One of the rogue potatoes that keep popping up in raised garden bed #1.  They’re pretty, but I don’t want them there!

So pretty! :)

My courgette buds are growing!  The one on the left will be a female flower, and eventually a courgette (hopefully), and the skinny stemmed one will be a male flower.

Possible rock crop plant?

A close up of one of the  ‘Name that Plant‘ plants.   I’m afraid to repot the mystery palm in this container because I don’t want to break these little guys…

Sleeping in his favorite spot

Moose loves sleeping on this old computer desk we have on the front porch.  It’s pushed up to a window pane so it’s a bit sheltered, and the sun makes it nice and warm.  I love seeing little kitty toes!

Too much lettuce!

My lettuces are definitely ready for me to eat!  I picked a lot of the red today and will start on the green in bed #1 tomorrow.

First lettuce picking

The first red lettuce of the season at now & gwen! :) It’s enough for about four eight salads!

sweet & sour veggies

I meant to do a recipe post this week, but got distracted.  I’d forgotten I took this picture of a quick sweet & sour stir-fry I did.  Ben doesn’t like many veggies (more for me) so I cooked his up with chicken, and had whatever veggies I had in the fridge for mine (along with some of the chicken).   I like how the steam is all wispy in the top of this one.

Looking at that last picture has made me extremely hungry!  It’s time for me to go have my first salad of the season.

How has your week gone?  How are your gardens looking?

A snapshot sort of Sunday

Ack, I’m behind a day!  And I just missed Sunday in the US by 40 minutes, so I can’t even act like I did it because of that either.

I blame Wellington for making my allergies go nuts and me being too meh to get this together yesterday.  I finally have my nose back today! The amount of nose that I usually have, anyway, which is to say probably half a nose?  I am allergic to cats, but more of other cats than my own cats.

On to the pictures!

Airport poppy

Pretty flowers at the airport! :) They looked like poppies, but I could be wrong?

Airport poppy

I really loved their colors! So vibrant :) Spring is definitely here!

Blue skies

I’m glad I remembered my sunglasses on this trip.  Usually I forget them, and end up getting bad headaches if I’m in the sun too much.

Office nerf gun arsenal

Obviously, our office is not a normal office by any means.  This is the fully-stocked nerf gun cabinet.  I choose to remain unarmed, as folks don’t tend to aim at unarmed coworkers as much!

Rainy Wellington morning

The second morning I was there, it was foggy and rainy, but I didn’t mind.  It was nice to stand outside, protected by an overhang, and listen to the birds greet the day.

Shya and Dauny

The later half of my trip, I stayed with some expectant friends & their kitties so I could attend their not-baby-shower party!

Jackolantern

The gathering was Halloween-themed!  Pumpkins (they were squash) were carved, and glorious spooky snacks were made!

Stuffed date cockroaches

Cream cheese & walnut-stuffed  cockroaches (dates) were my favorite.

Peanutbutter eyeballs

These white chocolate-covered peanut butter & rice cereal balls went down a treat, too.

Bat wings

I was too chicken to try the bat wings after I saw what color they were.  Very impressive!

Mystery flower

And there were pretty flowers there, too!  I’m unsure what kind this is, but it caught my eye and wanted its picture taken.

I had a really lovely time in Wellington :) I’m so lucky that my job can be done from home, but it’s nice to get to see everyone in the office once in a while and catch up with friends!

How was your weekend?  Doing anything for Halloween?

I’m going to talk to my plants

I know I said yesterday I was having much needed downtime, but last night I couldn’t just sit and watch TV.  I sit for so long while working that on my days off I like to actually do things.  Last night, I ended up cleaning out more pots while watching my Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice & then Scrubs.  I think I planted every last seed I could find (except for the poppies and morning glories that I totally forgot to plant today).

Some of you might be sick of pictures like these, but it’s so satisfying for me to see!  My apologies, lol.  Here’s what I’ve ended up with:

Sowing seeds

Please ignore the bottle of mouthwash. Old earthquake habits die hard. Sometimes I still brush my teeth at the kitchen sink in the mornings (we had to boil water in the jug first the night before).

The fluffy oregano & friends got new homes:

Oregano, Thyme, & Sage
I really hope everything sprouts! If it doesn’t, I guess it can just go into my tomato pots when they get big enough to be put into their own pots.  Mt. Dirtmore is officially nothing more than a small bundle of compost/recycled potting mix living inside the blue tarp it covered originally. It’s crazy that I’ve used it all up!

The morning trip to get all the seed trays outdoors is going to take three times as long now! When you have two indoor kittens that don’t understand why they can’t go outdoors (who can also open most of the internal doors in the house), this is no easy feat. This is what our back table looked like today:

Seedlings in the sun

And there’s still the tray of re-potted tomatoes & green lettuce not in this picture.

I really am going to relax now, I swear. We have a full night of TV shows to catch up on (Sons of Anarchy, anyone?) and a new one to watch called Terra Nova that looks interesting! :)

I am so awful at this waiting stage of gardening. Ben’s Mom told me I should talk to my seeds and they’ll grow better.  I found a newspaper article with some interesting facts about plants and how they react to certain things. I don’t know if any of it is actually scientifically true, but I’d like to think talking helps them along anyway :)

Have you ever talked to your seeds or played music for your plants?

Planning (say what?)

Emma over at Craving Fresh posted her garden plan today, and I’ve been procrastinating (not waiting. There is a difference) on doing mine because I’ve never done one before and it looked too much like work. Her post and the fact that my garden beds are now ready made me realize I really needed to get a move on with this planning stuff. (hopefully she doesn’t think I’m copying her in posting mine, I really need some feedback from anyone who gardens).

I don’t really feel anymore prepared than I would have. Half of the things I’m growing this year I’ve never grown before, so I have no idea what shape or how big they usually get! Here’s what it looks like (yes, it’s hella crude). Click to enlarge:

I suck at this crap.

Before I get into the garden planning, do you see how many tussicks (grasses) I had to trim down to be presentable?!

Tomatoes will be going in pots, as well as the cucumber that will be next to the fence I’m training the peas and beans to go up. I think I can train the cucumber up the fence? Hopefully? I need to figure out where to stick my cherry tomato plants. I’m wondering if I can grow those in pots, too. Does anybody out there know? Have you ever grown them in pots? I have a good pile of medium-large pots and some larger ones I was going to use for regular-sized tomatoes.

I also think I’ll be doing a spring crop and a summer crop of the beans, peas, and lettuce…I think I’ll have enough time.

As for the herbs in the top bed in the pic, I was thinking I might just do my herbs in pots instead, since I’m going to grow mint and two kinds of thyme that I think can spread everywhere (I know the mint can). And I plan on putting basil in with my tomatoes, since they’re good companion plants.

Also, Ben dropped a gardening bomb on me. He wants potatoes. I don’t know where to stick them either. Ben’s Dad suggested I stick them in front of the raised bed at the top of the picture…in the actual ground, behind the grass, sort of where a space is there. He said potatoes were often used to break in the ground at a new house before the lawn was planted, since the ground there is pretty much caked down. Once you get past the top layer, it’s not so bad, but those telephone people really stomped it down there to get it back in after they dug it all up. I’m not sure I really want to bother? Does that make me a bad girlfriend?

Let me know what you think of the garden plan. Tell me of your gardening experience with what I’m growing? Am I nuts? Am I doing it wrong? XD

It’s official: My cats hate lettuce

Two times now, the kittens have ransacked my seedlings. Leon was the first to show me he hates lettuce by destroying my little cardboard seed pots. Tonight, he reiterated his hate for lettuce by getting Damara to join in and they almost destroyed my green lettuce sprouts. And a tomato sprout. I think they’ll all live once I patch up their little pots tomorrow. I’m sure they just like the potting mix, but I like to say they hate lettuce because they don’t seem to actually destroy any other containers! They did chew on the peas and beans a bit, but I think they’re big enough to survive.

Enough about the resident lettuce-haters (Ben is actually in that club, too).

Something exciting happened yesterday! I got a mountain of dirt delivered! Russell went mountain climbing. He’s lucky I was there to supervise, as he would’ve been buried alive if there’d been a slip. I got a few pictures for him so he can remember his adventure. Maybe I should start a scrapbook for him?

Ben took one look at the mountain and said, “Do you really think that’s going to be enough?” I looked at him in disbelief. How dare he doubt my math. I knew it would be more than enough for the garden bed!

Sir Russell climbs Mt. Dirtmore

Ben’s awesome Dad came over today and we put together the second raised garden bed and then filled it up. There was enough left over to fill up all four of my tire planters and I still have a bit left to top up stuff after it rains or to use in my tomato pots. :) Now I just need my sprouts to get big enough to be put in! And to actually figure out where everything’s going to go in the beds. I think I might just end up cramming it all in wherever, but I probably should try to plan it out a bit to ensure everyone gets enough sun.

Seriously though, Ben’s Dad is a champion! I can’t thank him enough for helping me shovel dirt into bucket after bucket.  We had a really good time, honestly! I think he’s had just as much fun as I have with my gardening journey thus far. He was quite pleased of the results today:

Raised bed no. 2

Ready for some flower seeds!

Back patio

Another planter ready to go

You may not find pictures of empty planters very exciting, but I do! After seeing them empty for so long, waiting to be filled, I almost jumped up and down when we finished. I wanted to climb into the raised garden beds and make dirt angels. No lie. It was really tempting.

I’m now debating on whether to add potatoes to the garden this year. I probably should, but I dunno. They take up a lot of room…

Russell wanted one more picture:

I'm watching you....from the top of this mountain!

Here comes the sun.. and a nap.

Today, I woke up a little after 10am. I had the curtains drawn so Ben could sleep, and it’s one of my days off, so a little sleep in was acceptable. I was dreading what the weather would be like as I pondered on whether it was the right time to get up or not.

Thankfully, the sun was out in full force!  I put my little seed trays out right away into their morning spot on the back patio. I had every intention of following my little seeds outside after a coffee and breakfast but I didn’t manage to get out there until 4pm…I know I said it was a day off, but I had some work to do, since my manager is away for a bit, and some reading to catch up on, and then of course showering is good.

I moved my little seed trays to the front at around 1pm, and then the neighbor’s house alarm started going off. For 30 minutes. It was so loud, even the cats were annoyed. I had a peek across the street, but couldn’t see anything amiss, so I’m assuming it was a fault. At least we all (and by all, I mean everyone in a 3 block radius) know it works?

At around 2, I decided it was time to attack the compost bin on the side of the house. When we first moved here in June, I found numerous beer bottles and wine bottles hidden in a hedge out back, so I had low expectations of what lie in wait in the compost bin. I opened the bin to find grass clippings that haven’t even started to decompose! And newspaper. I don’t know much about composting, but something tells me I need to read up on it and get this little bin sorted. I’m wondering if it’s in a bad spot. The sun doesn’t hit it for very long and it’s on the cold side of the house. Compost reading is on my to-do list for tomorrow after work.

Ben decided we were having take-away lunch and watching an episode of Hell’s Kitchen, and after eating and sitting on the couch for 40 minutes, all I really wanted to do was sleep. Somehow I fought off the nap attack, though (for a little while, at least) and headed out front to do… something!

Ben’s dad kindly gave me some hedge clippers. This is the result of my something today:

Giving new meaning to 'muffin top' since 2011.

The slightly OCD part of me is telling me to go out and trim more off the right side of the front one after looking at that picture. DOH! I could probably use all the trimmings for mulching on the garden beds. Will go grab it all tomorrow morning, I guess. My arms are aching from using those trimmers — it’s a good work out! I still have a couple to do towards the front hedge, which is looking really bare due to over trimming. I hope the poor thing bounces back soon. You can see my massive rosemary bush in the background, too! I love rosemary.

The nap attack I fended off earlier came back directly after the grass-trimming, so the kitties and I dozed off in the late-afternoon sun and I woke up much later, to my dismay. I always feel foggy after a nap where it’s light when I close my eyes and then dark when I wake up. Still trying to shake the feeling 2.5 hours later!

So yep. I did something in the garden today. I like my little muffin top grasses! :) Tomorrow, I shall introduce you to my furry kids for a change of pace!

P.S. WordPress doesn’t like the word bin, peak or bare. When I ran a spell-check on this post, it suggested I use been, peak and bear! XD Wtg, WordPress.

It has begun!

I’ve ordered my seeds for the veggie garden this year and I can’t wait till they’re here! Even the grocery store seems to be beating me at getting things planted. Last time I was there, there were tomato plants and strawberry plants on sale already. I couldn’t help but get two strawberry plants to bring home. They can be friends with the three that live here already from previous tenants.

Note to self: replant existing strawberry plants after you’ve drilled holes in the plastic trough they’re in so they can drain properly and not smell like stagnant swamp water.

Here’s the list of what’s to come:

Veggies:

  • A rainbow mix of heirloom tomatoes (couldn’t decide on which variety to get)
  • A rainbow mix of heirloom cherry tomatoes (same deal)
  • Sweet jingle bell peppers (capsicums for you kiwis reading)ZOMG Purple carrots!
  • Eggplant – Golden egg variety
  • Lettuce – Red salad bowl variety (sort of like red oak leaves you get in mixed lettuce bags)
  • Lettuce – Little gem (a boston variety known for small head size)
  • Bean – King of blues variety (they’re PURPLE)
  • Bean – Scarlet runner variety
  • Snow Peas
  • Sugarsnap Peas (a variety that will hopefully climb)
  • Carrot – Purple dragon (see pic)
  • Cucumber – Crystal apple variety

Ch-ch-ch-chia!Herbs:

  • Thyme – French Summer
  • Catnip (yay for kitties!)
  • Basil – Mini greek (think chia pets!)
  • Sage
  • Parsley – Italian (flat leaf)

Flowers:

  • Sweet pea (apparently these smell awesome)
  • Nemophilia snowstorm (pretty!)

Exciting times! :) While looking for these pics, I found the site where the person I’m purchasing seeds from must purchase her seeds (www.kingseeds.co.nz)! Nice profit margin — maybe I should sell seeds on the side. Glad I stumbled upon the site, though! They have another color of nemophilia that will look awesome in contrast with the one I ordered, and the lady I’m buying from isn’t selling that kind.

A bit of bad news on the gardening front happened yesterday, though. :( I went out to dig out the raised garden bed on the side of our house and while I was digging out the millions of potatoes that live in it, one of the sides of the gardening bed crumbled to bits. It turns out that the sides of it are made from plaster board (sort of like thin drywall for you Americans), of all things! I really have no idea what possessed the maker of said raised bed to use that…I don’t think it’d be very good for growing vegetables in. I guess that was a blessing in disguise, though — looking at new raised beds. Hopefully I can grab one that won’t break our bank, and maybe stick it somewhere else instead of on the side of the house!

I think I’ve babbled enough for today ;) Until next time!

 

On new beginnings.

Making space for new things is surprisingly refreshing.

Spring is just around the corner here in New Zealand and I’m chomping at the bit to get out and start gardening. Fortunately, I’ve learned that gardening this early isn’t always a good idea because sometimes we can get late frosts here in Christchurch.  Instead of planting, I’ve decided to use this time for preparing — cutting down the old and making way for the new. I’m finding myself doing the same in other aspects of my life. It’s surprisingly refreshing and less painful than I thought it would be. I’ve been letting go of all sorts of things and hoping new new things will come along soon. Change hasn’t always come easily for me, but I think as I grow older, I’ve realized that nothing ever really stays the same and that I shouldn’t expect it to.

A great friend of mine recently started a blog and inspired me to do the same, except where hers has a good, solid theme, my posts will most likely cover a broad range of topics including but not limited to gardening, cooking, cats, and more cats. Of course there will most likely be a slew of other things thrown in, but you can expect to see those three, for sure!

If you do decide to follow this blog, thank you! I hope you enjoy the ride and don’t mind too much when I wander off on tangents now and then. :)

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