Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wanting to end poverty gets personal

When you find that, after you've paid this month's bills, there is only a couple hundred dollars left in your bank account for groceries AND you only just got paid, like, 2 days ago - that's when you realise how close you have gotten to being poor. Obviously, we are not talking sell-your-body-for-food poor, but poor as in - if we don't do a strict budget and stick to it right now, (or the boy gets a job) we are in serious danger of having to use the credit card just to get by.

I'm sure we'll break even, if we can drastically reduce our spending on things we don't need (magazines, DVDs, clothes, alcohol, smokes, fabrics and other sewing stuff, toys for TLM...)

The boy has offered to drop his wine habit and reduce his cigarette use, which is commendable considering they are his only 2 vices and he is quite addicted to both.

As for me - I aim to buy no more new fabrics or clothes. This means that, apart from my meagre stash (it fits into 2 medium sized shopping bags), I will be forced to forage in my collection of clothes-I-have-become-too-fat-to-wear i.e. refashioning. Maybe this is a good thing.

There is another option - I have been whining for a couple of years now about my seemingly uncontrollable weight gain. I've gone up 2 dress sizes since I stopped having to taking TLM on 3 buggy rides every day to get her to nap.

I'm thinking now could be a good time to stop eating.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I am, of course, referring to the documentary by Mike Moore, in which he compares the US's healthcare system very unfavourably with that of Canada and the UK.

Now, I know that Mr Moore has been known to be a little biased in his film-making, to push for his view even if it means excluding evidence to the contrary. But I don't know him to be a liar.

Even taking into account what I know about the man (and I'm still a fan), what I've learned about the American health system is truly shocking. My understanding of the system was that - if you could afford health insurance or had it as a job perk, you'd be fine. If you were old, you'd be covered by Medicare. If you didn't fall into either category, you'd be at the mercy of a small number of overcrowded public hospitals. And I thought Sicko was going to be a rant against the need for health insurance.

I really wasn't expecting it to be a rant against the health insurance companies themselves, that their goal is to deny any claim if they possibly can in order to save money - to the extent that the pay of doctors employed by these companies went up in direct proportion to the amount of money they saved.

In comparison, the residents of Canada, the UK and even Cuba, enjoy free medical care and cheap or  subsidised medicines (I know, in real life there are waiting lists - but it's better than being told you can't get it at all). Moore even took a group of Americans who'd been suffering health problems caused by their time doing voluntary rescue work at the 9/11 site - all of whom had been denied health insurance funding for medical treatment - and took them on a trip to Cuba, where they received free and un-rushed care in a hospital, really cheap medication and a hero's salute by the local fire brigade.

And the most shocking thing is that this film was released well before Obama became president. And it's STILL looking like America is not going to get universal healthcare.

It's made me extremely glad to be living in New Zealand where, although it's not free to see your GP and neither are medicines, both still affordable enough that most people who need help will get it before its too late.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Probably the umpteenth blog post about Avatar.

So last night the boy and I went out to the movies for the first time in probably a year. Avatar wouldn't have been my first choice (I would rather have gone to see Sherlock Holmes or Where the Wild Things Are - and then there're all the less mainstream movies that I don't bother to find out about any more), but I knew the boy wanted to see it.

I booked us for the 2D version, because I was sure the 3D version would give me a headache at the very least - feeling slightly nauseous after ten minutes of Coraline in 3D (on DVD) had been a useful clue.

As it turned out, even watching Avatar in 2D was enough to give me a headache. Though I would have to blame the fact that it was too long, kept me up well past my normal bed time, and had a cookie-cutter storyline (not to mention the oft-observed racial stereotypes portrayed here). Having said that, it was pretty much what I was expecting - including the excellent special effects.

My personal highlight of the movie was watching Sully's avatar wriggle uncomfortably in his new g-string (the standard uniform of Pandora's natives - of course). It was the one sign that maybe James Cameron wasn't taking himself too seriously.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Disguise yourself as nature

I think black suits my colouring, but the main reason I wear it is because it's supposed to go with any colour. And, unlike colours, you can wear it head to toe without looking like a giant child's toy or a funny-shaped cupcake.

But I've bought some fabric for a skirt, and its a chocolate brown with pink embroidery. Sounds pukey, but actually quite pretty (at least in my opinion).

And that got me wondering what on earth would I wear with it, because according to Trinny and Susannah I really should not wear browns.

I had an epiphany while walking from the bus stop to my house this afternoon. Why not take nature as my inspiration i.e. if two particular colours are found in nature, then they will probably look find in your outfit.

This means that:
  • green goes with red, blue, yellow, white and orange (flower colours)
  • blue goes with white, green and yellow (flower and sky colours)
  • brown goes with green, black, yellow and orange (forest floor colours)
  • white goes with white, blue and black (snow, sky and zebra colours)
  • red goes with nude, green (bleeding person and flower colours)

and so on.

Of course, there is always the chance that you'll end up being mistaken for the landscape.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's a, it's a winter!

The summer wedding that we went to yesterday, which  I'd especially bought a summer maxi dress to wear to, turned out to be more of a winter wedding. In fact, I wore the exact same dress that I wore to a mid-winter wedding 18 months ago (only this time the dress was a bit tight but the shoes weren't). Plus, I had on my new opaque tights and woolly coat which I'd had to take out of storage.

So my new summer dress hangs unused, as do most of my other summer clothes. And I read in this morning's paper that the rest of our summer is going to be just as disappointing. If only I'd known this back in spring, I could have saved myself lots of what-to-wear angst.

On the bright side, I won't feel like an odd-bod for lusting after the tweeds I see featured in Northern hemisphere magazines. I always prefer winter clothes anyway.

p.s. TLM came along to the wedding ceremony in her new Dora dress, which she insisted on wearing instead of the RTW dress I'd picked out for her (and looked adorable, of course). I'll take it as a complement.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Three times free

So, Gen-i was offering ice cream to its corporate customers as Christmas presents - well either that or a donation to charity. I'd like to say that we (that is, my work) went for the donation option, but greed won out. We'd requested that they deliver the yummy goods after Christmas, when more people would be back at work, you see. And it arrived today at midday.

There were 15 ice cream items for the 9 staff who were in today, delivered by a charming Oirish chappie who is in NZ for his working holiday. Fortunately, there was a range of goodies - ice blocks, vanilla tubs and those ice pops that come in that unnatural shade of blue (plus sprinkles, for extra artificial flavouring goodness). Otherwise, the chocolate-shy woman might have missed out, and the vegan definitely would have.

I wondered whether I could get myself sick on ice cream, like - how many would I need to eat to get sick to my stomach?

As it turns out, more than three.

The others waited for the sugar high to kick in, anticipating either high jinks or emotional chaos (like PMT, perhaps?). Well they were disappointed. Probably all I got was fatter (in my defense, all I had for lunch was 3 Krispie biscuits and an orange).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Selfless sewing

After the boy went and bought some off-cut Dora the Explorer fabric, I decided I should try and make a dress for The Little Madam. Although she is mad keen on the Disney Fairies and Disney Princesses, there is still room in her heart for Dora.

So I picked a few potential sewing patterns and asked TLM to rate them, and her favourite by far was McCall's 5033 - which requires a really large amount of fabric for the circle skirt.

My main obstacle was that the shop only had this pattern in Girls sizes 7-12, whereas I reckoned I needed a Childs size 4. So I did a bit of tucking here and there on the bodic pattern pieces, and quite a bit of tucking on the skirt pattern pieces (so they'd be less of a circle and require less fabric). I also bound all the raw edges with bias strips instead of lining the whole garment, and didn't bother with the inside ruffle. When I was just about to put the zip in, I realised that the binding added too much bulk to allow for zip insertion. So I hand sewed snap buttons instead. (The photos posted here are pre-fix, as described below).

TLM loved her dress right away, but one of the snap buttons kept unpopping, which to me meant that a) I needed to replace those buttons with a zip and b) I had got it slightly wrong when re-sizing the bodice pattern piece. I spent a couple of hours last night trying to fix this by inserting extra fabric at the back before putting in a zip. But now it's too big!! Maybe I should have just added more snap buttons instead...

If I had to do all this again, I would definitely line the dress instead of binding all the seams - it would have taken less time and added less bulk. Anyway, TLM still loves it so I should just let it go shouldn't I?

Monday, January 04, 2010

That went far too quickly

I think Summer happened maybe three times over the Christmas and New Year break, with plenty of rain and gustiness in between.

We finally got a perfectly gorgeous day today, the last day before I go back to work. We managed to fit in:
  • a load of washing; 
  • a playdate at the public swimming pool (where TLM pranced about and learned to steer clear of the squirty things that spray warm water in your face when you least expect it); a walk in the hills for me while the boy took TLM to the zoo; 
  • sewing TLM's Dora dress (using pink Dora fabric which the boy bought pre-Xmas, plus some purple quilting fabric which I'd originally intended for a loud Sixties tunic for myself - I'll post a piccie when it's completed); 
  • and many games of Snap.
So tomorrow it's back to normality - for me, anyway. For the boy, it's a week of being TLM's main playmate for another week before daycare starts up again. He's gonna be tired by Friday.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Well, that's one way to keep me up for the New Year...

Like most people who have young children with early bedtimes, and who are really anal about sticking to those early bedtimes, and have no one to babysit for free on New Year's Eve anyway...we had no plans to go out for NYE. The most I was hoping for was an uneventful evening followed by an early-ish night, to make up for waking up at 4am this morning and not being able to get back to sleep again.

But here I am, at 12.07am, having just kissed the boy. "How did you do it?" I hear you ask. Well...I ended up spending the whole evening in the hospital with my mum because she was suffering from really bad vertigo. That in itself doesn't sound bad enough to warrant emergency medical attention, but when you add type 2 diabetes, a recent change in medication and a steadfast refusal to follow a low-sugar diet - her light-headedness, dizziness and vomiting could have been a symptom of something really serious.

The silly woman didn't even bother to tell me that something was wrong, until I called her at 6pm.

The worst part for me was probably holding the almost-big-enough plastic cup under mum's chin as she threw up strange solids that didn't look anything like diced carrots. It almost made me bring up home made banana cake I'd chomped through an hour earlier. The next worst part was accepting a free surplus patient dinner (very nice of the staff, thank you very much) and realising that hospital food is every bit as bad as everyone says it is.

The best parts were being told that her affliction is not life-threatening - just scary, and that she could stay there overnight for observation (and someone else taking her to the toilet in the wee hours - oops, a pun!).

Happy New Year!