Spring

It’s spring, plus this is a “new” garden for me, so some planting is in order. I can’t do much weeding or digging (not worth the risk of causing any stress to that sensitive place in my lower back where a disc went all slippy on me once) so I’m leaving the real work to Peter Malamba, a man from Malawi who knows his way around a Western Cape garden far better than I do!  He tells me that plectranthus, begonias and ferns will be the best plants to put under the thorn tree next to the wall, because it’s a very shady area.  We’ll do that, then :-)

Sticking some plants in pots is not beyond me, however, and I’ve put some gazanias in with the purple salvia. The one on the left below will actually turn out like that incredible fat yellow pink one still in its baggie.

spring-1  100_24151

And still on the spring theme, here’s the patchwork throw in greens that just needs backing now. It looks a bit drab because it’s overcast here today, but I’ve included some fabric that was part of my care package from Kathryn and they’ve added some pretty bright pinks to the mix.

green-2

Wishing you all a happy Thursday :-)

waterblommetjies

I would have thought there’d be no reason why most of you would have any idea what waterblommetjies are, but google tells me that this stuff grows all over Australia and also in parts of France and England. Who knew? Translated from the Afrikaans as “little water flowers”, we should really call a spade a spade: we’re talking pond weed here!

And it’s in season now. The guys on the side of the road in Franschhoek are hawking 1 kilogram bags for R25, and a sudden impulse made me buy a pack on the way home from the market on Saturday morning.

waterblommetjies

Waterblommetjiebredie is a traditional South African dish, like a lamb stew but with a lot of pond weed chucked in. I’m not vegetarian but I’m not really big on lamb at all, so I looked for a recipe that was less, well, less lamb-y.  There isn’t much, but I found this by fabulous local blogger Lana: lanalou style. I made mine without mushrooms (forgot to buy) and without white wine (didn’t forget but I’ve found it’s better to leave alcohol out of food dishes when I cook) (which isn’t often, as you know). And I won’t say any more on that subject :-)

And I won’t take a photo of the finished dish either, because, as we’ve all previously agreed, home-cooked food looks like baboon vomit in amateur pics. What I will tell you is that it was really really tasty, and it’s a million times better with bacon than with lamb.

And who the hell knows how my brain works, but there’s something about writing about pond weed that made me think of the 4 Yorkshiremen. And if you don’t know what I’m referring to, you can have a look here: cracks me up every time.

 

Opal

Last week I received a huge box packed with surprises all the way from Grand Junction, Colorado. I think it was a combination housewarming/ early birthday present :-)  How lucky, right?! Each gift merits its own post, so I’ll start with the wool.

opal-2

I haven’t seen this available in any of the wool shops I visit (and know so well). But even if it was, I wouldn’t be treating myself to any – it would be way out of my yarn budget!  Made in Germanland, it’s 75% wool and 25% polysomething. Slides through my fingers smooth as silk.

I’ve decided to use it for a shawl (there’s 150g of it) and there are some mighty fine knitting and crochet patterns out there. I started one, didn’t like it, ripped it out. Started another, didn’t like it, ripped it out. I was about to start on a third pattern when my Inner Voice said, This wool doesn’t need a fancy pattern, the colours are magnificent all by themselves, make up your own shawl, birdbrain!

opal-1

So that’s what I’m doing. It’s going to be one of those wide shawls with a shortish point, like the triangular shape below. I started with a chain (didn’t count, just made it as long as felt right), worked 2 rows dc and the rest will be trebles. Maybe with a ch st in between alternate ones on alternate rows. Or not. I don’t know yet, I’ll make it up as I go along. triangle

And how perfectly it goes with my beaded bowl! Plus, opal is also my birthstone. Such synchronicity! Thank you again, Kathryn, it’ll soon be finished and I’ll think of you every time I wear it.

patchworky

I’m getting all patchworky. And I’m blaming Kate. My first two bedspreads were large irregular squares and rectangles and some strips. Nice, she said, but try cutting smaller squares because then you can fit in more contrasting fabrics. And what do you know, I’m hooked!

red-1

Side one and side two of a bright reddy-orangey mix, four strips of 10 squares each so far. I’ve opted for 10-inch squares because it seems like a manageable size. Not too big, not too small.  Yay for the rotary cutter and cutting mat. If the house started burning down, they are now the first two items I would grab. (Sorry, cats.)

red-2

Maggie asks if I will be quilting the bedspread. It’s a short answer – No. There will be no batting and no fancy-pants stitching designs. There will be a lightweight cotton backing and topstitching round the edge. I know my limits!

paving: before and after

A well-used part of our little piece of the world is at the front of the house. The original garage was converted into a third bathroom so the driveway was gardened over years ago. It’s very pretty and we didn’t want to lose the sacred bamboo, the aloes, the plumbago and the white pear tree, but we needed more space for our cars. And also a tidier look!

pre-paving-3     pre-paving-2

old-garden

It took four men (from Boss Paving) five days to finish the job, and they really excelled themselves.

bricks-1

That’s Tess posing for a new profile pic :-)

bricks-3

The previous owner, who is a lovely, creative woman and a well-known writer, had a natural talent for combining unusual and baroque elements in her home. The swans at the gate had become something of a landmark in this little part of Mowbray, but I am boring and conventional compared to Helen so I opted for plain pointy pier caps and decided to encourage the swans to fly into the back garden, to roost amongst the inca lilies.

swans-2

And looking at the above photo, I’m wondering if I haven’t actually made a mistake… :(

donkey work

I enjoyed playing around with those bits of left-over fabric more than I realised. And when it comes to enjoyable sewing, nothing beats the simplicity of straight lines. Someone I knew would have called it donkey work, in which case I’m having an Eeyore week.

bedspread-2

The colours don’t show up that well in the pics, but they are a gorgeous mix of blues and creams and teals and greys and browns.

I like random, so I’ll never be one of those clever quilting ladies whose exquisitely thought-out fabric mosaics I admire so much! But I still felt I deserved a rotary cutter and a proper cutting mat – an early birthday present to myself :-)  My squares are so much squarer now!

bedspread-1       bedspread-3

rotary       eeyore

before and after #???

Kathryn gave me some excellent advice on moving to a new abode: she said to take photos of every room so that, when you’ve made changes, you have a visual record of how much you’ve achieved – especially when negative feelings set in and you feel like you’ve actually got sweet nowhere!

This room was the previous owner’s music room: it’s nice and big, with original pine floors and windows, and a brick fireplace (in working order). The walls were a great shade of purple, but the blue and green fitted bookshelves jarred a bit. And the darker shades meant that the light from the window had nothing to reflect off.

music room.jpg

  1. Remove bookshelves.
  2. Introduce lighter colours.
  3. Ta dah!

music room 3

The bookshelves have been relocated to the “front lounge”, and repainted white. I had to use 2 coats of primer and 3 coats of white enamel to de-blue them successfully.  [Operation Unpack Books still in progress…]