I Can’t Believe We’re Back Here Again.

How many “New Normals” can one city deal with before everyone just throws up their hands and says “That’s it, I resign.” Eight years later and we’re still hiding under the tables in our classrooms.


The same blankets and quilts comforting a new batch of students taking refuge from the chaos outside.


Paradise has never been more Lost.

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As a general rule, Golden Bay is sunny and breath-taking and beautiful and, well, golden.

But even when it’s not, we’re still rather glad we came.



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A very early start. Spring flowers, a hat from Chile and lots and lots of cookies.

A magical day on the slopes with lots of daredevil jumps.

Finished with a lovely dinner and the traditional flaming cake to cap it off.

Happy Birthday Wozza.


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Finish-Off Friday.

We’ve been finishing things off all week but today was the end of it. As usual, a pile of cute beanies and our latest crush, vinyl.

A plan begins like this. There are a couple of pages of technical stuff and then the all-important first sketch. I must admit I thought “Whaaaaaat?”
when I first saw this but I’m pleased I let him run with it…

Because the final Magikarp Pokemon was so unbelievably cute. The photo does not do it justice.

A simple request to “bling up my boring brown” was met with a storm of ideas which ultimately led to Andrew’s Elemental Earwarmer. He did the appliqué himself.

20130823-181740.jpg One of the most gorgeous children in the universe who gets all my jokes, snapped leaving school today.

Dino-buddies. Rather pleased with their spiky heads.

I’m so happy I managed to source some reasonably priced vinyl in licorice all sort colours because it made the coolest pouches:

As well as the coolest pencil cases:

And quite possibly the coolest wallets ever:

And now that’s all done, it’s my turn. I’m planning a while lot of simple, soothing, straight-line quilting while my family is off skiing this weekend.


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When your coffee screams at you in the morning…



You should probably just go back to bed.

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Sifting Through the Dross.

Op shopping has been a bit rubbish lately. Lovely fabrics are thin on the ground and vintage linens practically non-existent. Everywhere I went yesterday, shops were being repaired, had moved somewhere else or simply vanished altogether. It wasn’t fun. I called into Tasman Traders since it was on the way home – they usually have a small selection of slightly overpriced retro fabrics, many of them truly ugly – but you never know. I found this scrunched up piece of fabric which I thought was overpriced at $10…

Until I got it home and ironed it and realised that there was nearly 5 metres of fabric. And it’s not ugly retro, it’s truly beautiful vintage rayon. Delicious blue and purple tulips with gold splashes looking like they’d been crayonned onto the sketchy gray background.

I usually default to a tried and true Kwik Sew pattern for vintage rayon but perhaps I should branch out into this Academy pattern passed on by my MIL who wore it in the 1950s. Looks perfect for cycling don’t you think?


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My New Love.

After being teased for years about being allergic to exercise, it has actually given me great pleasure to join the ranks of City commuters cycling to work. And this is the reason why:

My Daily 1 Step-Through. In mint green. With a wicker basket. Isn’t she gorgeous! When I’m cruising along in the cycle lanes, sitting up straight with my hands on the wide handle bars, I can hardly wipe the grin off my face. She makes cycling such a joy! No matter that I was actually overtaken yesterday by a boy on a scooter, I was the one having the most fun.

The basket clicks right off and I can take it into my classroom. It holds my lunch bag and my marking perfectly. The first thing I did when I got it home (after riding right across town and through Hagley Park in the dark) was to sew a basket liner. And then another one. And then a fancy one with handles. And finally, this one with a gingham band and a checkered drawstring top which you can whip right out of the basket and take into the shops.

20130808-124622.jpgAnd then there is the fun of cycling fashions. I was a little chastised when I read one of my favorite cycling blogs recently and the author firmly lectured about the point of riding a bike being to save the planet, not to star in photo shoots, and that baskets should be practical additions not fashion accessories. Surely there is room for both.

Pink checked pencil skirt made from a vintage woollen fabric.
Purple jersey from Nurse Maude.
Pink silk scarf and red belt from the Sallies.
Black Overland boots.
Basket liner in linen and pink retro fabrics all my own work.


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Thrifting…Saving Small Boys One Visit At A Time.

Henry has just finished his Food Tech rotation at school and on the last day he made a great mix-and-match cookie recipe which he was keen to try again at home. I got out the vintage mixer, the sifter and the flour shaker and left him to it. Ten minutes later Henry came sobbing and hiccuping into the room where I was working. “I broke it!” he wailed. My first thought was damn those glass bowls are hard to find but it turned out to be a bit funnier than that:

20130531-222340.jpg The rubber scraper had got itself caught in the beaters, been pulled right through them both and they were fairly well destroyed. Munted, to be a lot more precise. Once I stopped laughing, I suggested a trip to the Sallies where I promised we would have no trouble finding replacement beaters.

20130531-222906.jpg It didn’t surprise me that we saw the beaters mere seconds after walking through the door but ( and this is one of the reasons I keep on op shopping) it did kind-of shock me into stunned silence when I saw that they were sitting in a large glass mixing bowl. In tip top condition. For four dollars. In your face, evil rubber scraper!

I love my vintage mixer – it’s older than I am and it still runs like a dream. Andrew picked it up for me in a garage sale years ago and it has lots of the original attachments including a juicer, a mincer and a vitamiser which makes great smoothies. It’s now also back on track to make great cookie dough.


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Plums, Part 2.

It seems the battle was lost but the war has finally been won by local residents.

There will be no more plums this summer. Our trees are being axed on Tuesday.

And replaced with low-growing magnolias. Henry was quite philosophical…and accepted that was one letter-writing campaign he was never going to win. And magnolias, well they’ll look really pretty in the spring.

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It’s all about keeping warm… boy has it been frigid in the Garden City recently. Wool, wool and more wool.

Luckily my classroom is toasty warm but today I’m still wearing a few merino layers underneath, just in case. This jacket is one of my favourite jackets of all time. I inherited it years and years ago from a stylish great aunt and about every 5 years I bring it out and give it another go round.

It’s a lovely warm brown wool, nipped in at the waist, with a soft leather collar, leather buttons and bound leather buttonholes. I’m certain my stylish great aunt would have bought it from Ballantynes in the early 70’s. She lived in the country and bought most of her clothes there on account. I remember her as always being perfectly made-up and impeccably dressed, despite living and working on the family sheep station. Today I’m wearing her jacket with a pair of tailored Jigsaw pants and black ankle boots. Jewellery is a simple cameo brooch.

And accessorized with my favourite new bag. I had something similar saved on Pinterest so I made my own version in fabrics I had at home including a thrifted green woollen, some chintz from the Red Cross and a long brown leather belt. The cascade of flowers with vintage buttons was great fun to make.

It’s widely admired wherever it goes.

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