Monthly Archives: January 2015

Grow your Blog 2015


Hi there, I’m rach!.

last year I participated in the 2014 version of Grow your Blog hosted by Vicki at 2Bags Full. it was great fun travelling through hundreds of blogs, finding new ones to add to my reading list, and for me, it gave me a few new followers. When I discovered it was being held again I decided to join in again. Submissions to join in are now closed, but you will be able to read the post she will put up with all the blogs in this years party.

For those new to my blog this year, I concentrate on things home related. I’m a hermit homebody at heart!. Currently I live with my parents in New Zealand, after living in the UK for over 10yrs. I care for my mother who’s heath is ailing, and this is giving me plenty of time to indulge in crafty pursuits, reading and watching live sport!. It’s not good for the bank balance however so the resources I need must come from what I already own!.

I live in Christchurch, a city that suffered a major earthquake in 2011 and still has signs of that day as well as things to try and cheer people up as the city rebuild herself.

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I am a crazy cat lady in training with this handsome fellow providing plenty of entertainment and snuggles!


I enjoy cross stitch. I have set my self the goal of 6 Christmas stitched ornaments this year, finishing a larger project I started last year, and beginning another large project waiting in the wings.


I also crochet, and have a hexagon blanket on the hook currently, but…have spied a CAL that looks lovely, and has only just started, so may look at that as well.


I love vintage and antique items and just love exploring second hand shops, garage sales and markets for new treasures to add to my collections.

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I do a monthly Project Life spread to record memories, and my blog is an extension of that. Because I spend alot of time transporting my mother around, I don’t always have  time to do lots of other things, so doing a monthly spread has taken the pressure off, yet still allows me to record what happens each month. I’m about to get cracking with this years title page!


I love growing vegetables and have pinched spots in my mothers garden to grow some food this year, so I can get to grips with the NZ growing year, after several years growing on an allotment in the UK.


I am very interested in having some land and living as self sufficiently as possible in this day and age. I am trying out home made alternatives to mainstream chemical laden products, in an effort to lead a more natural way of life.

This year I am also following a reading challenge devised by Popsugar, and am just starting to hold a fortnightly link party for those also who are interested in taking part. come join in if you’re also following this list and blog about the books you are reading.

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Once in a while I take you on a scenic trip around parts of NZ, or round my good friends farm!. and sometimes it might also be about my trip to Australia to visit my niece.

please feel free to follow me if my interests are your interests, and if you comment, let me know where you blog so I can come visit you.

Many thanks for popping by, and enjoy your trip around the ‘Grow you Blog’ blogs.


the farm sitting is over – a look back.


**long post!**

Today marks the end of my week looking after my friends farm. it’s been a wonderful week and has most definitely cemented my dream of having my own lifestyle block. I got a good taste of daily chores, plus time to sit and reflect on life on the land. Obviously I didn’t have to make any decisions, and I didn’t have to tend the vegetable patch, other than to water it, so my day wasn’t a full reflection on what life on a farm is truly like.

it got me among animals, and I have to say I loved the horses – I’d never had much to do with them since my teenage years, when my last memory of being on a horse was at my friends place and the horse I was riding decided to bolt for home and headed straight for a shed that only he/she/it would fit into – without me on the top!. it pulled up short and I was off it like a shot!. I’ve never been on or around horses much since. (I will add my other major horse memory here so its recorded for all time – that same friend, and her family moved to another farm and her father had many horses. the paddock he had them in had a huge dip in it. one day we went to the gate of the paddock with him, he called the horses and to this day I can still here the thundering of horse hooves long before the first horse came into view as it rose out of the dip, it was the most incredible experience, and I was in awe!)

I got friendly with a couple of the horses, one in the particular ( at this point I don’t know their names, but will find out later when my friend comes home) always comes to meet me and walks up and down the fence line with me. on the first day she ( think its a she!) wouldn’t let me touch her, she just sniffed me. each day since she has become more tolerant and I can stroke her neck and she has a good old sniff round my upper body and arms!.

it only rained one afternoon while I was here ( certainly had me thinking about water collection for future farms!), and the horses loved it, I watched them prancing round the paddock, kicking up their back legs and having a fine old time!.

their paddock, and that of the ram, I didn’t go into.  I felt no fear round the horses while there was a fence between us. there is an issue with the electric fence in their paddock today ( dividing a large paddock into two, not a boundary fence), and I did briefly toy with going into the paddock to try and sort it out, but the gate chain was too hard and I was afraid of being in there with the 3 who as less interested and friendly with me. I decided my friend is back today, so she or her hubby can resolve it, and I’ll only intervene if its absolutely necessary. as I type this, both groups of horses are well away from each other and all seems fine.

I really enjoyed my walk round the water troughs each day, checking the water was flowing in all the paddocks so the animals had water in this heat, and was quite happy walking round in the paddock with the sheep – they are funny creatures!. so nosey, and yes, if one came near me, all 10 did!.

coming along on these walks with me was Max, a working farm dog and he is such a good boy. he’d still patiently while I took photos, not getting too near the animals. he came into the chook pen one day and was standing patiently waiting for me. I watched a chook approach him, he not being aware I dont think, and she came right up to his snout and pecked him!. he run and hid behind me!.  Max isnt allowed in the house, he has his own dog house, plus a bed in the shade at the back door. I felt really awful when he stared into the house, especially when Buddy the cat was on my knee.

Buddy is a character – very snuggly, wanting to be on your shoulder and around your neck!. however he also has a habit of bringing home ‘gifts’. I found parts of a rabbit one morning – nice!. then another evening I saw him approaching with a bird or mouse in his chops, so I quickly shut the window and left him out that night. I actually slept better with him out so did that each of the other remaining nights.

I loved collecting the eggs each day, the chickens are a hoot. I had to water their patch each day to try and encourage new grass growth, as well as top up their water. I tipped out the old water and they all run to the puddles on the ground and start pecking in the water. there are 10 girls, and certainly for me that would be way too many – I have eggs coming out my ears currently!. my friend sells some so she’ll be able to get it back to a manageable level once she’s back. I reckon 4 would be plenty for me – enough to keep me and my parents with enough eggs.

I had to feed two calves ( steers I found out) each day and they have become right characters as well!. numbers 84 and 85. 85 is the goodie two shoes, mooing whenever as if to tell tales on 84!. 84 had a trip into the horse paddock on my second day in charge!. I went outside in the evening and noticed a calf in with the horses. oh ‘rude words’ I thought. I got into the calf paddock and walked along the fence line and found a middle rung had been knocked or kicked out and 84 had wandered through!. he kept mooing at me once he saw me, but every time I went to the gate the 2 horses came up to me. I rung the neighbour for help!. while I waited for him, I actually managed to get 84 out of the horse paddock and back into his own without releasing the horse! – I was rather chuffed with myself!. the neighbour came and fixed the fence, which on reflection, I probably could of managed as well, if I thought about it!. to be fair though, there was an electric fence line running along the wooden fence so it was probably safer to have the neighbour fix it!.

ok!, enough talk, how about some photos –

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daily footwear!


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the 2 horses from the top half of the paddock and by far the more friendly. the darker horse is my best bud!.



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the darker horse and the grey always trotted along the fence lines with me – here they know I’m coming and are waiting for me!.


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I managed to get all 5 horses in the one shot!. you can just make out the electric fence bundles in the middle of the photo that separates the 2 of the left from the 3 on the right. ‘white knee highs’ on the right was the least friendly, always staying well back. the other 4 all let me stroke them.


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my best buddy coming up to greet me.




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ready for your close up Ms horsey?!


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the farm has wonderful views of the Southern Alps. just imagine them covered with snow in the winter.


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a lovely view in the morning light.


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2 of the 10 sheep in one paddock.


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a nosey sheep!


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every time I approach the chicken pen they all coming running to the gate!. they must have good hearing because one time I just quietly peered over the gate situated behind me in that photo, and they still all came running to the gate!.


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it was exciting to see how many eggs I’d find when I went collecting!. I’ve been keeping a tally for my own interest!.


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this is how I found these 6 one day when I had my camera with me. this is the favoured roost to lay in and I’ve seen 2 chooks in it trying to sort themselves out!.


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all 10 chooks at breakfast time!.


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84 AND 85 – butter wouldnt melt, eh?!!.


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they moo to tell me when they want feeding!.


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Buddy, doing what Buddy does best in the day time – sleep in funny positions!.


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and last but not least, Max.

phew!, thats a long post, and captures my week pretty well. I’ll be asking when my friends are going on holiday again!. then I’ll be figuring out what I have to do to get my own farm!.



2015 Reading Challenge Party, link up #1


here we go!.

the link up party is at the bottom of this post.

I have modified the list to suit my tastes this year, choosing about 30 of the 50 categories. reading 30 books in a year will be a challenge in itself for me as some years I may only read up to 5 books!. subject to how the year goes, next year I may challenge myself to complete the full list!.

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here is where I’m at –


‘A Story of Seven Summers’ by Hilary Burden.

I was reading a post on the Down to Earth forum about books we’re reading, and a couple of the ladies talked about 7 summers. I looked it up online and liked the description, so then checked the library system here in the city and luckily there was one copy available. I headed out the next morning and got it, and had the whole book read in 24hrs!. I’ve ticked off “a memoir” with this read. I’m saving “read a book in 24hrs” for another book, but if that doesnt happen, then I’ll use this in that category as well!.

I loved this book, it spoke very loudly to me, and I may even buy it. it is the story of an Australian woman who moves back home to Tasmania from the UK. she was in London at the same time as me and mentions events I was familiar with. the memoir is about her going to the land and how she manages during those first few years – a dream I share. I’d recommend this to anyone who has that dream of stepping into a more simpler way of life.


‘The Silk Thief’ by Deborah Challinor.

this is the 3rd book in a series of 4 and I love it. I read it in a couple of days, as I did the first 2 in the series late last year. this series tells the story of 4 convict women transported to Australia in the 19thC. book 3 continues the story and keeps you gripped wanting to know how things fare for the women. it is part love story, friendships, thriller and history all rolled into one.

I have ticked off ” a female author” with this, and highly recommend this series. the first two books are called ‘Behind the Sun’ and ‘Girl of Shadows’.


‘Tumbledown Manor’ by Helen Brown

I picked this up as the back sounded interesting – woman moves to the country and fixes an old house. something I’d love to do!. I found it an easy read, light and fluffy with several laughs thrown in for good measure. there were enough twists to keep you going, with a few ‘i didnt see that coming’ situations.

i ticked off ” a book based on its cover”. while I enjoyed the book, if I was stuck for shelf space, I wouldn’t loose sleep over getting rid of this book. in other words, I probably wouldn’t read it again!.

2015 reading challenge – my list – 4/31

A book with more than 500 pages

A classic romance ( pride and prejudice)

A book that became a movie ( Philomena)

A book published this year

A book with a number in the title

*A book by a female author – READ ( 3rd Deborah Challinor)

A book with a one word title

A book set in a different country ( Deborah Challinor)

A popular author’s first book

A nonfiction book ( JFK )

A book by an author you love but not read yet ( Lisa Jewell)

A Pulitzer prize winning book

A book based on a true story ( philomina)

A book at the bottom of your to read pile ( JFK)

A book more than 100 yrs old ( pride and prejudice)

*A book based entirely on its cover – READ (tumbledown manor)

*A memoir – READ ( 7 summers )

A book you can finish in a day

A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit

A book that came out the year you were born

A trilogy (Fiona mccallum series)

A book with a love triangle

A book with a colour in the title

A book by an author you’ve never read before (Fiona mccallum)

A book you own but never read  !!!!!!!

A book that takes place in your hometown

A book that was originally written in another language ( madame bovary ?)

*A book set at Christmas – READ ( an outlaws Christmas)

A book written by an author with your initials

A book based on or turned into a tv series ( masters of sex

A book you started but never finished ( masters of sex).



Welcome to the 2015 Reading Challenge Party based on the list devised by Popsugar.

Each fortnight we’ll share what we’ve read during the past two (or three!) weeks based on the categories set on the challenge list. We can use this link up to find more books to add to our reading pile, ask for ideas or suggestions for categories we may not be familiar with and read reviews of the books by participants. We might also gain a few more readers or cyber buddies along the way.

RULES (cos there needs to be a few!)

  • Link directly to your reading challenge post please.
  • Try to include photos of book covers, but if you can’t, at least give both the name and the author of the books you’re reviewing. Also indicate which category the book falls under ( feel free to double up, if you’re not a huge reader)
  • Keep a tally of how many you’ve read vs how many to go e.g. 3/50 (you don’t need to follow my format, i just want to keep a record of how I go with this challenge).
  • Take some time to check out the other blogs in the party and comment, you might gain a new cyber buddy!.
  • Remember to link back to this party in your post, and feel free to grab the button over there on the right hand side of the screen.
  • Links that do not follow the rules or appear to be spam will be deleted.

Reading Challenge link party


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tomorrow I am going to launch a linky party for those of us who are following the prompts devised by Popsugar for their 2015 reading challenge.

the party will highlight the books you’ve read in the previous fortnight, letting everyone know what you’ve crossed off the list, and what you thought of the book. it will also help you come up with ideas for books that fit each category, and provide you an opportunity to ask for suggestions for categories you’re struggling with. and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be finding new books to add to your ‘to read’ list!.

please feel free to share this with your blogging friends who you know are following this challenge.

Farm sitting


I have just begun a week of looking after the animals on my friends lifestyle block (smallholding for UK, homestead for USA). I’m really looking forward to how this week will go, because it will give me a good insight into my ultimate dream – of having my own lifestyle block one day.

here are some views of the first 24hrs on the farm and most of the animals i have to care for –

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the sky last night – somewhere over there it must have been pretty stormy/rainy!.

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Miss Phoebe, who is blind.

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some of the ladies

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their ‘welcome to the homestead’ gifts this morning!.

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two young cows

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some of the sheep – very nosey and very noisy!. while I was taking this photo, one was inspecting my t-shirt incase there might have been some sheep goodies hiding there!.

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one of the 5 horses – sadly, I don’t actually know their names!.

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another of the horses

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and, Buddy the snuggle cat, who also likes to bring ‘gifts’ – I have suggested to him that cuddles are all I need, thank you very much!.

so, I have to feed the smaller animals and check the horse and sheep have water everyday. you can see how dry it is at the moment. in addition to feeding, I have to water the vegetable garden (using what I want from it!), and the trees surrounding the house – a) to keep them alive, and b), to create a moist fire barrier!.

I have brought lots of catch up things to do, as I plan on not going out and about much since this is the first real ‘home alone’ time I’ve had since I came back to NZ. plus I have 4 books from the library if I’m sick of the other stuff!.

It’s going to hit 31 degrees C today, so I’m going to kick back, watch the one day cricket international on the silly box, cross stitch and fiddle with trying to make a linky button for my reading challenge party I’m hoping to launch tomorrow!.

Grow your Blog 2015


its that time of the year again. Vicki at 2 bags full is hosting her annual grow your blog event at the end of the month, and there is still another week to register to be included, if you want to gain more followers and find new interesting blogs to add to your reading list!. last year I understand there were about 600 blogs on the list!.

find her informatiom here.

i’ll be joining in again – how about you?!.

2015 Reading Challenge.


I noticed on Pinterest last week a pin for a reading challenge for 2015. it appealed to me as it wasn’t specific books, rather types of books. I’m not a huge reader – buyer, yes – reader no!. so I felt 50 books was too big of a challenge, and I didn’t like some of the options (i know its a challenge!), so I picked out 31 that I felt I could achieve. reading 31 books in a year will still be a challenge for me I believe.

here is the link to the original post.

and this is my revised list – in brackets are my thoughts on what to read at this stage.

A book with more than 500 pages

A classic romance ( pride and prejudice)

A book that became a movie ( Philomena)

A book published this year (4th Deborah Challinor hopefully)

A book with a number in the title

A book by a female author ( 3rd Deborah Challinor)

A book with a one word title

A book set in a different country (Harem midwife)

A popular author’s first book

A nonfiction book ( JFK )

A book by an author you love but not read yet ( Lisa Jewell)

A Pulitzer prize winning book

A book based on a true story ( philomina)

A book at the bottom of your to read pile ( JFK)

A book more than 100 yrs old ( pride and prejudice)

A book based entirely on its cover (tumbledown manor)

A memoir

A book you can finish in a day

A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit

A book that came out the year you were born

A trilogy (Fiona mccallum series)

A book with a love triangle

A book with a colour in the title

A book by an author you’ve never read before (Fiona mccallum)

A book you own but never read  !!!!!!! < that would be most of my bookshelves!

A book that takes place in your hometown < could be a struggle

A book that was originally written in another language ( madame bovary ?)

A book set at Christmas ( an outlaws Christmas, Linda Lael Miller (bodice ripper!!) ) x = finished 4/1/15

A book written by an author with your initials

A book based on or turned into a tv series ( masters of sex )

A book you started but never finished ( masters of sex).

I plan to only use what’s on my book shelves, ibooks or the library, with the exception of the book published this year. I hope  the 4th in a series i’ve been reading will be published this year. I may also cheat a little (!!!) and double up a couple of categories if I start to struggle throughout the year.

so…..1st finish of the year is An Outlaw’s Christmas by Linda Lael Miller.


this is a western romance set at the turn of the century. its a quick read and since I  had enjoyed other books of hers, I thought this might be a nice read at Christmas time. its the story of school teacher who finds a shot man on her doorstep, takes him in, cares for him and, shock horror, falls in love with him. with a backdrop of snow and Christmas it was gentle and easy going!.