Monday, April 28, 2014

The Artichokes' Revenge

Once again it is the season for Jerusalem artichokes, and despite my best efforts to remove every last tuber from the earth last autumn, they have returned with renewed vigour and determination to be the bullyboys of the strip of garden which runs along the front of the section.  Last year I suspected there would some stragglers but alas, there seems to have be just as large a crop this year as there was last year.  Having decided to make the most of a bad lot I cooked up an enormous gratin with some of the blighters, and Mr Shoestring very manfully washed the remainder and had a wonderful suggestion – take them out with us to the delicious marlin dinner we had been invited to, and give them away to unsuspecting fellow guests.  I feared that we may have to leave with as many artichokes as we had brought with us (or possibly more, was it my imagination or were they multiplying inside the dark confines of the bag we packed?), but fortunately the kindly Mrs Peaceable assured me that they had no ill effects on her gastrointestinal tract and that she would take some, and some of the other diners looked slightly interested (rather than downright suspicious and alarmed as I had feared).  We made our escape before the other diners left, in order to begin our trip back home, so the responsibility for finding homes for those little darlings is gone.  What a relief.  Then last weekend I managed to catch Madam La Poste out in the open and away from home, and eagerly pressed some on her.  I fear it may be the end of a beautiful friendship.  

A couple of weekends ago I finally did manage to get the latest quilt into its hoop and ready for quilting, after toiling away with such mixed results for so many weekends.  (Deciding to make it longer, then wider, then stitching a whole row on upside down were just some of the setbacks I suffered.)  The idea was to use variegated green crochet cotton for quilting this time, instead of the finer (and more labour intensive) quilting thread I have used in the past.  This was a technique I copied from the clever Madam La Poste and I had high hopes.  By using a thicker thread you can take bigger stitches, therefore make more haste.  Well, so far so good, it has worked a treat. 

 I suspect Mr Shoestring began to fear my hindquarters would become fused to the fabric of the sofa, so long did I sit and quilt this weekend, but the hexagons are looking good with the variegated green quilting and progress is so much faster.  I think this could be the way of all future quilts for me!

Apart from quilting quilting and more quilting recently, it was time for the monthly Matamata markets.  Disappointingly, the stall holders hadn’t turned out in great numbers, probably because of predicted rain.  I did get some good art deco bargains though, including this dress which has very deco looking motifs printed on the fabric.  I am planning to cut it up and remake it for summer deco but the idea still percolating through my brain cells and there will be a few consultations with art deco source books before I dare take the scissors to the fabric.  Luckily it is a most voluminous garment, and the skirt is almost floor length, so there should be enough fabric to create something “new” for next summer’s art deco weekend. 

These two plates will be pretty in the garden, though it seems a shame not to use them inside. 

The trees are almost groaning with the weight of the plates I have affixed to them - Shoestring Cottage may have a diminutive garden, but nobody could accuse it of being under-decorated!

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Very Vintage Weekend

It takes a lot to lure Mr Shoestring away from Shoestring Cottage for an entire weekend but last weekend just such a thing occurred.  On Saturday the Very Vintage Day Out was taking place, on Saturday night the magnificent Tami Neilson was singing at a bar in Auckland central and on Sunday the annual Art Deco Picnic at Highwic was scheduled, so he couldn't resist - what right minded person could ask for anything more, after all?

The weather is still warm and sunny (I suspect almost too warm for some ladies in their stockings, hats and corsets) and there was a great turn out for the Very Vintage Day Out at Alexandra Park where we had the bonus of seeing the horses racing around the track in the background.  I suspect some of these were only beginners because one or two were very naughty and insisted on breaking into a gallop instead of trotting, which is what Mr Shoestring assures me they were supposed to be doing.  (I couldn't really tell the difference but the drivers obviously could, because they would bring the horses up short and have to start off again when it happened.)

The crowds at the Alexandra Park Raceway where the event was held had the benefit of seeing some fine detailing and craftsmanship in the construction of the old stands

but most of the happy visitors only had eyes for the lovely old cars.

This intrepid lady motorist brought her Jowett Jupiter and was thoughtfully attired in a matching costume, taking elegant motoring to a new level. You can't quite see her red dress underneath her motoring coat, but the shade was a perfect match for her car.

I thought the caravans with their coordinated accessories, right down to every last piece of crockery and curtain, took the prize for attention to detail though.  Imagine having one of these lovelies for your very own!

And what about the ultimate picnic set, no thought of chucking some disposable cutlery into the car here, it is all perfect with a place for everything and everything in its place.

There were so many wonderfully turned out attendees that it was hard to pick a favourite costume

but the gents in their military uniforms deserved a medal for managing to keep their jackets on in that heat.

There were free swing dance lessons

and displays

and a competition for the best dressed which was fiercely contested by ladies sporting garb ranging from twenties through to fifties decades.  I didn't manage to get a photo, but the gentlemen were very competitive too, and it was a very close thing when the winners were announced.

The fabulous Tami Neilson took to the stage with her band and sang a whole selection of numbers from her just-released album.  She was gloriously pregnant and somehow didn't let that stop her from belting out a wide range of songs which made us all admire her wonderful sweet voice, and flock to buy our own copies of her new CD Dynamite as soon as she finished her set.  We had the chance to hear her again that night when she performed in Auckland as well.

Then on Sunday it was time for the Art Deco Picnic at Highwic.  I posted photos of this event last year but couldn't resist taking one of this little fox "Nelson" whose kind owner noticed he was missing an eye (wear and tear is only to be expected after all those years), and provided him with his very own eye patch.

This year we were treated to a Charleston lesson (surprisingly difficult on asphalt in warm sunshine and wearing heels), and the dancers took to the grass as the band played a lot of great old classics for their delectation.

With the late afternoon sun casting lengthening shadows over the garden and the strains of music in the air it really was a magical afternoon and we all went home very happy and with a lot of happy memories - and ideas for new costumes of course!