Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Strange nature

TLM went for a walk the other day and stumbled across this fern with strangely regular bumps up and down the frond fingers (this is probably not the technically correct term but I'll just call it poetic license).

Don't you think it looks a lot like rain forest Lego?

There's a close-up below...

Also, just before I left work for the year, I made this mug cozy for a work colleague. He'd been needling me to make him one so I did - on the condition that he would make me something in return - 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Listening and reading

I'm sure you'll be quite relieved to know that my blog has been reinstated on the Family Times website, here.

The voting form is still where it was before, here.

I'm just loving The Christmas Album 2013 which I bought last week. It's the one which is a fundraiser for Starship Children's Hospital. Apart from the ho-hum rendering of Fairytale of New York (which isn't helped by the fact that I'm utterly over this depressing song), every song is a gem.

My absolute favourite, which I tend to replay repeatedly, is SOL3 MIO's cover of Have Yourself a Merry Christmas. It's just beautiful and I could listen to these boys sing forever. In fact, I'm going to go out later and look for their CD - even if it turns out to be a local Three Tenors type of thing.

I must tell you about two books I've been reading, both of which are set in China. The first is Jung Chang's Empress Dowage Cixi. It's a work of non-fiction, telling the story of how a young Manchurian woman made her way from being an emperor's low-ranked concubine to effectively China's ruler. If Jung Chang's research is to be believed, Cixi's intellect and cunning were astonishing. She's also  forward-thinking and not at all the tyrant we know from history. It's not at all dry and probably the most difficult aspect is remembering who everyone is.

The other is Amy Tan's The Valley of Amazement. I'm a Tan fan from way back, so even though I would not have touched this book if it were by any author, I bought it because it's by Amy Tan. Unfortunately even though it's well enough written, it is turning exactly as I'd feared. By which I mean that it's Memoirs of a Geisha with a Chinese setting and without the tiresome descriptions of kimonos. I will keep reading it, in case it gets better, but at this stage it doesn't feel like a keeper.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Knitting in the wind

I have decided, on a whim, to rename my blog again. The old one was still perfectly appropriate, but I've been knitting for too long now to call it a temporary obsession - it's more of a long-term commitment. But I will still throw in the odd post about other bits of my life, such as The Little Madam's exploits, the boy's goings-on and whatever's bugging me when I happen to be sitting in front of my computer.

It's supposed to be a cheeky re-imagining of the popular phrase "P***ing in the wind", which is sort of true in my case because I seem to spend so much time and energy making stuff that would cost me a fraction of the amount if only I would go and buy one sweatshop-made.

Plus, it does get blimmin' windy around these parts and I did just spend the last half hour doing exactly that. I couldn't see what I was doing half the time because my hair was in my eyes, but hey - that's what crochet hooks are for, right? (If you aren't a knitter, they are for fixing dropped stitches.)

Hope you stick around.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

From one flurry of activity to the next

Before I start, I'd just like to apologise to those of you who followed the link in my last post, expecting to see my lovely blog (plus photo of younger TLM as a fairy!) but only to be horribly disappointed.

I don't know what happened - maybe they eliminate one blog every few days and I was unwittingly voted off. Maybe they found out that all I write about is knitting. I dunno. But I've sent them a gentle whinge and hopefully they'll put it back. Then I can update the link from here so it goes straight to my blog and not those other hopefuls'.

What this post was supposed to be about, was that this is TLM's last week of school for the year. Hurry for her! I had to ask my boss for leave for the period from then until early January, because for some reason none of the other children's parents were interested in pre-Christmas school holiday programmes.

It's crazy I tell you - what an opportunity to do some Christmas shopping, unfettered by your kids!

So I shall be working flat-stick till the end of this week, then be on holiday next week (except for a full day planning meeting on Tuesday (oh joy) and our work Christmas do on Wednesday (oh joy!) - while TLM hangs out with two of her friends and tests their respective mums' patience.

This weekend TLM starts her intensive Chinese dancing practice sessions, which are for a couple of hours at a time, every Saturday and Sunday (plus a couple of week days too).

So yeah, no rest for the wicked. Nor the obsessive.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Shamelessly campaigning for your vote

I've just entered this blog into a competition over at Family Times magazine and I stand to win a spring-free trampoline for our back yard.

All I have to do is to convince you to read my blog every week for the next 9 weeks - via the Family Times site -  and vote for me every week using this voting form.

There's something in it for you too - voters go into a draw to win a lovely noticeboard which would be a stylish way to keep your household organised (there's a picture on the voting form link).

I'm not sure how long it will take for My Serial Obsessions to start showing up over at Family Times , and maybe it won't happen overnight (but it probably will happen). So visit there, read some blogs, vote for your truly and get some good karma.

If I win the trampoline, I promise that my voters will be invited to try it out…I'll also make an effort to be interesting!

News flash! The blog's up there now but under it's old name, Short and Sweet like me. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Accessorizing the family

A Forest Imp hat for TLM to wear during her forest journeys in her Nintendo DS games.

and some Princess Mitts which I will probably give to my mum for Christmas.

Handknits for Christmas really only work in the Southern Hemisphere though, I think.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

An unseasonable obsession

Style-wise, I always find it easier to dress well in autumn and winter.

But it's probably extreme to be obsessed with this duffle coat from Seasalt just as we are about to be catapulted into full-on summer.

What can I say? It's a gorgeous colour and has that je ne sais quoi which elevates it from being just another duffle coat (well it's a brighter colour and shorter and more A-line looking).

I shouldn't buy it because it's fairly expensive, because I'd prefer to spend my money in New Zealand than send it straight out of the country, and because I'd probably have to wait six months to wear it.

However - I just find it stunning and almost get that sense that if I possessed then I would want for nothing else ever again (though I know that couldn't possibly be true).

In case you're wondering, I did find a locally made item sort of similar to this on the Swandri website. But it hasn't got IT.

1/12/2013 - It's here!! It's lovely, though not quite as red as I was expecting - more of a brick red than the blood-red I thought it was. However everything else about it is perfect (expect I can't wear it for another 6 months).

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Getting top-heavy

I've made another  hat - that's two in three days and gives me a total of 5 knitted hats to choose from in case Spring changes tack again and returns us to cold weather.

This one's called Yulie, by Grumperina. More pics on Ravelry

This is the Oak Trail hat I mentioned in the previous post

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A house of lurgies

I made it all through winter without getting horribly sick, so I'm not  really bitter about getting sick now - just surprised at how bad this bug is. Muscle and joint aches, head like a door got slammed on it, and a phlegmy brick in my breathing passages -it could even be 'flu.

This is my second day off sick - yesterday I started and finished a knitted hat (from Oak Trail from Alana Dakos' Botanical Knits) which is lovely and warm and would have been really useful to wear yesterday when I was feeling bone-chilled (but today it doesn't feel cold so the hat goes straight into storage).

TLM is also sick, and the boy has a painful stye in the eye.

I had to make a block booking at the doctor's for this afternoon!

Happy Halloween to you too.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Naked sofa

My sofas are about 14 years old, and from the day they arrived in this house I have always kept them well-covered. 

I could done the Cantonese thing and used thick clear plastic but I knew(from experience) that would not be comfortable...

So in the summer I'd cover them with cotton throws (until they disintegrated, when I replaced the throws with some awful navy blue covers), and in the winter I covered them with those furry synthetic single-bed-size bed covers  (one in gold, the other purple).

Yesterday I decided it was time to live with the sofas in their original colours, which is what I attracted me to them in the first place.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Knitting injury

I've hurt my left wrist. Whether I stretch out my fingers, make a fist, lift something heavy or just twist and turn it, it gives me pain.

And I'm left-handed, which makes it worse.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

A jolly good spoiling

I had a great birthday today. Initially I was bothered that I'd have to get up early to take my mum to the lab to get her quarterly blood test done, followed by what I was expecting to be a horrific hour at the supermarket (also with my mum). But then I thought "what the heck's wrong with spending a little time on my birthday, with the woman who made it all possible?" After that everything just got better and better.

The boy and TLM spoiled me horribly. Apart from two wrapped presents (a trendy polka-dotted knitting bag with matching needle case, and a set of Taschen fashion books), they also took me shopping at Kirkaldies.

Although TLM did get somewhat bored at that point - but that's probably because (if she is to be believed) she was so excited about my birthday today that she didn't get a wink of sleep last night. And in any case her mood improved considerably after the boy bought her a new game for her Nintendo DS.

So anyway one of the additional presents I got was a pair of leaf-green NYDJ jeans. They were so comfortable! It's all that industrial strength elastic apparently, which keeps your flabby bits in check and supposedly lifts and separates too (maybe not that last bit) - and makes it possible to bend and touch your toes without cutting yourself in half.

Having said that, when I checked out my rear view I really noticed how big my bum  looked (no doubt it's true size and not an optical illusion), which I don't get with my Mavi jeans - so I guess NYDJ jeans don't quite work magic...

I so love the fit of the new jeans that...I now consider elastic waist pants as a viable style option. It's probably not the intended outcome of the jeans designers!

Friday, October 04, 2013

a small clay nation

I found some modelling clay at Uncle Bill's (a shop for thrifty folks, like a cross between a 2 Dollar shop and the Warehouse).

So one afternoon TLM and I got crafty -
This is my creation - an alien city mayor

This is TLM's crocodile

Also from the mind of TLM, a snake, a rabbit, a penis-shaped alien tree and a boob-monster

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Thrift - maybe it's genetic

We all laughed when my friend's brother, at their dad's funeral, talked about how thrifty the dad was - how he refused to chuck out his favourite armchair, and bought toilet paper in bulk. I laughed because my mum is a lot like that.

My mum used to by loo paper in cartons of 72. They rested in her spare room alongside the  equally bulk cartons of laundry powder and dishwashing liquid. (In a civil defence situation she might run out of drinking water but she'd have a spotless bum.) And she uses a pastry brush old enough to remember my first teen-angst tantrum.

So, if the new undies I bought for TLM turn out to be too small ( apparently Asian 7-8 year olds are the same size as Kiwi 4-5 year olds) - is it over the top to sew little scrap fabric inserts into the sides to make them big enough?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Attending the funeral of someone you don't know (well) - supportive or morbid?

This is an issue that I've been struggling with for the last few months, because three of my friends have lost a parent this year.

Even though I'd only met said parent a few times (when I'd known the friend for many years), I went to the funeral because it seemed the best way for me to offer support to the friend. After all, I can't whip up a casserole and I'm really no good at touchy feeling hugging (it's my Chinese upbringing probably).

Surely if they didn't want me to go to their parent's funeral they wouldn't have passed on the details to me? But when I was there I'd felt quite awkward because, unlike those who got up to speak, I had no stories about this person. There was little connecting me to them.

The boy thinks that it's morbid and not really right to go to a funeral unless you know them reasonably well.

But a couple of years ago when one of my workmates lost his dad, our whole office closed up for the afternoon to attend the funeral even though most of us (maybe all of us) had never met the dad. In that case, the colleague seemed genuinely pleased to see us.

I really don't know whether there's some definite protocol about this situation. Is it different depending on the country?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

My new favourite sweater-I-knitted-myself

Here's the second-to-latest thing I've knitted - a tweedy blue A-line sweater with removable cowl and elbow length sleeves. I've been wearing it a lot - whenever it's been cold enough (even though it hasn't actually been cold much this winter. Is this what winter in Queensland is like?)

Slight more info is on Ravelry.

This might be my mostly style-y outfit right now - the sweater with a navy merino dress, black tights and studded cherry red ankle boots.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

My new favourite movie of all time

When I get asked what my favourite movie of all time is, my answer is usually based on the movies I can remember - which is probably quite a small proportion of the movies I've seen and enjoyed at the time.

At various times my answers has been either "Don Juan DeMarco", "Zoolander" or "City of Lost Children" (the latter mostly for the weirdness).

It has taken multiple viewings of "Bend it like Beckham" for me to decide that - now - this is definitely my favourite movie of all time.  I saw it at the movies when it first came out and saw it again a couple of times when it was broadcast on the telly. But watching it tonight (on Maori Television)  has done it.

It's got the culture-clash theme, of which I am an extreme sucker. But there's also the impressive football skills, the larger-than-life Indian wedding spectacle, and the very, very pretty Jonathan Rhys Meyers. (And of course Parminder Nagra is just great. Since this movie I've only seen her in a handful of ER episodes. What a shame, I'd far rather watch her than Keira.) All the characters are wonderful, even the narrow-minded mums. Oh, and the music!!

It's probably the most feel-good movie ever.

As an aside, right after the movie ended the next show on Maori Television was "Monkey" - a remake of the old Japanese tv series about a Chinese myth, which used to be on tell when I was a teenager. I used to think back then how weird it was that the characters were Chinese but speaking English with Japanese accents. But the version showing tonight was dubbed over in Maori. Excellent!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Month-end catch-up

TLM's birthday was a couple of weeks ago - she turned 8.


Still can't make her own breakfast in the morning and still takes a lot of nudging to sort out her lunch box, but then the bench is designed for tall adults and the girl takes a while to wake up.

Lately she hasn't been complaining as much about her friend-situation so hopefully this means she's getting along with everyone and isn't finding their games boring all the time.

We all went tree-planting last Saturday. I'd never realised digging grass-ridden dirt on a slope could be so physically hard...

Yesterday TLM did a face plant in the school playground. Thank gawd she's not smart-alecky enough to tell everyoneI beat her up - can't blame anything other than bad luck and inattention. Her face is like a mild version of Harvey Dent at the end of Batman II; pretty on one side, slightly scary on the other. Poor wee thing.

This evening I had an accident of my own, and learned that even if it's just a fruit knife - it's a Victorinox knife you don't clean it with your finger!

Friday, August 02, 2013

Ups and downs

On the upside, I decided I was sick of pretty leather-like bags that rip to shreds after less than 12 months of use, then promptly found a really good fake Mulberry Alexa bag which I loved and bought, not caring whether it was real leather or not. I've always liked this style and it has lots of pockets and stands up when I put it down.

On the downside, TLM is apparently at that age when girls learn how to make friends and negotiate the whole alpha girl dynamic that you find in groups of girlfriends. She like to do what she wants, how she wants. Although there are at least 10 people she calls friends, she sometimes complains that she's lonely at lunchtime with no one to play with. We tell her that she should try going along with what the other girls want to play and maybe they'll play her games next time - but I've no idea how much she does this and whether it works. I do know that she does have fun wither her friends and classmates sometimes.

Then one day she will tell me she's lonely and just wants someone to play with her. We parents aren't suppose to try to 'fix' this problem for her, she's supposed to learn how to deal with it herself. But it makes me so sad because when I've felt lonely at times in my youth it was horribly depressing. I hate for her to be sad and lonely.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

a 6.5 earthquake, and I didn't even feel it

There's been a swarm of earthquakes and aftershocks over the last three days:
The one that hit on Friday made our office building shake and we all scamperd under our desks.
There were three early this morning, and I slept through two of them. The third rocked our bed enough to wake me up, but not so much to prevent us from going back to sleep.
The relatively big one was just after 5pm today, 6.5 on the Richter scale. I was in the car with TLM and we didn't feel a damn thing.
On the news it sounded like buildings in the city centre suffered damage here and there, and I heard that the power went out in a couple of suburbs.
But here at my place, and even at my mums place, there's little trace of the shake (except for my mum's nerves).
Lucky, I guess.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

A history of the artist

In another attempt to rid my sensitive eyes of whatever's making them go vampire-red every day, I did a total spring-clean of my bedroom. This meant shifting furniture, pulling bits and pieces from wherever they'd been wedged in between furniture, and removing the rug. I mopped the wooden floor with hot soapy water, wet-dusted everything except the clothes hanging on my garment racks and even cleaned the windows (frame and glass).

The only parts I didn't do were the walls, because I'd only be able to clean the lower 5 feet of them.

At some time in the past, the boy had decided to wedge in my old paintings and sketches in behind my tea chest. so I dusted off the plastic folders and took everything out to see whether I wanted to keep anything.

Amongst the self-conscious scribbles from my art classes and my attempts at abstraction were a number of nudes which I'd mostly forgotten about, as well as a couple of self portraits which were a revelation.

In the end, I was happy to chuck out about 80% of that stuff. But I kept my favourite painting and drawing.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

My knitted dress

I thought it turned out quite well. It's the cable panel dress from Designer Knitting magazine

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Polar blast? Not today.

So I took a day of work today because I've felt a cold building up for the past week and last night I felt absolutely terrible (nose running like a tap, headache, stiff upper back, wheezing).

And I thought "It's probably a good day to stay at home, what with the gale force freez-ies predicted for tomorrow"(really - folks in the South Island have been shopping like the day before Good Friday, and preparing to hunker down for the next couple of days).

But...actually it's not been that cold. I turned off my heater just now when I looked out of the bedroom window, admired the lovely big rainbow in the sky, and noticed that I can't see my breath (there's no heating on in that room).

Also, I feel not too bad.Maybe it's the calm before the storm (cold-wise and weather-wise). I suppose I'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Time on our backsides

You've probably read the news stories about how a sedentary lifestyle can be lethal - that is, even if you go to the gym religiously, the more time you spend sitting, the earlier you'll die.

The first time I read about this, I was on my lunch break. I spent the following hour bent over my workstation, trying to type whilst standing. Then my lower back started to ache, so I had to sit down.

Well, I've spent the better part of the last three days on my bum, all because TLM is sick with a constant cough and a forehead you could fry an egg on (but she wouldn't eat it because she doesn't like egg). She's been on her bum all that time too, except during those moments when she felt well enough to leap about like a well child. And the boy - he seems to have caught the lurgy, so is spending more time that usual saving the world through computer gaming.

I haven't actually minded this relative inactivity, because it's allowed me lots of knitting time - which I've needed, because I'm trying to knit a dress and have already ripped it back from hip to armpit TWICE after realising my sizing was overly optimistic. And I would really like to be able to wear it while it's still cold enough to.

I did go to yesterday's World Knitting In Public Day event, where there was a small but friendly group of knitters including a visitor from Cape Town and an art history professor from Idaho.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

My weekend of exploded sinuses

I thought I was having my third cold in 4 weeks - when it suddenly dawned on my that my latest cold (at least) was in fact terrible hay fever. It's the kind that has me sneezing so hard that I almost hit my head on the floor, and kinda sounds like cannon-fire.

It wasn't helped by the fact that I spent a few hours cleaning the house yesterday and had decided to finally tackle the thick blanket of dust around the boy's workstation. It was blanketed, I tell you!

On the plus side, I went to a sock-knitting workshop in the afternoon, part of the Handmade festival this weekend. I went to learn how to knit socks, but also to meet fellow knitters. It turned out that the women I did speak to weren't quite as knit-obssessed as I, and I even had to help a couple of them with their stitching!

So now I can knit socks (at least,  one miniature sock), which means I can finally use that beautiful sock yarn I bought two years ago...


Saturday, May 18, 2013

A last hurrah for summer

One beautiful Sunday afternoon we decided to go down to the beach and check out the rock pools. It was awesome.

Some Neptune's Necklace

Sea anemone

View of the fishing boats with Marine Education Centre at left

sea kelp, with TLM for size reference

sea slugs

And then there was one...

In memory of Munchy the caterpillar
About two months ago, monarch caterpillars finally started to appear on TLM's swan plant (which she's had since Christmas).

First one, then another, and so on until there were five caterpillars of varying size, chomping their way through the swan plant leaves. We were so excited to be part of the monarch butterfly life cycle!

TLM named them Munchy, Crunchy, Punchy, Lunchy and Yawny. They munched and crunched (as you'd expect) until there were very few intact leaves left.

And then they started disappearing. Punchy was the first to go, and then Lunchy, until....there was only one left on the plant. The birds must have been picking them off once they got big enough to be noticed.

Then we found one dangling from the top of our wooden fence. Hooray, we thought. It's about to become a chrysalis!

But he didn't turn into one. He uncurled, and then just hung there until we realised that the life had gone out of the poor creature. We were down to just one caterpillar after all.

Every day we go and check on Yawny, hoping he gets to complete his life cycle and become a chrysalis and then a butterfly. Hoping that he doesn't become a bird's dinner.

Knitting round-up

A peaked cap for me...

...using two buttons I bought at the Underground Market

A slightly chunky-fying funnel neck top...

with an abstract design on the back which I made up as I went

A beanie for my mum, for Mother's Day

And a wool/mohair/angora tunic for TLM, who wins as this post's cutest model.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Within spitting distance of Jermaine

The other night I took TLM with me to the opening of an art exhibition, featuring a friend, his wife, and  a third person whom I didn't know at all.

We started with dinner for TLM at a Vietnamese place called the Mekong, where she enjoyed two types of spring roll (the "normal", deep fried kind and summer rolls) - I had to take a photo of her with both cheeks full and both plates bereft.

The exhibition was packed. There was live music played by my friend and, among others, two librarians I knew from our local library (including one keen knitter). They sang songs in Spanish and looked like they were having the best time.

Then I saw this tallish, hairy guy just in front of me and realised it was Jermaine from Flight of the Conchords. "Of course," I realised, he is my friend's nephew so of course he'd be there. In fact this friend was the one who recommended that I go see the Conchords a few years back (pre-US tv show).

But I did the Kiwi thing and pretended he was not an international celebrity. Some would say it's because we just aren't into celebrities in NZ. In my case though it was probably just shyness (I was just as lame when I had a chance to talk to my favourite NZ artist Shane Cotton, and didn't).

Besides, I prefer Brett.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Woolly weather incoming

You can tell the drought is finally over when our laundry is once more an unmanageable mountain of unwashed clothing. I was hoping to get a couple of loads up on the line today, but of course right after it was all hung up nature decided to make a liar of the weather forecasters (who hurriedly update their forecast from sunny to rainy) - and it all came down again. Towels too, they were - nice and thick and taking an age to do in the dryer.

On the plus side, it is occasionally cool enough for me to wear my new hat (also on Ravelry).

Sunday, April 14, 2013

All cleaned out

We've had a skip bin sitting on our driveway all weekend, and we've been filling it with all sorts of junk. I'm astonished that we actually managed to fill 7.5 cubic meters - almost the size of our garage!

It contains:

  • heaps of crap that we found under our house (when cleaning it out in preparation for under-floor insulation a coupla years ago) - construction materials mostly
  • Old ceramic dinner plates (which I tried to get rid of on Freeview, but shortly after signing up my inbox was so inundated with irrelevant emails that I've never been back to check whether there were any takers)
  • A bag of rags ( we produce enough old clothes to use as rags that there's no sense in saving them up)
  • the old filing cabinet I put together myself, by hand
  • an old glass cabinet passed to me by my mum (and it was secondhand when she got it)
  • old pillows, synthetic duvets, wool mattress liner and curtains
  • old back packs (including the packs which served me faithfully through two years of OE)
  • an old oil column heater (which nearly caused me to fall out of the attic because it was so damned heavy
  • lots and lots of weeds
  • and my friend's surround sound systems, which I didn't even know we still had (Dave L, I'm really sorry - you were right and I was wrong) and which is still up the attic because the box is massive and massively heavy.

It was rather too exciting having to be the one to go up the ladder to get into the attic (the boy couldn't get through the hole because his shoulders are too wide. No, really!) But I did it and that's enough for the next few years.

At times (generally while throwing rubbish into the skip) I felt like Derek Zoolander having a go at being a coal miner (with less posturing).

Now I'm resting, fully fed by the boy's home-baked pork spare ribs and a very large slice of framboise, with a big box of tissues because my sinuses are going absolutely CRAZY.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013


The boy said to me that I should never clean the oven - rather to let him do it because it's such a dirty job (almost as dirty as cleaning poo-covered knickers, back in TLM's toilet training days? I don't think so).

So I let him. Only I never saw him do it. So last weekend I cast a layer of baking soda over the floor of the oven and covered it with a generous sprinkling of vinegar. Then I sprayed a mixture of baking soda and vinegar onto the sides and top of the oven, where the element was.

The next day I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to wipe the grime and grit (and bits of broken and baked gasket (the rubber bit which seals the heat in when you close the door).

The sides and ceiling were another story, and I had a go at scrubbing the element - just for a minute or so to remove the unidentifiable black protuberances.

The oven racks were much easier, requiring only a metal scrub and a bit of elbow grease.

So, not a great job but it definitely looked less like a stone age barbeque pit.

Later on that evening...you know that joke about a derelict old house so ramshackle that the only thing keeping it from total collapse was the termites inside, holding hands?

Yeah, the oven has stopped working. (And if I'd known this was gonna happen I could've saved myself a lot of cleaning effort!)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

on the beach

I put it down to the hours of fruitless searching online, for somewhere to stay over Easter weekend which is sufficiently holiday-like and didn't require hassle to get to.

There's no other way I can explain why I managed to pay in advance for two nights in a motel just off the main road, at least 30 mins walk from the beach.

It was the kind of place you stay at when you're on the way to somewhere else, rather than the kind of play you stay at for fun.

So we left after just one night, and I didn't even realise that I'd paid in advance for both nights until after we'd stayed that first night, put up with a terrible bed (TLM was in the bedroom on a perfectly good bed, we had a sleepless night on the awful bed with the motion sickness-inducing springs - in the living area), told the manager we were leaving first thing the next morning, wandered around the beach, tried unsuccessfully to get a place closer to the seaside and then finally came home so we could all remedy our respective zombie-like states.

So yeah, I feel a bit ripped off, even though our motel unit was otherwise perfectly nice.

On the upside, we did get to play at the beach, TLM and I collaborated on some fantastic sand drawings (including a satanic sun), and there was plenty of sunshine. Plus, being away made us appreciate our home more and for just a while I stopped wishing my house was such a dump.

It's raining today. Ordinarily I'd hate that, but at the moment I'm glad that our city's water reserves have been boosted (even if just little bit).

Thursday, March 28, 2013

An imperfect 12

I don't know why, but I'm only now (after more than 2 years of knitting garments for myself) starting to realise that - although I may be a size 12 around the chest....I must be a size 14 around the armpits.

This means I have to plan adjustments when I knit, in addition to the ones I already do to petite-ize the length of the torso section and super-size the waist area...

Tight armholes, begone!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Seems it never rains in southern North Island...

So we are in the midst of a drought which has hit the whole of the North Island, and even where we live which is normally never short of water.

How liberating to be able to hang your clothes up on the line, knowing for certain that they will be nice and dry when I get back from work (and not damp from an unexpected downpour). How nice it would be if we were barbequing types, because we'd be able to organise an outdoor social event knowing we won't end up shelter in a bus stop instead.

But it's a bit difficult to fully enjoy the beautiful sunny weather, because there's a drought on. That means everyone's garden is brown and dusty (unless they've got one of those rain water tanks, or are organised enough to use pre-shower water or grey water on their gardens).  I feel I should be hoping for lots of rain, so that our farmers and growers don't go out of business (since they are apparently the backbone of the NZ economy).

But - hey! At least our local tourism industry is flourishing, because Kiwi families all over the country can go camping - and not have to pack up after 5 days of "unseasonal" rain and gale force winds.

And we are going away too, for part of the Easter holidays...to the beach!

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Sweat-inducing clothes shopping

The boy is a wonderful man, he really is. Today he arranged for TLM to spend most of the day with her beloved cousins so that he could take me shopping.

And when I say "shopping" I mean that he took me to an upmarket department store, chose designer clothing items for me to try on - all of which was new in for autumn (i.e. full retail price), and bought the items he liked on me. (Is that a little bit Pretty Woman?)

This included an eye-wateringly expensive Jane Daniells long sleeve top and a gob-smackingly expensive possum-merino knit jacket (in biker jacket style, but - y'know, tasteful).

I love the jacket and one other item (black cropped jeans with heavy metal bling on the back pockets). And the boy loves the other ones (even if I'm not so sure myself.

But I am very uncomfortable with spending up so large on clothes, even if they are pieces I really like and even if I didn't have to pay for it myself.

And I can't help thinking that that amount of money could have gone toward doing up our decrepit bathroom.

I wonder whether women in TV makeover shows - the ones where you get a big wad of cash to spend on a new wardrobe - ever worry about whether they would have preferred to get the money and put it toward a new bathroom.

Probably not.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chinese New Year - a family affair

TLM has been in a Chinese dancing group over summer, with practices culminating in a performance at the Chinese New Year festival day on Sunday. This year she got to be in the parade too.

Here's a picture of her bun. It was my first successful attempt, with the help of a "doughnut" and a great many pins (her hair is less than shoulder length).

The boy was roped in to be a parade marshall, which meant he could walk around in his normal imposing manner and give scary looks to people who got too close to the floats or the vehicles towing them.

And me, I got to sit in the back of the drummer's float (which would have been hellish if my ear's hadn't been cleaned out) and give out water to dehydrated dragon dancers. Watching these guys and gals trot around in formation under the hot sun and with arms held aloft most of the time, I could really appreciate how hard a job it must be. It's just as well the boy didn't get roped into that, 'cos he'd have had to train for months to get into shape.

I would have liked to stick around for the performances after TLM's but they were hot and tired and wanted to go home and eat sorbet. Fair enough.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I've had an earful

This is what happens when you are a hyper-allergic person with a tendency to collect rock-hard bits of wax in your ears:

  • they throb and make your head feel like they're full of fingers
  • you can hear the sea
  • the insides of the ears get itchy so - as much as you know you shouldn't - you dive in there with a finger and poke around, looking for whatever it is that's tickling them.
  • You go a bit deaf. You're probably a bit deaf already, but now it's really noticeable because when you walk your footsteps thunder inside your head and drown out everything else...
  • everything else except for that plastic bag which makes a terrible racket so you stop trying to fish out whatever it is (your lunch maybe, or your sunhat)
  • then, if you haven't done something about it by now, the pain comes.
  • you visit the doctor in case you've developed an ear infection. Because that's, like, serious (permanent hearing loss!)
  • where, if you're unlucky, it takes several visits to several doctors (because they are part time and you can almost never get the same one twice in a row) before you're told that all you needed was a severe micro-sucking to remove the build-up.
I texted the boy, who was worried about me because I was up all night feeling little stabbing pains in my left ear, "doc says just maxi waxy ear sucking booked".

Turns out those places that specialise in this sort of procedure are very busy (imagine working in a place where you spend all day sucking out ear wax!) so I have another 40 or so hours to put up with before blessed relief (I hope) comes. 

Saturday, February 02, 2013


I finished a bolero today, made in Rowan Cotton Jeans yarn, in purple. It's still too hot to wear it, although I could have done with it last night when we were out at dinner (with the boy's aunt and uncle from the UK.)

More knitty details on Ravelry.

Next up is baby gear for a workmate whose partner is due in May. I've already started a couple of items but they are on hold until I find out whether vegans approve of wool...

Accidental fun

I had to force TLM out of the house today. She's been such a homebody - partly because she spends so much time at school or after school care, partly because she loves indoor activities (e.g. watching DVDs and playing computer games), and partly because she can't get to sleeps poorly at night.

We went to Te Papa and went on one of their virtual rides. I wonder how long that's been available...the museum has been around for decades and I only just knew about it yesterday! There are two rides and I chose to the one least likely to cause motion sickness. You get into a capsule which "descends" into the depths of the ocean, into the crater of an undersea mountain. I never realised travelling downwards into the ocean would be so rocky (or maybe they do that on purpose to appease young audiences?).

Then we went out to the wharf where Rugby Sevens high-jinks were still in full swing. We saw Roman gladiators, Smurfs, super heroes, and more. Funny how on certain occasions men like to dress like women and women like to dress like...um...teenagers who've just discovered their girly charms.

A Latin American drum band, also dressed Sevens-style, had everyone dancing along behind them as they progressed along the wharf. Even I broke out some moves, but TLM must have been embarrassed because she kept trying to hold my arms down.

And then, just as we'd got in the car to go home, we passed the park and spotted several highly intriguing bouncy castle thingies. One was a Jurassic Park bouncy castle, and three or four others were rugby-based obstacle course bouncies. TLM and I had a go at the bouncy shark, which is basically a really steep, fast slide. I screamed all the way and thought I was going to overshoot the end and kick some poor kid in the face (but missed).

Also, a shout-out to the boy's aunt and uncle who were in town yesterday. We had a truncated dinner with them at Chow (TLM was restless and fuss-making so we had to leave), but I really enjoyed meeting them and recommended iconic Kiwi foods such as hokey pokey ice cream, fish and chips and roast lamb with kumara wedges.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Holiday bonus

TLM was due to start school the tomorrow, and we didn't have a stationery list yet for her new class. So while she lounged about in her nightie (it was 9.30am) I went to the school website to see whether I could find a list there.

I couldn't find it - but what did catch my eye was the humungous notice on their homepage announcing that school was starting TODAY (apparently a slight change in start date made some time after their late-2012 newsletter).

TLM may act a bit slothfully when she's on holiday, but I have been very impressed at her ability to get ready quickly when it's really important. Within minutes we were headed down the hill to school, her new backpack loaded with lunch, a drink and an Asterisk omnibus.

And - bonus - this was followed by about several hours of completely free time for me!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What I'm doing in my summer holidays

I took a week and a bit off before TLM goes back to school, hoping to catch some summer with her before we are all shut in until Easter.

It's just as well that we decided to go to Matiu/Somes Island on Tuesday, when I saw what a beautiful morning it was - because since then the weather's been rubbish. It's been warm, but muggy or rainy. Actually, almost exactly like the weather we "enjoyed" between Christmas and New Year - the last time I had a few days off work. I think the universe is trying to tell me something.

TLM still had fun though.

Yesterday we went to Petone for a bimble after dropping the boy off at work. We were about an hour early for the shops to open, so went for a walk along the Esplanade. TLM made the most of the sandy and shell-covered shore, and built a sandcastle before burying it again (for someone else to find, apparently). Then, the shops opened and TLM bought a cute little mouse (probably intended as a toy for a kitten) from the Cats Galore shop. The only shop I wanted to visit was the Holland Road Yarn Company, but it was inexplicably closed. It's probably just as well as I would have ended up buying lots of yarn I don't need.

Today we did lots of chores, but spent lots of time making pictures. I propped up my drawing board on some newspapers so that TLM could paint as though on an easel. I think we produced some great abstract works... Unfortunately laying down newspaper on the kitchen floor was not such a great idea. It stopped the paint from going on the floor, but now I have newsprint ink all over it!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A veritable knit-a-rama

I finished a few knitting projects recently...
A cute slouchy beanie

An adult-sized children's cardigan (maybe that contrast blue was not a good idea...)
A similar cardigan in completely different yarn and colour (much more age-appropriate)

A neck warmer

And another neck warmer
I'll have to wait a few months before I can wear any of these, except for the beanie which is cotton. I just cannot stop knitting.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

When the child's away, the parents will play - kind of

"You could go out of town! Have dinner up the coast!" my sister-in-law said, just before driving away with our only child for an impromptu sleep-over.

Ooh, yes. We certainly could. We don't get away much, with or without TLM (but especially without). The boy used to love it when we went to Rotorua for the weekend and stayed somewhere with geothermal pools.  And the weather forecast for the weekend was really promising.

I was so excited by the possibilities that I washed the dishes prematurely (rather than waiting till nightfall) - so that ants wouldn't get into them while we were away.

Well, we didn't go away in the end. I wanted to go for walks but the pale and sun-shy boy couldn't find his hat. So we went into town and went shopping for a new one. Don't get me wrong, I love shopping almost as much as the boy does - I found a new sunhat for me,  and the boy, after much searching, found a cap to fit his enormous (but handsome) head. He also found a new designer hoodie, two designer t-shirts and some Calvin Klein undies (much-needed, trust me). (Later, the boy told me that his highlight of the day was the look of horror on my face when the saleswoman told us how much all of the boy's new clothes cost. If you'd have been there, you would have looked like that too.)

Then we went for a drive an a walk at Percy Reserve, shopped for groceries and returned home for some relaxing reading in the sun before the boy cooked me a nice dinner (crispy duck with courgettes and capsicums, plus warm turkish bread).

Afterwards I read in the news that majors roads up the coast had been blocked off for roadworks, so I guess it's just as well we didn't decide to get out of town.