May 23, 2011

From Old to New.

 So the following 2 fabrics were my weekend purchase at Fabricabrac. The above one a brand new design by Melody Miller, vintage portraits on a linen cotton mix.
They were sold by a stall ( Stitchbird Fabrics ) specializing in modern prints with a hint of retro,  It's only a fat quarter, but enough for a panel  or pocket on a bag. I really liked it for myself.

                                                                                                                                                                   And then I saw it...
 Yes ! It was Smurf fabric!  From 1981. Sooo retro, and happy, and suitable for kid's clothes.
 I was smiling all afternoon, and still am!  Are you?..
It's o.k. if you are laughing at me, too!
Let's face it ; a 40-something woman who is whooping for joy over a bit of fabric with smurfs on it.....!?

      There was 2 meters of it in excellent condition. I can't wait to make something cute with it.

  It's the little things that make my life happy!

This is a little desk/cupboard that I bought a few years ago and used in my studio in the old house. Now I want to use it as my sewing table in the middle of the dining area / workroom.
It's really very ugly and darkly stained, so dark it seems to suck up the light in the room.

   2 weekends ago I sanded it all over, including the back, and it is all finished now, ready to use. I painted it in the same white as the drawer unit, 3 layers of it. The top has been left blond wood with some of the white rubbed over it and then varnished several times in a satin finish. It looks so much better, clean and light. And strangely;  newer.

Now I can put my sewing machine on top, and put my collection of notions and threads, ric-rac and bias binding, buttons and zips and other tools into it's little drawers and cubby-holes.

And that will leave the big work table for cutting and pinning, and hopefully the occasional felting work.
Of course I will have to be a little disciplined in keeping it looking fairly tidy. 
All my fabric and wool and fibre stash is downstairs in the small spare room. Still very un-organized.
 I dare not show you a picture...

May 22, 2011

One-day road trip to Wellington.

Dawn while driving after 1 hour.
The windmills past Woodville on the Ruahines. 2 hours.

Yesterday my man and I went on a bit of a road trip to Wellington. He had sold his small ute to a bloke from the south island, and since he was glad to sell it so quickly, we offered to drive it to the ferry as part of the deal. I decided to come with him, so we would have a few hours sightseeing there together.
On the motorway into Wellington city, 4 hours later.

Crossing my favourite street; Cuba street with all it's quirky little shops. No we won't be visiting it today: we are going to find the Newtown area. I found out last night that there is an event, which I would like to check out. Such coincidence!
A lovely building in Newtown with cabbage trees in front.

Are they gossiping about the crowd in front of the button stall?
Only last night I found out that there is a Fabricabrac sale on in a hall in Newtown. People sell their surplus fabrics for small prices, with some of the proceeds going to charity. I wanted to check it out, in case it would be suitable for having my own table at 1 of these events. I have way too much fabric.
I arrived about 11 in the morning, it was still pretty busy, how odd to be in a room with so many hoarders and fabric-a-holics. It was lovely!! I got tempted a lot, but only bought 2 pieces. I will show you tomorrow what they look like and 1 of them is a super find!

My favourite stall from Unearthed of Tinakori rd. 
Sweet baskets with vintage tablecloths, aprons and curtains, and is that..? Yes, yes it is! Always hoped I would find a length of this, and there it is peeping out from amongst the upholstery fabrics...
 How many kids' clothes can I make with it?  (more later)
Little kiwiana shops; the power lines, the verandahs, the colours and the 4 square.

It's nearly time to catch the bus home again. The ute has been dropped off at the ferry terminal, where it will continue it's journey south to it's new owner. We walked to the train station, from where you can see our Parliament building 'the Beehive'. Hope they're busy in there with the new budget.
Is that hot air rising ?

The railway station is from the Victorian era.

The old parliament buildings looks like it's made from stone, but it's all wood.
The beehive is built on rubber piles so it moves along with an earthquake.
Tugboats in the harbour.

The quaintest looking houses across the harbour, very W'ton.
Inside the railway station.

Only 2  more hours to drive from here, and the sun is setting. We had a lovely little trip together, an estimated 680 km round trip . With sunrise, sunset, seaviews and a sprinkling of snow on the mountains, filled sandwiches for lunch and a pizza for dinner. We climbed back up to our hill house to be greeted by our daughter and friends. How lucky we are !

May 16, 2011

Tui love...

On our outside deck or veranda the former owner has attached this home-made contraption ; a bird feeder made from plumbers pvc piping that swivels out, with a removable bowl. In it we were advised to put sugar water for the tuis that frequent our woody gully. 
I love our native tui bird and its fantastic song. (pronounce tui as 'to-ee')
The old colonials gave them the name 'parson-bird' because the curly white throat feathers looked like the white dog-collar a parson or clergy-man wears.  The name never stuck. The Maori name of tui did.
Here are some pictures I made from the living room and from the deck.
I am feeling very David Attenborough..

Well , I think they like my mixture, because I often have to top it up twice a day! I make the sugarwater by dissolving 1 cup of sugar(250ml) into 1 liter of hot water, I make enough to fill a 2.5 liter bottle, and I add a generous spoon of honey as well. I thought I'd put in a few nutrients at least. 
They go through that in 1 week!

 But it isn't just the tuis, the shy bellbird comes too! And his song is even more beautiful, not as many scratchy notes as the tui, more fluid like a glockenspiel. Such big sounds from a tiny bird. And quite pretty really, with that soft yellow-green and velvety grey head.

 And surprise, the wax-eyes ( or silver-eyes) are nectar feeders too. Something I didn't know. I thought they went for insects and berries only. This is a great picture of them because they are always moving about.
 Well, I should have known... Sparrows are just opportunists. They'll eat anything. And they'll just push the wax-eyes out of the way. Here you can see how small the wax-eyes are compared to a sparrow.

Aren't they gorgeous! When you see a tui high up in a tree or hear them rushing past you with their distinctive whooshing of wings, all you will notice is a black bird with it's distinctive white flash at it's throat.
But when you have them at eye level and in the full light, that's when you see the shimmering iridescent greens and purply blues on their wings, tails and heads. Their bodies aren't black, but deep reddish-brown. And then there is their shoulder 'cape' of curly white feathers, as if they're ready to go to the opera.
There is much jostling and positioning at the feeder, this weekend there were 3 of them, and obvious ranks of importance are well in place.
Very lively birds, the tuis swoop through the trees chasing each other.
Often they just launch themselves down without opening their wings until the last moment.

They're the first thing I hear every morning, and although we might curse them on early summer mornings in the future, how delightful it isn't my former drunk neighbours that will wake me up!

May 6, 2011

Leaks, Lichens and a Lazy stroll.

Our magnificent oak in last weeks' storm, it's bark all wet and black. Making the thick cover of lichens and mosses really stand out.

I can see him from the kitchen window. (I find oak trees quite masculine).

When I really zoom in with my camera, you can distinguish all the different lichens which grow on its' southern flanks. The side that doesn't get the sun, here in the southern hemisphere.

For you to really see this, do click on the pictures for an enlargement.
Just gorgeous.

We had a leak during the storm. Drip, drip in the livingroom.
So the Man of the house went into the rafters with a trusty torch and figured out where it came from. And planned a solution.
First some containers in strategic places.

Then when the sun came out again, he climbed on to the roof and (after counting the roof tiles to see which ones were the bad ones) he replaced them with new tiles.
All fixed! What a handy guy!
Last Saturday morning we did what we would like to make a pleasant habit; to stroll into town from our house, see what's new at the farmers' market, and have a morning coffee at our favourite cafe. A great way to start the weekend.

Pretty little Napier! Looking all exotic and Mediterranean with its' palm trees in the main street. Still can't quite believe we are living here now.

May 1, 2011

Royals and Rain.

Do have a cheese muffin, won't you? Celebrate a little!
That's my best caketin too, I bought it at least 20 years ago. It is a coronation souvenir (not made in China) and has her promise of "queening-right-to-the-end" written on it right next to the golden coach. The tin has a very good closure and fits a whole cake in it. It is a little battered (haha) over the years, but that adds to the vintage charm.

The view from our living room was pretty bleak this week. We have had a proper autumn storm in our Hawkes' Bay, with a quarter of the yearly rainfall falling within 60 hours. In some of the rural areas many people needed to be evacuated, with bridges washed away and power outages. Much damage to the land and quite a few slips on the Napier hill too. But our house seemed pretty sturdy and I think it must help to have so many trees planted all around us to keep the hillside strong. It looked and sounded like a waterfall outside, though.

I had plenty to do inside. This is the dining room/workroom. All those boxes! But it is getting there...
My bookshelves are up in there as well, the boxes are emptying. I try to sort everything into the right places straight away, still coming across books I should get rid of .

But the really good thing about autumn is eating feijoas! I scoff them 10 at a time, with a little spoon after my breakfast. Oh that scented jelly goodness, with a little grit like a pear.The flavour is a little like fresh, slighly sour bananas combined with a cool juicy fruity scent. That is as close as I can get. Love,love!
People have them growing in their backyards and often give them away by the bag-load, or get their kids to sell them at their gates.
View from the breakfast/dinner table, looking up towards the road.

And more view from the same spot,with a big hibiscus bush in the garden. We can see the sun come up from here, the sea is this way.
Oh weren't they lovely...!
I spent the evening at a friends' where we had a royal wedding party. At least 4 ladies wore their wedding dresses and hats and some of the men came in nice suits, some with ties and even a bowler hat. I wore some nice clothes (There is no way I could fit back into my wedding dress!) with a little pink hat, pink gloves and a crystal necklace, and borrowed my mans' black tail coat.
Everyone brought a plate, scones and cake and asparagus sandwiches. We drank Pims and tea. We talked and shushed for the exciting bits, stood up and sang 'god save the queen', waved along cheerfully, giggled and made fun of the important people. It was way past midnight before we got to the double kiss!
As a citizen of 2 countries I am in the strange, yet pleasant, position of having 2 Queens and 2 royal houses to admire/criticize. I was pleased to see crown prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Princess Maxima of the Netherlands among the invited guests. Here they are on their bicycles. They have 3 blond little daughters, that all look like baby Julianas.
Here they are again screaming 'goal' at the world soccer cup. Somehow I don't think the British Royals would be so openly enthused or spontaneous. Ever seen Queen Liz on a bike?
I am sure the Dutch queen Beatrix would have given her grandson a kiss and hugged the bride straight after the weddingvows, instead of that stiff little smile from QEII. Surely you can do all the formality with the curtsy and still retain family warmth.
Maybe she just can't...