My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chicken Love.

It's raining today. We managed a family walk (it's a public holiday, Labour Day) this morning in the drizzle. But now it's really set in. So to brighten my day, here are some pictures of my favourite creatures - my chooks! Hope it brightens your day too.

The rooster - he doesn't really have a name except for rooster. He is a Silver Laced Wyandotte.

This is one of the black twins. I have a few mongrels that I'm going to house seperately (once the dog's off heat) and use for raising babies when they go broody. This is one of them. She has a bit of Silky and Barred Rock in her, not that you can tell. She has an identical sister.

This is my Silver Grey Dorking. She is quite low-slung and has five toes, which is standard for her breed. Her feathers have the most beautiful subtle grey markings.

This is Speckles, another mongrel. Her Barred Rock is much more obvious.

This is Fidget, my flighty scaredy-cat Araucana. She lays wee little blue eggs.

And one of the Fluffy-butt sisters. This is the one without the missing patch of feathers. She is a Blue Orpington. Her skirt of fluff gets all bedraggled when walking in the wet grass and suddenly you can see her legs!

And Miss Floppy, my brown leghorn, with her big floppy comb. My daughter calls her Foppy.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

And if I resigned, maybe I could convince my family to let me go on this permaculture design course! Two weeks, live in, at least seven hours drive from home........well, I guess I can dream.

Friday, October 23, 2009


It's our turn for the sickies. Blech. Little boy home from school with an exhausting cough. I've got it too and lots of snot. Took the night off work on Thursday but here I am on Friday night because there is pretty much no-one else to work! Only one woman in who has just had her seventh baby and doesn't need much help from me. I'm alcoholling my hands and holding my breath whenever I go near her room, just in case.

I'm in the throws of deciding whether to give up work or not. I went back to work almost a year ago because I was going a little crazy and financially we REALLY needed it. But now it's not so tough moneywise and I'm finding I'm going crazy in a different way.

My family has no routine and it's hard for the little ones who never know if Mummy is going to tuck them in at night, be there if they wake in the night or be home with them for breakfast. Darlin' Hubby is putting in the whinge too about us never being at home together - it's either him home with the kids and me working or vice versa. I put it to him that maybe HE should quit his job, but being self-employed that's not really a goer. And besides it's me who's not really enjoying my job.

And that's the big thing. When I studied Midwifery about eight years ago, I was passionate about it in a "I'm gunna change the world" kind of way. And now I'm not. I'm still interested in it, I still enjoy it and I still think it's important. But I'm just not PASSIONATE about it.

I went down to Auckland for a one-day workshop on Wednesday. It was an amazing workshop on Childbirth Education. Inspiring, informing, energetic. But it confirmed my thoughts, I've lost my real enthusiasm for it all.

It might be that it's because of the impact it has on my family. It might be because there is not as much time left over for the other things I want to do, namely quilting and, for a want of a better word, homesteading. But whatever the reason, it's getting mighty hard to look forward to another shift.

What do you do when you have a big decision to make? What helps you sort out your thoughts?

Friday, October 16, 2009


This morning I rushed home from work after a 12 hour night shift so I could say Happy Birthday to my boy and watch him open his presents. I managed to make a few of his gifts but he was thoroughly spoilt with other bought things too.

The crown was fun to make and with velcro on the back, it fits him and his little sister and will still fit him for a while to come yet.
The treasure below was a real hit. He's into pirates, knights and particularly their treasure and he has little stashes of bottle tops, coins, gold trinkety things and anything else shiny scattered around the house. So a little gold spray paint, some driveway rocks and a repurposed blouse sleeve and you have a pirate treasure sack!
I also made him a cape, which only came off (very reluctantly) before bed.

After a few hugs and swordfights (another birthday gift), I helped load the kids in the car for my hubby to take them to daycare. We also loaded in the cake for daycare's afternoon tea (I forgot to take a pic!). And then hubby causually mentioned that maybe I should look at the dog.
Emma is in season and so is confined to the small chook run and only let out for supervised (should that be chaperoned!?) walks. But this morning her baboon bum was kinda scary looking and had something pink poking out of it. In midwifery terms, if she was a woman, I was seeing a good peek of baby's head!
All I wanted to do was jump into my bed and snooze, but no, I had to call the vet. Here is where I should mention that buying a second dog was my HUSBAND'S idea. And he is the one who didn't want to spay her because he might want to breed from her if she turned out to be a good duck dog. Here is where I mention that it has always been ME that takes her to the vet for her shots etc. Grump, grump.
The upshot is I didn't get to bed till late morning and Emma will be spayed after this cycle. She has a prolapsed vag**a and it will keep happening every heat, it can get infected, it's very uncomfortable etc. etc. She is on antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory and yes, it was ME giving her her pills tonight because my husband is away on a fishing trip.
On his new launch.
And yes, there will be a whole post about THAT.

Anyway, Will had a birthday dinner of squid rings at his Grandparent's house and is now peacefully sleeping in bed, tucked up with a few of his favourite presents! Happy Birthday my son.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I once was quite enamoured by the idea of homeschooling. That was before I had children! I make a joke out of it but I truly realised that I would not have the patience. And I think my son and I are very similar so we tend to clash.

So Monday 9.00 o'clock found us at the gates of our small local school. Who was nervous and who was excited?

We were introduced to Will's teacher and his class of about 15. Another new Mum and I followed them around as they went to physical ed, which consisted of 10 minutes skipping with the whole school; assembly, where the principal pulled out a guitar and sang happy birthday to the kids who had had a birthday over the holidays; and then back to the classroom for reciting the date, months, numbers and shapes. I left when they started doing reading and writing practice.

I hugged my boy and left him sobbing.

Lunchtime I came back as arranged to see how he was doing and probably pick him up. I peeked in the class window and saw him sitting on the mat at the teacher's feet happily working away with a pencil in his hand. Other children were working at their tables and would periodically come up to the teacher and ask for help. It looked peaceful and industrious and what gladdened my heart was the smile on my son's face.

He decided to stay the rest of the day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Lots got done today. Dear Hubby has been working on a retaining wall so he can start building his shed. I get a load of topsoil for my garden out of this project so the faster he works, the better for me. Plus once the shed and our verandah are finished, the next building project is walling and flooring our last unenclosed shed bay for my sewing room or 'studio' if you want to sound posh!
It was such a beautiful day today that it remineded me that summer is coming. Chickens can suffer heat stress and stop laying so I rummaged around and found an old piece of shade cloth. A few cable ties later and Chickenritz has a little more shelter in the noonday heat. And yes, that gorse is on the to-do list.
All the chickens had been let out for a scratch around, the only one left keeping a beady eye on things was one of the fluffybutt twins. She's a blue orpington and has a twin sister. I can only tell them apart because one has a bare pink spot on her butt where our neighbour's dog took a hunk of feathers out of her (our neighbour keeps him a little more under control now as I 'politely' told him I would shoot it if I saw it again, not that I know how to work the gun!).
And then a little baking. Mmmmmm, chocolate brownies. My little boy turns five at the end of the week. So begins a busy week of school visits, a couple of night shifts, birthday party planning and cake baking. I thought I'd get in what baking I could while I could!
Chocolate Brownies
125 g melted butter
2 cups brown sugar
4-6 tbsps cocoa powder
1 cup white flour
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
Melt the butter and let it cool a bit. Add the brown sugar, then sift in the cocoa and flour. Add the eggs and vanilla essence then mix well. Place in a lined tin about the size of a sponge roll tin (I make a triple batch and it fills my oven tray size roasting dish). Bake at 180 degrees celcius for 20-25 minutes. If you overcook it, it will be chewy rather than gooey. Hide from children and use it to bribe them to clean their rooms.

Monday, October 5, 2009

This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed at home

I showed William how to point and shoot with my digital camera. I now have about 45 random shots pretty much like the one above! You can also see my daughter's birthday bounty in the background. Second hand toys rock!

My lounge floor was covered today in little hills of clothes. My sister-in-law has three daughters and we get all their hand me downs. Olivia found the bags and had great fun strewing the contents around, which was a pain, but at least it made me sort them out. Second hand clothes rock too, they're just a little more work!

Other things we've been up to. Baking apple pie with apples sent from the same S-I-L. This was REALLY good. I made the pastry from a recipe in Alison Holst's old Dollars and Sense Cookbook, a fantastic find in an Op Shop.

And making bags. This took me one kid-free morning to whip up from a linen skirt. It's been sent off to one of my sister's for her birthday. (Let's hope it's already reached her or she's just had advanced notice!)
I've worked three morning shifts in a row and it was incredibly busy. Postnatal rooms almost full and births happening left, right and centre. September and October are always busy months but this was crazy. I'm working a 12 hour day shift tomorrow, so finger's crossed it has quietened down a little.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


This is a pretty good sum up of how I was feeling yesterday. And the kids too. Do you have those days where it's a write-off by 10am and you realise you just have to dig in and survive? Well, yesterday was one of those. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, my kids did grated on my nerves and by the end of the day I just wanted to strangle them. Then of course I felt horrible for not liking my kids. Bad mother, bad mother.
Today, however, was fine.
Thank heavens.
Or I might not have survived.