Saturday, 30 July 2011

Saving Grace

When you think back to when you were young (for some of us that is longer ago than others I know!) did you like the same stuff that you do now? It's quite an interesting question really. When I was 17 & I left home I went to Wellington to the School for Dental Nurses. For the first year we lived in "The Glen", a wonderful old brick building in Kelburn that had been housing trainee Dental Nurses for over 50 years. Sadly, we were to be the final draft to live there. I loved living in this gracious building.
   Even then, I filled some old tin cans with dirt & ferns from up the back of the hostel & kept them in my room. And there were flowers to pick from the gardens & two old fat cooks that made wonderful old-fashioned meals & who snored so loudly they never heard us sneaking in to the pantry in the middle of the night for leftovers...especially the bread & butter pudding that was made in huge baking trays!
I would walk for hours around Wellington hunting for vintage finds & old fabric in my jandals (thongs, flip, flops) & on the weekend I would head off to Victoria Street Market looking for loveliness, wandering through the Botanical Gardens on the way & stopping at the wholefoods shop & fruiterers. Many times I would carry a banana box all the way home, up & down a million stairs, until I thought that my arms would fall off before I got there! After buying the essential item of an old potty I then bought a Singer treadle sewing machine. It only went forwards but the stitching quality was so much better than the modern machines will ever be.
Of recent months, through my engagement with Pinterest, I have been quite intrigued to find that I still love exactly the same things as I did back then. Through the years it has been fairly thrashed into us in one way or another that we should always be thinking of others first. I really wish someone had told me sooner, that the more we work out who we are, the more content we are likely to be & more able to give of ourselves to others. I have become quite fascinated with the huge personality variations that I see expressed through something as simple as a personal online scrapbook. Even the titles of people's boards tell a story...I laughed & laughed at "Yo Momma is Pinteresting"! I think it would be a worthwhile exercise for anyone to have a go at Pinterest even just for a week or two & would certainly help a child to figure out a bit better the things that interest them & even maybe their passions...chances are those things won't change that much through the years.
Before Pinterest I began making know the old-fashioned sort where you rip stuff out of magazines & stick pictures in to a blank book. No wonder I had kept an article entitled "Saving Grace" from a New Zealand magazine from a year or two ago. The story still makes my heart sing!
It is the tale of a wonderful woman from Nelson called Sue Bevin, who, when she was four cut up her bedspread & shortened her curtains when she was supposed to be having a nap! When Sue's only son Marcus died at the age of 29, suffering from severe back pain & insomnia she began to sew. She says "I was drawn to create so I took clothes from my wardrobe & from op shops then renovated & lavished decoration on them".
Soon after her son died a friend asked Sue if she would foster a needy baby. At first she said no, but eventually caved & has since fostered 11 children. What a lovely combination, salvaged clothes & rescued children. Many of the children's dresses she makes have 3 or 4 layers & she likes to put "something exciting"- a secret pocket, a snippet of embroidery, a hidden swirl of lace - on each layer."
As a teenager Sue wanted to be an artist but her mother told her that artists were beatniks. So she went nursing instead. In 1989 Sue did some Volunteer Service Abroad in Samoa assessing needs & running sewing classes. "In the villages there were sewing machines donated by the United States Navy after WWII. By chance a Burmese engineer was stationed in Apia & he taught her how to take a sewing machine apart & fix it & make new knobs from Coca-Cola bottle caps".
 The beautifully dressed girls are from left to right named Porche, Ella & Madeleine.

Earlier this year I found this divine 1950's dress on trade me. It doesn't actually quite fit..oh you mean that size 12! But I adore it non-the-less.

 A sudden very cold spell, much snow in other parts of the country, gave me just the excuse to wear my lovely old velvet spring green coat last week.
I have been saving one or two pretty cups to make in to pin cushions but then I saw this cute idea on Pinterest..a cup in a cup. Works nicely.
 A rather sallow "English Garden" but still valiantly blooming through the winter.
 Winter roses (the other kind) immediately droop if picked with stems but will happily float all week in water like this.
 The angels enjoyed a wash & hanging about on a sunny Thursday afternoon.

 What a delightful find this lovely picture was yesterday out at The Mart in Havelock North.  
Yes indeed, my love of vintage things has surely been my saving grace too.
I am so glad for all that I have right now...more would truly not be more.
Lovely to see you.
 Hope that your week is filled with simple beauty & contentment.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Grasping Wholesomeness

Wholesomeness is easy when you live a vintagey lifestyle. That's why I love this "Good" magazine of "ours"'s so full of simple wholesome goodness & great ideas. Not just green living or sustainability but catchy, funky informed inspiration, that if we all grasped just a little of & practiced those things, our own communities would be great places to live in no time. They are not new-fangled, technologically snazzy concepts, just good old-fashioned commonsense...mainly.
This is true.
 We can keep this memory alive by embracing the art of neighbourliness even if these days we er on the side of decency in our motivation rather than dire necessity.
I love wilderness spaces, empty sections are fairly rare in the city but we have one just up the road so I have been sliding past the no trespassing signs to pick these lovely red camelias & trailing tendrils of fragrant jasmine. They looked lovely sitting with the sweet gift & card from our grateful neighbours on Tuseday when they popped in to say thanks for helping out late one night when they had a wee bit of an unexpected family event recently.
 I am frequently amazed when I come across adults who have no sense of the changing seasons. When you think about it, every indigenous culture on the planet has a sense of the seasons or the annual milestones that mark the rhythm of their corporate lives & they all have a heritage of respect & dependence on the land. In our urbanized, technofied lifestyles we fancy ourselves more sophisticated, richer. I wonder?  I came across this book on Pinterest this week.
Saving our children from Nature Deficit Disorder! (don't you love that!) Sounds thought provoking.
The premise is that we all NEED beauty...absolutely! "Good" puts it this way:

I wonder how many of us have simply lost our inquisitive bone (it can sometimes be found quite near the funny bone)...we wore it out with over...stimulation!
When we walked together last week we came to the end of the road & looked up to see this WOW
 This is true..except for tornados!

 Aren't these three so cute, just hanging out in nature..probably catching cockabillies. Do you remember the velvet brown of those reed heads. Do they have a proper name?
via tumblr
A hat is good to keep the chill out. I found this one at St Vinny's. Some one was so kind as to have done the knitting for me so that I could happily sew on my crocheted flowers. The hat..for my wee niece I should think.
What is it about "getting" a double yoker..always gives me a thrill!
 We made the yummiest salad this week using all these lovely things from the garden even daylily flowers & violets..delicious.
 Apparently these flags came from an old garage..what a great idea in the vege patch.
 picture from an old gardening mag
Retro organics have been around for a little while here now. I love their marketing style.
 It's a strange old thing making dinner for myself most nights just now. Lucky I love veges. I was so excited to see EARTH GEMS back at Bellatinos & New World this week. They are so colourful & interesting for the middle of winter & they were delicious just like this for my tea tonight.

 Funny, I have boys who love veges too. Fynn & his Dad wrote this poem just the other day. The other kids copied there's from a book but these two had no trouble at all inventing this passionate accolade to veges.

Veges & Me.

Since when I was born, my Dad he has fed,
me full of good food to grow clever he said.
Like parsnips, and carrots and onions and leek,
beetroot and cabbage, cucumbers each week.
Salads of lettuce, pumpkin that’s roasted,
a diet of veges with sourdough toasted.
Peppers I like but eggplants I love,
As if they’ve been sent down from heaven above.
One time he made, just last week I’d seen,
the most glorious pie full of things that were green.
Bright red tomatoes, a handful of herbs,
with fresh hand-made pasta for dinner, superb.
No chickens, or pigs, or birds that can fly,
no sheep and no cows will pass my plate by.
For everyday when it comes to things eaten,
I promise you now, veges can-not be beaten!!

Shared with permission from Fynn & Matt.
Now wouldn't you just love to go here...I bet they love veges too!
Hope you have a week full of delicious veges & other fabulous food.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Mrs Plumply And The Beeswax

I don't know about you but I adore honey; fragrant, golden liquid ambrosia.
 We arrived home to the most wonderful gift in the world last Saturday. Bees business on the door step...from a brother who lives on a diversely, productive farm out the back of the "Tuki" & who also happens to keep bees.
 The two mats are full of a very sticky mixture of wax & propolis. Separating the two could be a little trickier than I thought but I'm working on it!
 Propolis has wonderful antiseptic & healing properties. And the wax I melt together with olive oil to make a polish with a thousand uses. I came across a recipe for an olive oil & lemon juice concoction seems to work very nicely (smells good). Have you ever tried it? What did you think?
I've been coming upon rainbows all week. These were made by the low winter sunshine, shining through the prisms in our bedroom.
 Aren't they beautiful..
 Do you remember the garden beds that Katie put me on to a couple of weeks ago? Well here is my little version for the winter..
A couple of weeks ago we went to an upmarket vintage sale out on Napier Road. Interesting enough, but just a tad Lardy Whoup for me. However, outside, I did happen to find this old milk can. Isn't it brilliant & at more of a garage sale price too. What shall I do, paint it or leave it as it is? 
 I also bought two of these Italian planters (the top oblong one) which is perfect for right here.
There are some things that I find you just never come across in our op shops in New Zealand, vintage enamelware being one of them. So I was delighted to find this wonderful large bowl that I bought on Trade Me on my doorstep, bundled up in cardboard yesterday morning. Lemons seemed a perfect thing to put in to it. But... 
some people had other plans & quite soon the lemons were unceremoniously replaced with dates.
 What a grand idea for a chilly winters Saturday morning.. wholemeal date scones. I love this bowl!
 They really don't take long,
 leaving just enough time to make butter curls.
 No, we didn't eat them all at once...tempting though! Would you like one?
This morning as we walked over to feed Anna's dear wee cat Paikia we came around the corner to find  a "public swing"..I was very tempted to stop & have a turn.
There have been rainbows in the sky & rainbows in the night. When I stepped outside about 11.30 last night I found a full rainbow around the moon. Mr Astronomy tells me it's called a there you go! My poor little overworked camera did it's valiant best but was unable to capture the full spectrum for was an amazing sight.
 Having been useless at growing orchids, but ever keen to have another go, I was most startled to venture down the back this morning & find this lovely in full bloom under the kindly shelter of a palm tree.
 I found these two treasures in one of my gardens this week.
 Like Charlie (the borrowed cat) this elderly rhododendron belongings next door but the pleasure of it is spread around.
 I think the angel's were giggling too much when they painted this camelia & had a little painty accident.
 The big tidy up goes on...and ON! We put some old floral carpet in a wardrobe & discovered the smallest patch of very old wallpaper right in the corner on the back wall that has escaped all efforts of coverup through the years.
 At the Mart the other day I also found this fun vintage tin.
 I am so glad that I was reminded of my lovely book Apples for Jam by seeing the delicious lavender shortbread & apricot coulis made over at Millefleuilles last week. What a delight this book is & how gorgeous the shortbread looked!
 The front cover announces "RECIPES FOR LIFE"...lots & lots of vintagey, innovative, colourful pictures.
On the opposite page is this lovely memory:
"There is children's laughter escaping out through the iron gates and past the oleander and daffodils, sprinkling on to the just-cut lawns that line the road and fluttering up to me through my open window, falling over my shoulders like fairy glitter. And that atmosphere of sleeping head to tail in trains and on holiday, and knocking on walls to see if others are awake."

I am having a little bit of trouble taming my sewing's a very small room & it has a bed in there too. I am most fortunate to have a sewing room I know. A useful step in the mastering process was to find these vintage shelves. What do you think? I may have to cajole "He Who Has The Folding Gene" in to giving me some assistance & I simply shant show you the mess on the other side... that would put you off your tea.
 I have found myself two painted sewing machine draws which I am rather fond of & had thought that perhaps a third might be quite I asked very nicely if "He Who Has The Folding Gene" might like to donate one of his garage draws to a happy cause? I was fairly surprised that quite smartly he returned bearing the extra draw....after all he didn't really need sooo many draws to store all those nails & screws bits & bobs did he!
Only thing is, he had pinched one from here!!
In the corner I have made a nice stack of vintage suitcases. I am thinking that labels might be useful..then I won't have to open each one to find the.....lace!
 Oh, now, Mrs Plumply....yes she came to stay a little while ago & I didn't mind at the time because I thought that she would be heading off again quite soon, but to my horror she has made herself right at home & announced that she rather likes it here! Humph!!! I am not impressed, so if she never knocks on your door my best advice is don't let her in!!
My curvy little friend here is one of my favourite finds. Why on earth is there a lion on your coffee pot you may well ask?? Well Simba is the signal. You see one morning I came out & presumed that Rob had sorted the coffee pot as he usually does, put it on, & went off to have a shower, but oh dear, oh dear there was nothing in my sweet pot & the rubber seal was soon a molten mess. Fortunately, months later, all has been restored & my little poppet whistles on another day. If Simba is on the top keeping guard we are all set to go..I still check every time now though!
 This was the scrummiest idea I found in a magazine recently..baked apple crumbles.
 Wishing you a sweetly scented week. Thank you so much for visiting & your kind & lovely comments. I do so appreciate you all.

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