Category Archives: Summer

Ranger Tim

It’s that time of the year again. We arrived home from Akaroa to find this written on the notice board in the kitchen:

And you know what that means, don’t you? A textile takeover! The sewing room appears to have exploded outwards into the rest of the house. The dining table is covered in sewing machines – who needs to eat? There are half-cut quilts on the living room floor – well go live in another room. The ironing board has taken up permanent residence in the kitchen – so wear your polyester shirts already. Oh and watch where you step. There are pins and needles out to get you.

I would add a photo but the chaos is just plain embarrassing.


Filed under Family, Summer

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.


Filed under Henry, Summer


It was a murky old day at the beach. Reminded me of a poem I learned as a kid – “The sea is a hungry dog, giant and grey…” It was wild and choppy with a mist of salty sea spray. The Port Hills were completely obscured.


This poor person had to work on Christmas Day. There were not exactly crowds to keep an eye on. I think I managed to get everyone who was swimming in this actual photo.


Despite the grey, murky, choppy, misty day, it was warm at the beach and the kids were in and out of the sea for hours. The current was quite strong which made paddling out hard and the offshore winds were very changeable, but there was enough surf to be able to say “Guess what I did on Christmas Day?”



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Filed under Christchurch, Family, Summer

Yes, yes, I know there’s only 1 more sleep til Santa and I’ve left my sewing til the last minute. Again.


In my defence, school finished late…and I was really tired – it’s been a heck of a year…and I needed a few days to sleep…and then I got a cold…

But today was sewing day.

I started off with a collection of rolled rose brooches in natural linen and lace. I didn’t photograph them before they were wrapped but mine look exactly like these ones. Truly. And then there was the Sew Together Bag. Living as I do at the Bottom of the World, I’m quite sold on PDF patterns – no international postage and immediate delivery right into my inbox. I was taken with this bag when I first saw it on Pinterest and I’ve had the pattern waiting for when I finally felt ready to sew.

It came together like a dream and as every step was completed I got more and more excited. There are 3 internal zip pockets and 4 open pockets. There is a little needle book and a teeny pincushion. There is a large zip with a contrast binding and a zipper tab to close it all up. It looks so complicated and yet it wasn’t.

IMG_6208I kept yelling for Sophie to Come and see, Come and see as another step worked to perfection. The measurements were spot on and I managed to understand the instructions all by myself. (Often Sophie has to set me straight when I really don’t get something.) This bag will be for my MIL but after Christmas, I’m going to make one for everyone else I can think of. It made me feel so clever to sew a bag that looks as professional as this one does.


Tomorrow there will be carol singing at church, brunch at home with the rellies and hopefully, if the weather holds, a bit of a surf in the afternoon. Just like last year. And the year before. Meri Kirihimete from ours to yours.


Filed under Family, Sewing, Summer

Made It.

School is finally done. I’ve brought home my chocolate stash and my wine stash and my soap stash and Henry’s teacher seems happy with the addition to her coffee stash.

We made her a tote from one of the coolest coffee bean sacks and lined it with just about the last scrap of my coffee canvas fabric. The sacking is really difficult to sew, being so coarse and quite loosely woven but if you shoot it full of steam, you can sculpt it into quite stable shapes. The tote looked kinda sad with nothing in it so, despite knowing she would be inundated with festive food, we added some fancy coffee, some nice cookies and a mug full of chocolates.

And then there was the end-of-school tradition of a trip to the forest to choose our Christmas tree.

And finally, calling in at the pharmacy on the way home to buy antihistamines for those of us allergic to pine trees but who wouldn’t have Christmas any other way.

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Filed under School, Summer

In The Neighbourhood

Seen while walking home today:

20121123-185820.jpgGosh, really?

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Filed under Summer


Golden sunset.

Rather stunning actually.


Filed under Christchurch, Summer


I’ve had a bit of a revelation. By complete chance, when I found myself on an unfamiliar road on the other side of town, I realised I was headed towards a specialist vintage kind-of shop that’s always getting great write-ups in the paper. One that I’d always wanted to visit. So I seized the chance and called in.

Yes, they had a shelf of vintage fabric for sale in all kinds of textures and colours. In skirt lengths and dress lengths. Matching buttons in jars nearby. Buckles and belts and trims. But I realised with a start that my shelf of vintage fabric at home was prettier. And my buttons just as matching. And my lace actual family heirlooms.


Yes, there were some lovely vintage dresses hanging up. In a variety of beautiful fabrics and from many different eras. I tried a couple on but they didn’t quite fit. I realised with a laugh that I have every style of vintage dress pattern in my sewing nook at home. And they’re all in my size.


I just need to trust myself. Stop saving the fabric for something special because every day is special. Stop waiting for a reason to make up one of my old patterns because every day I have the opportunity to be a bit original. In pretty dresses that fit.

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Filed under Sewing, Summer

Red Stuff

Rote Grutze. One of Lena’s recipes which loosely translates as red stuff all cooked up together.


One kg of rhubarb, plums and strawberries from our garden. All organic I guess because we don’t spray anything.


200g sugar added plus 2 tablespoons of cornflour blended with half cup of water. Slowly brought to the boil and cooked gently for 4 minutes.


Simply perfect served over vanilla ice cream. Lena with us always.


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Filed under Cooking, Summer

Time for School.

Even though it’s not really, today is the last day of my holidays. Tomorrow I’m heading back to my classroom to prepare for the new school year. The first job will be tidying my store cupboard. I should do this anyway but the job became a necessity on the day before Christmas when an earthquake threw all my shelves onto the floor. I checked the mess on Boxing Day and then quietly closed the door. Earthquakes ensured my storeroom got a regular tidy up last year. Start as you mean to go on I guess!

I did spend a good chunk of my holiday time op-shopping. Op shops are harder to find in Christchurch these days – so many have fallen over, been relocated or simply disappeared. My friend Ann was staying for a few days so we bribed the older kids to watch the younger ones and we spent a mad morning fossicking. I bought lots of men’s business shirts, now washed and pressed and ready to go. I have a plan for some Year 8 craftiness.

Ann spotted a St Vinnies in an obscure strip of shops so we zipped into a park and went to investigate. The shop was closing down and selling 5 things for $1. I walked out laden down with pure woollen suits in heathery colours, warm winter jersies and thick padded jackets and I felt like a thief. $2 for so much goodness. Normally I’d buy those jersies for felting but they were all in tip top condition. I wore one camping.

So back to real life. It was golden summer.


Filed under School, Sewing, Summer