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Well, it has been an extremely long and tense weekend.

A week or so ago a friend told me she and her husband were moving to Invercargill (they lived in Ashburton, where I work). I asked if they needed my help - thinking that I could help pack boxes. Yes she said, you can drive the furniture truck! Gulp. Yes, I have a licence to drive a truck, but I haven't driven a truck since I got the licence to drive one - 12 years ago! But I do drive buses. Okaaaay, I think to myself, I can probably do that.

When I went to the hire place to fill out the forms they needed me to fill out as the driver, I got a look at the truck - a small 3 ton Mitsubishi Canter, and the furniture trailer - which was bigger than the truck!

Anyway, Saturday was moving day. We won't go into all the problems that came up before we even got started, but a big thanks go out to my Mum, Dad and youngest brother for coming and helping out load the truck and trailer when I called for help. And then we had the long, long, long drive = of about 10 hours. I have a new respect for bus and truck drivers who do that trip every day. Some of the hills are very very steep and take a real skill, especially when towing a very heavy trailer!

We finally left Ashburton at 11.15. I did take quite a few breaks, the longest of which was an hour and a half in Gore - and most of that was waiting for the KFC to provide our order! They only had two staff on and a very long que. And they had run out of the things we wanted for our order so they had to cook our food. I was totally disgusted. The other couple who were helping our friends shift had already got to Invercargill by that time. When we got to Invercargill - about 10pm - we had to unload the bed for our friends so they had somewhere to sleep.

And I bless my mother for being smart enough to book us a motel room so we had somewhere to sleep. And my cousin (whom I had never met before Saturday night) for coming and picking us up and taking us to our motel. Originally we were supposed to be staying with our friends, but as they didn't actually have a spare bed, I am glad we had the motel booked.

The motel people were brilliant too. When I rang them to say we were going to be way later than 7pm booking in - I thought maybe 9-10pm) they were so nice to leave our unlocked room so we could just walk in and fall into bed. They had turned the heater on as well, so it was lovely and warm.

I woke up at about 6am Sunday and couldn't get back to sleep, so had a much appreciated shower then sat in bed and worked on my wee computer doing some genealogy work.

And at 8am my cousin and her husband arrived to take us back to our friend's place to do the unloading - in pretty heavy rain. Our friend's weren't awake, so my cousin and I hopped into the back of the truck and hauled things to where our husbands could get them and carry them into the carport. We couldn't get the trailer unloaded as it was locked with a padlock, so I tried the door of the house and discovered it wasn't locked, so I woke our friends up and got the key. We had the trailer 3/4 unloaded before our friends put in an appearance.

The other couple (they had driven down a second car that belonged to our friends and had gone and had breakfast with the brother of one of them) arrived after we had everything unpacked, and they were both surprised and thrilled that the work was done (the wife works in a rest home and had worked a full night shift Friday night so did the packing and trip south with no sleep). They had worked really hard Saturday morning, before we got there, getting things loaded. We got a later start than planned as I packed food for my husband and I (we had no money as it was between paydays, so I wanted to make sure we had stuff to eat), as well as making sure that dinner for two nights for the two teenage boys of ours who were going to be on their own while we were helping move our friends.

We got a later start leaving Invercargill. I had hoped that once we had the stuff unloaded, we could get fuel money from our friends and get going, but there was an hour or so delay before that happened. It was nice to see what I had driven through in the dark the night before.

Again we had a few stops, but both of us wanted to get the truck and trailer back to Ashburton and get home, so I suspect we didn't stop often enough or long enough. Still, it took us until after 7pm to get back to Ashburton. As our car was at my parents place, Dad came and got us from where we parked the truck and took us back to their place - where they sided with my husband and made me sit down and rest for half an hour before letting us drive on home. I was sooooo tired I could barely stand up by that time.

When we got home I contacted various people to let them know we were home safe and sound, then I rang the depot to let the manager there know that I wouldn't be at work for my school bus run this morning as I wasn't fit to drive. And I fell in bed and was just about instantly asleep. I basically slept until 10 am this morning. So glad I took the day off. Still tired though, so will be heading off to bed early again tonight.

Sleepless in Mayfield

Yesterday was neat as my youngest and I went to a wee farmlet and caught ten hens and three roosters and brought them home to join the five hens we already have.  DS#3 and I had a fun time catching the birds - who were all in their house and trying to get to sleep.

We now have 18 birds - a Rhode Island Red hen we caught down at the river last year after someone let her and a rooster go there (we tried for the rooster, but just couldn't get him), a bantam that might be a polish one, a gold spangled hamburg, a minorca (these two I bought from a breeder at the Mayfeld A&P show in March), and a bird that is either an ancona or an english game hen (who we ended up with accidentally).  Those I already had, with the polish looking bantam being the longest here (I bought her three and a half years ago).  The ones I came home with last night were three brown shavers, four australorp, one light sussex hen and rooster, a lavender aruacuna, a rhode island red rooster and lastly a hen and rooster that are mixes of some sort.  He looks to be brown shaver mixed with rhode island red and she is a mostly white hen, probably a sussex.  I am looking foward to all the eggs I will be getting from them.

And speaking of eggs, three or four of my current chooks are laying, so that is wonderful.  The only problem is they wont' stay in their run and finding where they are laying is a real hunt.

But I have a problem.  Hubby woke me about 4.45 am and told me to listen - and I heard one of the roosters crowing.  And he hasn't really stopped.  So, he wont' be staying here long as  he is already annoying me, and it won't be long before the neighbour who complains about all the roosters in the village will be on to me to get rid of him.  It is the rhode island red who is making all the noise, so I guess he will either go in the pot (unlikely) or be sold to someone who wants a noisy rooster.

While I was out feeding them this morning it was interesting watching the dynamics of the augmented flock.

What to do with a broken butterfly.

My landlady runs a secondhand shop next door to where we live, and often she has things that are too damaged for her to sell.  These range from furniture, to nick nacks, to books, to jewellery.  And if we think we can use it we can have it for nothing (the furniture is especially useful as firewood).

A few days ago, she gave me a beautiful filgree silver butterfly brooch that was damaged - the area where the pin attaches to the back was almost pushed right through, and one section of the lower wing was almost falling off.  It was too delicate to fix, and too damaged to wear, but too pretty to toss.

So, I bought a cheap wooden shadowbox from the hardware store and painted that green.  Then I cut some foam rubber from a chair we had cut up for firewood and trimmed that to fit into the box and raise the viewing area from what I considered to be too deep.  I then covered the foam with some yellow felt and glued that down and then glued it to the back panel of the shadow box.  Finally I carefully pinned the brooch onto it and put the felt/foam/brooch combo back into the shadow box.  And then hung it on my bedroom wall.

It looks really pretty, and it saved something that couldn't be used in any other way.

I Have Way Too Much Stuff!!!!!

But after today there is going to be a whole lot less.

I have been wanting to tidy out my craft stash for several months, and today is the day I finally got started on it.  I got my two youngest sons (the eldest escaped as he was at a camp this weekend) to tote boxes from the storage area to the front lawn.  Then I went through every single box and sorted out the fabric and yarn in them into keep and get rid of piles.  I have got rid of a ton of stuff and it feels so good to have done this finally.

I still have way more fabric and yarn than I will use in a decade, but at least I am downsizing.  I still have other craft stuff to sort out, but I feel I have made a good start on the project with four to five boxes of yarn going to a friend who knits blankets for the SPCA, about twenty boxes going to the recycling  centre and there are about two boxes going to the second hand shop next door.  And boy, am I sore and tired.

This is on top of clearing out my eldest son's room this week.  Hubby and I wanted to find his bedroom floor and that has been accomplished and it is no wonder middle son was running out of uniforms for school and underwear as it was all in his brothers room on the floor.  A ton of laundry later (I hung out six loads this morning, and there are at least two more loads to go - this does include everyone's used clothes and sheets from changing the beds yesterday) and when I get to folding it all up middle son is going to have a lot more to wear to school.

My bus driving job is driving me up the wall at the moment.  One kid on my bus is whiney, opinionated, bossy, pedantic and generally annoying.  I have been driving for nearly ten years and only twice I have felt like walking out at the end of the bus run - and both of those instances have been this term.  This one kid is taking the enjoyment out of the job.  I can cope with the troublemaker, I can cope with the mildly handicapped kid, I can cope with the noise and exuberance of kids aged 5-10, but this one kid is the utter limit.  Oh well, only a week left of this term, and next term I will have five new kids on the bus so that will change the dynamics and added to that I am going to be assigning the children permanent seats and the kid that annoys me the most is going to find they are at the back of the bus.

This and That

Well, I see it has again been several months since I posted on here.  Christmas has been and gone.  School is back in for the year which means I am back at work.

I have a new bus run to do, which is turning out to be quite nice.  Different scenery to look at and a new bunch of kids to get to know.  And it seems to be a lot shorter than my old run, which is nice.

The youngest started back at school yesterday, and the middle one is off for his first day of high school.  Hope he has a really good day.  The eldest starts back tomorrow and it will be so nice to have the whole house to hubby and I again.

We had a hard decision to make yesterday.  Our beautiful Cairn Terrier started having major seizures on Monday from about two o'clock in the afternoon and they really didn't stop, so at about 10.30 we managed to get a vet to see him and decided that since medication was hit or miss that we would have him put down.  So sad.  Teddy was only two years old, but had been born with water on the brain, so we were lucky to have him as long as we have.  But, oh, the gap in our lives.

I am doing several personal challenges.  One is to read books set in different countries around the world.  So far I have read between 20-30 books and I am plotting them on a google map.  With this challenge I am trying to stick to fiction, authors I haven't read and definitly books I have not read before.  Also, the country must leave a feel of itself in the story.

Another challenge is to try and finish up some really old projects I have hanging about.  And if I start something new, I must try to not buy any new items for that project.

I have also decided that this year I am going to get serious about loosing weight.  And to exercise more.  These aren't just New Year's resolutions but a life changing decision.

Also, I plan on doing more baking, preserving and gardening this year.  So, for the baking goal, this morning I have made four batches of muffins.  Some we will eat fresh, but the rest will go into the freezer for the boys to have in their lunches.

The local Agricultural and Pastoral show is just over a month away, so I am working on items I am going to enter.

I am working on a doll room as one of my entries, and it is a lot of fun.  The category is funk from junk, so I am working on making everything to be used is bits and pieces. So far I have an old shoe box which is the room itself.  The doll in the room has seen better days and I have had to replace some of her hair and the replacement hair came from some busted toy.  Her outfit is cut out from scraps left over from dressmaking projects.  I had one single baby sock that I had got from the recycling centre as it had a small stuffed elephant on the toe which I have cut off.  From another section of the sock I have made a cushion - which is stuffed from batting from a disintegrating pillow.  I hope that the toe of the sock will make a hat for the doll.  When I was hunting the doll out of storage, I saw a box we had dumped broken stuff into and not got rid of yet, and in there was a broken shadow box.  It had been a room with things for lights and a mirror in a frame.  I pulled it to bits and have used the mirror as a picture frame as the glass in the mirror cracked when I tried to get it off the box backing.  The picture in the frame is one I have cut out from a magazine that was destined for the recycling bin. The light fittings will get a paint job and be stuck into my room box.  Today I started covering the outside of the box with torn up sections of wallpaper that are left over from another project.  Once the outside of the box is covered, I am going to use fabric that has been taken from pulled apart clothing to cover the walls, ceiling and floors.  Then I plan on using a box to make a bed, some matchboxes to make a dresser,  I think I might try to find some scraps of fabric to make some other toys for the doll room - it is after all for a child sized kelly doll.  Still a lot of work to do with this project, but it is coming together nicely.

I also hope to finish off a crochet blanket Mum and I started when I was a teenager.  I am going to enter that under both our names as we have both worked on it.

And also being worked on is a long standing cross stitch project.  Just lately I have been undoing more of it than stitching, but I hope I am past that stage and can get it finished.

I plan on entering quite a bit of baking and preserves into the show this year, plus my Rhode Island Red hen.  Wish me luck.

Spring Fever

Yesterday,while helping a friend, I spent time in a hardware store or two and came home with some plants.  Got some mixed lettuces and brassicas, plus celery and peas. I also got some gold marjoram, lemon thyme and dill; and to finish off, I also got a small fuschia and a couple of dahlia tubers.

Today I have dug  over the small area I have for a vegetable plot (and found some potatoes) and tonight I am going to plant my seedlings.  Some of the seedlings (the herbs mainly) will go in containers.  While digging over the garden, I relocated a hellebore to the very shady garden by the kitchen/bathroom windows and a rhubarb crown (from crowns that my late grandfather grew -- so it is a family heirloom) near the single plum tree.  Some other rhubarb I got given last year when a friend's dad died I planted from the side of the soon to be vege patch to almost under the wintersweet bush that grows at the end of that plot.

I must cut the wintersweet back as it is over growing the path to the woodshed.  While spring is here, snow is still a possibility - give the fact that we actually had snow last Friday.

Aside from gardening, I have also been doing something about my craft storage- or rather the lack thereof.  Hubby mentioned the other day that shoe boxes could do very well for putting things in, so I went to one of the shoe shops and got permission to take all the empty shoe boxes they had (said I was going to help them with their recycling - and I did.  grin)  Now I have them at home and they don't look all that pretty. So, I am going to the thrift stores and getting part used rolls of wallpaper cheaply and using those to cover the boxes with.  Only done a couple so far but they are looking rather good.  And as money is tight, I made up some glue in the kitchen by using flour and water.  A really simple thing to make and boy oh boy is it a good glue!

I  will also be covering archive file boxes to store my odd balls of yarn or fabric offcuts in, as well I have some ordinary file boxes and those will also be covered.  While the wallpapers are going to be all different patterns, I think it will still look nicer than what I have now.

I think I will be using some grommets to use as holes to pull boxes off the shelf with, or maybe some ribbon as a handle.  I also think I might just tie tags onto the boxes so I can easily change labels of contents.  So far the project is being quite a lot of fun.  Eventually I hope to do something about better shelving - either blocks and boards painted to look nice, or maybe shelves and cubbies that you can get as flat packs and assemble yourself, also painted.  Then the shelves/cubbies can hold the craft storage boxes, books  and even be sued as display space for my dolls or nicknacks.

I have also been working on my long lasting cross stitch project. I aim to have it finished by Christmas so I can start something new.

My reading around the world so far has been a lot of fun, and this week I have finished books based in Wales and England. Plus an ebook partly based in Egypt.  Got to go and mark those on my Google map that I am doing so I can keep track of which countries I have done so far.

I have an expedition for the boys on the weekend.  Last week I noticed a rooster downby the local river, and he is still there this week.  And this morning I noticed he had a hen with him too- they look like Rhode Island Reds.  I hope to take the boys and catch them and bring them home so our flock goes from one bantam to the three of them.

I've Been Thinking

Thinking about how to get the most done with my life and not just frittering it away, which it seems I am doing.  It is something I am moderately good at I am sad to say.  Lately my main fritter point has been the computer and the games on Facebook in particular.  I have three games I like to play on there, but my internet connection is slow (when it is working at all that is) and I also have to get computer time when the kids aren't using it.  So, my day is gobbled up by that.  

This addiction of mine isn't helped by my quests to find groups of interest and information on Yahoo Groups, nor the interesting communities I keep finding on Live Journal.  There is so much of interest going on out there in the big wide world, and I keep wanting to learn more.  The only problem with that is, I am spending so much time looking at all these places that I am not actually doing anything with the information I am getting, so I am basically wasting my time and my life.  Not a happy realization to be honest.

So, while driving around the countryside in my school bus (an hour's drive twice a day gives you a lot of time to think) I have been thinking about what I need to do to make the best use of my time.

I will still play  my games on Facebook, I will still look at my groups on Yahoo (and my emails) and enjoy the communities on Live Journal.  But, I am going to quit out of the ones that really don't interest me that much, or have no activity at all.  Then I am going to restrict my time on the computer so I get the other things done I want to.

So, I plan to do housework after I get back from my bus run. Then, if the day is fine, I will go do something in my container garden, or try to weed the two or three areas that could be gardens around the section that are just full of things like docks and a creeper of some kind.  While two of those areas are too shady to be much good as a vegetable or fruit garden, but could look much nicer than they do right now.  OK, so maybe winter isn't a good time to be doing this but it is when I am trying to do this.  After that, I hope to be able to settle down and do some crafting.  My knitting, cross stitch, crochet and sewing are just on the back burner and I haven't done much of any of them for a long time.  Though I have been doing some cross stitch lately and it feels good.

I also want to work on improving my fitness levels.  And I am thinking that maybe a good time to go for a nice walk will be after I get up, and before I have to make the kids lunches and get them off to school and me off for the morning bus run.  I have half an hour I can do that in, and if I am smart I get the kids lunches ready the night before, or even the week before (and freeze their sandwiches) so that I only have to get them breakfast.

If I do my knitting in the evening when watching tv, I can get two things accomplished at once.  Mind you, that one will only work if the kids aren't watching some silly cartoon or playing on their gaming systems.

I also want to put some bible study and regular study time into my day.  That will be slated for after lunch maybe.

Now I have my ideas, I just have to put them into practice and make it work. 

RIP Cassidy

Today is Mother's Day.  Had a lovely sleep in, and two of the boys and my husband gave me a yummy breakfast in bed.  And best of all, minimal fights and squabbles amongst the three boys.

But, about 5pm this evening, my 12 year old son's cat Cassidy got hit by a car while crossing the road.  Our 10 year old son saw her and thought she was playing with something or scratching herself, but she was dying.  When hubby went out and got her, she was dead.  And we had two devastated boys to deal with.

Our pets are in our lives for such a short time but sometimes that time is even shorter than it should be.  Cassidy wasn't even two years old.

Lovely Autumn Days

It has been the school holidays for the boys the last two weeks, and I thought that they would be pretty bad as the first four days it rained without stopping.  But we did have some really lovely days as well, more in fact, than there was of rainy ones.

Yesterday it was so nice, and we heard of a second hand book sale, we went for a drive to a nearby town.  We had a great time at the book sale too and came home with some great additions to our ever growing collections.  And the boys chose some extremely surprising books, but as they weren't too expensive we let them get them.  Now to see if the boys will read the books.

We had lunch at Subway and the lovely girls on duty were great, but what impressed us most was the smarts the one at the till showed.  She wrote on each wrapped sandwich what was in it - and if an adult or kid had the same filling, she put kids on that one.  Never had that in any other Subway, and what a brilliant simple thing to do.  Made it so easy to know which lunch was which.

After we got home, it was so nice and warm and sunny, I found my beanbag and went and lay on the back lawn in the sun for an hour or so.  Lovely.  Though having our bat eared nuisance of a dog lying on my book made reading hard.  And I had one of my son's kitten's lying on my or playing with my feet and legs/

On Friday it was another nice day, and in between getting 99% of the laundry done, I went and harvested the pumpkins in the chook run.  They had self grown there from scraps I had thrown out for the hens back in spring.  And now the frost had killed them so it was time to bring in the pumpkins and get the vines into a compost pile.  I had a lovely time out there with the chooks clucking about, the kittens pouncing on what moved and clearing the ground.  I also had to pull up a lot of thistles, but that wasn't too hard.  And the chooks certainly enjoyed having more fresh dirt to scratch about in.  The soil in that run is looking really lovely.

With the high costs of food and the obvious that the prices won't be coming down any time soon, I am seriously considering getting more chooks so we can have more eggs.  I have also been thinking of getting rabbits for food as well - only problem with that is I have a really hard time killing things.  But if I want the meat, I think raising our own may be the only way we can go.

I am not a gardener, and autumn is very definitely the wrong time of year, but I am also thinking about trying to grow more food.  But the landlady doesn't want me to put in a garden.  So I am going to have to use containers and the problem there is in finding ones big enough to grow decent crops in.  Year before last I tried growing in small round containers, and while I did ok, I sure didn't get very big vegetables.  So, I will be on the hunt for containers that are big enough to grow food in, as well as still being small enough to move is we shift house as we really really want to do.

In the last few weeks we have been haunting the local thrift stores and have come up with some fantastic finds.  A rice cooker, an eggo (which I got for hubby because it is silly looking, but amazingly it is brilliant at what it does - and another reason for considering getting more chooks), and a bread machine have been the latest additions.  And brilliant each thing is too.  I was really reluctant to get the rice cooker - I mean I have a small kitchen and getting a thingummy that only does one thing struck me as silly.  But it cooks such perfect rice that I have been won over.  As I said the eggo does brilliantly at cooking eggs.  And hubby is adoring having the bread machine.  He has made four or five loaves of bread already and they all taste great.  I make bread by hand, but don't always feel like making it, and this is proving to be a useful alternative.  He reckons I should have a go with it, but I think I will leave it to him as he is enjoying it so much.

Working Hard.......for a change

I made the effort today to start dealing with the fruit and vegetables I have that I want to turn into jam, jelly, sauce, etc.

So, my two crockpots are bubbling away - one with apples in it, and the other has quinces. I also have a large saucepan on the stove with lots of tomatoes in it, that will be bottled as tomato soup tomorrow.

The dehydrator is working as well, and has several trays with celery, marrow, plantain and red onions in it. I have to say the kitchen is smelling very nice indeed.

I have also finally finished a trio of ghosts that I started knitting a year ago. I put them aside and only this week got around to finishing them up.