Monday, May 31, 2010

Destashing - the pets

Today I arranged the hardest destashing job yet.  We are recycling our cat.  Our beloved Topsy is going to live in The Tron with her auntie and cousin. When we put her on the plane tomorrow I suspect the children and I will all get what Ken Oath! calls "dust in his eyes" (The sort of dust he recently encountered during A Song in the Dark.  Ok that was quite dusty.  I got some too.).

Now we just need new homes for various fish - with names recycled from the unused portions of our baby names lists, so Pearl, Iris, Walter and Percy (hmm, that one wasn't my pick) - and a fresh-water mussel called Muscleman (Any takers?  He is no trouble!).

The children are adamant we'll get new pets in Australia.  They want an enormous goanna because the little meanies know that is the one thing I am scared of.  Apparently it helps to laugh at your fears, so to cure myself I plan to name that goanna Joanna.  And make it wear clothes.

The top image is from the fabulous Frederique Morrel and the last three nutjobs were found here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Because we are all different and need different things

Over the past few months I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I own, need, don't need, want and don't want as I destash my family's worldly goods in preparation for moving to Australia.  Today I spent the morning out with my son then before launching back into the destashing, I spent a few minutes eating an enormous bowl of Stoup (it is fusion food - old family recipe - it is reheated left-over stew/soup usually with grated cheese on top) while muckingaround in Interwebland. 

I came across something interesting on Jen's Seedling Clothing blog. Art student Rebecca Marshall is asking for contributions to help her with a project.  She needs participants to write anything they want, on anything they like, on the theme "because we are all different and need different things" then scan or photograph it and email it to her by Friday 28th to .

This struck a chord with me.  What do I need?

Maybe some togs.  Mine dissolved in the hotpools at Waiwera last weekend.  It wasn't pretty but with my planned new My Sister Pat swimsuit it soon will be.

Perhaps some plates.  Surely some of my grotty old ones will get smashed in the move and I'll have an excuse to buy some new chocolate ones from Ich and Kar and some dreamhome substitute ones from People Will Always Need Plates.

I'll need an excuse to sew as I'm missing it so much.  A Rob Ryan design skirt kit from Clothkits should do the trick.

I'm always on the hunt for dishy sandals I can actually walk in. I feel some Camper Twins coming on.
I sold our sun umbrella but don't want a tan so I've got my eye on these at Bird Textiles.

I sold my bike but I'll need something to hunt the groceries with.  I quite fancy a tricycle but my family mock me by pointing out that the Trademe seller describes these as suitable for "the physically challenged".

Oh what a big fat lie.  Firstly, that virtual consumerist pig-out would virtually bankrupt me. Secondly, even though when Zest in The Press profiled me last year they called me "Material Girl", the truth is I'm just not into stuff anymore.  Sometimes I think that if our shipping container fell into the sea that it would be quite liberating.

Yet there is one thing I really do need and it makes all the desirable, gorgeous, material goods in the world seems frivolous and trivial in comparison.  My day out with my son this morning was spent at the hospital where he lay perfectly still for 40 minutes while a large white machine clunked, clonked and pinged around him.  He has done this many times over the past six years and thankfully the results have always been good news.  So here is my response to the brief "because we are all different and need different things".

That photo was taken in 2004 by Hanne Johnsen as part of The 21st Century Documentary Project, A Place in Time.  My children and I were waiting in line for a donkey ride at a local school fair when the photographer approached us.  My son had been discharged that afternoon after several weeks in hospital, had recently earned the nickname "Harvelstein" and was patiently waiting to finally do something "fun".

The image at the very top of this post is from a fabulous site called "The Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art". (From the site: "While our artists make every effort to insure accuracy, we cannot accept responsibility for the consequences of using fabric brain art as a guide for functional magnetic resonance imaging, trans-cranial magnetic stimulation, neurosurgery, or single-neuron recording." Hahaha!)  The image is of a hooked rug by Marjorie Taylor.  I have to admit, I feel like I need that rug.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stash reHash - Ashburton!

It's Stash reHash ladies, but not as we know it!  Arthritis NZ are busy planning the next Stash reHash fabric market.  Here are the details - don't keep it a secret!

Stash reHash Ashburton
Sunday 27th June, 11am-2pm
at the Sports Hall, Tancred St, Ashburton
Contact Rowena Hart on or ph 03 308 9371

To book your own stall at the market, then please contact Rowena.

Volunteers will also be required to help on Arthritis NZ's stall and to help run the market.  If this sounds like you, then please get in touch with Rowena.

And one more volunteer is needed.  I have set Arthritis NZ up with their own Stash reHash blog site over on Wordpress.  As anyone who has set up and written a blog knows, it is quite a steep learning curve to get it all looking how you want it to and working properly.  If you are familiar with Wordpress and would be able to help out with setting up their blog, then please contact Angela Stevens at Arthritis NZ on or ph their office in Christchurch on 366 8383.

That alien fabric above is one of the few pieces left in my stash.  It is going to become a quilt for TheShortBloke in my house as I reckon that wherever you live, there'll be times when snuggling up on the couch under a quilt and watching a movie is exactly the correct course of action.

Pants pants

Somehow I have managed to get to the age where if I accidentally tied too many helium balloons to my deck-chair then reporters would describe me as "middle-aged",  yet I've only just learned some apparently old-hat sayings.

Until recently I thought "pants" only meant two-legged garment suitable for wearing when when climbing ladders, hanging upside-down or when all your skirts are in the wash.  Luckily I have hip young friends who inform me that "pants" has another far more interesting meaning.  Ever since learning the other meaning, I've ditched naff, stink and crapola like an ungrateful old bag for my new one and only rubbish-word; Yes, I've been wearing out "pants" with gay abandon.

Shopping malls: pants!
Moving ads on websites: pants!
Cup and Show Week (known in this household as Sup and Throw Week): pants!
Repair company that charged me 2x $85 hourly rates + 2x $22 travel charges for a job that took the tradesbloke less time to complete than it has taken me to type this line: pants!

But the most "pants" thing I deal with on a regular basis is my inability to just go to a shop and buy... pants!  See, this entire century, I have been unable to find trousers that actually fit me (Elastic waists don't count;  I have standards and I'm not "elderly", though according to reporters I probably will be next year).  My idea of heaven is being able to swan into a shop and find pants that not only fit me, but are also fashionable, flattering and comfortable.  Too much to ask?  It seems so.

It is a mystery to me how this has happened.   I am not a house-sized person.  I am not even home-unit sized.  I am just a normal sized person and I have been the same size the entire time I've been a grown-up (except for pregnancy 1 when I resembled a very short hot-air balloon and pregnancy 2 when I looked like an anorexic with a basketball shoved up my jumper).  I am not an odd-shaped person.  I have a waist and I have hips.  My waist is not freakishly small (it is bigger than my neck) but it is considerably smaller than my hips.  I suspect that this old-fashioned shape - which used to make pants shopping such an easy experience - is, in New Zealand, in 2010, the cause of my pants-buying problems.

The low-waisted trousers in favour for the early part of this century are a nightmare on me. Their "waistline" sits at the widest part of my body so there is a constant battle with gravity to keep them up.  After bouts of belt-induced sciatica I gave up on shop-bought pants and stuck to homemade pants and skirts.  As pant waistlines have risen again I've ventured back to the shops, but every pair I try on has enough fabric left flapping at the top that if I took in the waist I'd have enough fabric left over to make a matching bra top. The only pants I have tried on recently that fitted me were in the most expensive shop in Christchurch.  They were French, gorgeous and fitted like a glove.  I seriously considered selling the car complete with one of TheShortFolk to buy them, but instead went home empty-handed - and made a pattern and sewed myself some pants.

I've been reading my stash of vintage fashion books (to sell or to keep?) so envisaged some high-waisted, wide-legged sailor pants like vintage Chanel leisurewear.  I imagined wearing them with a small stripey T-shirt, an enormous sunhat, mental sunglasses and high wedge-heeled sandals.  The finished pants fit well and are very comfortable.  However they remind me not quite enough of Coco on a cruiseship, and a bit too much of my youngest sister - not as she is now but as she was as a four year old in the mid-1970s in her somewhat-mental favourite Mothercare pants. Sadly my new pants are a tad pants.

That's not my new pants pictured above.  Those mental numbers are from a comic strip advertisement in The Netherlands, found here on Neatorama.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Get out! (and about)

There is lots of interesting stuff happening in Christchurch over the next wee while to put in your diaries.  If you don't believe me then let me be your guide - just as I have guided dozens of visitors to Christchurch on my Sisters' Shopping Tours over the years.

Firstly, if your wardrobe would benefit from an injection of dishyness, then head to the Moa Pop-Up Shop, Sat 14th 10am-4pm and Sunday 15th from 10am-3pm at the top floor of Le Petit Apartment at 124 Lichfield St.  Those are Moa outfits pictured above and if you like to have a jolly good virtual rummage before you shop, then head over to Moa's website here.

Then head down the road to Galaxy Records at 110 Manchester St, hand over $10 and get yourself a ticket to next week's Pecha Kucha night.  Pecha Kucha Chch 08, Thursday 20th May, at Level 5, Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti, doors open 7.30pm / start 8.20pm.  If you are one of the few people left in the world thinking Whocha Whatcha?, then read all about it on the Pecha Kucha site here or their Facebook page here.  As usual a fantastic line-up of speakers and guaranteed to be the most interesting and entertaining $10 you'll ever spend (yes, I lead a very safe and sheltered life). 

One of the speakers you'll hear there is Kris Herbert of Swap-O-Rama-Rama fame.  She's organising another Swap-O-Rama-Rama event for 19th June (11am-4pm, Lyttelton Recreation Centre, Winchester St, Lyttelton).  By all accounts the first one was a great success, so now is the time to volunteer your services, get in for free and get first dibs on clothes! Swap-O-Rama-Rama is a non-profit event that survives on the strength of its volunteers. Just follow follow this link and sign up for a job that suits you - sewers, designers, screen printers, sorters and just help setting up and cleaning up. There's something for everyone!

And last but certainly not least,  A Craft Affair is being held on Sunday 11th July from 11am till 3pm at Our City O-Tautahi in Christchurch. Formerly known as Craft 2.0 Christchurch, this will be the sister event to The Night Market in December. If you are a shopper then mark it in your diary in red vivid marker (oops, texter) as this will be an event not to be missed.  And if you are a maker of gorgeous goods and fancy being a stall-holder then  hop over to the A Craft Affair website.  Stall-holder applications are open now, are limited in numbers, and close on 23 May.

Sadly I'm going to miss most of those as I'll either be busy having Open Homes , or they happen beyond the giant red vivid-marker line in my diary which denotes when my NZ life ends and my Australian life begins.  But I suggest you get out, make the most of these events, and by all means have fun.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Destashing - Stash reHash fabric market

Many years ago my daughter ripped open a birthday present.  The gift was a fancy ceramic moneybox in the shape of an anthropomorphised strawberry, with ceramic hands suspended from the body on springs. On seeing the gift, her younger brother cried out excitedly, "Scott Arms! Scott Arms! Scott Arms!", and this then became the object's name.  Well actually that is just what I heard thanks my dodgy hearing.  My family know to check that I haven't misheard them if I get over-excited by something they've said, before I inadvertently go spreading a far more interesting - but untrue - version of events.  So just as I spent many happy years imagining a svelte, maybe anorexic or possibly worm-riddled man while singing "Nine stone cowboy" instead of "Rhinestone Cowboy", so all my son actually said was "It's got arms".

Well Stash reHash could be renamed Scott Legs.  I've had many people contact me to ask when the next one is going to be or how to run one in their town.  Arthritis NZ made $4,600 on their stall at the last market and I'm very pleased to say that they are going to take over running the whole event.  Today I met with Ange and Rowena from Arthritis NZ to hand it over. My meeting today was a bit like what I imagine it is like on the day you change the locks and boot your ShortFolk out to make their own way in the world. I handed over my original sewn poster, my sewn bunting, instructions on how to run the event, notes about the many things I've learned along the way and instructions on how to get hundreds of people to an event on an advertising budget equivalent to the cost of 14 blocks of butter. 

The first event they'll be running will be in Ashburton and it won't be too far way.  As soon as the date is finalised I'll let you know here.  I'm also setting them up a new blog space and when all that is ready, I'll link through to it from here. I thought about it (for 2 seconds) and decided that this blog is going to end when I move to Australia.

One of the main reasons I started Stash reHash fabric market was because I became tired of waiting for various things I've greatly enjoyed in other cities to happen in Christchurch.  Since moving here I've missed many, many things.  I miss far more than just walks in the bush and seeing native birds.  I miss the chance to see contemporary dance on a regular basis.  I miss seeing contemporary object art and textile art exhibitions like those I've enjoyed at ObjectSpace, TheNewDowse, Pataka and various other galleries.  I miss the sorts of contemporary craft markets I go to when visiting other cities. I really miss the sort of theatre shows I was used to going to at Bats Theatre in Wellington. 

Yes, I had a wee moan. Then I decided that moaning is a bad look and to do two things. 

Firstly I decided to view the lack of certain things happening here as an opportunity and to do something about the ones I was capable of doing something about. I planned to have a go at running a small, no-risk event (Stash reHash) with a view to running another larger, ongoing event. Well now I'm leaving but I reckon someone else will seize that particular opportunity.

Secondly, I decided to really make the most of local events I am interested in.  So I cyber-bully friends into coming with me to exhibitions, talks by artists and writers, Pecha Kucha,  concerts and shows. And after many years of thwarted attempts to see The Butler, I am finally going. If outside you see two children locked in a car and puking into buckets, just move along, nothing to see here, Scott Nothingtodowithme.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Christchurch - The Garden City?

While standing around in our unusually clean and tidy open home on Saturday, lots of visitors commented that our home must be great for entertaining.  We said "Yes, it is".  Maybe we are easily led, but Ken Oath! and I then looked at each other, looked at our clean and tidy house, thought what a waste it would be not to make the most of it, then got straight on our various communication devices to invite friends to a Sunday afternoon post-open-home-knees-up.

This morning I've filled the yellow bin to overflowing with the resulting bottles, washed and dried all the Crown Crystal and reset the house to its unnatural, surely-only-a-bad-mother-could-have-such-a-tidy-home state. During the cleanup I found a packet of seeds that had arrived around the neck of an Allan Scott bottle of wine (very nice it was too).  The sentiment on the packet of native tree seeds -"planting for our future families"- made me think about one of the changes I'd love to see in Christchurch should I ever come back here.

I am not only a recovering fabricaholic, maker of textile goods and member of Overdressers Anonymous, but I am also a maker and admirer of gardens.  When we decided to move to "The Garden City" from Wellington ten years ago, I was excited at the prospect of perusing Christchurch gardens, exploring the Canterbury landscape and of possibly building a new garden. But what I found in the gardens and wild spaces of Christchurch and Canterbury was not at all to my liking. The let's-pretend-we-live-in-another-country style of garden so prevalent here didn't appeal to me in the slightest and certainly didn't fit with my idea of a New Zealand "garden city".

Just as I am not the slightest bit impressed by stunning-looking but functionally-hopeless design, so I am not impressed by showy gardens that use huge resources to build or maintain yet provide nothing apart from eye-candy in return. To me, these are the garden equivalent of having cupcakes and wine for dinner: great fun occasionally, but unsustainable and unhealthy if the norm.

My friends and family living in other urban centres around New Zealand not only have Tui in their gardens, but Kaka clambering on their rooves, Kereru pooping on their washing lines, Kotare stalking their fish-ponds and Ruru waking them in the night. They have native butterflies sunning themselves on their fences and skinks on their patios. Call me greedy, demanding and opinionated, but I won't be satisfied until Christchurch has all that too. Only then do I believe that Christchurch, New Zealand can truly call itself "The Garden City".

I admire gardens that a) look stunning, but are easily maintained with minimal resources, b) pull their weight by providing the gardener with food and, most importantly, c) make a positive contribution to the wider environment they are part of. My garden is the one patch of land I really have control over, and it makes sense to me to do my best here before I get my knickers in a twist about environmental damage happening in my city, country or world.

I love all the contemporary designer fabrics, home-wares, artworks and garments inspired by New Zealand flora and fauna that are currently so popular.  But I believe this design trend is just 100% Pure nostalgic nonsense unless we also all do our bit to ensure that the real flora and fauna actually has a chance of surviving. (The fabric pictured above is called Harakeke, is by artist Tim Main, can be found in various galleries and shops including Bolt of Cloth and the Christchurch Art Gallery shop where this print is also available as coasters, and it also hangs in my house.)

The city's native flora/fauna situation has improved during the ten years I've lived in Christchurch.  The council and various community groups are doing amazing work in the city.  But imagine the enormous difference it would make if every gardener in Christchurch also planted a few native plants. Imagine the difference farmers and life-style block owners could make to Canterbury eco-systems if they planted their shelter-belts with a self-maintaining band of mixed natives local to their area - rather than the waste-of-space species needing constant trimming that are currently so prevalent.

If you want to make a positive contribution to this city's eco-system via what you plant in your garden, then it isn't hard, it isn't expensive and you don't need much space.  Here is how to do it in a nutshell.

A)  Eliminate the negative.
Identify what is currently growing on your property and get rid of any pest plants. A great starting point is the Weedbusters site.

B)  Get informed.
The best few dollars I ever spent was buying a booklet called "Indigenous Ecosystems of Otautahi Christchurch" by Lucas Associates. It is still available from City Council Service Centres and is also available to borrow from the library.  (There are four booklets in the set covering various geographic regions of the city.) The council has also produced a variety of excellent pamphlets on attracting native birds to your garden and making wise choices about what to plant here.  The Banks Peninsula Tui Restoration trust have produced an nice, simple brochure called Tui tucker. The public library has a great selection of books on native plants.

C)  Start small / Doing anything is better than doing nothing.
If your preferred way to spend time in the garden is lying in a hammock with a book and a coffee, you can still provide excellent food sources for native birds by just planting a few key plants.  Plant them, mulch around them and leave them alone. Many of these plants will have the added benefit of ensuring that other useful plants will arrive in your garden for free via bird poo. I could write a book about best/favourite plants and many others have, but here I'm going to limit myself to my top ten plants.  You are big girls and boys so I'll leave you to find out more about these plants and where to plant them yourselves.
1. Wineberry/makomako Aristotelia serrata 
2. A Coprosma such as Karamu Coprosma robusta
3. A flax.  Either the smaller Mountain flax  Phormium cookianum or the larger Phormium tenax.
4. A Pseudopanax such as Fivefinger Pseudopanax arboreus
5. South Island Kowhai.  Sophora microphylla
6. NZ jasmine Parsonsia heterophylla.  Because butterflies go mad for it.
7. Wirenetting bush Corokia cotoneaster
8. Muehlenbeckia astonii. My favourite plant in the entire universe.  Like a beautiful, rusty, wire-netting sculpture. Makes a fabulous hedge and don't trim it.
9. Mahoe Melicytus ramiflorus
10. Cabbage tree Cordyline australis.  Don't go on about the leaves dropping and being annoying.  Just plant it at the back of the garden where leaf fall won't be an issue.

You'll be able to pick up all these plants from Trees for Canterbury and most will be only a couple of dollars each.  Small plants are great and often establish themselves better than bigger ones, especially on hilly or exposed sites.

You can stop here and climb back into your hammock, or you can...

D) Go mad
Learn lots about the indigenous eco-systems of Christchurch and Canterbury and plant masses of appropriate plants on your property.  Then volunteer your time and energy for one of the many community planting schemes.

That is it. Easy. And in just a few years time Christchurch could be a fantastic real New Zealand garden city.

For years I have potted up surplus native plants to give to friends.  I have a few plants left to destash.  If you would like them for your garden and are able to collect them, then please just email me on .