Debbie's Doings

When two people sing together, they're in love; when two people dance together, they make love.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Summer Update

I read through my recent posts yesterday and realized that I haven't finished updating about our chickens. They have been in their new home for awhile now and they love it. I still let them out most of the day, when I get home, so they are pretty well free-range. No one needs to stay cooped up all day! I did have to train them to not go into my hot house and wreck things.

Thank you, water hose, for assisting with this training.

The holidays have come and gone, work is much the same and my garden is being overrun by weeds, yet again.

Awesome news on my business front though, just before Christmas I was asked to join the Treasure Box Collective in Wakefield. This craft collective opened a shop November 1st and they are a treasure trove of interesting people and amazing products. Seriously. I feel like mine pale in comparison. But I did sell quite a few Christmas stockings just before the holiday, so that worked in my favor. I still haven't sold any items of boys' clothing, but I think perhaps the clothing for children doesn't sell very well in there all around. I could be wrong, it could just be my stuff.

On the last day I worked in that shop, I spent time researching new ideas and writing down page numbers of my pattern books to try out for my range of boys clothing. I have quite a bit of work to keep me occupied this winter with my sewing machine!

I also start a second part-time job as a nanny mid-February. I am looking forward to getting back into childcare and can't wait to see how this job works out.

Now if only I could find my lost energy and shake this achey feeling I have had all day. I better not be coming down with the flu.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Gardening is Hard Work

As anyone who has a garden will tell you, gardening is a lot of hard work. There are always weeds to be pulled, trees to be pruned (especially my wisteria), plants to be tied up, water and food to be doled out and an ever-circulating batch of seeds to plant and transfer outside when ready. In addition to the vegetable garden I have and the flower beds I am trying to maintain, I recently got chickens. My mom thinks I'm a little nuts, my husband calls me a 'true country girl' and I'm still shaking my head occasionally at my transformation from city chick to country girl.

Case in point- I spent two hours outside today trimming back the wisteria in anticipation of Jeff hanging up our twinkle lights for some summer evening glow. Oh yeah, and I weeded two flower beds. But the best part about today was concerning Tilly, Boo and Pearl. Jeff has been building a coop for them for a few weeks now and it's finally finished. Well, the hard construction part is finished.

Just look at it. And admire.
He designed and built it all from scratch. What a clever man.

Front with a little doorway. Needs a ramp still
and netting at the top.

Beautiful weatherboards from old pallets.

It's fully insulated and lined (more insulated than our house is).

Outside access for eggs

My girls in their favourite place: the silverbeet area.

So there's still a bit of work left to do before the rabbit hutch can go back to Pete and Steph (Thanks SOOOO much for letting us borrow it!). Jeff has the run to finish and netting to attach to it all. A ramp for them to get into the coop and I have to sort out a feeder and waterer. Luckily it should only take a bit of elbow grease and good old Kiwi ingenuity to sort it out (that's a benefit to being married to Jeff...he's just so clever at figuring things out on the cheap). Considering that chicken coops start at $400 for a basic one and we've managed to only spend about $50 on nails, netting and other bits, I will gladly take the longer schedule to get these chickens a nice home on the cheap.

I'll post pictures again when it's all set up in it's place and the chickens are in their home permanently. :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Shop Days: Holiday Shopping

I know, I know. Where have I been? Well, I've been working my patootie off with my job, a few days of depression and general moaning and a serious case of hayfever. I'm on two different hayfever meds and hoping that the combination works to kick butt, but so far, it's just barely tolerable with the two medications going.

Moving on though, today is December 1st.

I do love Christmas. As testament to that, I decorated our house two weeks ago and have pretty much listened to Christmas music nonstop since then. So for all you lovelies still looking for Christmas presents (goodness knows I still am), I have a little treat for you. For the entire month of December you can get one of two treats from my online shop. I am offering either free shipping in NZ or 15% off the total cost (for those of you abroad).

For free shipping in NZ, enter the code HAPPYHOLS.

For 15% off, enter the code HAPPYHOLS15.

Here's a super special one though- share this post on social media to get both codes applicable to a purchase. Keep an eye out for new items to be added daily (as I finish sewing them) and share, share, share!

Doodlebug Designs Shop

Merry Christmas, little elves.

I love nutcrackers.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A lot on my mind...

I know, it's been too long. I should have been writing more regularly, but life kinda takes over sometimes and you don't make time to sit down and write blog posts like you're supposed to. It's ridiculous how busy we let ourselves get, myself especially.

It's been an interesting few weeks here around Dealbh Cottage (yes, I decided on a name for our house). Dealbh is Gaelic for creative...which I think is a pretty perfect fit for our house and what Jeff and I do.

A woman I work for gave me 3 chickens nearly two weeks ago. Yeah, that's right. I have chickens now.

They are (from left to right): Tilly, Pearl and Chicken Boo. 50 points if you get the cartoon reference...

So I've been learning how to take care of chickens while Jeff has been designing and finally building their coop and run. We had always talked about having chickens at some point because goodness knows we go through eggs like it's nobody's business and free-range eggs are about 5-6 dollars a dozen...yikes. It just so happened that a woman I work for had gotten 10 and decided that was too many, so offered some to me for free. Awesome.

This weekend I'm headed to the market to try and sell my kids clothes and knick knacks I've been amassing. I still haven't sold anything online, but I am really hopeful about this weekend. I need to sell stuff so I can sort out Christmas this year. I'm finishing up some Christmas stockings for the market and perhaps will crank out another pair of boys' shorts before Saturday to add to my collection. Man, I hope this works out.

I also have been taking care of Jeff the last two days. Poor guy came down with a flu bug Saturday night and spent most of Sunday in bed with a fever and chills. Monday was a little bit better, but he stayed home from work all the same (which is good since he went in today for work and came home early because he's still not well). I am hoping that I don't catch whatever it is he had because I really don't want to be out for a few days. Just too much to do.

This weekend was also pretty scarring for me personally. The thing is, I work with old people. Some of them aren't doing well at all and a few of them have passed away after going into the hospital or changing care providers. Saturday night was one of those nights I will never forget. I went in for work (it was my weekend on duty) and we had just gotten this lady into bed when she stopped breathing. The next hour and a half was a blur of CPR, first responders, grieving family and frantic phone calls to sort out things. This is the first time I've watched someone die. Let me tell you what, it made me take a hard look at my life and what was important. All I wanted to do was hug Jeff and tell him I love him. I'm trying to be more purposeful in my day to day now that this has happened, but I can only do a little bit at a time. It's scary, makes one feel insignificant and weak all at the same time. The funeral is tomorrow and I still don't know if I will go. I feel like I should go, not for myself, but for the family left behind.

I will try to get on here more and will update after this weekend at the market and hopefully will have made some money.

Also, you should all be proud of me--I have made salads for dinner the last two nights. Booyah.

ps- the chicken photos were taken a couple of days after they arrived here...They're much bigger now and I'll put up some new photos soon.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Crafting for Christmas: Advent Calendar Stockings

Let's talk about all things Christmas-y. I love Christmas. The music, the ridiculously sweet snacks I only make one time a year (hello fudge and divinity!), the decorations and the advent calendar. I was raised in a Christian home and so counting down to Christmas has always been a part of our daily routine when Thanksgiving is over with. When I was much younger we would make a paper chain to count down each day because getting those chocolate calendars was too expensive when there were 10 kids! When I was in South Korea, I made a paper version with pictures having to do with Christmas behind the doors (I had a lot of time on my hands some days).

This year though, I am making a stocking version to sell (and eventually one for myself to keep when we have kids) and let me tell you what, it's fun to make! I have 24 small stockings cut. The last few days I have managed to get 12 of them all sewn up and last night I spent some time doing some hand embroidery on them. I still need to find numbers to attach as well as pegs to hang them from their ribbon. Looks like I'm going shopping this week. The picture below is some inspiration:

The current set I'm making is of all Christmas print fabrics on the front and various felts and soft fabrics for the backing. Here's a picture of three of the six fabrics I'm using.

I have a small obsession with nutcrackers...

I am planning a second set of these stockings for a friend and I will be using alternate fabric instead of Christmas printed fabric. With the huge stash of fabric I have, I think I can sort something out. :)

Lastly, I stumbled upon another blog with a post about alternate fillers for advent calendars. Since chocolate would melt in the summer heat here (well, maybe) and not everyone likes to have a chocolate every single day (I know I don't), here is the link for some other ideas to fill your advent stockings.

Read it at: 20 Ways to Fill
Most of all, remember to celebrate the season with those you love. I love Christmas. Now if I can just make it to November 15th and then I can set up for the holidays!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Healthy Living: Chicken Tikka Salad

This recipe originated in the New Zealand "Recipes" magazine from a few months ago. I tweaked it and this has become a favorite in our house.

If you like chicken tikka masala as much as I do, you're going to love this healthier version of it!

Chicken Tikka Salad
serves 4

500 grams shredded chicken (I used leftover chicken from our Sunday roast)
2 TBS tikka masala paste
1/3 cup of light sour cream
juice of one lemon
small head of lettuce, chopped
1 red pepper, cored and chopped
1 carrot, sliced (I use a vegetable peeler to slice my carrots, but do what you want)
1 onion, sliced
1 red apple, diced
100 grams of raisins (or just a handful of them, that's about what it is)
1 cup of basmati rice, cooked
Handful of cilantro, chopped

Cook the rice and set aside. In a frying pan, brown the onion over medium heat. Add the shredded chicken and warm. Mix in all but a half teaspoon of the masala paste. Stir to coat the chicken evenly and then remove from the heat. In a small bowl mix the sour cream, lemon juice and remaining masala paste to make a dressing for the salad. Mix all the veggies and fruit in a big serving bowl or dish. Add the rice and distribute evenly. Pour the dressing over it and mix well to coat. Top with the chicken and serve with naan.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Building a Happy Home: Garden Edition

It's spring here and everything is in full bloom (nearly) and that means I have been spending more time in my garden. Last year Jeff and I decided to divide the vegetable garden into quarters by making a stone path and allowing me better access to the garden center without stepping on things I've planted. The second reason for this division is that our vege patch is just too big for the two of us. There were sections of it I didn't even use last year. Ridiculous.

So the plan is to use 3 quarters and let one quarter rest every year. If I get to the point where I need all 4 quarters, then I can just do that, but that wouldn't be for awhile in any case.

our garden
So this is our garden currently. It looks a bit disheveled as I really need to get out and weed, but it is what it is. Below is a layout of the garden I made in Word. Aren't I so clever?

 So what we have here are my four quarters. Top left quarter has potato sacks in it currently. I decided to try something different this year with potatoes since I hated having to mound up and mulch around them and fight the weeds that love the mulch. They usually take up entirely too much space in my garden, but I have them confined pretty well. We used old hop sacks from Jeff's winter job to plant potatoes. That section is my summer veggies section: it's going to get tomatoes, peppers, corn and beans in it by the end of this month. I'm just waiting on the frosts to pass. I think we're probably in the clear, but I don't want to risk it before the end of the month.

early picture of our spuds
recent spuds: settling and expanding the bag

The top right quarter is the first bed that I did this year. It has my onions and garlic. This is the one that really needs weeding. That's next on my chore list. I'm also going to finish out the space with more dwarf bean plants. We can never have too many green bean plants, in my opinion.

The bottom left quarter has my hot house, my strawberry hanging buckets and my rainbow silverbeet. I have already planted out peas here and soon to follow are carrots, lettuce, zucchini, cucumber and a few pepper plants. My hot house is going to raise more peppers, tomatoes and my eggplants. I love eggplant and discovered last year that I can't grow them outside, it must be in the hothouse. 

The last quarter (bottom right) is the one that will be resting this year. I've got cardboard in the shed to pull out and cover it with, wet it down and then put pea straw over it. I'll let it sit until next spring when I'll use that plot.

My husband is a handy guy and he decided the best way to divide the garden was by building me a stone pathway. So here's what he has been working on.

river stones we have collected

he uses gravel, foil bags and river stones

foil bags came from the hops place as well

it looks great!

So he's been working hard on this in between other jobs around the house. After he lays the foil and gravel, he works with the river stones like fitting pieces to a puzzle. Pounding them in, watering it all down, filling the cracks with ash from the fireplace, sweeping it, and doing it all over and over again until it's settled into place. They look great and if we change our mind about them (doubtful) then we can just pull it all up.

So what are you big plans for the garden?

ps- here's the updated picture on the wall Jeff's been building as well. Doesn't it look great?