Monday, February 16, 2015

Prepping For Deco

Every February the messages start to fly frantically back and forth between fellow Decophiles as we count down the days before we all converge at TCOTU (The Centre Of The Universe) for annual art deco weekend in Napier.  Furs are aired, costumes are inspected for any signs of wear and tear and a few running repairs are undertaken.  And every year I vow and declare that next year I will be better prepared and not leave things until the last minute.  Well it was another last minute effort this weekend, as per usual, in the scorching hot weather.  We seem to have packed much more efficiently this year though, using our old leather cases rather than polypropylene bags from the $2 shop.  The clothes are the least of our worries, it's all the handbags, shoes and hats which take up most of the space.  But one must have the correct accessories, they really to make the difference darling!  Next year I will do better ...

Now Mr Shoestring is not given to romantic gestures (or he may well be, but not where I am concerned).  However for some reason this year he pushed the boat out and ordered me a vintage style bike for Valentine's Day!  It will take about six weeks to arrive but it is a beautiful pale green shade and will have a dear little basket too.  Of course this means that I will actually learn to become a competent bike rider rather than a person who consistently falls into blackberry bushes and emerges dripping with blood and shaking.  After all, we can't have such a beautiful bike being damaged.

One good turn deserves another and I proudly presented Mr Shoestring with the hat box he had been visiting in the second hand shop near Shoestring Cottage, which pleased him mightily.  Even the colour is deco and it still has its New Zealand Rail check in sticker on one side.  It seems that people liked to make sure in those days that things were securely fastened; the hat box has not one, not two, but three catches to ensure no adventurous hats could make their escape.

It wasn't all toiling over a hot iron this weekend though, it was the monthly Matamata markets and what a fabulous haul of treasure.  This little fellow was just begging to come home to Shoestring Cottage, he was leaping for joy once I put him on the wall.  

His colouring is beautifully faded and though he has lost a bit of his gloss he hasn't lost any of his joie de vivre!

And this deco looking girl has taken up residence alongside the other two I already had.  She looks a bit haughty and superior but I'm sure in time she will get used to her reduced circumstances and enjoy life in a shadow box in a cottage.  Or at least tolerate it with better grace. 

Her companions look a little perplexed to find a newcomer alongside but they will learn to rub along nicely in time.  

One thing which gave me a nostalgic thrill was finding this IBM typewriter golf ball.  When these typewriters were introduced they were the epitome of all that was state of the art, cutting edge and technologically advanced in offices.  Where I worked only the secretaries of senior partners (it was a law firm) had access to these magical machines.  We used to have to type documents in triplicate and every time an error was made it involved correcting the carbon copies as well, how time consuming and frustrating it was.  The more careful you were not to make a mistake, the more seemed to appear as if by some kind of horrible magic.  At nights the typewriters were all lovingly covered with plastic covers, there was some fear that dust might somehow get into the workings and damage them from what I can remember.  And now these things seem so quaint and antiquated!  

There was a delightful fruit plate to hang in the trees outside and replace one which flew off in a storm and smashed to smithereens.  It set me back $2 but I endured the enormous expenditure for the sake of garden ornamentation.

And four champagne flutes which look pretty with a cooling summer drink - a berry, some ice, some rose water and tonic water, just the thing on a hot summer's afternoon.  They have a pattern of grapes on them and I can imagine them on the set of Mad Men only with a sophisticated cocktail perhaps.  

The tomatoes and passionfruit are cropping well even if the grass is turning into brown felt rather than green velvet.  

It wouldn't have been a well balanced weekend without a touch of stitching and I finally got around to making the teatowel I bought in Brighton into a cushion to go with one from Napier.  Instead of choking myself on second hand duvet feathers this time I cheated and put a feather pillow inside, much quicker and less bothersome on a hot summer day. 

Maybe the best part of the weekend though was visiting with Madame La Poste and being allowed into the inner sanctum, her work room.  What an Aladdin's Cave it was!  A place for everything and most things in their place, baskets with fabrics all ready for the next project, a design wall with her crazy quilt almost completed, inspirational pictures and everything to warm the cockles of a quilter's or embroiderer's heart.  I came away feeling newly inspired and less guilty about my scheme to start work on a new quilt; after all, if it's good enough for Madame La Poste it's good enough for me.  I do think she was rather unkind to belittle my use of brown but each to his own!  Thank you Madame La Poste for a look into that magical place.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How To Be Attractive To A Man

Now as we all know, men are mysterious creatures and there is no guessing what goes on in their teeny tiny minds, I mean their formidable brains.  I am pleased to report though that after extensive and exhausting research (i.e., after finding a list left in a library book), I have discovered the key attributes one particular man is after in a mate.  Now there is no proof that a man wrote this list, in theory it could be anybody, but look at this and I think you too will suspect it is the work of a man. 

It was inside Mr Shoestring’s library book too, a murder mystery, which may add a little weight to the supposition that it was the thoughts of a man.  I have to admit that I could never be a successful candidate for this gentleman – although I am fortunate enough to possess my own teeth I am a useless baker and pikelets (or piklets as they are charmingly called in the list) were never my specialty.  Even when I tried many years ago to bake some scones for a visitor they came out more like cheese straws, so I gave up at the first hurdle and never attempted them again.  As for being “loaded”, I presume this means being wealthy (but Mr Shoestring thought it meant something else so we have to agree to differ there), and since I am not loaded, and use any cash I lay my hands on buying threads, fabrics and cottons I would definitely not be a contender. 

The Squire and his good lady wife came over for lunch in the weekend and regaled us with tales of their new hobby, sailing.  Not only are they not expert sailors, they had no experience of sailing until they suddenly bought a trimaran, which they learned to rig and sail by studying tutorials on the internet!  I have to admit this didn’t inspire me to plead with them to take me out, especially after the Squire informed me that when he had only been out four times a member of the local yacht club spied him and recommended that he start racing.  (He had performed some very unusual and daredevil manoeuvres without even being aware of the fact, apparently).  Good on him for being so adventurous but I think dry land is a more appealing proposition for me!  Needless to say, the Squire’s good lady wife is a very amenable and docile lady who will happily support her valiant Squire in all he does. 

I am very relieved to report that the needlepoint project so long in the making has finally been completed, now it needs to be blocked and then made into a cushion.  (One can never have too many needlepoint pillows, I think that will have to be my motto.)  

I know I said last week that I was going to move onto the primrose/polyanthus one which was already started, but this canvas was calling to me.  

I bought it years ago when there were a whole group of them on sale at ridiculously low prices, too low not to buy a few, and it has languished in various cupboards, wardrobes and boxes since then.  I will use up the wools my mum gave me after she finished her crewel curtains on this project and it has opened up an opportunity to have fun with colour because in using three strands of crewel wool to cover the canvas there is the chance to mix the colours up and get a lot of very interesting effects. They don't show up very well in the photo but I will take a better one soon, the speckled look is quite realistic for flowers and stems.  

This has been great fun and it is working up very quickly.  The fact that it is a printed canvas makes it much less challenging for the old brain cells than if I was following a chart and having to count each stitch. 

We went on a good walk to the top of a waterfall in the weekend and saw lots of tui on the way up. 

 The outlook from the top was great but we were rather aggrieved to find lots of other people had the same idea and as we came down hordes were making their way up.  How rude!  Luckily we set off early so were down again before the heat of the day. 

Mr Shoestring is very cross at present.  He decided that it would be good to raise our bed up higher so that there was more storage underneath, but somehow he miscalculated with the result that I almost needed a stepladder to climb into bed last night, and the poor cats could barely leap up onto bed to wake us in the middle of the night as is their usual habit.  Also, it may be my imagination but I think the bed was swaying a little on the tall frame and I think I might have been a bit seasick (or perhaps I was just thinking of The Squire and his adventures on the ocean waves).  

This weekend I finally had a go at making some eye makeup remover after a friend told me about it. If you are frugal it is very vexing to spend money on this product, it isn't pretty and it isn't useful for embroidery so why would you want it?  (Apart from not wanting to look like a member of Kiss when you wake up in the mornings, and scare your partner senseless of course.)  The version I was told about goes like this.  Boil the kettle and pour one cup of water into a measuring jug.  Then add one and a half teaspoons of baby shampoo or baby wash, and half a teaspoon of baby oil.  When it has cooled decant it into a pretty glass bottle (or whatever you like to use) and hey presto, you have an excellent eye makeup remover.  If you love mascara as much as I do it will be a boon to you.  I have been using it for a few days now and still have my eyesight and no irritation, so I'm pretty pleased with it.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Big Dry

We have heard that January 2015 is likely to be the driest and sunniest on record in our part of the world and perhaps that's why the little pond in the back garden at Shoestring Cottage is doubly alluring this year.  Apart from peering fretfully into its waters to see if the fish babies have survived and not been gobbled up by their parent,s I was looking this weekend at a water lily bud which had formed under the surface of the water.  It seemed doomed to fail because it wouldn't open under the water surely?  The next morning when I looked it had grown overnight and the bud was clear of the water

then a couple of hours later it had unfurled its petals and was in bloom.  

It's almost like living in the tropics, everything seems to be living at an accelerated pace - as long as it has enough water to survive the dry spell, that is.

The pond is beginning to look a bit overcrowded; apart from miscellaneous aquatic grasses and the water lily we now have this gorgeous and exotic looking "zebra grass" (Miscantus Sinensis Zebrina) which apparently will grow to 2 metres and have pink/copper flowers from time to time.  Well, we will see if that comes to pass but it looks very handsome next to the solitary water lily blossom at present.  And its stems make a good place for the fish babies to hide from their terrifying parents too.

Down at the wetland under the overcast skies (which refuse to part with their rain) the convulvulus were glowing ethereally and the wild fennel having a bumper year and reaching for the clouds.

It wasn't all gardening, there was stitching to be done and I amrelieved to report that I have nearly completed the dratted needlepoint which I promised myself I would get done before doing any more exciting and interesting projects.  

It's still on the frame so you can only see the centre section but once it's finished (and surely next weekend will be the last big push because I am up to the last bit of border now), I will back it with the very useful green velvet from some cushions found in an op shop, then I can leave it alone and press on with the next opus.  This polyanthus will look very pretty in the sewing room if and when I finish it, and by cunningly recreating the pot but with a slightly different coloured blossom (pink perhaps) it will make a nice bolster cushion as a change.  

It's almost time to get ready for art deco weekend in Napier again and I unearthed this hat in a local second hand shop.  It will be too hot to wear for summer deco maybe, but in winter time will be just the thing with a tweedy jacket and skirt.  You can see the face of the fox and it is wrapped around the edge of the hat in a very cunning way, quite a triumph!  Maude kindly agreed to model it for me, she can never give up her haughty expression and attempt a smile but she does her best.  

Next weekend it will be time to start airing the furs and auditioning various costumes, excellent!