Monday, September 26, 2011

The Week That Was

Things are hotting up in the garden now.  Last week the cherry and plum trees were bare, this week they are a froth of blossom and the bees are feasting on their nectar. 

The birds are busy building nests and scratching up all the mulch on the garden.  I have to report though that the birds and I are not on good terms at present.  Having presented them with their very own birdbath imagine my disappointment when I realised they are pointedly ignoring it.  To add insult to injury they waited until Mr Shoestring had carefully sewn his grass seed (yes, the lawn obsession continues), then called all their friends to come over for a pot luck dinner.  There was a flock of finches feasting on the new seed.  Poor things, I realised they must be starving so I bought them a lovely bird feeder and some special bird feeding seed.  Did they use their feeder?  No, they did not, the ungrateful things!  They feign unawareness of its existence and continue to eat all the lovingly sewn grass seed. 

At the local church sale on Saturday we found these two books published to commemorate the Queen’s coronation.  The breathless enthusiasm for all things royal seemed evocative of a more innocent time which has passed, never to return.  I somehow can’t envisage the Commonwealth whipping itself up into a frenzy of excitement when (if) Prince Charles comes to the throne. 

When Wynn called in and took me to Tarnished Frocks and Divas she gave me this wonderful old scale.  Note the little weights which measure in ounces.  It is so pretty, it begs to be put on display in the kitchen.

 At the same time Wynn donated the cute Wee Willie Winkie candle holders which we can use outdoors in the summer time. 

And that clever Fran, knowing of Mr Shoestring’s penchant for all kitchen implements wooden, presented him with a very special whisk which he plans to give a painted red handle to.   Needless to say, he was suitably impressed and eternally grateful!

Coincidentally, at the church sale he found a wooden handled potato masher (50 cents) which will receive the same treatment, so he is very pleased with himself.  I am sure that one day he will have collected one of every kind of wooden handled retro kitchen tool and will have to turn his attentions elsewhere, but for now he happily continues his quest. 

We had to leave Shoestring Cottage early this weekend, to come back to Auckland for a rugby world cup party but I made the most of my time there and made four new blocks for the rainbow crazy quilt and planted more seedlings in the garden.  The peas and beans from last week seem to be very happy and the new fuchsias, Chatham Island lilies and hare’s foot ferns are happy so far too.  In fact the garden is beginning to look as though it may be full before too much longer – the new magnolias will be a picture next year if all goes according to plan and the strawberries are already forming fruit.  Much though it upset me I admitted defeat where the birds are concerned (they are rapidly revealing their true natures to me) and covered them with a rather unattractive hoop and netting affair to prevent marauders robbing the fruit as soon as it starts to ripen.  Ha!  See how you like that, my feathered friends!  

Hoop petticoat daffodil - I have tried to grow them in every garden I have ever possessed and this is the first time one has ever flowered for me!  Onwards and upwards!  Even better results next year!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tarnished Frocks and Divas

Last weekend my friend Wynn swooped down to Shoestring Cottage and plucked me up for a girlie road trip.  I met a whole new group of her friends and enjoyed the warm hospitality of her sister, who had us to stay in her lovely home.  The purpose of our expedition was to attend Tarnished Frocks and Divas.  This is a show which takes place once every two years in Tauranga.  It was established by a group of friends after one of their group lost her life to cancer.  Each time there is a different theme, but as this was the first time I have attended I had nothing to compare with.  All I can say is that it was a brilliant, fun and inspirational performance.

 A story was told through song and dance, but also there were the garments which were presented in seven "courses" (and what a banquet they made).  There was a theme for each course and the garments were mainly created from old clothes which had been recreated.

 One whole section seemed to be made of cheesecloth, and how beautiful they were!

 The audience was encouraged to take participate and the models wended their way through the audience to display their finery to best advantage.  All in all a feast for the eyes and I am sure we all went away inspired by the colour and creativity seen in such abundance.  Bliss for those of us who like to reuse and recycle as much as possible.   You can see some of the pictures here:

Take particular note of the black velvet dress with all the kitsch "Kiwiana" motifs on it - it was a marvel to behold!  The waka sailing across the bosom and the little geyser on the back were particularly inspired in their placement.  
On the way home we stopped at a beautiful patchwork shop where I bought a small piece of fabric which will make a bodice for a new Party Dress.  What more could you desire in a weekend away?  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Competition Hots Up At Shoestring

Oh yes, I thought I was being very clever in training number two daughter to enjoy accompanying us on our missions as we trawled through the op shops but now I begin to see that I may have been fooling myself.  It turns out that Tessie has the best eye for just the kind of treasures I am seeking.  She can enter an op shop at the same time as me and within minutes present me with the item I would have liked to find!  It is as though she has a radar to help her detect them.  She recently presented me with a pink depression glass plate which boosted my tiny collection, and this weekend she found this lovely glass (for the princely sum of 50 cents) and these candle holders ($3 for the pair, a bit pricey?).  

This is all very well and good, but what if she suddenly decides to specialise in just the same kinds of things I am looking for?  I am going to have to keep a close watch on her, make no mistake!  Perhaps the fact that she is not having to constantly struggle with spectacles and put them on and off as she inspects the things close up and far away in the shop is a help, who knows?  Whatever it is, I am going to be vigilant in future.    

And speaking of newly acquired treasures, Mr and Mrs Woollywally kindly gave us this wonderful thermometer (in Fahrenheit) which is in beautiful deco style, it will be treasured.

 And Fran’s friend Anna sent this wonderful large crocheted bedspread which will be put to good use, possibly as an overlay on a skirt or as a cover for an album or headboard.  What a lot of work has gone into creating this, I believe it came from Europe originally.

Anna also kindly passed on this unusual tablecloth with oriental gentlemen sailing along.  They might find a new home appliquéd onto garments, they certainly deserve to go out and about more in the world.   

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Return Of The Jafa

When we moved away from the Waikato and back to Auckland we faced a barrage of outraged howls from friends about our traitorous behaviour.  All around New Zealand Jafas (Just Another F*&^%$# Aucklander) are reviled and despised, but possibly nowhere more than by their near neighbours just over the Bombay Hill, the people of the Waikato region.  We tried to explain that the move was not a rejection of the Waikato per se, it was just a practical move because with employment in Auckland the travelling time and fuel costs were becoming prohibitive, but all to no avail.  The howls continued and the outraged remarks increased in volume and frequency.  We were told that we would find Aucklanders unfriendly and uncaring, that we would soon be regretting our move and so forth.  I was even presented with this joke T-shirt which I resolved never to wear in public for fear of condemnatory remarks.   

Well, hailing from Auckland originally we were not quite so fearful of returning, but it had been 14 years since our departure and we were a little uncertain.  I can report after nearly three years that living in central Auckland is not a terrible thing after all, and that you can meet interesting and friendly people wherever you happen to end up.  In fact the population of Auckland is a veritable United Nations and we have made friends with people from all around the world.  When I go running with my friend Maree in the early mornings the view over the Waitemata Harbour is different every day and I am thankful to live in such a beautiful place. 

Sunrise on the Waitemata Harbour

On mornings when I am feeling bold (and it is still nearly dark), I even wear my “Jafa and Proud” T-shirt!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rugby World Cup Fever Strikes - Or Luke Warmness, Perhaps

I must confess that where rugby is concerned I know little and care less (as I confided to Mrs Peaceable in a frank moment one day.)  It is a shameful admission in a country where rugby rules and every man and sometimes his dog has an opinion as to who should be included in the national team, who should be omitted, and where the coaches have gone wrong.  For years I have been able to happily ignore the whole topic and when I discovered the Rugby World Cup was coming to our fair shores I found it hard to suppress my groans at the waste of money and the inconvenience which would be caused to the citizenry. 

Fireworks over the harbour to celebrate the opening of the Rugby World Cup

Now that it has arrived though it is best to keep any doubts about the benefits of the world cup to myself and just enjoy it as much as possible and so far it has been very enjoyable!  The opening ceremony was brilliant, the fireworks magnificent and all the trials and tribulations with inadequate transport facilities added a certain piquancy to the proceedings.  At my workplace the staff decorated their offices with the flags of the countries whose teams they were supporting and one lady even managed to incorporate a flag into her hairstyle!  The people of the Kingdom of Tonga in particular spared no effort in their enthusiastic support for their team, their cars were festooned with flags and they flocked to the airport to welcome the team on the day of their arrival.  There was a carnival spirit all through the city on the day of the opening ceremony and first game, and though I still secretly might think the whole thing was a ridiculous waste of money we might as well enjoy the spectacle.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lord Raglan Pushes The Boat Out

Poor Lord Raglan is teased mercilessly (not least by Lady Raglan, it has to be said) because he is very careful with his pennies.  But on his birthday he likes to leave his estate and come to the city to celebrate with family and friends, and on this special occasion he treats them all to a slap up meal.  Last year the event was a bit of a fiasco (to be brutally honest) because the dining establishment selected was not of the finest.  The staff were rude, the food arrived at strange intervals (one of the diners was still receiving their entrée when some of the others had completed their pudding), the meals were cold, and of course nobody let Lord Raglan forget this unfortunate occasion.  So this year when his birthday came round again we pleaded with him to be reckless and take us to a more salubrious establishment.  We all went to Monsoon Poon and had a wonderful time, then on the way home called in at a lovely bar called Racket for nightcaps.  The whole evening was a resounding success. 
 Monsoon Poon

Colourful decor, party atmosphere

Hanging gardens in Britomart quarter

 Racket bar for late night libations
Pretty twinkling nightlights
The Squire and his good lady wife attended of course and were only a shadow of their former selves.  They had both lost a large amount of weight and we were keen to know how they had done it.  The Squire informed us that it was through eating tuna and drinking coffee, which did not sound particularly enjoyable, but his good lady wife said that the weight loss had been accomplished by eating healthy foods, so perhaps they were not both following the same plan. 
Lady Raglan announced that the time had come for us to increase the enjoyment factor in our lives.  She chided us for being absorbed with grandbabies, renovations and work for the last couple of years and insisted that we return to our former carefree ways.  It has to be said that we were formerly known as “rent a crowd” and had a passion for any kind of dress up party, so much so that once when a mother of the bride was telling me about her daughter’s wedding plans I asked whether she had her “costume” arranged yet!  Lady Raglan prevailed of course (she is a formidable woman and a force to be reckoned with) and so from now on we are going to arrange monthly get togethers, which will be a welcome break from our workaday lives and home improvements.  Clever Lady Raglan, I can’t wait.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Spring At Last! (For Sure This Time)

It was a heavenly weekend at Shoestring Cottage.  First thing on Saturday morning after our weekly trip across the road to strip the library's shelves of reading matter, Mr Shoestring and I went to the monthly country market in the next town.  I have to admit I was rather rash, throwing caution to the winds and buying these two mirrors ($1 each) to add to my growing collection of motley old mirrors.  That was courtesy of the bowling club garage sale, and there were some choice plants for 20 cents each as well!

 These ones will join these ones in the Gypsy Room

I was very pleased because I also found these two placemats (20 cents each).  I love the thought that somebody spent such a long time hand embroidering the one with roses and "Good Morning" emblazoned upon it.  Not surprisingly, there was only one and not a set of six or eight.  Note how there is a little pocket to put a napkin into, isn't that so special?

 Little pocket in lower right hand corner 

Also there were some stalls with plants for sale and we found lots of healthy irises and perennials.  If the irises flower true to their descriptions the garden at Shoestring Cottage will be a feast for the eyes in due course.  
 But for now we have to content ourselves with polyanthus

 and pansies and primulas

After a frenzied planting session I had a leisurely Summit Meeting with B2, a darling friend who lives in the next town.  We went to a cafe which is in an old bank building and solved all the problems of the world.  The decor is homely and cosy, the place is full of old china and comfy sofas and there are books and magazines to thumb through as you have your coffee.  We could happily have spent all day there but eventually realised that we were the only remaining patrons and the proprietress had completed all her daily tasks and was only waiting for us to leave so that she could lock up.  To make a perfect end to the day Mr and Mrs Peaceable invited us to their place for dinner, fresh fish and delicious risotto, heavenly!  Mrs Peaceable even let me have Flossie sit on the sofa with me for a cuddle, bliss!

Floss, the best dog in the world, wearing her most colourful jewellery

The broad beans are ready for picking, I will do some research and try to find some recipes which make them more palatable.  I have to admit that though they have recently become fashionable I still remember the ghastly broad beans of my childhood and it puts me off somewhat.  Apparently in ancient times virgins were forbidden from walking through fields of flowering broad beans because the perfume was so strong that they became intoxicated!  Personally I can hardly detect any scent from their flowers, but that may be because I am elderly and sensible and therefore less susceptible!