Saturday, 28 February 2009

What a day!!!

We had rain and strong winds all day long. Perfect weather for homemade soup and bread. Carrot and cumin soup (recipe here) in new-to-us soup bowls (50c each from Sallies!) - also spot the teatowel which was bought here! I know I've posted about this soup before but it really is great. It tastes awesome and you can have it hot or cold, which with the very changeable weather we've been having recently is a God send!

The bread is Tomato Scofa Bread from The Optimum Nutrition Cookbook:

It's so easy that I thought I'd post the recipe too:

Tomata Scofa Bread
225g plain flour
pinch salt
3 level teaspoons baking powder
black pepper
4 sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (I would use more next time)
2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives (I didn't have any but would add to the flavour)
150ml milk
2 tablespoons sun dried tomato oil
  1. Sieve flour, salt and baking powder
  2. Grind in black pepper to taste
  3. Stir in sun dried tomatoes
  4. Mix milk and oil together
  5. Add to dry ingredients and gently combine
  6. Roll out dough to 1" thick and form into round about 6" diameter
  7. Score into 6 triangles
  8. Bake in oven at 220 degrees for 12-15 minutes
  9. Break and enjoy immediately
They say "the proof of the pudding's in the eating"!

Maia has been having some very disturbed nights recently. Last night she had a dream about the witch who was coming to get her. I mentioned that we could make a dreamcatcher so we did. Now I don't profess to know anything about dreamcatchers or what they should be like but ours, of course, had to feature the things we have recently acquired.

Number one being this:

a $2 bargain from the local Sallies. We also ventured out to the Toy Library this morning and one of the toys was a box with lots of art things in. One of them was a star paper punch so naturally this occurred:

I have to confess I have never used a paper punch before and rather enjoyed it, in fact we now have about 50 stars in a dish on my desk! The 'finished article' hanging up:

I don't know whether it will make one iota of difference to her dreams but we had fun making it, and if she does still have bad dreams then I really don't mind a warm little body snuggling into me!
Then just because it was cold, grey and pretty miserable outside we decided to light our fire. The first fire of the year in our new woodburner. Craig managed to scrablle together a few pieces from the woodshed and produced some lovelt atmospheric fire! (Note to self: get the firewood ordered next week before it really does get cold!)

So that's where I'm headed now - to sit in front of a roaring fire and crochet - bliss!! x

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday I turned 37.

Below is a list of things I would like to achieve/start/get done in the next year. I kind of missed out on the whole New Year's Resolution thing and since arriving in NZ certain things have been in limbo until we knew where we were living - so here goes (there's 37 of them by the way!).

In no particular order:

  1. start a compost heap
  2. produce great compost to spread liberally in our garden (see below)
  3. start work on our garden - ie plant some border trees/shrubs and flowers
  4. make a vege garden
  5. make a herb garden
  6. organise a worm farm
  7. learn something just for me
  8. take long walks on the beach
  9. ride a horse
  10. write good old fashioned letters
  11. make a knitting nancy for the girls (and maybe a little bit for me too!)
  12. investigate the viability/financial outlay of solar panels
  13. investigate the viability/financial outlay of domestic wind turbines
  14. source some used coffee sacks
  15. surround myself with pretty things
  16. wear something 'non-functional' every day
  17. have a hair cut - in fact have a major overhaul
  18. get some new glasses/contacts
  19. make curtains for the new house - especially bedrooms we went through the whole of the last UK winter with none!
  20. go to the cinema/theatre
  21. play sport regularly
  22. do some volunteer work
  23. keep in touch with friends
  24. make new friends in our new town
  25. share a bottle of wine with Craig
  26. go kayaking
  27. grow flowers to cut and put in the house
  28. find out the possibility of being a puppy walker for a Guide Dog
  29. make an item of clothing for me - and actually wear it
  30. find great things at op shops
  31. make a dent in the stash of material I've already found
  32. visit a lighthouse
  33. don't buy things new until I have exhausted all other options
  34. cut down my car use
  35. overhaul the bike and use it
  36. read, read and read some more
  37. drink great coffee in great places

I've taken a lot of inspiration from the blogs I have read over these past few months and the above is really a way of consolidating my thoughts and putting down on paper (well virtual paper) how I'd like to live my life. Phew - I've an exhausting year ahead! x

Monday, 23 February 2009

A few days away ...

We headed back to Waitarere Beach for a few days last week and, of course, as soon as we arrived we head to head straight to the beach, which we had all to ourselves. Anyone lost some Dora the Explorer slippers on the beach?

The sea and surf now hold no fear for the girls. When we first arrived Cassia was fine, in fact I wished she would some a little more restraint, but Maia was very scared of the water and in fact if there were any waves at all she didn't even want to be within 300m of the water's edge. I enrolled her on a week's swimming course in the holidays and we headed to the pool in Levin every for that week. The progress she made was really quite unbelievable to see. On Monday she didn't like getting water on her face or in her ears. On Tuesday her teacher asked them to put their ears in the water - and she did! By Friday she was so confident in the pool, jumping off the side on her own and happily sticking her head under water of her own accord. It was worth every cent!

A fort on the beach - the hard work had already been done by someone else!

This 'sculpture' was already on the beach. It says NZ & Beyond and has two arrows pointing in opposite directions. The photo doesn't really do it justice.

In the garden I was in for a few surprises. When I walked behind the garage I was greeted by this:

I think it's a yucca in flower - if anyone know any different please let me know. The leaves are really pointy and very sharp and I had been thinking of cutting it back because I kept getting cut but then you see this display and think again.
When we arrived we made a very impromptu vege patch with some driftwood and some bought in top soil. Lots of things were against us: the wind, the salt in the wind, the soil, the rabbits! However, we planted out a few things and they have miraculously grown. Here's the corn:

Certainly not as tall as it's cousins in the fields nearby but then again he's not being sprayed with anything (he's not being fed or watered for that matter and he's surviving just fine!).

I had never seen the silks on sweetcorn until I lived in NZ so here's a shot:

Maia chose a yellow cherry tomato plant to grow and it has flourished, it's just that the fruit's not really yellow! As you can see from the picture none of the fruit has actually made it further than the vege patch - they were delicious and Maia and I ate every one that was ripe there and then!

The promise of more to come:

Shortly after we arrived a lady at yoga bought along all her unwanted seedlings and generously distributed them between us. The tomato plants have grown to produce this beautiful and sweet fruit.

It's quite funny how things do seem to grow of their own accord. Like I said it was a very slapdash kind of affair, with only 20cm of top soil per bed but things have grown. I can't wait until we get some set up at the new house and we can plan some more sowing and planting and picking and, of course, eating!
And something for the girls:

We already had the pots and I found some very cheap succulents at a garage sale so I set the girls up with pots, plants and compost and sat back. It was lovely to see them actually do everything, with no encouragment (aka interference) from me. They then decorated the pots with pumice, shells and glass beads (now all mysteriously absent!) and have watched them grow at the front door. It's great to see what they can do on their own when given the chance.
Good job we did everything that first afternoon because then the rain came!

And just because they're cute, some impromptu sisterly love!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Second hand rose

I started visiting charity shops in earnest when I was a teenager and wanted different clothes to my peers. Well I certainly got that, in fact I found one when I was packing up to leave the UK - it was a 50s style hat with a huge bow on the front in bright yellow with white polka dots. When I saw it again I couldn't believe that I had actually worn it out but I remembered vividly each time that I did - and the comments I got! My visits for clothing waned however, I was always keen to grab a bargain.

It seems that this dormant nature has sprung back up to the fore. I have been in second hand heaven since arriving in NZ, although I think these days it's called pre-loved! By the very nature of moving to NZ with only suitcases we have been in need of a fair few things. We have everything packed up in storage in the UK but now are debating what will be shipped. Although I hate to admit it the things are mostly mine! Some things I know will have to come but others I now think won't.

Can you truly feel liberated about not having your sofa in your house? Now I know that sounds weird but I think we are. Shortly after we got married my mum and dad were changing their suite and offered us their old one. We snapped it up and I've loved it. We could never have afforded it and it has been shipped here once and then back to the UK again. However, it's pretty formal in its style and I now realise that we have decorated around the suite. Even sitting here typing that it sounds absurd but I do think it happened. Not consciously but looking back now I see that our lounges were of a 'style' - the lounge we have now certainly isn't.

For many reasons I have found that I am buying nearly everything second hand. In no particular order the reasons are:

  1. to save money
  2. to re-use/re-purpose what is already in circulation
  3. the quality of the goods can be far greater than modern day equivalents
  4. things have a used patina so no more 'wearing it in'
  5. to grab a bargain
  6. to buy things that you wouldn't necessarily buy at full price but which are 'pretty'
  7. to share in someone's history by loving their item once again
  8. knowing we have certain items back in the UK so why buy another - although we may need it here too
  9. and I guess best of all because it's fun!

So that I don't overdo this blog with all my fantastic finds I have, today, set up another one. Can you believe it - I hadn't even read a blog 8 months ago but it's pretty addictive and I guess I would like of record of what I've bought. I think that's kind of weird actually but hey ho! So if you fancy a nosey at To Be Loved Again it's over here. And if you come across any good thrifting blogs be sure to point me in their direction.

I've also managed to get my blocks finished for Monday and Tuesday (I've got to finish today's after this):

We're off to the beach for a few days tomorrow so hope you all have a great weekend.

PS I went back to Weightwatchers this evening and I've lost 1.7kg - I wasn't really too sure if that was good or not but when I converted it to pounds I was stoked - 3.8lbs!

Monday, 16 February 2009

maia :: dress

Take one dress with a very stubborn black stain:

and add some applique flowers and buttons:

The flowers were from an old pillowcase which I had already cut up to make this reversible tulip hat (the other side is made out of an old sheet), the buttons were in a button box received through Freecycle and the dress was kindly given by a friend whose little girl had outgrown it (minus the stain of course that is all my little girl's doing!).

I had planned on embroidering some stems and then putting a ribbon bow arould them but once I had them on and added a running stitch around the bodice line I thought enough was enough.

And one very reluctant model!

A block a day

We joined the library on Saturday and I was as eager as the girls to look to see what books they had. I managed to find 8 to check out in record time, the girls obviously didn't want to be in the adult section when there was much more fun to be had in the children's! The best book is 200 Crochet blocks by Jan Eaton. As it says it's a book detailing 200 different blocks to crochet. I think it is beautiful! The pictures are really clear and the instructions very simple to follow. As my dressmaking last week didn't go so well I just wanted to make something quickly and easily so I've decided to make a block a day this week. I think I'll then make it into a block for a friend's new baby boy, although the addition of the pink does make it a touch girly!

So here's Saturday and Sunday's contribution:
Bobble diamond


They've obviously not been blocked yet, hence the curly edges, but they have turned out the same which is always a bonus!

Friday, 13 February 2009

It's all a matter of perception

A little something I saw on a wall!

Age 3: She looks at herself and sees a Queen

Age 8: She looks at herself and sees Cinderella

Age 15: She looks at herself and sees an Ugly Sister (Mum I can't go to school looking like this!)

Age 20: She looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, too straight/too curly" but decides she's going out anyway

Age 30: She looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, too straight/too curly" but decides she doesn't have time to fix it so she's going out anyway

Age 40: She looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, too straight/too curly" but says "At least I am 'clean' and goes out anyway

Age 50: She looks at herself and sees "I am" and goes wherever she wants to go

Age 60: She looks at herself and reminds herself of all the people who can't even see themselves in the mirror anymore and she goes out and conquers the world

Age 70: She looks at herself and sees wisdom, laughter and ability and goes out and enjoys life

Age 80: Doesn't bother to look, just puts on a purple hat and goes out to have fun with the world.

Maybe we should all grab that purple hat earlier!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Ups and Downs of Shopping

Let's start with the ups, with the biggest being that it's only a 3 minute walk to the local Salvation Army Family Store, and yes I have timed it!!! What I've found great about these stores, and different from the charity shops in England, is that aswell as clothing, linen and homeware they also have furniture. There's another op shop (kiwi speak for opportunity shop=charity shop!) in the town and a second hand shop so I have a fair amount of choice. And as for the nearby city well let's just say that I have lots of trawling to do! I have actually bought something every day this week and will post tomorrow about it.

Right onto the downs. I headed into the city yesterday morning, without children, to have a bit of time shopping. Now I'm not one of those girls who really enjoys clothes shopping but I really do need to do some. We arrived with a suitcase of clothes and I haven't purchased any since arriving so I set off with high hopes of getting some summer clothes. I never seem to have the right clothes for the right season (or the right body size for that matter!). But I was too be disappointed on two fronts: first, that the summer sales are over and that autumn clothes pack the shops (never mind that it's been so hot here the last week); and second, I wasn't actually the size I thought I was! I could explain this away with the fact that NZ sizes their clothes differently to the UK but that wouldn't explain why those few clothes I bought in the suitcase no longer fit very well!

Enter the material store. I haven't made any clothes for myself since I was in my teens so I thought I would give it a shot. I bought a Fast & Easy Butterick pattern (B4136), whether it will be or not I'll wait and see.

I would have liked to have used some recycled material but seeing as I want to make it now I bought some new. Arthur Toye have a great sale with a huge range of cotton fabrics for $4/metre.

I even bought the zip because I wanted to know I had everything instead of getting halfway through it and relegating it to a WIP pile! My only concern is when I read the sizing on the pattern my measurements say that I am 2 sizes above what I thought. Needless to say, I wasn't prepared to make it in that size so have opted for the one below! If it doesn't fit when it's made I'll just have to wait to wear it.

PS I went to Weightwatchers last night!

Monday, 9 February 2009

Cat and Mouse

Before we left the UK we had a few items shipped over and one was my sewing machine. It was new to me but not new to this world being a 1960s Bernina 730 Record! I found it in a local sewing machine shop by chance. I had actually gone in to look at another model but realised it wasn't for me when the owner let it drop that she had another Bernina but that I probably wouldn't want it. When I asked her the model I was more than keen! It is the same machine that my Mum had when I was a child and I learnt to sew on and which my Mum still uses now, even though she's upgraded it's the one that always finds favour and is set up in her sewing room!

Therefore I was somewhat upset when I unpacked the shipping and found that the only thing damaged was my machine - from the looks of it I suspected it had been dropped on it's poor little head! However, a brilliant man in the nearby town was able to revive it for me and so I was able to potter away whilst at the beach. Nothing serious happened because the only place for it to go was on the dining table and so had to be hefted on and off for each meal time!
I made these cats out of a book I purchased here. For the life of me I can't remember the title and it's still in one of the myriad boxes scattered around the house!

The one with pink trimmings was made first and when I made the second there were some alterations to the process. I just never seem to be able to do as I am told!

The happy couple!

Needless to say these were Christmas presents for my little ones!

What I like most about these is that all the materials are completely recycled! The green cord material was from a large men's shirt that cost me 30c (it was one of the items in a $2/bag stall from a jumble sale); the pink material was from a pillow case I bought for 50c and made a dress and bandana for Maia from (will have to see if I have a photo of it); the pink ribbon came on a gift and has been stored with all my other ribbon/trimming paraphenalia; the buttons for the eyes and the embroidery thread came from Freecycle and the bell on the collar was, if I recall rightly, from a box of chocolates! So I was actually really impressed what you could do with what someone else would call rubbish! But then again that seems to be the story of my life!

These little fellas came from a 1970s craft book for children, which again is buried in the depths of a box! (Note to self I really must start to unpack these boxes and leave this computer alone!) The green one is made from shirt fabric from a shirt going FREE at the local recycling shop and the floral material is an old bedsheet that I had cut into to make a reversible sunhat. The pink one is made fromn vintage Laura Ashley material that was once curtains and was kindly given to me by a Freecycler in Stratford. The filling in one is split peas, but when this really started to smell after I had finished it I used rice for the second!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

A whole lot of change ...

Well of course there's the big one that we moved from UK to NZ! But we've had a few more since ...
I should do a quick update of our life in New Zealand so far. We arrived at the end of October during a very, very cold spell of weather and I had only bought summer clothes - you'd think I would have learnt that New Zealand really is the land of 'four seasons in one day'! The relaxing and chilling out did happen but just not for very long. I was keen that we would know where we wanted to be by the start of the new school year and to that end went exploring. From Waitarere Beach I travelled the length of the Kapiti and Horowhenua Coast and realised it wasn't for us because it is so busy (that coming from someone who lived in the Midlands - but it certainly is busy by New Zealand standards and you have SH1 to contend with!).
So I went farther afield and tiki toured the Wairarapa. Now this is a beautiful part of thw world and I felt it would give us the best of everything - a rural life but with access to amazing coastline and the capital, Wellingon, within easy reach. I had my first day ever away from the girls and went exploring and liked it enough to then take Craig with me. I was getting quite excited and also thought that it would be great if we did move there because then maybe we'd be able to meet up with Janelle from Heart Felt and Amy at Seven Stitches.
Alas it was not to be! We got to the stage where we were seriously thinking of putting in an offer (and to the UK readers the house buying process here is completely different to that in the UK and the first offer you make is formalised in a contract that is a legal document - the advantage is that if everyone agrees you have a binding contract and you can, and we have, buy a house in 2 weeks, the disadvantage is that you really need to mean the offer because it's hard to break!). It was at that stage that we really started talking about what we were going to do for a living. We've nearly always worked for ourselves and have had ideas in the past for starting up a business.
However, to cut a long story short we decided that now was not the right time, with regard to family life and the economy, and that ever since I met Craig he had talked vaguely about going back to college at some stage. So we've taken the plunge and he's enrolled at college and starts next Monday!!!!! I think he was more nervous than I was about it but, like I said to him, if he doesn't do it now he may never do it. We're used to living off not very much and it would be harder to head back to study in a few years time if we had already set up a business/venture.
I've also got a few ideas in my head of things I can do whilst the girls are still at home (and I can't believe Maia will be starting school this September - how quickly does the time go?!). Hopefully I'll now have time to implement some things without any moving around! So we've ended up in a small town in the Manawatu. Certainly not what or where I was envisaging, which was rural, land, veges and animals and I really thought it would be the South Island, but then I didn't know Craig was going to go back to college. On the up side it means I can walk everywhere so I can cut my car usage which has been on my list for a long time, we still have a 1/4 acre section so we can certainly grow veges, we've got lots of neighbours .... well I can't think of any positive spin to put on that because I was dearly wanting a private, secluded section!
Maia is starting at her new kindy tomorrow - her 5th! Sometimes I do have guilt attacks and wonder what all the moving around is doing to them but on the whole I think they're very well rounded girls who seem to be developing really well and are extremely loving and generous. In fact I received a beautiful complimtent the other day from my sister-in-law. They came up from Wellington to stay for the night and she couldn't believe how good the girls were and the fact that she didn't hear them cry or whinge once the whole time. I played it down but she's around alot of children and she really did think ours were great! It's not often that you get praise or compliments for your efforts as a parent so it was definitely nice to hear.
Phew! I thinks that's the longest post to date - will lighten the load tomorrow with photos!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Ask and you shall receive ...

Just this morning, whilst talking to Craig, I said that we had a serious lack of storage in our new house. Having just moved I have not yet frequented the local Sallies or op shops so haven't seen what furniture is on offer. The local paper only listed 2 garage sales much to my disappointment and I was tempted not to even bother. But 2 is better than none surely? Well it certainly was when I walked down the drive to the first one and came across an old kitchen unit in excellent condition. I wasn't quite sure exactly where it would fit but knew it would go somewhere and for only $6 I wasn't going to pass it by. And as if by magic it seems to have been made for this exact space in the laundry (yes I am now the proud owner of a separate room in which to do the washing and ironing!):

If you look closely you can see that it's sitting on a piece of hardboard that is covering a rather large hole in the floor - so perfect positioning when there's two little ones around the place! The photo's not great because we've no light in the room, as evidenced by the wires hanging out of the hole in the wall. But it will be lovely - the walls are all the orginal panelling so once I rip off the nasty, nasty hardboard covering I will have a room where I actually like to be (once I've treated the borer/woodworm in the wood that is, but that's a another story for another time!).

Friday, 6 February 2009

New Beginnings ...

Finally we have broadband back in our lives and I can delve further into blogland and be extremely inspired by all you lovely people out there!

What a journey we've had so far - lots to say and lots to show but for now a quick hello.

Wednesday was Moving Day - yes yet again I have had to pack up a house and move! On Wednesday night we all had a home cooked tea and had a bed to sleep in so I thought things had gone quite well!

Thursday was the Day after Moving Day - I had lots of plans and ideas but in reality we all chilled out and just relaxed in our new home. A couple of beers in the sun surrounded by boxes and life seemed alright!

Today is Waitangi Day, which is a public holiday in New Zealand to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. In the spirit of new beginnings we decided that it was too nice a day to just stay home unpacking so we headed for a festival being held in our nearest city and took in the festivities - great acts on stage of drumming, dancing and singing, I tried my first hangi, which was absolutely delicious, along with rewena bread, a traditional Maori bread made from potatoes.
So that's it for now - we're all alive and well and looking forward to catching up with the blogs again and of course finding new ones. I couldn't post without at least one photo so here's one of the beach where we've been hiding out the past three months!!!