Category Archives: Henry


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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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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For Miss M, With Love.

Henry’s class have a student teacher at the moment and she’s been ‘dreamy’. (Not my word!) She wears the cutest op-shopped outfits, sings a lot and enthusiastically climbed mountains on school camp. Whimsical is the word I would probably use. I think she looks just like a sweet, old-fashioned china doll with a porcelain complexion to match.

Henry wanted to make a gift for her because tomorrow is her last day so we threw some ideas around and came up with this upcycled bag.

We used this tutorial pretty much word for word, just removed the batting and added a button loop and a cell phone pocket. The bag is made from an old jersey of my own, a floral curtain remnant and the leather handles off an op-shopped purse. It was tricky going at times because the woollen layers were very bulky but I used a walking foot and took it slowly.

The leather handles might just be my favourite part. Or maybe the leather coat button? Or even the fact that there is new life for this comfy old jersey I have worn and loved for years. I am crazy about this whimsical little bag and can hardly bear to give it away, no matter how dreamy Miss M may be.

So, as a consolation, I awarded myself Student of the Week and hung it in the Highlights frame so everyone could admire it for at least one more day.

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A big order of fabric arrived for me at school yesterday. Henry, dressed in a crispy new uniform, helped the caretaker to carry the heavy rolls into my classroom.

“So, lucky last eh?” said the caretaker, referring to Henry.
“Oh no,” I said. “There’s more coming tomorrow” referring to the fabric rolls.

“Exactly how many kids do you have” asked the incredulous caretaker?
“I thought we were talking about my fabric!” replied the embarrassed Tech teacher.
And we both had a good laugh.


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Plum Summer

One of the lovely things about living in our street is the plum trees that line it. In spring they are quite simply breathtaking. Then in summer there are the plums to eat or make into jam and fruit sauce.

Henry loves the plum trees and spends a good many summer evenings dragging a step ladder around the neighbourhood, filling buckets with the juicy fruit. Sometimes he offers plums to our neighbours. Sometimes he just sits in a tree and eats them.

So imagine his distress late last winter when a letter from the council fell into our mailbox, informing us the plum trees were scheduled for the chop. They were to be replaced by low-growing magnolias, already planted and thriving in the council nursery. Henry was devastated. Every day we rounded the corner on the way home from school, expecting carnage. But nothing. And eventually, after a month of nothingness, we stopped worrying, watched the plum trees blossom and dreamed about summer plums.

In late October, at our annual street party, talk quickly turned to plum trees and the truth came out. Everyone in our street hates the plum trees and the execution notice was the result of a 2 year letter-writing campaign. There were complaints about the branches hitting power lines, the mess on the footpaths and the clouds of flies that descend. The only reason the plum trees were still standing was because of one objection, one neighbour who likes the way the blossom looks. Everyone else was livid because the complainee lives in a back section and doesn’t even have a plum tree to clean up after!

So Henry has been on a mission this summer – to save as many plums as possible and to keep the mess off the footpath. And he has, by and large, succeeded. He has even converted some neighbours and Henry is not the only one to be seen on a summer evening filling a bucket with plums.

20130103-180619.jpg This is our favourite way to eat them, Rote Grutze which is like a red fruit sauce made with plums and strawberries and rhubarb. Brilliant with ice cream although I think this could be the last summer we get the plums for free. Our neighbours are pretty persistent.


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Star Struck

It was a bit of a crush in the reStart mall today – which we had expected because it was a public holiday AND a beautifully warm and sunny afternoon. What we didn’t expect were these signs on many doors:


We’d forgotten there were some celebrities in town. And while it was nice to see them – Prince Charles patted Henry on the head and Camilla said she liked his shirt – there was someone else that Henry was more interested in meeting. Lurking at the back of the entourage, looking very relaxed despite the serious guys in dark glasses, was one of Henry’s heroes:

20121116-215049.jpg Henry first wrote to John Key when he was 7 – he’d heard something on the radio that bothered him and then he found a snippet in the newspaper and so he wrote to tell John Key that he didn’t think it was fair that Ministers had several houses and holiday homes when some kids in his class didn’t even have one house. He added the relevant bit of the newspaper article to illustrate his point.

And John Key wrote back explaining his take on the matter and inviting Henry to write again. And because letters to the Prime Minister don’t require a stamp, Henry did. Sometimes with his important political opinions but also with running records of his day, stories he had written and interesting snippets of school gossip. His most recent letter began “Dear John Key. Today you made my teacher cry…”


Once they’d got past the nice weather and the burnt hand, the conversation went something like this;

“I’m Henry by the way. Do you remember my letters?”

John Key gazes briefly into the distance and then ” Of course. You’re Henry. Yes, I’m pretty sure I do.”

Boom. Henry flushes pink. Gulps. Conversation falters.

“He likes that you always write back,” I chip in. “Proper letters.”

“Oh yes,” says John Key. “I always write back if boys and girls take the time to write to me. So I guess I’ll hear from you again soon then, Henry?”

Dopey nod. Starry eyes. Swoon. And John Key leans down and tickles Henry under the chin just before his security boffins move him off down the mall.


I hope Mr Key understands that, at Henry’s school, he is still held up as an example of how far a boy from this very area of Christchurch can climb if he works hard. He might even take the time to really read one of Henry’s letters and understand that a desire for social justice isn’t just confined to grown ups in offices and kids really can have strong opinions on the way the country is being run.

I teased Henry about missing the perfect opportunity to ask John Key not to close his school but Henry was more thoughtful.
“I think it would be better if I wrote,” he said


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