Showing posts from January, 2011

Change of season

Lots of new things, like the lounge walls and the bookcase Favourite Handyman painted to go in it. Today I finally finished hanging the curtains I washed three weeks ago. Tough bikkies about the wrinkles - I'm not taking them down to iron.

The dress pattern. I finished all the alterations to the actual pattern. I wanted to lower the waist which is surely one small detail. Which meant the altering of the front and back bodice pieces and the front skirt wrap and the front facings. I'm not game for altering anything else on this pattern. I washed and dried the fabric. I'm not sure if the navy blue will end up looking crisp and smart or make me look like I am 69 (apologies to stylish 69 year olds), but I am sure that choosing a cheap fabric to learn on was a good idea.
I pressed the pieces of the never ending purple cardigan. That's it all in a neat pile, looking most unphotogenic.
No photographic evidence, but I did clean the oven, wash masses of laundry, spend an h…

The last Friday in pyjamas

for a long time...

Seven days without alcohol as of today. I have mixed feelings about reporting that I do feel better for it. On the one hand I do enjoy wine and beer a lot and on the other, the increasing sleep loss effects of it on my relatively young body were very annoying.

Today, spurred on by the certain knowledge that there are thousands of jobs awaiting me at work next week which possibly should be started today, the kids and I stayed home, me in my jammies and they in about a thousand different outfits all of which they got wet, and I cleaned. I present to you, my corner of the study in which you can see bare wooden boards and the drawers shut.

The pile by the monitor is for mending. The idea is that I will notice it more there... The drawers in the front right now contain a tidy assortment of freshly laundered fabrics which have passed my test of whether I will ever sew them. The ones which did not make the grade were also laundered (most were from a friend who had store…

The culture of sewing

I finished the long purple tie. Then I made the lower front bands, picking up stitches to make a band for the very first time. I had to redo the first attempt but they both look pretty good now. Now the back, both fronts, the sleeves and the ties are knitted, plus the lower front bands. Could be I will actually wear this cardigan this autumn. I haven't posted a picture because it just looks like a mass of purple wool.
Last night I went back to sewing Vogue 8379, or more accurately cutting out the paper pattern pieces for Vogue 8379. Ha ha ha. Sewing pattern alterations. I think this is going to be up there with finishing my masters thesis and giving birth. I found this tutorial on lengthening bodice fronts after I did the logical step and ended up with wrong sized pieces. Very conveniently the tutorial is based on the same pattern that I am using. I still have markings to transfer and more alterations to make, but at least two are done. I'm still undecided on whethe…

Quotidian politics

This morning there were two new posts on my sidebar, the part where I have my current favourite blogs showing their latest posts. I use this sidebar function a lot because I have never managed to get blogoodle or sitefeed or myblogs or whatever any of them are called to work for me.

I read Reading the Maps first. Maps wants to know Have our intellectuals gone to the blogs? He takes his cue from kiwipolitico post Who are the next generation of NZ left thinkers? Both posts are worth reading. The kiwipolitico post, which I read last, has a long conversation in the comments which is more illuminating than the post itself.

This from Reading the Maps:
Pablo and a number of the commenters at Kiwipolitico seem to believe that young left-wing intellectuals are a little thin on the ground in New Zealand, but I'm not sure if this is quite the case. I don't think there is any shortage of clever young people with left-wing opinions in New Zealand: the problem, as far as I can tell, …

A spot of kitchen goodness

Not cleaning precisely, though I did run round and do some today in aid of not scaring of dinner guests off too quickly. I made chicken stock, which is the first photo. A long time ago, I read this very good book on waste in the food system, the name of which, right now, completely escapes me. Since then I look at the marked down food differently. Before I only bought it if the special was really superb, as well as that I planned to eat it anyway. But now I feel a stab of virtue as I pick up the specialled chicken (so often it is fresh chicken), that I will ensure this bird did not live and occupy the resources of the conveyor belt in order to be thrown out into landfill. So in the fridge are roughly hacked pieces of raw chicken meat which I must stir fry tomorrow and in the slow cooker is the carcass.

My first ever pavlova. I was given an early birthday present by some kind people who usually give me teatowels. This time it was a copy of Annabel Langbein's The Best of Anna…

Notes from a temporary teetotaller

Day two of my supposed month of not drinking. I committed myself and I doubt my health will fall over immediately if I break it, but it seemed a useful experiment at 4am recently. As in 4am wide awake having drunk wine the previous evening.

The King's Speech. Mary K and I went to see it this evening and I loved it. I loved the Queen in it and when I got home I used her lovely crisp and calm voice for at least ten minutes on my children.

Tomatoes. We are growing some, green ones so far. I watered them and delateralled them and weeded around them and then I had a look at my bed of compost with a layer of peastraw on top and harvested big fat slugs and black and tan caterpillars for the chooks. I put fertiliser on the lemon tree. In contrast to other years when we have killed the lemon tree(s), this year we have tiny lemons on the tree. The seeds of phacelia which I sowed recently have germinated already.

Beetroot. My best crop ever. I do not want to make beetroot pickle or b…


Do not prepare for excitement. I'm tired, sleepy and have come to the conclusion that I should not drink alcohol.

There is a purple thing which never ends. It began as a cardigan pattern book eleven months ago. Now I knit rows of the crossover tie for it every day and while the tie grows, so does my boredom. The only thing which keeps me going is that I want to wear the damn thing this autumn. I chose it to fill a gap in my wardrobe (note the implication of thought and organisation about what I wear) for last autumn, and the gap remains.

So mostly I don't indulge in other crafty pursuits like sewing at the moment because I am knitting a long purple tie. Which must be finished. Except I seem to come home with things, things relating to making things which aren't long purple ties. One day it was curtain remnants. Another it was fabric to make swimming bags for Fionn and Brighid.

Today, too exhausted from sleep loss to clean or cook or garden in the hot sun or hang curt…

The Good Body. Mine. Yours.

Favourite Handyman's latest great project: edging the cactus corner with shell and bricks. You can see it half done here. The (relatively) tall cactus in the front is one we bought at the Fox River market when we had only been living on the Coast ten days. I think of it as "our" oldest plant of our West Coast life.

A pink tutu apron confection, sewn up tonight and now hiding until Brighid turns four next week. I cut and sewed this in less than half an hour! I never imagined I would raise a daughter so keen on pink and fluffy stuff. My only consolation is to know that she will be stomping around in this and her gumboots most of the year, not flitting around in ballet shoes. The skirt/apron is standing unaided in the photo, which is apparently what tutus should be able to do. Many thanks to Kristy of Lower Your Presser Foot for her very helpful instructions.

Sewing for myself, and reading endlessly about sewing for oneself, has been a very interesting project from th…

The Washing Machine Review

Firstly, the washing machine, in the event of anyone else considering spending their winter wood savings and the car wof money on a new one.It looks like this:
See the lights and the little electronic screen? It tells you how long the cycle has left to go. It does seem to have some excellent little features like a strong door hinge and tray for the detergent and a filter that you can fit a container underneath should you need to. But the main thing is that it GOES. A significant feature which the old one did not possess.

When we bought the last one, five years ago, the salesperson said he thought there was such a focus on minimising water use that the machines did not use enough water for effective rinsing. At the time, our boy was three and had really terrible eczema. I always used the extra rinse function, sometimes rinsing additionally after that. With the new machine, somewhat awed that it was a Miele, I left out the water plus option initially, thinking they would have it …

Life and times of a domestic goddess.

Washed curtains. Big ones, small ones, black out lining, the works. That was just the lounge.

Big binge on the kids' room. Lots of biffing. & sneezing. I guess floor washing shouldn't be so notable, but it is for me.

Finished the second sleeve on the endless crossover cardigan. Next job is to decipher the codes on the pattern instructions for making the ties.

Sent parcels of clothes to various places. Filled the car with stuff for the dump.

Made tortilla with my new frypan, Le Crueset no less, courtesy of Fly Buys.

Made sushi.

Took veges and a grocery voucher around to my friend C, who now has temporary care, possibly long term, of her two grand daughters. One is less than a month old. I get very furious thinking of how happy to bash DPB recipients some people are. How on earth else is it possible for my friend to look after these babies whose parents are in no state to raise their own children? I wish there was more I could do.

red with a zip

The red skirt, all completed. It started with a gathered wait but I strode out of my comfort zone and fitted the waist and added a zip. Now I am no longer scared of zips. Big progress, and a vastly expanded range of patterns I can consider making. I put bias binding around the top (the changes were a bit ad hoc to make facings) and around the hem.

The red skirt does not represent revolutionary anything, unfortunately. Today was entirely domestic and a powerful reminder of how much waste we make in our cheap as chips consumer society. Five years ago we bought a good quality washing machine and today we found that not only was the part and labour for the latest repair going to cost over $400 but that the part was not available until (they expected, could not be confirmed) mid March. I went down to the shops and did some research. 'Shame we can't get a Miele' I said to FH. 'They are the best and most worth while but just too expensive right now'.

FH challenged …

Floral loveliness, for my sister

My parents invited my children to stay with them for four days. Fionn and Brighid were excited, my Mum and Dad are excited and FH and I are excited. I do feel very grateful. Even though I took the nutrients source away from this globe artichoke, it has still opened up and flowered. How magnificent is that?
Some of our sunflowers.

Our dahlias. These were in the front garden when we moved in. By the size of the tuber when I dug it up, it had not been divided for many many years. Now these blooms are in the garden by the red fence.
Tropicanna lillies. I saw the yellow version of these looking resplendent in Kerikeri and also at the end of our road, so am aiming to get the yellow version to go in the red fence garden.
Another sunflowere. This one is in the old chook run garden. I think it is from the 'Baby Bear' packet.
The red skirt so far. I sewed all the pieces into one line today. But whereas I made this version in the larger size last year and it is nice but rather to…

Steve Austin super hero

Steve Austin lives in Wetville. You may recall the six million dollar man but I can tell you that our local Steve is far more useful than that.

At least I hope he comes up trumps again this week. Steve fixes electrical appliances and I have a broken washing machine for the zillionth time this century.

I suppose it serves me right for washing curtains. Surely there are better things to do with my life.

This year I am having some fruit progress in the garden. Other years have been pathetic fruitwise. Brighid and I have been scoffing strawberries and blackcurrants most days. The blackcurrants are so lovely ripened on the bush that no sugar is needed (useful when you eat them standing by the bush).

One neighbour, who declined to talk to us for the first four years we lived here, today offered us his glut of lemons and said there would be grapes for us later in the season. I caressed my jaw gently so as not to be too obvious in rescuing it from its floorward descent and thanked him very…


It's just Brighid and I for a few days, while FH and Fionn are away camping and kayaking (Fionn's birthday present). They've got the car and so that's the biggest change to the way we are living. Yesterday we hung out here most of the day. I sewed her a skirt made of sequinned material and after that she literally glittered around the back garden. I made a start on cleaning up the abomination of clutter and dust and detritus which had come to pass for our home. It feels much easier to clean with fewer people in the house.

Later on we went swimming. She biked and I walked. An hour later, we had stopped and started a million times, bought a gingerbread man for energy along the way and finally arrived at the swimming pool. Lots of swimming and then we set off home, via the local pub, where I had promised her we could have dinner (the fish and chip shop is too far to walk to). As we sat in the sunshine at the pub, she with her juice and me with my wine, I remembere…

Wild thing & hot chile

Test pots are fun.

We settled on Resene Wild Thing for the walls (below is progress so far, just one coat) and Resene Hot Chile for the backdrop to the fire.

Lots of painting round here this week. Fionn chose Trinidad for his test pot for the tree house. Far too boring to paint it all one colour apparently, and he bought Dizzy Lizzy (bright lime green) this morning.

The wind outside is destroying parts of the garden again.

The slugs have been eating my coriander. Time for more beer traps. I do have rocket ready to eat again, and sowed more earlier in the week. Below are my favourite flowers at the moment. They self seed, and turn up in places where I forgot I ever put them or whether it was plants or seeds I put there. Both delicate and gorgeous.
Brighid chose her tulle for her birthday skirt.

I made lavash using this recipe yesterday. They were very yummy. Thin as thin as thin as possible yields the very best results.

Playing with colour and seaweed

The proposed new colours for our lounge. Ignore the skirting boards and ceiling colours; they will be white. So much warmer than the current scheme:
This afternoon we went to Rapahoe beach to collect seaweed. I collected two bags of seaweed and almost two of rubbish. The short people collected somewhat less, spending most of their time by the river mouth (gratuitous picture of the children for my siblings).

We all enjoyed watching the heron in the river.
Back home, I rinsed the seaweed and put it in the compost, layering it with the chopped up woody stems of the globe artichokes plants. I'm assuming they provide carbon. Not sure of the carbon/nitrogen status of seaweed, but as both Kay Baxter and Linda Woodrow consider the stuff to be like gold, I figure I can't go too far wrong.

I weeded around all of the garlic and planted Brighid's impatiens. I tied up the tomatoes which have been flopped on the ground since before I got back from holiday. Some very strange shaped t…

aubergine paint & calcium compost

There will be no neutrals in our lounge. No beige, or off white, no gentle colour scheme linking in with the same paint in the rest of the house. This morning, acting on my own certain knowledge that ordinary cleaning is boring, I brought the ladder inside, took the curtains down and started to clean the ceiling. Favourite Handyman had a look at my progress and offered to paint the lounge for me.

So we started with thoughts of yellow and red and then I looked at orange and also I'm now keen on aubergine. Not all together you understand (or maybe that wasn't so predictable). There is a large piece of chipboard behind the fire which I want to be a different colour. Even back in the olden days (last month) when I thought of pale sandstone for the walls, I wanted deep red for the chipboard. It is currently unpainted and that does most definitely need to change.

I found Resene's EzyPaint software on their website which is quite fun. Though the simple online one is more fu…

Watch out for bad luck and socialists.

So 2011. I vowed not to do some things at the beginning of 2010. Mostly I succeeded. Two 'failures': library fines (though I didn't do the damage I have done some other years) and hair dye. I quite like being blonde again, carcinogens be damned.

The post I am most proud of on my blog in 2010 is my post on abortion, which The Hand Mirror, The Standard and the Down Under 27th Feminists Carnival linked to.

2010 turned out to be the year of the sewing machine for me. It was a good year at work for me on the whole, though I deliberately don't blog about work. The casualty of my time at work was the garden. I have cut back my work hours for 2011. My daughter is showing signs of having green fingers and I hope that we can spend much of our last year at home together, before she starts school, making magic in the garden.

I am disappointed in my 2010 from a political perspective. I achieved nothing. The danger money received by our local miners got called in and none of …


I would like to offer my sympathies to Anne Else, a Hand Mirror blog writer and the writer of two personal blogs: Elsewoman and Something Else to Eat. One of the particularly special aspects of the current state of New Zealand blogging for me is the chance to read Anne's writing. When I was studying history in 1993, her book on closed stranger adoption (see here for more details of Anne's writing achievements) was very very influential. Almost two decades later, parts of that book still resonate with me, and I write as a person without personal experience of adoption.

Anne's valuable analysis and writing skills are still with us, but the man she loves is not. I knew the name Harvey McQueen without knowing much of what he did until recently and I have enjoyed his blog Stoatspring. Words always seem to me to be so solitary, so inadequate, in the face of death. On this occasion, words offer something different, special, a way to remember. I shall buy his recent book of …