Saturday, 17 May 2014

Ye Gods! Who Stole Summer?!

Whaahaha! It is FER-EEZING today!

We have been on the tail end of an endless summer, which has been much enjoyed. Here we are, mid May (that's the equivalent to mid November for you Northern Hemisphere people - NH abbreviation from now on), and I have - er, had - self-sown tomato plants on the verge of flowering. Autumn was only just starting to creep in. I still hadn't lit a fire yet, and was still sleeping in the bedroom.
For those not in the know, every winter, when it gets cold enough to need to keep the coals going overnight for a morning fire, I close off the bedroom, and move into the little annex off the lounge, to conserve heat and firewood. Normally it is a slow progression - fire during the evening only at first, then starting at midday, until finally it is cold enough to need a morning fire. But not this year. Last week we were still getting temps in the high 20's (Celsius), with one day at 28C (that's 82.4F for you NH people). Then two days ago we had a massive storm, howling gales, driving rain, and today - Whaahaha! It is cold enough to see your breath INSIDE the house! 9am, and there is still a solid sheet of ice across the birdbath! We normally have to be deep, deep into winter to get that!
To give you a little perspective, I am at 39.65 S latitude, that is the equivalent to Eagle, Colorado in the US, which is at 39.65 N latitude (except we aren't in the mountains here). Oddly enough, I was actually born in Englewood, Colorado, which is at 39.57 N.
So we have gone from summer to winter in one fell swoop. As we move into the new El Nino cycle (hot and dry for the NH, cold and wet for us in the Southern hemisphere), our season of summers has come to an end, and boy, am I glad put up all those preserves! It does, however, mean a long, cold spring - which is a late start for the garden, and a cool summer, so I don't expect I will get much in the way of summer crops.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Catching Up

Several high-stress issues have come up over the last few weeks, and coupled with battling a bout of depression, my work on the CQI Round Robins has been delayed. I have gotten a lot of jelly made though! Cooking, preserving, and gardening are my refuge when depression hits. Since moving into the flat five years ago and having a proper kitchen again, and putting in the garden, it has made a huge difference to how severe the depression episodes are and how long it takes to recover.

The crab apples came ripe the first week in May, and I managed to get quite a lot of them, so I have a LOT of crab apple jelly! But I did really enjoy making it, and have given quite a number of jars away.

Meanwhile, my beloved Chrysanthemums came into flower - always sure to bring a smile. They are the most gorgeous colour I have ever seen in Mums. I originally bought the plant a couple of years ago as a straggly, on-it's-last-legs pot plant in the half price bin, and just plopped it into a spare bit of garden hoping it would flower for a few more weeks. I didn't realise it was a perennial, or that the 6 inch spindly stalked plant would grow into a humungous bush taking over a section of the garden!

On Shelly R's block for the Garden & Flowers Traditional RR, I did a variety of work.

I started with a spiral spider web in silver metallic thread, and an adorable little yellow and black spider. This is the best spider I have done yet, and I was really pleased with it.
After that, I laid down the feather stitch in a single strand of a dark olive green to match the green in the ribbon, then added lots of tiny bullion buds in two colours of pink to echo the pinks in the ribbon.
Next I did a row of herringbone along the ribbon edge, and added flowers done with tiny bronze daisy spacers and deep turquoise seed beads to pick up the colour of the turquoise silk fabrics in the block.

The next fabric had a central flower print, which I overlaid with silk ribbon flowers. The flowers in the print were a mix of cream and yellow, with a mix of red centres and yellow centres, so I followed the print in my choice of colours for the individual flowers and centres. I used a mile of ribbon and a ton of beads, to give the piece texture and volume, and extended the flowers up into the next patches (as requested by Shelly). Rope Stitch in a No.10 purl was used to do the stems. To finish it off I added a Victorian style brass bee charm.