Sunday, December 27, 2009

District 9 is really really good

District 9 is one of those rarities - a science fiction movie which has a good plot.
Set in Johannesburg, it's a story about a population of aliens who've ended up as refugees in this unfair city. If you know anything about South Africa's torrid history, then the apartheid theme will hit you in the face. It also reminded me of the news stories on tv that I've seen, about refugee camps and the treatment of the people who live there because there really is nowhere else for them to go.

But it's not all depressing. The man who's got the job of organising the removal of the alien population to somewhere 200 miles away, is quite a comical figure. He ends up being the hero (or anti-hero, perhaps).

I wonder if the timing of the remake of V was coincidental?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

TLM and Christmas

This is the year that TLM remembers what happens at Christmas time. She started nagging about getting decorations up about two months ago, and has been counting down the sleeps for about two weeks now (literally).

She is also the one person in our household who is the subject of great present-giving splurging. I hope she likes the dolls house that could well become an heirloom - everyone else is getting a daycare calendar or something from the bong shop up the road from work (they sell toys too).

She knows the words to Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, We wish you a merry Christmas and Jingle Bells - well, the bastardised Kiwi versions anyway.

She remembers our holiday this time last year, up the coast at the beach. And she knows that we aren't going anywhere this year - but she'll be very happy to have girlie parties in the tent staked out in our back yard.

And I'm looking forward to receiving my first Christmas gift from her, which I spied drying on the top of the wardrobe (it's a painting).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Saved by Glassons*

I now have a dress for my cousin's wedding. It took me 3 shops and 50 minutes and cost me $40. I have definitely broken my own record for quick and cheap, and it's actually something I like - not a desperation buy.

I haven't taken a photo because it needs shortening. But it's a black maxi dress with a deep V neck at front and back, and shirring just under the boobies, in a cotton/viscose/lycra knit which drapes really well without clingy to anything dodgy. I'll have to be careful with the hemming because I have ruined knits in the past when the presser foot action has stretched the fabric out and I've ended up with a rippled and warp hem. So I may even do it by hand.

Funny, I always thought a long dress would just make me look like one of those Greek columns you see holding up banks (or perhaps a hot water cylinder with arms and head). I'm quite happy with this one, and the boy is too.

*Also known as the House of G - it is THE place for cheap 'n' cheerful women's clothing.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nothing to wear

This happens every bluddy time.

I get an invite to a wedding...and I have nothing to wear.

The last wedding I went to was over a year ago in mid-winter. I managed to find a nice enough dress to wear, that looked nice with black shoes and black opaque tights.

But this one is in summer. Also, that dress is now too tight for me.

I have considered buying evening wear ahead of time, so that these last minute panics don't happen. But what's the point if I get too fat to wear it by the time I need it?

Can anyone recommend a shop that sells glamorous-looking tents?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A name change - and about time too!

I was never entirely happy with Short and sweet like me as the name of my blog. It's amazing that it's lasted about 4 years.

Never mind. I have thought up a new name, one which more accurately describes my posting personality.

I might even change the image in the header - but don't hold your breath.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Finally, the end to my shirt refashion

It started out as an attempt at clevergirl's "man's dress shirt transformed into woman's shirt dress". The boy had donated a lovely designer shirt with fine blue, black and white pin stripes and pale blue french cuffs. He said he'd stopped wearing it because of the ironing. And I felt that I really had to not stuff it up completely. I was really keen to keep the french cuffs, and also wanted to make a garment with longish sleeves so I could wear it in winter.

Unfortunately, although the shirt was an XL, I am not an XSML. There just wasn't enough fabric in the right places, for me to turn the shirt into a shirt dress - well not one that I could fit into, anyway.

Also, without a dress form (or willing slave to pin-fit it to my body), I wasn't able to properly fit the sleeves back onto the torso of the shirt without it looking like I was trying to wear a man's shirt.

Eventually I bought New Look 6808, intending to make the view represented by the pink top with the side-on bow, with long, french-cuffed sleeves.

And I did make it. But when I put the sleeves on, well...let's just say it was not a flattering look. It probably didn't help that, with my wide torso, I should not be wearing tops that stop at the top of my hips. Nor tops that are fitted at the waist. Nor pale blue fabrics.

Go on, chortle. You know you want to.

After a couple of sleepless nights trying to figure out how to save it, I decided to just get rid of the sleeves. My arms are probably the skinniest part of me, so showing them might overcome the lack of attractiveness everywhere else.

This is way better, especially if I can remain upright while wearing it. Because othewise I keep wanting to adjust it.

What I've learned from this tortuous experience - that I still have much to learn about what styles suit me.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Santa gets it wrong

We had two children's Christmas parties to attend, in the space of 3 days - both of which required the donation of a named, wrapped present so that Santa wouldn't have to turn up empty handed.

Now, TLM has been very vocal lately about what she want's for Christmas. She would like lots of love-heart jewellery.

This might be why she was slightly deflated when she opened up Santa's first present, the first Christmas party, to find that it was a pair of bracelets covered in a tiny cherry print. (Fortunately, she does like them now.)

I hoped that TLM would feel better about her second present from Santa, presented to her at the Chinese pre-school Christmas party. It was a green tartan handbag in the shape of a scary monster (it even had bloodshot eyes and sharp teeth). I'd bought it with my 6 year old niece in mind, but changed my mind after seeing the battery-operated voice-changer (3 different voices!). Well...I was very extremely wrong. TLM hated it. She even started getting teary-eyed and whiny - though that might have been also because she was a bit tired. Anyway I felt like a terrible failure as gift-selector.

Then my niece did something really kind and lovely. She offered TLM her present of Dora pens, declaring that she was too old for Dora. TLM was once again all smiles. And when I offered the niece the rejected monster handbag, she was all smiles too.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Body double

I'm thinking of getting a dress form, to help me with my sewing. I feel like I shouldn't 'cos they aren't cheap 'round this part of the world - around 350 bucks - but I did source one that's about 60 bucks cheaper (this is it here).

It would certainly make clothes-fitting way easier (unless I'm making trousers, because those things don't have crotches or legs), and I'd be able to learn how to design by draping.

But on the other hand, maybe it's still an extravagance. I've made do okay so far, and anyway fitted tops and dresses tend not to be very flattering on me. So maybe I don't need one.

The boy says I should get myself one and call it a Christmas present to myself. But my taste in prezzies doesn't normally run that expensive.

I dunno I dunno I dunno...

Friday, December 04, 2009

pirates

There is this shop I walk past on my way to work called Calico Jack's or some such name. Being where it is i.e. in the middle of boho-ville, I have never been inside. The shop window is always full of freaky spider-web patterned tights and tartan trousers a la Westwood, which I find highly amusing and sometimes even quite cool - but not anything I would wear. In other words, it is probably too young for me.

So I went in today and found that it is in fact a pirate shop (according to the chatty young man who charmingly called me darlin'.

Apart from the freaky tights and the tartan trou and the safety pin-trimmed corset mini dresses, are:
  • little hand bags in the shape of almost-cute monsters
  • tins of plasters decorated with fairies, monsters or skulls and crossbones
  • books of pirate tattoos
  • cigarette cases covered in voluptuous gypsy women sporting eye patches
I even found a few things that I would like to get as Christmas prezzies for the niece and nephew. But first I have to check out the bong shop up the road - they have fake-tattoo ink and invisible paints that glow in sunlight.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

V

We watched the first half of the pilot episode of V last night. I don't remember much of the original series, though I do remember that the one time I attended a sci-fi convention party, there was a rather voluptuous woman in a painted-on vinyl suit with lacing down the legs - just like one of the V characters.

There was no such costuming last night - no-one dressed like they couldn't decide between Catwoman and Liz Hurley in that Versace dress and tried to do both at the same time. But the serenely gorgeous Morena Bacharin from Firefly is in it, (so is Alan Tudyk but he dies in the pilot) so I guess the overall affect on male viewers would have been similar.

I read in some reviews of the show that the original series was kind of a reference to Nazi-ism, while, with the timing, the current series could be read as anti-Obama scare-mongering (death by universal health care!). But from what I have seen of it so far, the Nazi references are still very strong (not that it's a bad thing).

I'll give it another few episodes I think.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Call it the Northern hemisphere influence, or a late start to summer

I've never had my colours done, but I'm pretty sure I'm a Winter. I also seem to be a Winter in my clothing preferences. Maybe it's because now I'm older I am no longer happy to walk around in shorts and tank tops (well not in public anyway). I dunno - but anyway I do find it hard to get really excited about summer fashion, but am always interested in looking at great boots, jackets and dresses that go with black opaque tights.

So, while I ought to be focusing my sewing energies on, say, some cool summer tunic tops or - heaven forbid - aprons and whatnot to give away as Christmas presents...I am thinking of making a jacket.

Those peter pan collared jackets really appeal to me, but I have to find one that doesn't go all the way up to one's chin, which is a sure way get that no-neck look.
So here are some patterns that I'm considering:

New Look 6852 (the pinky coloured one at the bottom)

















New Look 6736 (the shorter one)


Vogue 8300 (the green one)

Vogue 8623

Actually, Simplicity 4412 would be perfect - but the shop that sells Simplicity patterns is too far to get to in my lunch break, and anyway it's out of print :-(
(which is why this is the only image I could find for it in the five minutes I gave myself)

Monday, November 30, 2009

My wallet thanks me for dithering

It's supposed to be a Libran characteristic to swing from one extreme to another (thereby achieving balance overall), and I wonder whether this explains why I splash out on $360 boots one day, but will refrain from buying a beautiful bit of fabric at $12 per metre; why I spent a couple of hundred bucks on concert tickets to David Byrne for the boy last Christmas, but this year am thinking of just getting him a joke apron.

The boy often tut-tuts me if we are out shopping together and I can't decide whether I want something badly enough to actually buy it. But I reckon such indecisive behaviour has probably save us tons of money over the years (making up for when I have cost us tons of money...).

Anyway, we have started the ball rolling on the getting of Christmas gifts for TLM - I got her several tubes of acrylic paints so that she can colour her skin and clothes...and maybe make a few marks on paper while she's at it. I plan to decorate a box to put them in (she loves containers), so she will always have a nice container for her painting gear.

Does anyone know how to paint a fairy?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Neil and Simon, we're coming!

It's been years since I've been to a Festival of the Arts event - the tickets are usually pretty expensive and anyway I've become such a homebody.

But Neil Gaiman and Simon Schama (of History of Britain fame) are two of the writers who are taking part in the Writers and Readers programme. I really enjoying Schama's History, while Gaiman is the boy's all time favourite auther.

So we are going, recession be damned!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

yeah baby yeah!

I've been "reading" Fashionable clothing from the Sears catalogue - Early 70's. It's just terrific.

My first thought when I saw the word "Sears" on the library book spine, was that it couldn't be very interesting - after all, aren't they purveyors of el cheapo pre-fashion-conscious, mass-market American clothing? But I had a quick squizz and then checked it out. And in the last week I've been poring over every page, going goo-goo over the dresses, tunics and shoes.

What I wasn't expecting was that I could actually see myself happily wearing some of those outfits (but not with the corresponding hair-dos and make-up - and probably not in those synthetic fabrics).

Now, I was only ten in the early 70's. So you can't blame my sudden love for early-70's fashion on nostalgia (though I do remember flared trousers, and the advice in Woman's Weekly magazine was to avoid them if you have short legs). Although the recent 60's and 70's revivals might have something to do with it.

What I love are:
  • tunics
  • A-line dresses
  • mary jane slingbacks
  • crazy prints
  • big, flappy collars
  • contrast trim
  • coats with topstitched like it was going out of fashion

I'm not so crazy about the dress-over-trouser look, but I was quite surprised to see it there. I'd always thought this was a recent trend started by Kiwi women who wanted to hide their bums. But there it is, in an early 70's American mail order catalogue. I guess American women wanted to hide their bums too, even back then.

It feels kinda cool to be able to slot myself into the late 60s-early 70's fashion peg. But I'd have to be careful to avoid the paedo-chic look, because some of those outfits are really only suitable for teenagers.

I've since gone back to the library and checked out the Early 50's version of this book, but it's not nearly so inspiring. It's probably because womenswear of this era was all about the cinched waist, and if I tried to do that to myself I'd faint.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday morning meetings

I don't know why, but I have an awful lot of trouble staying alert at our staff meetings. They are always on a Monday morning, when you'd think people would be at their most alert - but not me. I manage to keep my eyes open, but thank goodness I don't have to do anything other than listen and nod my head occasionally.

They must all think I don't do much because I never speak up to tell everyone what I've gotten up to in the last week. I doubt they think I'm just tired from my wild and crazy weekends.

On the other hand, afternoons are not a great time for meetings either because of the great possiblity of post-lunch drowsiness.

Perhaps there is no good time for a meeting.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A long and winding road

To recap: I started out with a pair of men's Lacoste faded denim jeans, which the boy had thrown out because the knees were ripped.

I had a grand vision of turning it into a shell top, sorta like the kinda you might to work under a jacket, but denim. A bogan corporate look, if you will.

Unfortunately, it looked very very bad on me.

And here is what has happened to it since:

I found two pairs of old jeans of my own, and decided to add them to the top and make a dress. The jeans were both different types of denim and different shades of blue.

I couldn't decided whether to go deconstructed and obviously made from 3 pairs of non-matching jeans, or to aim for a more sophisticated look. In the end, I put the whole thing through a navy blue fabric dye to even up the colours.

What I didn't forsee was that the white thread I'd used on all the seams and topstitching would not dye. Also, it was supposed to have an empire waist, but something happened there...
So now I have a very Seventies-look denim dress, perhaps a bit home-made looking but I guess that was part of the Seventies thing too, no?


Here it is anyway. I'm gonna wear it for a while before deciding for sure, but I'm thinking of adding either a minimal ruffle down the centre front, or else a row of small white buttons (blue would have been better but I got 3 kinds a blue goin' on here).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I know what I like, but I may not know anything about fashion

A friend of mine very generously shouted me a ticket to a design school fashion show. I was keen to check out what the creative young things are doing these days.

There were some nice tailored items that I could imagine being worn by fairly normal people in the street, many fanciful outfits that I thought belonged in the Wearable Arts awards and a few that were kinda uninteresting. There were clothes that made music when the models walked (cute, but potentially life-threateningly annoying), clothes refashioned from jeans (a nice idea but hardly original), and architectural constructions that looked like their creator was channelling Issey Miyake.

Obviously, the outfits looked like they were designed for 20-25 year olds.

Funnily enough the award-winning collections were, almost without exception, the ones containing the clothes I just didn't get and couldn't imagine anyone wearing outside of avant garde fringe theatre.

Although, perhaps some of my less-than-positive reactions were the result of fashion-fatigue. At 2.5 hours (with a 20 minute break in the middle), it was awfully long.

It was great fun though, and well worth the half hour walk in gale force winds to get there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Finding gods

We've been watching a TV series called John Safran vs God. It's really quite interesting. Safran's an amusing Aussie who, in this series, explores a wide variety of religions around the world.

Although he's funny, he doesn't mock the faiths (okay maybe a little, but only occasionally). He's (mostly) genuinely curious and open-minded, whether he's trying to find enlightenment in a Buddhist monastery, participating in a Voodoo ceremoney or being smeared with chicken blood in an African magic ritual (to undo a curse on Australia's soccer team).

So, really, this show would be more accurately titled John Safran looks for God.

The last episode was really quite freaky. Safran decides that all his toe-dipping into the religious pools around the world may have left him vulnerable to demon posession and visits an exorcist. The freaky thing is that, in the exorcist's hands, Safran really does behave like there's something bad and weird in there somewhere. Even his camera crew admit they've never seen him act like that before. It certainly didn't look like an act to me. The whole thing ends with Safran, who is Jewish, giving into the exorcist's pressure to become Christian, as "the next step" in his cure.

Unfortunately, there's no debriefing afterwards - so we're left with no idea as to what Safran remembered of the experience later, or whether he regrets giving up his Jewishness.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A party

What a week - it started with funeral service, ended with yet another cold and in the middle was a (in my humble standards) great Guy Fawkes party.

The party was held at a co-worker's home up in the hills overlooking the harbour. She has this amazing house whose walls are almost completely comprised of glass and it sticks out from the hill like a big glass elevator on one of those fancy high-rises. I only knew the hostess and two others, but the other guests were really easy to chat to, so I had a really nice time. It reminded me of the old days when I used to go to parties full of strangers and pretend to be tiddly just so's I'd have an excuse to brazenly break into conversations uninvited.

At 9pm, we all went out onto the deck to watch the fireworks display on the harbour. Nothing beats actually being on the harbour, craning your neck to watch the lights explode like an imitation supernova, but even from the hills it was quite spectacular.

It was also bloody freezing, and all because I was too lazy to go downstairs to retrieve my jacket.
Is it just a coincidence that I've now got a cold, or is it really possible to "catch a chill"?

Monday, November 02, 2009

We said goodbye

Funnily enough, for a person who claims to have far too much black in her wardrobe I did not have a plethora of funeral-friendly outfits. Of course, it didn't really matter what anyone wore, because our faces were not exactly festive.

The place was completely packed; cars parked each other in and there weren't enough chairs for all the folk who'd come to say goodbye. The casket entered the room accompanied by a Maori chant which I don't know the name for - like a powhiri but probably different. Members of the family and old friends, often overcome by emotion, recounted anecdotes from the editter's life and reminded us of the qualities that endeared her to us - the super-quick wit, the scarily sharp memory, the ease with which she made friends and her way with children.

Of course, I teared up as soon as we arrived and didn't stop until the end of the service.

I would have liked to stay after the service ended; to join in with the the reminiscing would have made it easier for me to walk away with happy memories in my head. But I had to get back to work, so we said our goodbyes to the ones we knew - only to return because someone's little blue Chevrolet Cruze had parked us in (which no one would admit to owning, but which mysteriously disappeared soon after I made the request public).

Saturday, October 31, 2009

No more Letters from the Editter

My dear friend, who was ill for the last few months, has died.

I can't think of anything to add to that, except "Goodbye - I'm gonna miss you".

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Our battery collection

For months now, I've been avoiding putting our used up batteries into the household rubbish - because somewhere, I read or heard that those things are full of heavy metals and ought to be disposed of in a special way. So I hung up a plastic shopping bag to collect them, fully intending to find out where they should go and then taking them there.

The bag has gotten pretty heavy by now, and the boy voiced fears that it can't be healthy having a big bag full of toxic thingamies hanging around in the kitchen. So I finally got around to going on the 'Net to find out what I'm supposed to do with it.

And it turns out that there is nowhere nearby that recycles them.

So into the kitchen bin they go.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

lunch date

The boy asked me to look after TLM for an hour in the middle of the day today, and I thought, cool - I can take her out for a fluffy and then check out the Yayoi Kusama exhibition together.

It was only for an hour, and that hour went by so quickly -

She charmed the pants off my co-workers.

We had lunch at a nearby cafe (a fluffy and a sausage roll for TLM, a hot chocolate and a potato-top pie for me).

TLM insisted on climbing over every raised flowerbed.

She hugged each and every one of the koru (unfurled fern fond)-shaped pillars surrounding the Civic Square.

We checked out the polka-dotted City Gallery facade (it sooo reminds me of the Dr Seuss as Robert Lopshire book, "Put me in the zoo", about a spotted creature who can throw his spots onto any surface). But we didn't go in because the queue was too long.

TLM ran free and wild around the Civic Square, leaping about on the boat-shaped seating and frolicking on the grass.

Bliss.

Monday, October 19, 2009

When plus-size women can't be plus-size models

I read the other day about the tiny-sized Ralph Lauren model who was sacked for being too fat. She's a size 4, which means she's about a size 10 in New Zealand sizing. Now, you know and I know that that is not fat. And apparently the preferred dress size for a plus-size model is 8-10 (which is probably about a 14 in NZ sizing).

Apparently the reason models have to be so thin, is because the sample clothes that designers send in to be worn on the catwalk (and in the magazines) are so small. And the reason they are so small, is to save money on fabric.

Well, I have the solution.

Why doesn't the fashion industry just model all new collections on Barbie dolls?
The construction might be a bit fiddly, but they'd save a ton on fabric.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Spring coat sprung


Now that I've put all the buttons on (close-up of the buttons over on the right there) and worn it out a couple of times I have to say you were right, dear commenters.

I do like this coat. Although it definitely looks better on me if I don't button it up all the way - and better still if I don't button it up at all.

Also, the term "spring coat" is a bit of a misnomer. Because around these parts, the kind of coat you'd have to wear in spring is a rain coat.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I been exercising

On Wednesday evening, in between driving 'round to my mum's to dial up her insulin pens and having dinner, I managed a 20 minute session on the Wii Fit (and I did another 30 minutes tonight).

And I might be hooked. It's really fun, and some of it even feels like exercise (inasmuch as it works my muscles and I feel a little tired afterwards). With Wii Fit you get yoga, muscle workout, cardio, balance games and some other games which I forget what they're for.

My favourite exercise is still the yoga. But my favourite game is the downhill skiing. I still can't do the whole run without ramming into at least four flags.

The board records my every movement, so I know that my left side is way weaker than my right (which is interesting because I'm a leftie so my left ought to be stronger). It feels good that my balance is apparently pretty good and my lunges are better than the lunges of a middle-aged woman who hasn't been to the gym in four years.

Maybe the novelty value will wear off eventually, and maybe I'll soon reclaim these evenings for sewing. But I aim to make the most of that novelty for as long as I can.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I yearbooked myself


Can you see which one of these footballers is me?
No? Well check out the Lennon-ist on the right.

Another year older

Apparently people at my work are allowed to take the day off on their birthday, but I didn't because I had taken so much time off sick already this year. Then on the weekend my thoughtless sibling told me I had to take my mum to her follow-up appointment with the eye specialist this afternoon.

So, my birthday today was full of joyful activities such as:

1. a long staff meeting, followed by a panicky hour of cramming work in and then
2. 2 hours of sitting, zombie-like, in a public hospital waiting room (for a 2 minute consultation) and then
3. feeling slightly guilty for not going back to work for that last hour of my working day, because all that spring air was giving me a sinus headache.

But the boy and TLM did give me some lovely artistic birthday presents:
1. a tiny wee dolly made by a ceramics artist (because I told him that I never had dollies when I was a kid)
2. a bright red t-shirt, one size too small (but with a beautiful screenprint on it - it just needs to be bigger and blacker, really)
3. a hand-made mug, to go with some bowls by the same artist that I got for Christmas last year
4. and a lovely hand-made birthday card created by TLM, who may or may not be an artist but sure has the right amount of flakiness.

Oh, and a birthday muffin (that is, a cake. Just in case you were thinking that was a euphemism).

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Suspiciously chivalrous

When I was at school it was mostly only the rebellious kids who didn't give up their seats on the bus for adult passengers. These days it's remarkable when a kid does give an adult their seat. In fact, I still haven't forgiven those rude people who stayed seated when I waddled onto a crowded bus, 6 months pregnant and dying to take the weight off my feet.

So why did a young man offer me his seat on the bus this afternoon?
He wasn't doing to chat me up - because he didn't.

It's possible that he caught sight of my "mature" hands and - putting that together with my old-man newsboy hat, deduced that I was an unsteady old biddy.

Or, he saw how voluminous my A-line coat was (not the one I've been sewing - that one is only just big enough) and mistook me for a pregnant lady (where the hell was he 4 1/2 years ago?)

Hopefully, he did it because my oversized bag looked really heavy (it was - it was full of library books about women's fashion).

But I'll never know. It was nice to have a seat all the way home though.

Monday, October 05, 2009

A Dora bill


Oh yeah, and here is a photo of TLM in her Dora skirt - which she is wearing with Dora socks.

Should it stay or should it go?

I STILL haven't finished this coat yet, but right now I'm not sure I should bother.



What I have left to do is:
  • Get three buttonholes put in professionally (or sew on some snap buttons) and sew the buttons on
  • Unpick the lining hem and re-attach it so that the back pleat doesn't sag funny
  • Re-do the sleeve hems because the sleeve lining is way too long
And then it will be finished.



I'm not thoroughly happy with this coat though:
  • the back pleat doesn't sit right when it's on, though it looks fine on the hanger
  • Most of the plaids don't match up from bodice part to skirt part
  • the skirt part really sticks out
  • the fabric is a little bit distorted, maybe because I machine-washed and line-dried it prior to cutting
  • I'm not sure this style and pattern is very flattering on me
(Apologies if you're eyes are going a bit weird looking at the back view; it's just a blurry photo)



So anyway, do I spend the extra time and money on finishing it, or is it a dead loss?

It's not all bad though - I have learned enough that, if I were to make this coat again, the end result would be much more satisfactory (though I reckon I could find a more flattering style).

Like:
  • stay away from any fabric that has obvious must-match pattern on it
  • don't use fabric that is super-frayable and super-duper-snaggable (it makes unpicking really really hard, and the floor really really messy)
  • be careful putting in that back pleat, and don't be in a hurry to undo the tacking that keeps it in place
  • don't machine-washing a loosely-woven cotton tweedy fabric in the hope that it will tighten the weave.
  • If you don't look good in high necklines, just accept the fact that you need to wear a scarf with that coat - then go out and buy a really nice one.

Friday, October 02, 2009

We don't do Daylight Savings by halves...

...but we bluddy should.

Right up until the night of the changeover, I had been waking up half an hour earlier than normal i.e. 7am. This gave me time to get TLM and myself ready for the day and also half an hour to just hang out.

But last Monday, I suddenly had to get out of bed half an hour before I was awake. So all week I've been late in to work, and still can't get to the sleep at the new bedtime.

I propose that in future we do Daylight Savings in two phases - the first phase is at the beginning of October, when we move our clocks forward by thirty minutes only. The second phase is a few months in, when we move our clocks forward by another thirty minutes. Taking it slowly will decrease the amount of tiredness in the first week of each time change, and indirectly cause greater happiness for everyone. Well, for me anyway.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I'd rather be scrutable

I went to visit a dear friend in hospital today who has cancer and probably not that much time left. It was one of her not-so-good days, when she seemed to barely notice all the people who'd gone to see her. So I put the flowers in the basin, said hi, and proceeded to ignore her for a good ten minutes.

I'm not very good during sad times like these. It's not that I don't feel anything, because I surely do. But I do have an awfully difficult time with saying and doing the right things. I want to tell her this is so unfair, what's happening to her. But I don't, because maybe she'd rather be cheered up. But it's hard to think of anything cheerful to say, and maybe it'd be inappropriate anyway.

Eventually I did talk to her about some inane stuff, and it did seem to amuse her at least for a moment. But I fear the awkwardness behind my chatter was clanging loudly in the background that whole time.

At times like this it would be really handy to have a religion.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Unfinished businesses

After months of fretting, wanting to cancel and then not getting around to actually cancelling, my mum finally had cataract surgery on her good eye. Of course, she's not exactly going around telling everyone how right we were to encourage her to get it done. But I know she's glad she didn't chicken out in the end. If only we were as successful in convincing her to try a hearing aid.

I have nearly finished my coat. Yay! Except I haven't been able to find suitable buttons, and until I do that coat is still a WIP and an un-photographed one at that.

So I moved onto my next project, which is to finish my man's dress shirt refashion - but because I used up all of my white thread in sewing the coat, all I could do was cut out the collar pieces (6 pattern pieces!). However in the meantime I did turn a badly-fitting work jumper dress into a well-fitting work skirt. But there is no photo because right after I finished it, I found some suspicious-looking stains on it and had to throw it straight into the washing machine.

The three of us went into town today to have a look at the Chinese Culture Festival. TLM thoroughly enjoyed the dragon dance - it was a sinewy creature that wove and wormed up and down and around, to a drum beat that would force a galleon slave to faint from exhaustion. But apart from that I reckon her other favourite things were going up and down the stairs one at a time like a big kid, and doing puzzles in the kids' area.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Shogun

The boy bought the boxed set of the Seventies TV show, Shogun, years ago. It had been a favourite of his when he was a boy, and no doubt he was keen to share it with me. But I was expecting something a little less culturally sensitive, so didn't make any effort to watch it with him.

For some reason, the name of the show conjured up a mental image of a hairy white man frolicking with compliant young Oriental girls in an overtly sexist and racist manner. (But actually I had been thinking of a scene in a James Bond movie.)

Now that we've been watching it since the weekend, I'm really quite enjoying it. Not so much the torture and the beheading, but the political intrigue, the religious conflict and the exotic costumes - and that's just the Westerners.

It shows a lot about Japanese culture at the time (the 1500's, I think) and is apparently fairly accurate, the author having spent many years in Japan and China. One thing that impresses me is that it doesn't take sides - the Portugese and the Japanese Samurai are equally ruthless; the Jesuits have their good and bad points and even the main character - the English Blackthorne - isn't totally a good guy.

The boy reckons that Richard Chamberlain, who plays Blackthorne, invented the I-smell-a-fart method of acting. After he told me that, I couldn't look at him (Chamberlain) frowning without giggling.

The wrong trousers

...or, skinny jeans don't make me look skinny, but wide-leg pants sure do make me look wide...

I really ought to get into the habit of trying on several styles at once, before deciding whether to buy something. If I had done that last winter I would not have ended up with a pair of wide leg black trousers that, on me, look like sturdy load-bearing columns holding up a pair of arms and a shrunken torso. If I had gone into the dressing room with those and a pair of straight-legged black jeans, I would have walked out of the shop with the relatively slimming and leg-lengthening jeans.

What this means is, if you're going to follow Trinny and Susannah's style advice then you have to go the whole hog i.e. if you want to wear the wide-leg trousers then be prepared to put a pair of high heels on your feet as well. Yay.

Anyway, today I bought the right trousers - dark, straight-legged jeans that are so soft it's almost like wearing maternity pants (which, by the way, I still have. They are awaiting a re-fashion).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

More of a hypothetical sewer, really

I'm still progressing on my coat - just the buttonholes and buttons, the topstitching down the front and the back tab to do, and then it's completely ready for wearing!

However, now that I've spent so much time on this one garment, I'm not sure I'll feel like doing it all over again for the real winter coat. I'll definitely be moving onto simpler things for the Summer, before tackling anything that time-consuming again.

Anyway, I think perhaps I'm much better suited to thinking about sewing than actually producing anything. This is because for me, the most fun part of sewing is choosing the pattern and the fabric, and drawing little pictures of imagined modifications. All the rest is just hard slog.

In fact, if money were no object, I would probably just be designing my clothes and paying a professional to construct them for me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Forever

I just got asked to go permanent today, at work.

It's good, because it means we have some financial security now.

I was looking forward to some down-time though.

Still, can't complain eh?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

She's literate!

The Little Madam wrote down all the letters of the alphabet today! A couple of them turned out dyslexic-ly, but every single one of them was recognisable.

It's going to be one of the bits of paper that I'll save and put in my TLM scrap book.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Saving an egg from a pointless death

I have a problem with throwing away food, especially meat. As far as I'm concerned, some poor animal died so that someone could have steak/pie/meatloaf or whatever for dinner - so it seems wrong to discard perfectly edible meat (or let it go off and then have to discard it).

Plus, in good traditional Chinese fashion, I was raised to eat everything in my bowl (or on my plate) because there are starving people in the next village or whatever.

And that's why, when I bought a potato salad for lunch yesterday and then discovered it was dressed in eczema-exacerbating egg pieces, I ate it anyway. Though I did try to scrape off eggy-looking substances from my potato chunks first.

And then I spent the rest of the day being very very itchy.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The movie about the guy who was a character in a book

The boy and I watched Will Ferrell in Stranger than fiction the other night and we were very pleasantly surprised. Although I've enjoyed his performance in Zoolander as the man who invented the piano-key neck tie, I wouldn't normally watch a movie just 'cos he's in it.

But he was very good in this one. It helped that the story was intelligent and thought-provoking. What would you do if you started hearing an intermittent voice in your head that seems to be narrating your dull, dull life? What if you found out that the author who owns that voice is trying desperately to finish her possibly award-winning novel by killing off her main character (that's you). And what if you were that author, and just found out that all those fictional people you'd killed off over the years were probably real people?

As well as being a gentle romance about a man who learns to take risks, live life and find love, it's also a movie about defying fate - or not. It even made me briefly consider whether a life-changing novel could possibly be more important than an actual life.

Friday, September 04, 2009

I been busy

Thank gawd it's Friday. It's been full-on at work, keeping 4 students and a hubby gainfully employed and keeping them from adding any more spelling mistakes to the databases they are updating for us. Like, it's "language nest", not "langrage next" - and don't do it again!

That, plus trying to keep track of whose computer has which database on it, and which copy of each database is the latest one (when there's a copy on at least one of the team's computers, plus one on the USB stick, plus one on the server)...I'm sure I have new frown lines that weren't there on Monday morning.

On the plus side, it's such a pleasant novelty to have lunch with the boy every day. I sure do miss lunching socially. And I learned so much about hiring and training newbies, that I even offered advice to someone who rang me up as a reference for a potential new employee!

And just to end the week with a bang, the big boss has asked me to do a prototype of some informational content to go on our website, which means I get to research and write serious copy! For public viewing!

And...my coat is now about two thirds finished.

I been busy awright...

Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm the boss

I thought it went pretty well actually.

Aiming to get in at 8.30, to give me time to set up the work for the new temporary employees before they started for the day, I accidentally arrived at an eye-smarting 8.15am. (And then I had a shortened lunch break and forgot to leave early - so it was a long day for me.)

I co-presented their "induction" i.e. where the toilets and kitchen are, what breaks they're entitled to, and - crucially - how to do their job, and only made two unintentional spoonerisms. And didn't forget anything really important.

Then I got them to team up (the boy was left on his own, probably because he was visibly twice as old as the others and acted like he knew what he was doing) so they could get to know each other and also "spot" each other (spot each other's mistakes, that is). What a great idea that turned out to be. Pity I can't take credit for it; it was the boy's idea.

He called me Sweetie once, but I think we got away with it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Who's the boss?

The boy has this little game he plays with TLM sometimes. When she starts bossing him around, he'll give her a look and say "TLM - who's the boss here?". If she points to me, the boy will smile indulgently and nod - and then ask her again until she points to him.

Well, for the next fortnight I will literally be the boy's boss. Yep, that's right. We've hired him to join the little team of busy bees for that little project I posted about earlier. He'll be a part-timer of course, since TLM is only in daycare for a few hours per day. And he'll have to keep a low profile and avoid acting like he knows a lot.

It's going to be interesting.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I soldiered on

I knew it was going to be a really busy day at work today, so I gobbled up my medications and packed some Codral as well (that's the stuff that makes your cold symptoms go away so you can attend your daughter's wedding / spend a day at the office / still take that beach vacation). And I had a good day of it too, with only occasional telltale coughs, sneezes and wheezes.

Most of the day was spent interviewing applicants for a short project we are trying to get finished. I've never really been involved in the hiring process before (except as an applicant), so it was really interesting how different an impression you can get about a person from their CV, from talking to them, and from getting them to do an actual task for you.

For instance, there was one application which looked only so-so; there wasn't much in it that told us she could do the job. But we decided to interview her anyway. And she came across as being potentially really useful, because she seemed to have done similar work before and said all the right things about the importance of attention to detail. But after we came back to check how she'd gone with the little test we'd prepared - what a disaster! It looked as though she'd never used a spreadsheet before.

So after 7 back-to-back interviews, a run through all the test results and a debrief, I had to sit through a long meeting and didn't get out of there until 5 (I normally finish at 4.30).

So I guess I have to hand it to the drug-making folks who make Codral. It sure did work today.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Breathless

"I've been coughing since June", I told the doctor. And I have, though there were moments when it seemed to get better - just before another virus came along and made it worse again. Lately, I've have been deliberately looking my worst when visiting the doctors', just to make sure they take my illnesses seriously. This morning I looked like a vampire, though not as glamorous.

The doctor listened to my chest as I tried to breathe deeply - I managed two before collapsing into the kind of scary-arse hacking that, in old movies, means you've got TB. Apparently it quite alarmed him (the boy was there to see).

So now I have a new, stronger asthma preventer, some cough syrup, antibiotics for the chest infection and another course of Prednisone. On the plus side, I already feel heaps better than I did 4 hours ago.

It's got me thinking that I really ought to do something about my asthma. I used to be able to blow a 700 on the peak flow meter, no problem. Now I'm lucky to get over 400. I can't afford the time or money to resume my pre-TLM gym regime, which is probably the thing that really helped me. And I can't kick the boy out of the house either (nor can I make him give up smoking, because really only he can make that decision). Maybe, when I'm better, I could try swimming a couple of times per week.

Or maybe I should just buy myself a packet of face masks and spend my sewing time cleaning the house. Ugh.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

An early spring

For once, the skimpy dresses in floral chiffon that decorate every women's dress shop window, are not entirely out of sync with the weather. In other words, we've been having some pretty nice weather lately.

We are having an early spring. Apparently this doesn't necessarily translate to a longer-than-usual spring, just an early one - which ultimately means an early end to summer. But that doesn't stop me from enjoying the clothes-drying temperatures. I just love sitting outside on the step, feeling the warmth on my skin, even if it means risking a sunburn-induced cold sore. It makes me wonder whether I can do a goth-summer kind of look, because florals really aren't my thing.

There's one other thing. If it is spring already, then I have officially been sick ALL winter.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday night in bed

...and not in that way, either.

I had hoped to spend the evening putting my coat together - I finally got going with the construction last week (which is why I've been silent on the blogging front) and wanted to make the most of this evening alone (the boy was going to go out and watch the rugby with my ex-guy friends - I say "ex" because I never see them any more). I reckon I'm about 25-30 percent done, which is not bad considering I'm working with a fast-fraying fabric which leaves the carpet looking like it's had a shave but no-one's bothered to come sweep up the cuttings.

But TLM got me up a couple of times last night, so I'm feeling really tired - and now I have a headache.

So I'm going to bed early. G'night.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Because nagging works

I may be a superb example of paralysis-by-analysis, or maybe just plain lazy, but it's nice to know that I can perform when the pressure is on.

So while I have been a prize procrastinator regarding cutting my spring coat, fixing my men's shirt refashion and fixing my denim shell-top refashion (have decided to find 2 more pairs of old jeans and turn it into a dress, then dye the whole lot) - it wasn't the case for TLM's Dora skirt.

When she accompanied me to Spotlight a couple of weeks back, I promised to get her some Dora fabric. Then I left it lying around with very little intention of actually sewing with it in the near future. But TLM was having a very at-sixes-and-sevens post-birthday-party sort of day and insisted that I make her a skirt RIGHT NOW, please???

So I measured her up, thought about how to do it, and half an hour later she is wearing her brand new Dora skirt. Thank goodness she is not as fashion-aware as she is fussy.

In case you're wondering (which of course you are), all I did was fold the fabric in half across, sew a seam up the side, put a casing in the top for an elastic band, and hem it up. Only a four year old cutie could look pretty in it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thankful for accidental protection

Last night the boy wanted to get some takeaways for dinner, so we had some lamb rogan josh delivered. But I'd had a couple of cream-filled brandy snaps (the boy does like to spoil me with yummy junk food), so I wasn't that hungry.

So I did the sensible thing, which was to eat half of my lamb rogan josh and pack the rest away for my lunch tomorrow. (Never mind that, an hour later, I was hungry again and munching on toast and leftover roti).

I put it in one of those sealable plastic boxes that takeaways come in, inside a supermarket bag for extra protection - so it wouldn't stain the inside of my nice work bag.

Only, when I took it out at lunchtime, I was horrified to discover that the oily brown sauce had leaked through the plastic bag. Oh no! I gingerly ran my hand over the lining of my bag, anticipating the slosh of grease on my fingers. But I didn't feel anything. So I shrugged, thanked the gods for small miracles and went to put my lunch in the microwave oven.

It wasn't until the end of the day, when I was reached into my bag for my spare packet of lozenges, that I noticed the discoloration on one side of the green Fisherman's Friend packet. It was slightly oily and golden brown colour.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Donut cake

Tomorrow is TLM's birthday and, as is customary, we are (or rather, the boy is) bringing a cake in to daycare so she can celebrate with her daycare buddies.

This time last year, I baked a big chocolate cake, covered it in a rich chocolatey butter icing and topped it all off with loads of coloured M and M's.

This year it's the boy's turn to produce a cake. And he is bringing a mass of mini-donuts, all iced and covered in sprinkles, and sort of rounded up into a vague cake hill on a plate. Apparently it was TLM's idea.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Progress on my spring coat


Over the course of a week, I have managed to wash and dry my fabrics, and cut out the lining pieces. And I've only achieved this by breaking the tasks into manageable bits that could be done in 30 minute chunks of time.

But I have been putting off cutting out the actual coat pieces, and this is because I did something kinda dumb - I bought fabric with a plaid-like weave, which means all the bits have to match up.
(It's over on the right - an Italian cotton black and white houndstoothy thing with subtle pink lines running through in a criss-cross fashion). I did consider putting the fabric aside for another project and buy something easier to work with, but I don't want to have to go out and spend more money and - hey - it was on sale for only about 6 bucks per metre. So I will persist.

Earliness is all relative

A friend and I are are organising a weekend playdate (for our respective kids, that is) via email.

"Is 9am good for you?" she asks.

Gawd, I think, that's a bit blimmin' early. So I suggest 10am instead.

And then I remember that it was not that long ago when TLM and I would be knocking around at 8am, looking for somewhere to go.

It's nice to know that we don't entirely lose the ability to sleep in, after having kids.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Soon to be 4

By this time last year I would have already booked a venue for TLM's birthday party, emailed invites to all her friends, decided on what food would be available, and possibly already have opened up the present that her Nanna sent from England.

But due to massive poorliness on my part, followed by yet more poorliness on the boy's part, nothing was organised - at all - until last night.

So, with only a week and a half's notice, we now know where and when the party will be. The boy has bought some invitations and party hats. Now all I have to do is decide whether I can manage the rice bubble slices and chocolate cake without coughing all over them.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Party pooped

There has been a run of kids' birthday parties lately, including two just this weekend. And of course, I have left the present-buying till the last minute.

So yesterday, I spent the morning buying a present for one of TLM's friends, plus groceries. Then we had a one hour break before it was time to go to the party. And right after that it was time to visit the cousins for dinner.

As for today, I spent all morning walking my mum around the produce market and supermarket at a soul-deadening pace, followed by a rushed half hour looking for a present for today's birthday party (because I was stupid and didn't just buy two presents yesterday). There was a 20-minute break for lunch, and then we were off for the next party. After the party, I checked the time and realised (with much joy) that I would have enough time to scoot off to Spotlight to look for the coat sewing pattern I want so much. But then the boy texted and asked me to get some rolls and stuff for tea. So we didn't get home till 5pm, when I discovered that I was supposed to also buy fags and wine for the boy ( who suffers terribly from withdrawal if he doesn't get his hourly smoke).
Which meant I had to go to the supermarket again.

Shattered, I was.
But then I picked up the new sewing pattern for my coat (not the one I really wanted, but one which will do), got interested and found some energy again.
Still, an early night methinks.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Perhaps I should be flattered

It's 9pm and we're watching Tuesday night's episode of Outrageous Fortune.

The phone rings. I curse, then get up to answer it.

"Hello?" I ask in my still-husky voice.
"Ah...could I speak to your mum or dad please?" says the voice on the other end.

!!!

"Um...no." I say.
"Oh, why?"
"Because..they don't live here. Who are you?"
"Oh, this is just a marketing call. Sorry, bye."

It was very slightly surreal.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I didn't buy the coat

Thanks for your opinions, oh wise readers.
I have decided not to buy that coat.
The boy thought it made me look like a little girl in an oversized grown-up's blazer. Not that I have anything about oversized as a fashion style, only it isn't so styley if the wearer is short enough to pass for an actual little girl (albeit not as smooth-faced or bright-eyed).

Also, although I like the green - it's not my preferred colour for a coat. I'd rather it was a deep plum or a bright violet.

And, to borrow from the Project Runway judges - it doesn't look expensive enough.

But it has given me the idea of sewing my own coat. I like these two - the orange one in the top picture and the pink one in the bottom picture:


Of course I would start with, say, a dark denim spring coat - then, if all went well, go on to a nice tweed winter coat in a similar style. By the time I got through all that cutting and fitting and sewing and re-sewing, it would be the right time to wear winter coats again!

Or maybe that is too ambitious for someone who has only made one good buttonhole in the last 20 years...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Should I buy this coat?


It's 100% wool, and is actually quite slimming when I'm not wearing it buttoned up over three layers of clothing (including a thick merino/possum cardigan). It's just the right length for me too - just above the knee. And the wool is lovely and soft. And once I get small shoulder pads put in, the shoulders won't look quite so wobbly.
It's at half price too (plus the cost of putting the shoulder pads in, taking in the belt band at back, and shortening the sleeves).

But even at half price, it'll still cost me almost 400 smackeroos.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The boy's idea of a joke

"I've got a present for you", said the boy, getting up from his chair. Usually when he says that, it means one of two things:

1. a cake, or
2. a DVD.

He seemed to be heading for the fridge, so I tried to guess whether he'd got me an apple slice, a cheesecake, a chocolate-iced banana cake or...something else.
Then he abruptly changed direction and headed towards the DVD shelves.

Ooh, I hoped that it was Project Runway Season Two!

But no. It was "The Librarian". The trilogy. I'd heard of the first one; it was released during the time I was studying to be a librarian (and failed - TLM was conceived). It sounded awful and I had no idea they'd made two sequels.

So, the boy's reasoning is that we will enjoy the movies because:

1. I used to be a librarian-in-training, and
2. he'd heard they were pretty bad in a good way.

We shall see...we shall see.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Maybe I should have stuck to the bag idea.



So, here is the shell top I made out of the boy's thrown-away designer jeans. It's pretty wrinkled, which doesn't help it's appearance.
Basically I used the bodice part of a dress pattern, New Look 6824, and extended the pattern pieces so that it ended at roughly hip length rather than waist length. I had to adjust it for fit, and omitted the zip because I was able to get it on and off okay without one. Then I made the mistake of turning the classic shell neckline into a v-neck, thinking it would be more flattering. But all I did was make it look less like a shell top.
The binding was there to prevent fraying and also to give me practice in using bias binding - but it doesn't really go with the denim does it? Although once it's on, you can only see the binding at the hem.

Oh yes, and because the jeans had holey knees, I couldn't get long enough pieces of denim to make the top long enough for me. So I tried patching two pieces at the front. On a thinner person, this might have been okay.

What I was pleased about, was that I found a good place to put the original back pockets. I think they give the top a bit of a flare (not flair).

Tragically, the finished product looks rubbish on me. Perhaps if I had picked a darker denim and if the jeans weren't frayed at the knees (so I could avoid that horizontal seam at the waist), and hadn't ruined the neckline - maybe then it would be okay. Or maybe princess line styles don't suit women with wide waists.

So I'm gonna put in back on the refashion pile until I think of something else to do with it.

Turning it into a satchel probably would've worked out better.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The coat that got away

A couple of months ago, when I was looking for a nice winter wool coat, I found a lovely one in violet (the colour). It had a nice silhouette - semi-fitted to the waist, then flaring out to below my knees, with slightly puffy cuffed sleeves. On the other hand it was too long (on a normal-height woman it would be above knee length) and the sleeves were so long that my hands disappeared into them. Plus, I wasn't sure whether the colour would be horrendously dated by next winter.

I also didn't buy it because I'd just spent too much money some fab black riding boots.

But my mind kept wandering back to that coat, and every time I browsed the Max online shop, I'd look for it in case it went on sale.

It went on sale - at half price!
But I only noticed when I went into the shop looking for a hat to wear home in the gale force winds. And they didn't have it in my size any more.

I must stay strong, and wait for the next really nice coat instead of settling for something fatteningly double-breasted or boringly camel or something that fits like a rice sack.

This time next week I might be shouting

I might complain a lot about my mum always ringing me up and nagging me to get back to the doctor's, but it works. The nagging, that is. I went back to the doctor's this morning, just for a follow-up to make sure that I really am getting better, and although my virus and bacterial infections are pretty much down and dusted - I still have a way to go with the coughing, wheezing and raspy hoarseness.

So now I have a course of prednisone, which I think is some super-steroid to help supplement my asthma medication. Hopefully when my voice returns, it will still sound female.

On the other hand, I've heard that many men are very attracted to women with deep, husky voices.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I miss my voice

Quite apart from (still) not being able to read to TLM or sing her songs at bedtime, I miss not having a fully working voice:
  • It means I can't just shout "Thanks, driver!" when I get off the bus, which everyone does except for the really impolite and the non-English-speaking.
  • It means I can't join in when Mr Finance Manager and Ms Admin Support are trading quips. I'm normally good for a laugh, you know.
  • Quality time with TLM is pretty hard to achieve when I get home from work and by then I can only whisper.
  • I can still smile if I'm feeling cheerful, but a good vocal blasting of a silly song just can't be beat.

Monday, July 20, 2009

On the up

I went back to work today, because:
1. I have taken about 14 days of sick leave
2. I haven't had the shakes in the last 3 mornings
3. My eyelids no longer look like small marshmallows (actually, small pillows might be more accurate)
4. I was worried that work would find someone to take over, who'd actually turn up.

Unfortunately the boy is now sick, either with a variation of my bug or with something new and exciting. This meant I had to to the daycare drop-off. By the time I'd returned the car home, I was all tired out. But I was all dressed for work so I thought, what the hell - may as well go to work anyway.

And it wasn't too bad. My co-workers cheered when I walked into the office, and only one of them visibly avoided getting too close to me and my germs. Although I did end up leaving early, because my head and throat started to hurt around midday.

TLM seems to have become quite used to having Daddy around all the time, instead of Mummy. she tends to call for him rather than me, and knows not to ask me to sing to her at night. It's only very slightly sad for me because I know that the boy had been on the vice versa until he was recession-hit.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Let the right one in

Finally, we got around to watching the Swedish vampire film, Let the Right One In.

It's about a lonely 12 year old boy, one of those sensitive and strange types who gets bullied a lot, and his friendship with a 12 year old girl vampire. Oskar meets Eli when she moves in next door with her dad (who seems to be human). Dad's a serial murderer, it's his job to bring home blood so that she doesn't have to. Only he's not very good at it any more and eventually Eli must go out hunting or starve. At the same time, Oskar and Eli become close and she encourages him to hit back at his bullying tormentors. When he does, it feels like he has crossed the line into a life of violence.

Vampirism is not at all romantic in this movie. When Eli brings attacks a local, it's like watching a big cat bring down a zebra. And even when her mouth isn't covered in gore, she's no ethereal beauty (like Kate Beckinsale in the Underworld movies) - she's just an anemic kid with dark, curly hair.

I also liked some of the vampire mythology, where it differs from that of Buffy (and other vamp stories), like what happens if you don't invite a vampire into your home but they come in anyway.

There's also a look at the darker side of school-yard bullying, where the physical cruelty is far worse than I would have expected in real life.

So it's a love story, one with a happy ending. Sort of darkly beautiful.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Home remedies

Ever since last weekend, when my mum's special cold 'n' flu remedy backfired on me so horribly, I've had to take stock of all the other "mum's own" type of health wisdom that I've grown up with.

Like :
  • don't wash your hair when it's that time of the month
  • wear more clothes when it's cold. No, another layer, and make it a woolly one
  • don't let TLM play with cold water if it's a cold day or if she's poorly (obviously doesn't apply to me because I don't play with water)
  • drink plenty of hot lemon and honey if you've got a cold (this, I still unreservedly believe in)
  • don't let your head get cold
  • don't have cold drinks with hot food
But, if I can't believe in my mum's own health fixes, whose can I believe in?

Over the last two weeks I've been sat on the couch in my PJs, watching home remedy recipes being demonstrated on morning TV. Some of them rely heavily on whisky, which would only make me go bright red in the face and then fall over wheezing.

The others make much use of raw onions, unbelievably large amounts of raw garlic, lemon juice and various spices. I don't know if I'd want to go down that route unless I'm sure they'll work - they may or may not boost my immunity, but no-one would be willing to stand close enough to me to expose me to their germs anyway.

Do you have home remedies that really work?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Notes from the sick bed

  • We have had in our possession, a copy of the DVD Let the right one in. It's a vampire movie which is supposed to be pretty damn good and I am keen to see it. Unfortunately, I've been going to bed at 8.30 every night, and when I'm awake I'm sort of semi-sleepy. So we still haven't seen it.
  • Apparently one of my work colleagues is just as sick as I am, which makes me feel better. Not because I want her to be unwell, but because 2 weeks is an awfully long time to be off sick and now I know it's not an improbably long time.
  • TLM has been an angel. She tells me she misses me not being sick, and tries to entertain me. She only very occasionally tries to climb on me mid-cough.
  • I saw in the Sunday paper's society pages, that the book launch I missed last week was packed full of relatives and famous (in New Zealand) writers. For a second or two, I wistfully wondered whether my mug should have been there along with Fiona Kidman, Patricia Grace and Alison Wong (whose book it was). Then I realised that I am neither famous enough nor photogenic enough to get my photo in the society pages anyway.
  • Sorry I missed your wedding, Flying Kiwi. But even if I had not decided that it was too far to go without the boy and TLM, I wouldn't have made it anyway due to my super-lurgy.
And now it's back to the daytime telly...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I can't believe it's not swine flu!

Most of yesterday was spent sitting on the couch under a super-thick sleeping bag, drifting off to sleep when I could and feeling generally bad. Then the boy noticed I was looking dehydrated, and tossed me a large bottle of sports drink. A litre and a half (I think) later, I was actually walking around, feeling awake and even did some dishes!

I was much better today too (though maybe only as well as I was last Monday when I went back to work before promptly feeling crappy again). Then my mum showed up with an antique silver coin, a dozen eggs and a brand new bottle of eucalyptus and menthol oil. It had been far too frustrating trying to tell my deaf mum that it hurt my throat to talk to her over the phone.

It might have been a bad idea to let her rub that oil on me though. Soon after she left, the vapours started to burn my throat and cause my eyes to swell up. And then there was the stench of eggs and eucalyptus that took an hour to clear out of the living room.

But I know she meant well.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Time to think about spring already?

So, New Zealand's fashion designers have started unveiling their spring collections already.

Even if I weren't sick, I'd still find it incredibly hard to get interested in spring clothes, when it's still cold enough for Arctic (fake) furs.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

She reads me bedtime stories

It's still hard for me to speak without straining my voice, so reading to TLM before she goes to bed hasn't been very easy. I did ask the boy do it once or twice, but he's also doing her bath and bedtime songs, so he's been reluctant to take on the bedtime reading as well.

But I have come up with a solution which is working really well right now - I ask TLM to read the stories to me. All of her library books have been read to her multiple times already, so it's no problem for her to recite - almost word for word - the entire 100 or so words in each picture book (she gets three).

It's really lovely being read to.

"work from home"

I must have overdone it yesterday. This morning I was in no condition to walk all the way down the road to the bus stop, let alone spend the rest of the day working and trying to cough *discretely*.

So I rang in sick again, and said I would try "working from home".

But to be honest, after a super-efficient Monday there wasn't actually that much work left for today. So I have probably only managed a couple of hours, max, of bona fide work-related activity.

The rest of the time I have been browsing TradeMe, looking for nice winter coats, cardigans, and vintage-y dresses.

So I don't know whether I'll actually get paid for today - I've already used up all of my sick leave until the end of the year!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Back to the coalface tomorrow

It's been well over a week since I left work early, feeling too virus-ridden to continue. And my doctor's certificate says I'd only needed to be off work until last Friday, so I kinda have to show up tomorrow morning.

I feel a bit anxious about going in to work - even though I didn't get any sleep-ins (due to the boy's vampiric body clock), I was comforted by the fact that I didn't have to shower, or make myself look nice, or act alert, or talk to anyone. Also, if I accidentally choke on my own spit and spend the next five minutes coughing up lung cells, then there's only my immediate family to be disturbed by it.

What a pity I hardly get to spend time at home when I'm healthy.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

From fashionistas to the literati

Yep, still sick, though no longer feel like razor blades inhabit my gullet; still sound like an elderly alcoholic Rod Stewart impersonator who's been on 2 packs a day all her life.

But perked up somewhat when I saw the boy - most wonderful spouse who has nursed me tenderly all week and only occasionally complained about the snoring - had brought home Season One of Project Runway on DVD. Although a rabid fan from the first episode I saw, we didn't actually get around to watching the show until about two thirds of the way into Season One, so much of this is new and exciting.

Have hungrily watched the first two disks already (out of four) - interesting that Heidi sounds so much less robotic than in later seasons. Like she got her confidence and decided to just be herself?

Also, there is much more focus on the models in Season One. We even get to see the emotional reactions of the models who get eliminated at the beginning of each episode. I wonder if the producers stopped this because they couldn't find another flakey girl like Morgan to entertain us and frustrate the designers.

I'm hoping to go to Alison Wong's book launch on Monday. Though obviously if there's a risk of phlegming out the literati I'll just go home and ask her to save me a couple of signed copies of As the earth turns silver.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Too sick to surf

In the past when I've been sick at home, being sick hasn't stopped me from washing up the dishes or hanging out the laundry or whatever. But this time I wasn't even up to surfing the 'Net. The only activity I was fit for, was watching breakfast tv followed by Oprah and Dr Phil.

When I went to see the doctor (again) on Wednesday morning, my throat was so sore it felt like it was full of tiny little razor blades. And then my ears started to throb while I was still in the waiting room. I must've look quite pathetic, with my eyes all misted over with pain and self-pity. But I reckoned that I may as well look as ill as possible so I could get the rest of the week off work, so I didn't even bother applying any normalising make-up before I left the house.

So anyway, the cold that floored me had ushered in a form of strep throat. I've heard of it, but didn't know anything about it. So I Googled it, as you do. And guess what - sometime it turns into a flesh-eating disease!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

At long last, something finished...

...but I don't yet have a photo to show you.

I was off sick on Friday, soon after I started sneezing so hard it left bite marks on my tongue (there were definitely a few times when I just about decked myself on a nearby table or kitchen bench).

There was a small window of opportunity to sew before I began coughing so ferociously I nearly asked the boy to go out and buy me a pack of Tena Ladys. And in that time I finished the shell top that I made from the boy's old pair of faded summer jeans.

But I will have to wait for the next window of opportunity before taking a to post up on this blog. (And it will probably be next summer before I will get to wear it.)

One thing I have learned is that, if I have a chance to re-design something that I sew, my approach to it is much like how I used to approach my painting. I do it in fits and starts, with lots of thinking and re-thinking (and sometimes re-doing) in between. Sewing like this is much more fun than picking something easy and just following the instructions, but it sure does make the project take an awfully long time.

Anyway, something for you to look forward to eh?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bug of the month

It turns out that my co-worker did not have the swine flu after all, just a bad cold. If that's the case, then a whole week's quarantine has not stopped the rest of the office from getting it - and now it's my turn.

It seems I get sick with something every month. And I've still got my bum-sized elbow too (though it's almost fixed now).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

An elbow the size of a bum

On Thursday evening I noticed a pimple on my right elbow. The boy joked about my having teenage elbows as I squeezed the pimple, careful not to aim it at either him or TLM.

On Thursday night I noticed that the area around my elbow was pink and tender. In bed, I couldn't lie on that side because it hurt my arm.

On Friday morning it had swelled up and felt like someone had lit a small fire under it.

Then I went to the doctor's, got a double dose of antibiotics and now it's normal size again. But it's still just the right temperature for a pocket warmer.

Thank goodness I'm left-handed.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's all fun and games until Hollywood starts moving in on your culture

When my brother and I were kids, we used to watch Kung Fu - you know, that American tv show that starred a bald white man as a Chinese martial arts hero. It didn't bother us too much that it wasn't a Chinese actor in that part, and any historical inaccuracies went right over our naive little heads.

But when the boy and I watched The Mummy - the tomb of the Dragon Emperor, I was bothered.

It wasn't because the Chinese characters were played by non-Chinese pretenders, because - as far as I could tell - they weren't (though they may well have slipped a few Japanese, Koreans etc in there and I'd be none the wiser).

It wasn't because the story was all about a bunch of unwelcomed white folks saving the Chinese (and the rest of the world, presumably) from themselves.

It wasn't even because young Alex, the grown-up son of Rick and Evy, hooks up romantically with a mysterious young Chinese woman who will probably be utterly unmarriageable after he's dumped her (and he will - he's a young white man from the 20th Century).

It was because the film is set in a specific time and place that is frankly not a very pride-worthy piece of Anglo-Chinese history. It's after the Second World War and before the Communist takeover (okay, there's a really huge chunk of Chinese history that is not particularly pride-worthy), and China is basically owned by the English, the Americans and the French. Shanghai is beautiful and glamorous, but the nice bits are closed to the locals, who are mentioned in the same breath as dogs. Many scenes are set in a Shanghai nightclub; it's filled with foreigners and the few Chinese are probably "escorts".

Despite the lightness of the plot, the special effects and the relief that Alex's mother actually looks old enough to have a 20 year old son (Maria Bello, who took the part because Rachel Weiz knew she was - and looked - far too young), this film was not so fun for me.

I wonder what the Egyptians thought of the first Mummy movies.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

TLM's first sleepover

I never know what to get the boy for his birthday, which is why I always ask him. And if he does tell me, and it's something I can get him, then he kinda expects another - surprise - present as well. Well this time, he decided it would be nice to send TLM off to the relatives for the night so that we could have one-on-one time with no pressure to get up early in the morning.

And we did.

We expected that TLM would be all for it. And we expected she'd be really excited about it and possibly not actually sleep at all. I really didn't expect that she'd let me go without at least a little cry of insecurity. But she seemed really okay with me leaving - maybe because she and her beloved cousins were busy making up her blow-up bed, and possibly planning midnight mayhem.

I'm just about to go pick her up now, and then I'll know how much sleep she got.
BTW, I got the boy a Wii Fit. I think he liked it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Piggy pox

Is swine flu the piggies' revenge for their horrific treatment in battery farms?

We had a little of excitement at work today, when the big boss rounded us all up for an emergency staff meeting. One of my colleagues is off sick with suspected swine flu!

To be honest, I'm not at all convinced the poor woman has it. She sounded like she had a minor cold, and probably it was only her recent trip to Australia that alerted the folks at the medical centre. I hope she doesn't have it because she's pregnant and I wouldn't want her baby to be traumatised in utero.

But on the other hand, the prospect of being quarantined at home for a whole week - on full pay, I'd expect - is not exactly going to give me nightmares tonight. I wouldn't expect the pox to make me any sicker than that month-long cold I had not long ago. And the boy and TLM wouldn't have to stay at home with me - they'd get their Tamiflu and take off to the library or the shops or something, leaving me lots and lots of lovely sewing time...

I think maybe I could do with a holiday.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Rubbish is smelly when it's not encased in plastic

So I was at the supermarket with my mum, and I was toting 4 of those reusable grocery bags with me. And my mum asks me why I don't want the (still) free plastic bags that they give you at the checkout. So I try to explain to her that the world already has too many plastic bags clogging it's oceans and filling the landfills. And that is why the boy and I use the reusables.

But what do you use for holding your rubbish? she asks.

Um...the old supermarket bags that we still have from previous shopping trips, I tell her.
Well, if you've got so many then you can give me some. I have lots of rubbish and not enough rubbish bags.

And then I remember that we are actually running low on those very instuments of planetary destruction. And what will we do when we run out? Why, we'll leave our reusable bags at home on our next trip to the supermarket, that's what. Because we sure as hell don't want to start paying for rubbish bags, do we?

So...does this make us namby-pamby play-at-eco-awareness semi-lefty hypocrits?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The hang-onto-it society

I have had no luck finding "gems" in the op shops. The stuff in the Salvation Army shop is mostly ex-Glassons and other retailers that specialise in the cheap 'n' cheerful. The stuff in the Red Cross shop is more of the same (though I did once find a Robyn Mathieson dress that was, unfortunately, a terrible colour for me).

And yet, bloggers across America seem to unearth vintage pillowcases, antique lacy bridal gowns and 60's retro fabrics all the time - and for very little.

Either I'm just terribly bad at snagging bargains (which, I'll admit, I am), or New Zealanders tend to hang onto their stuff for as long as possible - before selling it off on TradeMe. If our car-owning culture is anything to go by (i.e. we hang onto a car until the bodies fall apart from rust, and them try to flog it off to a student for a few hundred bucks), then this is an equally likely explanation.

I think I prefer the latter.

Dumb...just dumb

I was reading the Sunday paper this morning, in between dropping my mum off at church and waiting for her to finish up, when I came across the dumbest newspaper article I've seen in at least a week.

The article was called something like "What will you do when the recession ends?" The dumb thing was not even the question.

The dumb thing was that, they must have asked about 20 different people this question - but no one of them was someone who has been directly affected by the recession. Like, why the heck didn't they bother asking someone who'd be laid off recently?!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The fruit of my loins gets the fruit of my labours

I found out about a discount fabric place just out of the central city, so I spent a couple of Queen's Birthday hours looking around there. Fortunately, TLM was quite happy to accompany me, even though there was absolutely no promise of Dora fabrics (there weren't any). She even went around giving cuddles to lucky rolls of fleece and silkys. She was very keen indeed on the costume section, and at one point I worried that I would end up buying a length of sparkly sequinned stuff for goodness knows what.
It's probably not surprising that I ended up spending far more than I intended to, but I did get quite a few items:
- 3 x 2m lengths of knit (including one of merino), from which I intend to sew at least 3 winter tops
- some white cotton and interfacing, for collars for the two refashions I am still procrastinating over (the bogan shell top and the mens shirt -->women's top)
- a bag crammed with trims of all sorts, which ought to be handy for all kinds of TLM-related sewing
- and a length of pink polar fleece for TLM's scarf.

We made the scarf that afternoon, based on some instructions I found in a library copy of Sew What! - Fleece. We cut a piece of the pink polar fleece, cut tassles into each end and hand-sewed some sequinned, pale green trim at each end. TLM chose both the fleece colour and the trim.

I think she liked it. At the very least, she doesn't have an excuse to wear my scarves now.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sales, schmales

Due to the economic recession, there are big fat sales everywhere. Shops are discounting heavily in order to lure in customers and move stock. Airlines are offering dirt cheap fares and holiday packages.

Yeah right.

I have yet to find a shoe shop that is willing to sell me a pair of good quality black leather riding boots for less that $350. That's not a bad price, but it's not a discount price either.

And now it looks like I will have to miss out on going to a wedding in Aussie because the cheapest return airfare from here to there (and that's not including an additional internal flight plus a bus ride) is still around $600. I'm pretty sure that's the normal fare.

Am I just out of the discounts loop or something? Because at this rate it looks like I'll be staying home and sending a really big wedding gift instead.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Starr...trekkin'...across the univerrrrrrse...

TLM's best mate lives right across the road, and her parents are just as keen as we are, on the idea of baby-sitting swaps.
So TLMBFF's (TLM's Best Friend Forever - is that what BFF stands for?) mum is coming over tonight. And the boy and I are heading out shortly for dinner and a movie.

Once upon a time my ideal date would have been a swish dinner and an arty (i.e. subtitled) movie. But one time, my date took me to see a Japanese film with many awkward sex scenes in it. I thought it a bit much for a first date, though I'm sure he was as surprised as I was.

Therefore, I am perfectly fine with the fact that tonight we will go and see the new Star Trek movie. It will be a shot of nostalgia for me, and hopefully sufficient special effects for the boy. We might even get to have dinner somewhere nice, rather than at the boring food hall downstairs from the cinema.

I'm still trying to decide whether to go all out and wear some clean jeans for the occasion. Maybe even some lippy...