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!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I was meandering round the section today, admiring how damp everything seemed, (we had heaps of RAIN in the last 24 hours - exciting as we've had barely any for four months), when I came across these:

My very own, homegrown, perfectly formed, luscious green FEIJOAS! I was totally surprised and totally amazed and totally over the moon!

I had seen some little baby feijoas forming on our trees a while ago, but figured they would drop off in the drought. These trees have done it hard. They were one of the first species we planted out here about four years ago, we weren't even living here. Very neglected, left to rough it in the howling gales. This year they have reached the grand height of up-to-my-bum.

But they produced these for me! The little darlings! You don't pick feijoas or they are too hard and sour, best to gather them from the ground when they fall. There is still a handful on the trees, I'll be checking daily now in anticipation.

There's not enough of these to cook with, we'll be eating them by cutting them in half and scooping out with a spoon. But when I do cook with them I love them in a crumble, or stewed on breakfast or over icecream. They are also nice in an apple spice cake instead of, or combined with, the apple.

*sigh*. Is there anything as satisfying as your own homegrown fruit and veg?

Edited: Elaine's comment has made me realise that not everyone will know what that fruit is!

Feijoas are a subtropical fruit, preferring to grow somewhere a bit warmish (but still very hardy to wind - ours can testify). Glossy, dark green leaves and a smallish tree, they can make a nice hedge - productive in more than one way - excellent! The fruit range in size from golfball to duckegg size (I don't work in imperial so you get object approximations!) and taste? Well, quite aromatic, a cross between a pineapple and a .... I don't know, but they have a slightly grainy texture like a pear and I think they are a love or hate fruit. I love.

So I chopped one in half for you to see the inside and then I had to eat it, yum. Mine are small fruit (blame the drought), they usually have four seed divisions.

Hmm, I think I'll go have another.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I started this blog a whole year ago today. Wow! Here is my first ever post word for word:

"Ok, so I mainly created this so I could comment on other people's blogs. I'm what I would call 'computer literate' but certainly not 'computer savvy', meaning I can turn the thing on, buy things on Trademe (!) and read blogs. But posting links, making my own blog....well, that's all new to me, so 'scuse me if I look a little dense sometimes! "

That was it, my entire post. And whilst I may have created the blog mainly to comment on others (not knowing then that I could just create a profile and comment), I have totally fallen for the bloggy world.

I used to watch TV in the evenings. Not much, but a few shows and documentaries here and there. Now I can't remember the last time I watched it. I'd much rather spend that time reading other people's blogs. I guess if television only featured shows on quilting, farming, homesteading....I'd be watching that instead.

When it all gets too hard, I lock the kids in a cage and go hang out on the net.

Blogging lets me blab on without worrying too much about what I say. It's allowed me to sort out my thoughts, to vent, to diary what's happening and look back on it. I've made friends I've never met. It lets me stay current with my family - complete with photos. And most of all, it has let me learn so, so much.

Someone asked me recently how I knew "all this stuff"? We were talking about gardening and chickens (and trust me, I am NOT an expert). I didn't really know how to answer because I'd never thought about it until then. But now, after a bit of reflection, I've realised that I've totally indulged my interests through the net and that's helped me pick up so much knowledge. The net lets me check out forums, blogs and sites where I can learn whatever I like. I can read about a book and put it on hold at my library with a few mouse clicks. I can ask questions of fellow bloggers and I can find how-to's on just about anything at all.

So, really, what I'm trying to say on my one-year anniversary is:

Thank - you!

Bloggy world, internet, and fellow bloggers - you are the best!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A bucketful of cute.

I grabbed the closest thing to put my latest chicks in today when I cleaned out their brooder (aka fishbin, nothing flash around here, folks). For the first few days they are hanging out in my laundry, which doubles as a bathroom, a toolshed, a potting bench, and a pumpkin storage facility.

I have three Light Sussex chicks.

Two Plymouth Barred Rocks.

Three Barnevelders.

Two Silver Laced Wyandottes.

Three Rhode Islands Reds.

And one funny, fuzzy wee Lavender Araucana.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

You're soaking in it, luv.

My newest frugal tip. I can't claim this one, cheers dear sister-in-law.

I know I should probably wash the dishes by hand, and I WAS planning to when we moved into the shed. But some very kind people (gotta love the in-laws) gave us some money towards a dishwasher (she knows I hate washing dishes) so I just HAD to get one.

So to assuage my guilt at using lots of power and water every time I wash, I make sure to use eco-friendly powder. Plus it's also ok for when I use the grey water on my garden (which I do, a lot - there's a drought you know). This Eco-store brand has to be the best I've ever found - it even shines my copper bottom pots!

But, here's a trick to make it go further. Dilute it by half with baking soda (soda bicarbonate). Then mark the bottle so you don't dilute it again by accident! Still works just as good.

Now before you all send me recipes to make my own much cheaper, greener cleaners, I will attempt to make my own soap, clothes washing powder/liquid and my own dishwasher goop one day. But, just at the moment, I'm wrestling with cooking, baking, vege gardening, chickens, rabbits, crafting and quilting and children and that's enough for now. It's on the to-do list, but just a bit further down!

*And the title? It's a reference to an old tv ad for Palmolive dishwashing liquid, remember it fellow kiwis?!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

All in a day's work

I’m tired tonight, but in a good way. Tired because I’ve done a full, hard days work and I know I deserve my cup of tea and my comfy bed.

Hubby is back from hunting. He is sporting a two-week beard and a few more hunting stories. He shot a 9-point stag and brought back some venison for the freezer. It was nice to have him back and I immediately set him to work gutting roosters for me. It’s my job to catch the roosters, hold them for the head chop and then pluck them. He chops heads and then when I have three or four plucked, he guts them for me. A nice little team effort.

In between the gory bits he worked hard digging out and boxing up the foundations for my new garden/chicken shed. I can’t wait to have this up and functioning. I’ll take some pictures of the process of it being built.

I worked hard catching and plucking the roosters, and chasing the couple that escaped the pen! And then cleaning up the culling mess, which seems to take the most time of all.

Once the rooster pen was empty (except for one very lucky boy who is going to a new home soon) I raked up all the deep litter, about a cubic metre, and piled it into a compost pile. What a gorgeous lot of organic matter that is. I can’t wait to dig into it in spring.

I spread lime all through the pen to help kill nasties, keep the smell down and keep the earth sweet, and I spread diatomaceous earth on the roosts to kill any mites. Then I transferred my eight-week-old chickens into the pen and laughed to see them run around and enjoy the space. Now I can start loading it up with weeds, old hay, sawdust and lawn clippings and start the whole deep litter process again.

We had a homely dinner of roast turkey (one of our own) and vegetables (the pumpkins are tasting pretty good) and then after dinner cleanup I helped hubby unload a huge trailer load of rocks that he foraged from a slip down the road. We loaded them into foundations of the shed-to-be to take up some room so we don’t have to buy as much concrete.

And of course the day also had it’s usual kid-wrangling, clothes washing, lunch making as well.

I’ll enjoy my bed tonight.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Of things that go cluck.

When they are in, all they want to do is get out. You know, the grass is greener on the other side, right?

But when they're out, all they want to do is get back in! "The world is ending, I can't seem to get back to my friends!"

"Show me the door! How did this happen? Let me innnnnn!"

Actually, it happened because I dropped her. I was trying to take pictures of her and she flapped and I let go. Whoops. But she's tame enough that I can grab her again if I don't rush.

I have two of these Silver Campines who look almost identical. And I'm 90% sure they are she's. At eight weeks old now, they've been out in the hutch for a couple of weeks, not needing a heat source since they were six weeks. Fully feathered, they just have to grow and moult and gain their adult plumage. Which isn't much different. These two have been earmarked for a new home already.

A pic of a nice group of silver campines - picture from

I've been sitting here tonight working on my chicken records. I've bought a few newbies (ssshhh, don't tell Hubby) and I need to shuffle chooks around pens. I need to work out who I'm keeping and who I'm selling, who is taking a visit to the freezer and who I'm going to match make with who. I'm also trying to streamline the whole chook raising process a little and it's taking a bit of thinking on paper.

When I opened my notebook that I've been recording incubator hatching details in, I saw this sweet little picture that my boy drew me. "I'll draw you a chicken, Mum. Just so you remember this page is about chickens."

It makes me smile everytime I see it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oryctolagus cuniculus

So these are the wee baby bunnies. Read my earlier post about their unexpected births here.

How cute are they? How can I seriously contemplate bopping them on the head (pardon the Little Bunny Foo Foo pun) and eating them for dinner?

Except they will grow to look like this. This is Mummy Bunny. Her and her sister look exactly the same, hence they are named TweedleDee and TweedleDum. They have Dum and Dee written in their ears so I know who is who. I might attach little signs to their cage (I'm assuming the marker will wear off one day!).

I think they look a little vampire bunny-ish. And I think my Flemish Giants are much cuter. But why should I care about cute? Who has ever worried about whether their pork chop or rump steak was cute? I need functional! And these two bunnies have, between the two of them, managed to raise 11 babies to two weeks old, despite travelling almost half the North Island along the way.

My Flemish Giant called Little One

You go girls!

And, a little bit random, but check out all these collective nouns for rabbits that I found!

bury of rabbits
colony of rabbits
down of rabbits
drove of rabbits
husk of rabbits
leash of rabbits
trace of rabbits
trip of rabbits
warren of rabbits
nest of rabbits (young)
wrack of rabbits (young)

Chaos at my house.

School holidays have been keeping me busy. How on earth home-schooling Mama's and Mama's who don't use daycare survive, I just don't know! Mind you, I haven't a husband presently. He's taken his testosterone and gone to shoot red deer somewhere (I'm not 100% sure where, and I'm not 100% sure when he'll be back either). I've also had a niece for two nights and then later the whole package of aunty and three nieces for another two nights.

The cheeky redhead is the niece who came to stay and is also turning seven very shortly. She gave me the ultimate compliment about my carrots, "They taste MUCH better than the supermarket ones!"

To cut a long story short - I'm apologising for my lack of blogging lately (I know you all wait with bated breath!).

But last night I had complete silence for a couple of hours after the children went to bed and today it's just me and my two, so I'm feeling a little less stressed and I'm actually accomplishing a few things.

We're baking a huge dairy-free chocolate cake for the birthday of one of the above nieces. If it turns out to be a good recipe I'll post it here. We're also hanging around waiting for the water truck to arrive (I said the morning - earlier the better - and it's now 1.30pm!). I've finally had to buy water, even though it's showering today, it's just not enough. I'm intermittently working on a few WIP's; my mother-in-law's batik quilt, and a pillowcase birthday present for that said niece again.

I'll be back again soon, I've got lots to blog about. See you later!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Family

Easter Sunday was spent with Aunty and Grandparents and cousins at a little mangrove beach. Secluded and safe and very entertaining for the kidlets. I even got in a spot of light reading!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Pumpkins (which is rather a cool word when you say it slowly)

I harvested my pumpkins yesterday. I'm not sure they were quite ready; the vines had died but the stalks weren't completely dry and brown. I'm going to let them all mature and dry off in the sun then I guess I'll find out if they were picked too early when we crack one open and roast it.

I'm very proud of them. This is the second or third time I've tried to grow pumpkins and the first time I've ever actually had a pumpkin to show for it. And they are all a good size. I guess I should weigh the biggest...but it's dark outside and I ain't going out there now just to haul pumpkins round!

What I've learned so far about growing pumpkins:

  1. The bloody things are Triffids. Do not grow them in your regular garden unless you want to be pushing aside prickly stems just to get in the gate.
  2. They like water, but not on their leaves. I got lazy and threw buckets of water over them instead of pouring it carefully underneath and they got powdery mildew just like that.
  3. Compost, compost, compost or whatever plant food you can get. I watered with worm wee and the growth over the next week was phenomenal.
  4. When the growing pumpkins are baseball stage, you can scratch letters into the skin and it will scab and grow along with the pumpkin. I didn't know this until too late but next year I'm thinking I'll name all my pumpkins - or write rude slogans, "Get your grubby hands off me!" or "I hate pumpkin soup."

But the pumpkins had to go, even if it was too early. I had billions of seedlings busting out of their pots. I planted peas, lettuces, parsley, kale, cabbage, broccoli, leeks, marigolds, sweet williams and violas. All of those fitted where I pulled up two pumpkins and 12 or so dried up old corn stalks.

Oh, and by the way, I don't hate pumpkin soup.