Thursday, 8 October 2015

The honesty plant stall and spring in the garden.

I love growing plants and I love gardening, so instead of growing plants just for my garden, I started to sell my surplus plants at the beginning of our drive in my up-cycled plant stall.
The plant stall was an old book case from the recycle center and I painted and decoupaged the stall and transformed a Dutch clog into a honesty box so my customers can pay for the plants. 
I must say it is a slow process and up till now I haven't sold that much yet, but then I only started a few weeks ago.
My plant stall

The honesty clog
Now with readers not familiar with a honesty stall, in New Zealand many roadside stalls have a system were the customers leave money behind in a honesty box and buy from the stall what they want without seeing the owner of the stall.
There are many roadside stalls selling fruit, veges, plants,flowers,eggs and often the stalls are in the country side.
Most people are honest and leave the correct money behind, but sometimes there is a little less, but that happens not that often.
I find it special that the honesty stalls are still part of the New Zealand culture and I hope they will be there for many more years to come.
My sign
Spring has arrived and the trees in the orchard are slowly coming into blossom. The almond tree was the first to blossom, a darker pink and now the cherry and the pear trees are a cloud of pale pink and white.
Our garden is taking shape, Henk has done a lot of pruning and cleaning up and  he nearly finished the chook house and the run.
This weekend our 4 new girls will arrive and they will have a great place to call home, the orchard and a doghouse  remodeled into a chicken coop.
New Zealand Kowhai flower
I will be selling the surplus eggs in my roadside stall as well.
This week I started visiting Jack Inglis, a local hospital and rest home in Motueka with my dog Ollie as part of the Canine friends therapy organisation in New Zealand.
Ollie is wearing a bright red scarf  printed with the Canine friends logo and looks the part with his black shiny coat and cute border collie face.
The cherry tree in front of the cottage
On the first visit, Lynn the activity coordinator showed us around and we greeted residents in the main lounge and Ollie and I went round the room saying hello to everyone. Ollie was a little hesitant at first, but then gentle touched hands with his nose.
One of the nice encounters was with a gentleman lying on the bed in his room staring at the ceiling.
We asked permission to enter his room and if he liked to meet Ollie.
After only 5 minutes he was giving Ollie treats and Ollie did his "high fives" and he was telling me about his own dogs.

Magnolia tree near the garage.
Today on my second visit in one of corridors a little lady walked past us with her walking frame and she went straight to Ollie and started talking to him. She bent over to pat him and Ollie went to her and to my horror gave her a lick on her nose. I apologized profusely to her for Ollie "kissing" her face. She looked up to me and with a big smile said: "Ollie can kiss me any day".

Two mosaic tiles inspired by my garden

I just love pansies
The nurses loved him too and Ollie got a lot of attention, but after a hour he got tired and started panting, so time to leave.
The rest of the afternoon Ollie slept and that is  unusual for my active dog.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Spring and new beginnings

It has been a very long winter and for me it was a long winter of waiting.
Waiting to recover from the cancer treatment, waiting for my next MRI scan to find out if the treatment worked,waiting to find a little bit of my old self again.
Every time I looked out of the window I hoped for the first signs of spring; the daffodils popping up out of the cold wet soil, the first blossom on the fruit trees and the new born lams in the paddock.
It took a while, but now spring is here and my garden and my life are feeling the warmth of the sun again.
I had the MRI scan and a consultation with my oncologist Lisa in Christchurch and  I am in remission, there is no evidence of cancer left.
I have scarring from the radiation treatment and for some time there will be symptoms I have to live with and maybe the changes will stay,like my loss of hearing because of the chemo therapy.
But I can start living again and make plans for the nearby future.
For the next two years I will have regular scans and appointments in the hospitals in Nelson and Christchurch, so it not over yet, but for now it is.

My plans are to start art classes for children from my home studio in October and in November open the "Shabby chic cabin" in our garden mostly in the weekends selling my art and shabby chic furniture.

I also started a plant stall at the entrance of our drive and busy growing plants and herbs, also making jams and jellies to sell. 

Happiness is in the small things of life.

It is Spring again, thank God for that.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Angels on our way

Sometimes when the going gets tough you need angels on your way to help you through the bad patch.
My angels are my friends and my family, I can't do without them.
Today is a rough day, I have more pain then I had before, my anxiety levels are high and for the first time I needed some anxiety medication to stop the racing thoughts in my head.
I am still waiting for my MRI scan to reveal if the cancer is gone or still there or is spreading somewhere else and on some days I can't handle this very well any more.
I know craft blogs are mostly uplifting and no one wants to read the hard stuff, but it is for now the real stuff in my life.
My angel doll
Every fortnight a small group of creative friends meet together and we have a craft morning, last time I started making this angel doll with Elizabeth.
The doll patterns are designed by her and her friend over many years. I finished the angel doll just before our craft morning today and took it along to show the other women.
I was not in the mood for crafting much and I left a bit earlier.
I came home crying, life seems to hard now.
But my amazing husband was home to comfort me.
The grapevine angel
But I realize that the kindness of my friends this morning are the angels on my path today.
They recycled cans for me to use for my herb plants, made me a coffee, gave me a new pattern to make for another angel doll and gave me a hug and prayed for me.
Thank you God for the angels in my life, I need them so much.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Ollie our Borador dog becoming a therapy dog

Last Friday Ollie was assessed for therapy work with the Canine Friends Pet Therapy, a New Zealand organisation working with pet dogs in rest homes, hospices and in schools and libraries to help children with reading.
Ollie is now 14 months old and an active high energy cross Border Collie/Labrador dog, friendly and interested in people.
He loves to learn and to please, but also has a mind of his own and sometimes to clever for his own good. At the moment Ollie is a teenager and really pushes the boundaries so now and then, like jumping on the cupboard were I keep his closed food box and  pushing the box of the cupboard to try and steal some of his food.
Jennifer, his trainer for the coming 6 weeks thinks Ollie has the right personality to become a therapy dog, but together we have to train and work on his obedience and interaction with people.
This coming Saturday we will start and meet more dogs and owners and see how Ollie reacts.
I have been working on the heel command and also on the recall command for the last few days and Ollie is good with the recall, but the heel work is a different matter.
He likes to pull, especially in the beginning of the walk, so I am following Jennifer's instructions and practice every day with him. Ollie needs to learn to walk well on the lead when we start visiting a resthome, he can't pull me along between the residents, not a good look for a therapy dog!

Ollie and Rachel
I would love to hear from other dog owners who are working with their dog as a therapy dog and exchange ideas and stories. So if you read this post please leave a comment on my blog about your dog. I would love that and reply.
I love the beach, mum!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The way ahead

These last weeks I made myself busy with creative stuff to take my mind of things.
I made a grape vine wreath from the cuttings of our grape vine, I have been spinning and knitting finger less gloves for Rachel and painting my watercolour cards inspired by cup cakes this time.
I feel good when I am in my creative zone,my thoughts are in the process of making and I don't have to go to places were I don't want to go.

grape vine wreath
But time is ticking away and each day brings me closer to the day I have to go to Christchurch hospital for my cancer check up and now it is only two weeks away.
My scan will be in September, but this is my first appointment after coming home from treatment and I am dreading it. I don't want to go, but I have to go.
Hand spun and hand knitted finger less gloves.
Most days I feel really positive, but some days I am not and I ask myself if I will ever feel really happy again, like before I got this damn disease.
Watercolour cupcake cards
Then I go to my creative place and thank God for giving me this place to escape reality for a while.
Another watercolour cupcake card
My life is sweet,just eat cupcakes. Please don't tell me sugar will make cancer grow, I will still eat my cupcake and knit a little bit more!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

A winter walk

Winter has arrived! This week some very cold nights and the garden icy white in the morning.
This morning no warm water because the temperature in the roof dropped below zero.
Henk went into the roof and covered the pipes with a old winter jacket, I hope this will do the trick for now. Living in the country!
The days are crisp and sunny and a walk on the beach is good for the soul.

Riwaka, view over the inlet
Ollie, our Border collie Labrador cross loves the beach and the water, but more then anything he loves his tennis ball.
Olllie is a quick learner and very active dog,we try to teach him new tricks every week.
He can shake hands, give "high five", roll over on his back and play dead,only for a second!
Ollie can turn round left and right and knows most names of his toys from his toy box.

Rachel and Ollie
Ollie and Rachel are great friends and he will miss her when she goes home on Friday morning after seven weeks of being with me after my treatments. I will miss her too, heaps!
Ollie retrieving his tennis ball

Saturday, 6 June 2015

My new little shop Marijkearty's on

Blog land is an exiting place to be, I have found many creative and interesting blogs and I have put favourites on my blog list. I love to read about other artists and crafts people and what inspires them.
I admire the beautiful blogs I find and then feel I still have a lot to learn about blogging.
There are no courses available, as far as I know and I find it so much easier if someone shows me what to do instead of reading manuals on the internet.

Hand knitted cupcakes
In this time of my life I can't work because of the cancer treatment I had, so I am trying to find other ways of being creative at home and maybe earn a little extra.
So I found the website "" on the internet and opened my own online shop called "marijke arty."
The website felt is similar to etsy and started in New Zealand.
Only handmade products are for sale on felt, so it is a makers only online marketplace. 

 I only started this week and selling hand painted watercolour cards and my knitted cupcakes, but more will follow.

My latest watercolour shell cards.
I would love you to visit my little shop on felt, see you there.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Spinning, knitting.... winter has arrived.

Winter arrived very suddenly.
I missed late summer and the warm autumn days because of my cancer treatment in Christchurch and seven weeks away from the cottage and the garden is a long time.
Now winter is here and the first frosty nights were a bit of a shock, so cold outside, but amazing starry night skies.
Waking up in the morning to a white world,even the pond is frozen and my goldfish are swimming under the ice till the morning sun comes out and melts the ice away.
All the growth in the garden has slowed down and` the winter vegetables are not doing well in this sudden cold snap.
I have planted the last spring bulbs and Henk is pruning the fruit trees in the orchard.
When the afternoon sun is warm enough I sit outside on the deck with my spinning wheel and spin away for a hour or so.

Handspun wool
My wool is not finely spun, I spin a bit more chunky, but I like a textured look and feel in my knitting,also I spin different yarns together.
Black Alpaca wool with grey Romney wool and some dyed fleece to create a burst of colour.
The first frost of winter.

Different fleeces spun together.
I can't wait to start knitting my next slippers.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Creative again

After two weeks at home I start to feel well enough to be creative again.
Slowly my energy levels are returning and I feel I can do a little bit more each day.
Most afternoons I am very tired, so I do some spinning or painting.
My friend Ruth lend me her mothers spinning wheel and I bought some carded fleece at Eyebright near Richmond,also Ruth left me some carded wool to spin. 
The last spinning I did was nearly two years ago, so it took me an afternoon to get into the swing of spinning again.
I hope to spin every day and use the wool for my knitting.
Paul is the next person I am knitting winter slippers for and Jean my friend put an order in for a pair of slippers.
My paintings are simple, watercolour images of every day items, mostly from my garden.
I use recycled paper and small pieces of watercolour paper for the cards.

I found the birds nest without the egg.
Henk is going back to work this week after nearly three months looking after me and being with me during my cancer treatment.
I won't be able to work for a while, so we have to live of one income what will not be easy.
The only way I can earn some extra money is through my creativity and I hope to be able to sell my little painted cards and hand spun knitted slippers through my blog and face book.
Another birdsnest card

Pumpkin from the garden.

Another pumpkin card.

Olives from the olive tree in the garden.
The cards cost $ 5 not including postage.
The hand-spun knitted slippers cost $ 25 not including postage.
I am selling my cards on trade me under crafts: Greeting cards and envelopes  in "other" catagory.

I will post some more information about the slippers in my next blog post.

Email me: if you are interested in my cards.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Home again

This photograph of our view was taken when we just moved into our cottage at Upper Moutere and it was spring time, everything looked fresh and green.
Spring passed, summer went and now we are in the autumn season.
So much has happened in those months we have been living here.
We transformed a neglected cottage and garden into our own rustic, shabby chic looking home and the garden one day will be full of flowers and well pruned fruit trees, thanks to the hard work of my husband Henk.
We are bottling and eating the fruit of our trees and the crops were plentiful this year because of our hot,long summer.
While I am writing this blog post, Rachel my daughter is juicing our Granny Smith apples into the most amazing fresh apple juice, I had already a glass full.

Only a few days ago I came home from Christchurch were I had seven long weeks of cancer treatment. Radiation and chemo therapy and my body is trying hard to recover.
I still have times during the day I feel very tired and sometimes I am in pain.
I lost a lot of weight, because my appetite was gone during treatment.
But each day I will get better and will beat this disease.

In three months time I am going back to Christchurch for a check up and will have another scan done to see if the cancer is gone.
I won't know until then,but in the mean time I will focus on my recovery; meditate daily, have a positive mindset and eat healthy food.

I am staying in the now, not thinking about tomorrow much, enjoy the day given to me, today!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Fighting the big black dragon called C

The big black dragon
Last year our family had a lovely walk on the beach in Marahau near Nelson.
Paul our son told us of his plans to get engaged with Emma and he wanted to do this in Golden Bay near were we live.
Emma loves Nelson and Golden Bay so he decided that would be the best place to ask her.
We were overjoyed and so happy for them both.
So Rachel and I cried a bit of joy.
We walked over the beach and on our way back we found this piece of driftwood and we all tried to guess what it looked like.
It was a dragon we decided, laughed and kept on walking,we forgot all about the piece of 'dragon' driftwood.

Now not even a year later I have to fight this big black dragon.
We all cried, not of joy, but of sadness and shock.
I am diagnosed with uterine cancer and because I can't have a hysterectomy because of an unknown bleeding tendency the treatment will be radiation and chemo therapy for the next 6 weeks.
I twice was admitted to Nelson hospital with heavy bleeding and flown to Christchurch by air ambulance.

I  nearly had my first week of treatment and it is still daunting for us all.
My family is so supportive and I can't do it without them.
We had help from Paul friends, lovely cards and  messages, lots of people praying for us.
My life suddenly goes in slow motion and the days are spend a lot of time around hospital appointments, sitting and watching 'healthy' people walking past and thinking 'that was me only two months ago, how could this have happened to me?'
Financial its a burden as well, I had to stop work and Henk is not working to be with me during treatment for the 6 weeks.
Our life is on hold.

But with help from my family and my friends and my faith I want to beat this big black dragon that 's luring at me and want to pull me under.

It won't happen. I don't know what the future will bring, I can only be in today.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Ollie our new "borador" dog

Ollie came into our life only 3 weeks ago and he is Borador what means Border Collie Labrador cross. He had two owners before us and is only 7 months old.
I found the word Borador on the internet and had never heard of the word before, so it was interesting to read about this mix of the two dogs.
Ollie has more traits of a Border Collie then Labrador, he moves like a Border Collie and eyes his toys or moving objects in front of him.
Ollie is a very quick learner and works out things for himself without commands.
He looks at my face and reads my body language more then any other dog I had before him, Phoebe my beloved Kelpie did this as well, but in another way.
I feel like Ollie is really trying to work out what I am going to do next and he doesn't forget.
Two days ago I took him for a walk with his favourite tennis ball and he dropped the ball into long grass so I couldn't find the tennis ball back, the next day Ollie went over to the same patch of long grass and wanted to drop the new tennis ball into the grass again just as a game, but luckily I could save this ball.
I am reading this amazing book: "The divinity of dogs" by Jennifer Skiff about how dogs can come into our lives for a reason.
At the moment I having a difficult time with my health and the last 5 weeks have not been easy. I am trying to cope with anxiety and other issues going on in my body, sometimes this makes me feel down and not coping very well.
When I am walking and I feel dizzy, Ollie comes and walks right beside me, he doesn't pull the lead, but reassures me with his presence. I have never taught him this, Ollie just reads my body language.
Every morning he comes into my bedroom and he nuzzles my face to wake me up, to say hello I am here, a new day has started.
I am sure Ollie came at the right time into my life.