Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spits and spats

Gardening has been done in little of snippets of time the past few months. Before cublet arrived my energy was waning and my belly was rather too cumbersome to enable much tending of the plots.

Spring brought rain and warmth. The seeds I planted sprouted with mixed success..the peas are going great and have in the past few days starting to produce pods. The chives are poking their little green shoots through the soil but the basil and coriander were a flop. I think the slugs got most of the carrot sprouts too.

Silverbeet and beans


The winter vege have been generous this week. Two huge cauliflower heads and a big broccoli too. I have been eating the first of the broad beans and yesterday the very first strawberries!

The celery is looking much healthier after some compost and the garlic is going crazy. The rhubarb has survived. Hurrah. With family staying and more than eager to hold the wee one I was able to get back outdoors. Was very good for this new Mum to work in the garden.

New passionfruit

Cublet has already had a few trips to the garden store with us. It takes a little longer with people wanting to take a peek inside the Solly Baby wrap! We love the wrap...great for when the wee one can't settle or if you need your hands free. Big fans of baby-wearing here. The new additions for the garden include;

  • A passionfruit vine
  • French marigolds
  • Carnations
  • Livingstone daisies
  • Borage
  • Daisy
  • Capsicum 
  • French lavender

But most exciting is the beginnings of a little orchard. We have always wanted to grow fruit trees but they are an investment and the wedding/renovations took priority. Now we are the proud owners of five fruit trees. They are grafted so from these five trees we should be able to harvest:

  • Apple; Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Splendour and Royal Gala
  • Plum; Black Doris and Billington
  • Peach: Black Boy and Golden Queen
  • Nectarine; Fire Brite and Red Gold
It is so exciting to think of future harvests. It's nice to dream up thoughts of picking fruit with cublet in a few years time. Mae was given an Olive tree as a gift when she was born. I hadn't heard of this tradition before but think it is so sweet. I found a little about it here and here. We brought a big blue pot so that if we move in a few years we can take her special tree with us.

Baby orchard

Mr Fox has potted up a few little trees to take to the office. He has three that he rotates between home and work. A coffee tree, dwarf nectarine and a mandarin. I think it such a cool way to bring a little green inside a stuffy office.

We have been treated to lots of colour from our wildflowers. It certainly brightens a grey day. Hope that your gardens are doing well and the sun is shining wherever you are.

First time watching me in the garden

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cublet arrived!

Our darling wee girl arrived in September! A little girl..fancy that! I'm ever so glad we didn't find out her gender til she was born. Loveliest surprise after the hard graft of labour.

And oh what a gorgeous baby girl she is. She has brought so much joy and healing to us and our family. After a really rough two years it is wonderful to have an incredible little lass to focus on and love with all of our might.

We named her Mae Molly Ann.

Mae because Mr. Fox and I both loved it
Molly as it is such a sweet name
Ann for our wonderful Mums. My Mum's middle name and Mr Fox's Mums first name

We later found out that Molly is a pet name for sister's name. How serendipitous!

Five weeks have passed since her arrival and it has gone quickly...although it feels like she has been here forever too. She is starting to smile and coo. Poppa Don and Sister Fox have fallen head over heels and have been able to spend precious time here. It was such a huge help having family here in those first weeks. I am so very lucky. Mr Fox's Mum and partner are coming this weekend and I can't wait for Mae to meet them. Family meeting little ones is the best.

One week old with special giraffe made by Nana Fox

Holding on tight to Poppa Don

So excited to have cublet here!

Cuddles with Aunty Mary 
Cute as a button and growing fast!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Instagram uploads

Instagram is such a fun way to share photos and play with effects. I love the instant record of life's 'Kodak moments'. My use is rather limited to documenting garden progress, flower arrangements and crafting. Documenting selfies and other social stuff doesn't really appeal so much. In saying that though I do need to get back into the habit of taking more photos of life out and about (not to share all these moments on instagram though but record them for family memories). 

I used to be really good at lugging the camera round and snapping away; somehow that has slipped away over the last couple of years. Perhaps with all that has happened during this time, remembering to be present in the moment and soak it up with out the intrusion/interruption of the camera has been at the forefront of my mind. Anyway I digress. 

Birthday tulips, Lilys from the garden and early morning sunlight
 Instagram snaps are handy to jog my memory of whats been going on our life. The pretty flowers below I picked after a long lunch with Mr. Fox. We walked down to the cafe at the end of the road and walked back along the riverside. We had such a peaceful and enjoyable afternoon. These twigs were growing alongside the footpath...perfect for a foraged bouquet. After lots of searching on the internet I think these might be Flowering Quince blooms? I would love to know for sure and grow some in our own backyard. Will see if these might sprout roots if I keep the water up to them.

Flowering Quince perhaps?

Many of the spring flowers are tiny or have very short stems but I can't resist bringing them inside to enjoy their loveliness. Sometimes I have put little flowers in tiny crystal shot glasses but last week I thought of putting some primulas in an egg cup...don't think I've ever thought to do this and I'm not sure why. Looks pretty cute to me. Egg cups are not often used in our house for eggs so why not.

Squirrel and primulas
Miss Lily the cat is so cute that she invariably ends up on Instagram quite often. My phone is full of photos of the cat....crazy cat lady tendencies are increasing round here but we do love her so.

All tuckered out
While pregnant I haven't made many things for cublet. I had made quite a few blankets, bibs and burp cloths a couple of years ago and these have been stored safely until now.

It has been fun to make a little crochet jacket over the past few weeks. It is rather sweet, made with 48 teeny tiny granny squares. The pattern is from this booklet; Patons Cute Crochet. I used the recommended yarn; 4ply Dreamtime in Donkey.  The jacket was quick to make while watching the UK Home Restoration series on Youtube. All it needs now is a ribbon and the wee one to wear it.

Starting to stitch together the squares

Completed little jacket. 
We have the carpet down in the nursery now and have spent the day hanging up pictures and the heater. With furniture in the room it is so inviting. The carpet is super squishy thanks to super thick underlay. It will be so warm in the winter and lovely for cublet to play on. Just have to paint the doors and rehang them. Also need to work out where we will put our extensive vintage childrens book collection and hang a shelf.

If the little one arrives now it will have some pretty sweet digs to hang out in. The weather is a bit rubbish today so when the sun is shining I'll take some photos and post the progress we have made.

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's raining, it's pouring......

The weather is soo wet today (not unusual for Spring in Auckland). There is water flowing steadily from the neighbours, through our place where it is making a lake then flowing in to the next neighbours. Sheesh. The Zoodoo compost will at least be settling into the garden and sharing it's goodness.

 However I planted out some seeds a couple of days ago (more peas, basil, coriander, chives) and I'm hoping these won't now rot or be washed away.  Can't win every time in the garden I guess! I read a wonderful post about gardening on Little Mountain Haven; such a good read and really reflects what I love about gardening.

Tools abandoned last weekend when the gentle rain suddenly turned into a downpour!
Last weekend I spread around the bags of compost and started a new little garden in the shaded side of the house. I already had some hellebores planted here but the soil was very poor and the weeds aggressive. Ma Fox had given me some woollen weed mat that I hadn't yet used. I laid this down first to hopefully suppress the buttercup etc.  I loaded up the garden with 3 bags of compost and edged it with tree trunks/branches we had lying around. Rustic look embraced fully here!

Sun out half an hour later and weed mat down. 
This side of the house gets a few hours of sunshine in the morning but still gets rain against the fence. The area hard up against the house gets little rain and next to no sun...not too sure what to do it yet?...maybe the place we eventually install a rainwater or greywater tank perhaps. 

Pa Fox had kindly sent up another box of plants from home. Feeling spoilt to say the this time had seeds for Mr. Fox (lollies and nuts to snack on!).  Some bulbs for spring colour...matchheads, bluebells, snow drops etc. Lovely primulas and some more hellebores. The trilliums are too beautiful. It's the best kind of lucky dip parcel in my eyes!

Lucky dip of plants from Pa Fox
An hour or so of planting/watering and the new garden was done. A week later the plants are getting settled in and they all look to be surviving. It certainly is a better view from the kitchen and lounge too. 

Newly planted garden. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bathroom Renovations

Before the Nursery renovations began Mr. Fox and our wonderful friend Tony worked for months on the bathroom. The state of the bathroom had been awful when we brought the house and had continued to deteriorate over the two years we have owned the place while we saved. 

The floor was propped up underneath due to it being rotten chipboard. It was safe but you could feel the bottom of the bath moving under your feet when showering. I never ever took a bathed in the bath because the bottom was so damaged and never quite felt clean no matter how hard you scrubbed it.

The walls were rotting, growing mould and the worst part was that this winter the slugs were coming in overnight...and not just a few. It was so yucky. The vanity top was maroon (not a favourite colour of mine and featured throughout this wee house!) and the sink was covered in melted brown spots where someone had stubbed out cigarettes. All in all it needed to be replaced.  

When we planned out the replacement bathroom we intended to just copy the layout however when we went to the shop they suggested flipping the bath round to go against the back wall. This meant we could have a cabinet over the vanity to increase storage. The other genius space saving idea came from friends who suggested we put in a sliding door. This has meant the room feels bigger and we had a spot for a heated towel rail..bonus! 

I wasn't too keen on tiles initially but Mr. Fox liked some porcelain tiles that look like wood. I did too, they add a bit of drama to the small room. This was a big splurge item and took the most effort to install. The tiles look amazing and we adore them. I'm ever so glad Mr. Fox didn't let me wimp out and go for a cheaper finish now. Everything else is pretty standard. Easy to clean and white. The cupboards and drawers are soft-closing. 

The heat lamps were my 'must have' item. I just love standing under them and it feeling like the sun. The fan included is not very powerful so the room steams up but I really enjoy the heat lamps. Having warm,dry towels is pretty luxurious too. 

This is what the bathroom looked like when we brought the house in August 2012..

Note the shower head fixed up with Duct tape!

The lovely maroon bench top with the rotting wall just visible to the left of the vanity
The guys worked so hard throughout the months, late into the evenings and pretty much every weekend. There were some really tricky and frustrating moments. The tiles are nearly a metre long and standard cutting tools weren't capable. We ended up hiring and buying different tools to get the job done. Thankfully we brought extra tiles as a few were broken in the process of cutting. The boys did everything themselves in the bathroom (excluding the electrics). Mr. Fox learnt so much and is now my DIY hero. It so awesome to want something done and he can for the most part figure out how to do it. 
The new bath goes in!

Tile cutting head-quarters

The walls were insulated and relined. Then plastered and sealed with waterproof membrane where the tiles were to be. It took many, many, MANY hours to install the tiles and cut them. We grouted with dark charcoal grout and are pleased with the result. 

The first tile goes in!

The cabinet is up and the wiring in place. More tiles insitu
The vanity goes in and the grouting washed down
The finished result is lovely and such a joy. Every time I walk in the bathroom I smile. It is bright, clean and looks amazing. I can't believe we did it ourselves. It's hard to tell in photos but the tiles although dark have a lovely warm tone running through them.  The walls are bright white too. 

The finished product! 

Our gorgeous and very loved new bathroom
We have a new toilet and extra tiles so intend to redo the toilet but will wait til after baby arrives. I think Mr. Fox deserves a DIY break for a few months too. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happy Thoughts

The garden is my happy place, no doubt about it. A place to unwind and reflect but also a reminder of future happiness. To plant a seedling or tend to vegetables is setting up the expectation that you will reap the rewards. Gardening represents the future, hope and nourishment. The fufillment it brings me is immense and as a couple Mr Fox and I enjoy the spoils of our labour.

In addition veg does taste better freshly picked...homegrown carrots are so much sweeter. Hehe every time we eat homegrown carrots I exclaim.."These are so much yummier than the supermarket". Mr Fox tends to agree, all be it with a suppressed laugh! But they do taste better and I am hoping this year with successive plantings we won't have to resort to getting supermarket carrots very often.

Violets, Primulas and Geranium

After being inside painting yesterday I popped outside to feed the chickens and empty the compost bucket. Like so many times before I stooped to pull out a weed that caught my eye and ended up weeding for an hour. As I pulled the weeds I relaxed. I thought about Sister Fox in Melbourne celebrating her birthday, hoping she had a good day at work. We chatted on the phone that evening. She had a spontaneous night planned (A night out too "Wicked" the musical). I miss her so much and it was great to hear how excited she was.

I thought about how happy I was to be tending our own patch of soil and how fortunate we are to be improving our already cosy home. The chickens were clucking in their wee coop after producing some delicious eggs and Lily the cat was exploring the garden. The violet patch looks and smells divine. The patch of tiny pink violets from Mum have established and are spreading slowly. The white ones are yet to flower but are holding their own.
Recent evening sky

The weeds this year are less than last and certainly easier to remove. I thought about how each year there will be a smaller battle with weeds and more diversity of flowers. There are hundreds less slugs now that the overgrown lillies are gone and the piles of rubbish along the fence has been removed. The birds do a great job; they can get amongst the plants and find the pests.

I planned where to plant the precious plants from my parents home in Southland. Pa Fox has sent up two boxes of plants from their garden. It is helping me heal so much from Mum's passing. To be able to tend and enjoy the very same plants that she did is wonderful. I think about how her hands would have quickly pulled away weeds before they smothered them, how she would have picked the blooms and foliage to arrange in the family home. It is comforting to continue the cycle and I do believe that these boxes of plants are the most special packages I receive in the post.

Zoodoo compost arrives this weekend to nourish the soil and give our vegetables a boost. We got some last year and it was excellent. They deliver for free and help employ people who need a Second Chance. It's also fun to think that we have elephant poo in the garden! I am looking forward to receiving the compost and getting on to the garden.

 As my hands worked in the soil I thought how improved it was from the clay when we arrived. It is still gluggy in the wet but more friable and rich than it was. We have a new compost bin too. The previous one was full and can now decompose as we fill a second. The addition of the bedding and floor sweepings from the chickens has boosted the rate at which the compost decomposes so we are hoping to have more compost than last year to help our vegetables grow.

I thought about the herbs drying in the hot water cupboard and dreamt up a few recipes to use them in when they are ready. The cupboard smells so yummy with the fragrant Rosemary and Sage drying. This in turn made me think about sustainability and how heartening it is to be buying less at the supermarket and gathering more from the garden.
Miss Lily in one of her favourite spots

Mr Fox started a new job and I am on leave. One income down I feel richer. How grateful I am that we have the choice to have a parent at home to raise our future family. To grow as much food as we can. To be able to be out in the Spring air with cublet stirring inside me, to cook a meal that isn't from a jar and has homegrown vegetables for Mr Fox. How grateful I am that we saved really hard and made sacrifices to own a home in the tough property market that is Auckland real estate.

I am so happy that weed caught my eye. In that hour spent weeding I decompressed and relaxed. The stiffness in my shoulders from rolling on paint faded away. My paint splattered hands become covered in dirt and i felt at invigorated. It was just the tonic that my body and soul needed. I felt recharged. Oh I do love my garden.

Progress in the Nursery

Time seems to be picking up the pace as the weather warms and cublet's due date approaches. Less than a month to go. Though I realise babies have their own schedules and in reality he or she may arrive tomorrow or in well into October.

The Nursery has all the paint on the walls now. What a big effort. Very grateful to Dad and my sister for helping out a few weeks ago. The work goes much faster with company. Mr Fox has been busy settling into his new workplace so I finished the last coat yesterday. I am so happy with the colours this morning.

The cot still needs one last coat of yellow so will work on that this weekend. The room is a pleasant place to paint (warm and dry) before the carpet goes down so I'm making the most of it. If I do painting projects in the garage there always seems to be dust despite sweeping up prior to starting.

It has been a lot of work and mostly done in the evenings/weekends before I left work. Now that I'm on leave I just do as much as I feel up too.  Our house only has insulation in the roof cavity and is therefore a bit cold and damp in the Auckland winter. We really wanted cublet to have an insulated room and I wanted them to be in the room nearest to ours. This had been Mr Fox's man cave so there was some resistance to give it up (understandably so! my craft room has feminine decor but I will make sure I tone that down now that we share the space). The room gets lovely morning sun and won't be too hot for afternoon naps.

When we brought the house we knew that the bathroom would need replaced and that the leaking bath had damaged the floor in the room next door. Because we wanted cublet to have this room we we forced into the renovation of both rooms (no use fixing the floor and the bath still leaking).

 Kinda of a good thing as I just love the new bathroom. Cleaning is such a breeze (It's the small things that make me happy) and it will add value to the house if we ever sell. Mr Fox and a friend had a fun day ripping out the rotten floor in the nursery and hall and replaced it with marine plywood which will last for many years.

Rotten chipboard floor in the nursery

Making a start on the demo

Quite a large portion of floor needed to be removed!

Mr Fox and friend hard at work

The new marine plywood floor.
The walls were the next step so the old gib was removed and new insulation installed. It has made such a difference to the room already. Of course I expected it to be slightly warmer than other rooms but when you walk in the evening it is quite a noticeable difference. It has reinforced the decision to insulate the whole house over time although the thought of more gibbing, sanding and plastering does not excite me at this time. My that plaster dust gets everywhere!!

Team of workers insulating. 

The room all gibbed and stopped

Work ceased in this room for a long while after this as it made the perfect workroom and tool storage area for the guys as they renovated the bathroom. When the bathroom work stopped I was able to get into prepping for painting. It took a lot longer than I thought but gosh what a difference it has made.

The painting begins

Ready to roll after cutting in

The colours now.
We are so pleased with the colours. We used the following;

  • Resene Baltic Sea on the feature wall
  • Resene Grey Chateau on the other walls
  • Resene Bright Spark for the cot
Dulux Vivid White semigloss is on the trims and Dulux Vivid White Low Sheen is on the ceiling. We chose to use the Wash and Wear range so that it easy to clean and has some mould resistance. The carpet we have is grey. Most of the things we intend to decorate the nursery with are bright and will stand out against the dark colours on the wall. Because the room is so sunny I don't think it will feel to dreary or cave like.

So now we get to enjoy the fun part. Once the carpet is done when can move the furniture in and I'll start fluffing around with and folding baby clothes repeatedly. There is a high chance the baby will arrive before we are done but it's wonderful to have the hard yakka finished.

 I am so very grateful for the help we have received in renovating this room and the bathroom. We are truly blessed to have wonderful friends and family who mucked in. We are hoping we can return the favour in the future. It makes me happy to know little cublet will be surrounded and influenced by such special, humble and caring people. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Paint Speckles and Winter Freckles

Today the rain is pouring down and there is a lake at the back of our section. But a week ago we had an early Spring....a whole week of gorgeous sunshine and real warmth in the sun's rays. It was lovely to have the washing drying on the line, the lawn dry enough to walk on without gumboots and see the cat roll around on the concrete path. Cat's really do make the most of sunny days!

A tangle of pea shoots

Broad beans have begun flowering

Silverbeet is still wonderfully productive

Little radish shoots

I got so much down around home; a bit of cleaning and the garden is all weed free. Mr Fox mowed the lawn and it feels good to be organised before Spring this year (other years we have been a little behind the ball and it took a lot to get on top of the weeds when the sun warmed the soil).

I have taken a gamble and sown some early spring seeds...radishes, carrots, red basil and beans. Already the radishes have poked through the soil. Two dozen asparagus crowns are becoming established...the cat has been knocking the tender shoots off mostly (little rascal!). I can hardly wait til next Spring to harvest the first few spears. The rhubarb appears to have succumbed to the beatings of the winter storms and I think has rotted away. Must get another from the store soon.

With the weather so fantastic we made our first trip to the beach. The beach is one of my most favourite places to be. When I leave I feel so uplifted and invigorated. Unfortunately Mr Fox does not feel the same..not a big fan of sand or swimming. Friends of ours are much the same with the Mr disliking the beach and the Mrs another ocean lover.

With the lure of fish & chips; us girls convinced our men that a morning trip to Piha was a good idea. Oh how glad am I to have been to the sea again. The breeze was crisp and the sun shone clear in the blue sky. We all got a little sun burnt (the first freckles of the year have been added to my nose and cheeks) and we ended up staying for hours. Walking along one beach then exploring the rocks.

Piha sunshine with friends and Mr Fox

The Keyhole, Piha

Lion Rock, Piha
We have been making steady progress with the renovations too. It seems my hands are constantly covered in paint speckles. I'm looking forward to treating myself to a manicure and pedicure when the painting is done.  The bathroom is 99% done and looks incredible. I am so proud of Mr. Fox, along with our mate he has done all the work himself (except for the electrical work which we got a professional to first and all that). It feels like a luxury every time we use it. I must get round to doing an official before/during/after post.

The nursery is coming along too. We are now onto the fun part of adding colour to the walls before carpeting. The first coat of dark grey is on the wall and I'm about to do the second. Thankfully it looks perfect. I always worry that perhaps the paint samples aren't enough to get a good impression. Hoping the second colour on the walls will look just as good.

Ohh it is so tremendously exciting to think that a wee baby will be in there soon. Don't rush your arrival little cublet but know that we can't wait to meet you.