25 February 2015

R.I.P. Ethel (and HELLO Zippy Mr Terrabyte)


You can't tell, but right now I'm coming to you live from a brand new computer.
Ethel, my old dinosaur, finally gave up the ghost and refused to stay on for longer than 30 seconds, so she had to go.

Ethel has been a part of the family since before Scrag was a twinkle in his daddy's eye.
I started my blog on Ethel, and wrote almost every single post in my lengthy bloglife from her (except the ones where I blogged from exotic destinations like England and China). Every article I excitedly submitted to parenting mag was created on good old Ethel along with my Christmas book, my Etsy shop and every party, printable and invitation  I ever created. I was rather scared that when Ethel died she'd take all my precious files with her... (but thankfully a computer whizz retrieved them and saved me).

I should have known it was time to put Ethel out to pasture when I got the warning from Microsoft that Windows XP would no longer be supported as of a year ago. Yeah, that's right. Windows XP circa 2006. Even my Photoshop was a vintage 2007 Trial version.

Ethel was eight years old - which is about a century in computer years.

After such loyal and lengthy service, Ethel earned her rest, She's now gone to that e-Waste site in the beyond... and I have a shiny new hard-drive with room for ALL my photos, all my Photoshop documents and a brand new version of Photoshop.
Eek! The luxury of having more than one window open at a time! The bliss of knowing your computer won't suddenly switch off in the middle of a sentence...

All this by way of an explanation as to where I've been these past days. I've been computerless, actually, while I waited for Ethel's younger, sleeker replacement.

Actually it's just the guts that have been renewed.

The kids came home excited to see "the new computer" and stared, disappointed at the same old screen and keyboard. (They'll be replaced when they stop working. There's no retirement before death round here).

I was happy to have a prime example to illustrate what I've been trying to tell them for years: it's what's on the inside that counts!

On the inside of my zippy new computer is a terrabyte of memory. I didn't even know what that was. It's a million megabytes, apparently. Should last a while...??!

Anyway I thought I'd just check in, say hi, Let ya know I'm back, equipped with a brand new story-keeper and photo-holder; stories are oozing out my pores, itching to be told.

Now where to begin....? (give me a couple of days to figure stuff out. I'll be back real soooooon...)

....................

P.S. While I was computerless Instagram kept me connected (my favourite social media app). Photos up top include random gratuitous food shots, proud mama moments and the beginning of my foray in to SEWING. Follow me on IG here 
13 February 2015

Bedroom DIY // A Room to Grow With


 For Christmas this year just gone, my girl asked for a bedroom makeover.

"Mum," she said, "I would really love to do up my room. My bedroom was cool when I was six, but I'm ten now and I really need a room I can grow with..."

In my mind it was only recently I'd done up her room in her then-favourite colours of green, pink and aqua, painting a magnet wall that was a mural of rolling hills... but actually it was over four years ago. And there is a huge difference between a little girl of six and a big girl of ten.


 What she wanted now was a room that was monochrome-cool. Black and white with tiny touches of pink. A room to grow with. She had me at "chalkboard wall"...

[ Black Chalkboard paint from Bunnings. A 500ml tin did the whole wall ]

It was a crazy time leading up to Christmas, and I didn't accomplish much more than painting the chalkboard wall and putting the first coat of white on one wall.

Oh and I also gave her tired old desk a spruce up with a can of mis-tinted charcoal enamel paint I spotted at Resene ($8) and some new black glass knobs from Bed, Bath and Beyond ($5 each on Sale)....

DESK DIY: A light all-over sand followed by two coats of water-based enamel applied with a small roller for an even matt finish; The wobbly old chair was originally from TWH. We removed the back and covered the seat with fluffy fabric from Geoffs Emporium.

Everybody knew what to get Miss Fab for Christmas: Room accessories in Black and White.

Really, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves (I found a burst of DIY energy on the Boxing Day and completed the room by 4pm)...

Blackboard Letter "A" and wooden name letters from Typo; Woven heart lights, zebra throw, microfibre duvet set and black floor rug from Bed, Bath & Beyond; Zigzag bean bag from KMart; Cushions from The Warehouse; Existing mirror, curtains, lamp, furniture and accessories re-used & upcycled

To say we are super stoked with the result of this room makeover would be an understatement. It's fantastic. It's stylish. It's fun. It's flexible. It truly is a room to grow with.

Just one more thing needs to be said, a moment which was, for me, the icing on the cake.

On Christmas morning after Miss Fab had opened her various bedroom-accessory gifts, I handed her the final package: two framed black n white prints for her wall.


They weren't expensive gifts, they were pretty much homegrown. The frames were scored from the Bed Bath and Beyond pre-Christmas sale for the princely sum of $11 each. The prints I had made myself, typesetting my daughter's favourite saying for one, and finding an image of a dancer's silhouette for the other. They were printed on A4 paper at Warehouse Stationery for an earth-shattering .20c each.

Like I said, not expensive gifts. But something told me she would love them.
Well.

Christmas morning, this final package was opened and there was a gasp. It was the silhouette print on top, the dancer which looked so like my flexible daughter, it could actually be her.


"Oh mum! I love it! Oh...!" There was a tremor in her voice and tears in her eyes.
Then she saw the second print: "Keep Calm and Dance On..."
The floodgates opened, she fell apart, sobbing.
My jaw dropped as she hugged me, her whole body shaking with sobs.
I mean, I thought (I hoped) she'd like these prints, but never in my wildest dreams could I have anticipated such a response???!! BEST. GIFT. RESPONSE. EVER.



So there you have it. One very happy ten year old girl, one very satisfied mama and a room to grow with.

MY OTHER DIY ADVENTURES

P.S. I've been very busy lately with DIY projects small and large.
Coming soon to a blog near you: Bathroom Makeover, Hallway Makeover, and Scrag's bedroom mini-makeover among others...!

DIY SPECIFICS: White wall paint = Half Sea Fog from Resene (a slightly greyish white, so not too stark); Blackboard paint from Bunnings (a 500ml tin did the entire wall, just); Furniture was re-painted white, using Quarter Thorndon Cream water based enamel left over from Kitchen makeover; charcoal paint used on desk was a water-based enamel found on the mis-tint pile at Resene for $8. I applied the paint on the furniture using a small (mini) roller which was super quick and gave a very even finish with no brush strokes.
09 February 2015

The Best Little Country in the World is my Home


Sometimes it takes a fresh perspective to realise what you've got. This summer we have been playing New Zealand tour guides, showing our aunty and uncle from England the glories of our little country. This amazing, beautiful unique country that I can so easily take for granted...


The clean water and stunning scenery. The green grass and warm sunshine. The easy-going friendly Kiwis who just love to welcome newcomers and show them why NZ really is Godzone (i.e. God's Own Country).




Our barefooted children (apparently if kids walked to school in bare feet in England like they do here, social services would be called and it would be neglect, but here we call it FREEDOM).

Our lack of pretension and the way we all dress so casually EVERYWHERE, and how this is normal. And no one looks at you funny for slopping about in shorts and "jangles" (hehe, Aunty Irene, it's "Jandals" i.e. "Japanese Sandals").



The way we can all swim. Everyone. Ever heard of a Kiwi who can't swim? Me neither. Another thing we take for granted.



Our deliciously warm-but-not-too-hot summers. (And this one's been particularly good after a rather shaky start. But we won't mention December).



We have been wanting family from England to come and see our little slice of paradise for years, but it's such a long way, only Grandma was willing to make the journey... until now. 
Hubby's Aunty and Uncle planned what they thought would be a once-in-a-lifetime trip this summer, and we knew we had to pull out all the stops, make them fall in love with the place so they'll go home raving about it and MORE rellies will come visit.

Our plan is working - they are besotted. And even talking about maybe coming back and seeing the South Island next time...



They've been to Waiheke Island, Taupo, Rotorua, Mt Maunganui, Pauanui/Coromandel, Back to Auckland, spent a day on a boat moored off Motutapu and now have headed up to the Bay of Islands/Paihia.

And oh what fun we've had trying to teach our aunty how to say the Maori words!
Mt Maunganui = Mt Monnagooey/Mt moowagonny. Pauanui = Pannanooey/Poowarney. Waihi = Wee-eye. The lists goes on. Hehe. So cute, these tourists.



As I've driven around the place, telling stories, explaining the meaning of names, talking about the history, it's made me realise (a) how much I know about my country and how many Maori words I've absorbed in my lifetime and (b) how much MORE I want to know and understand. I've even (just quietly) considered finding a wee course in Te Reo.

I've begun to realise just how much our laid-back, friendly Kiwi culture owes it's thanks to our tangata whenua - our Maori people. Maori have a graciousness, a warmth, a generosity of spirit; they traditionally value people more than things and family above all. When you meet a Maori person, the first question is "Who are your people/where are you from?" not "what job do you do?" like us Pakeha.



Sure things have gotten messed up and Maori feature too heavily in all the wrong statistics, but it's my impression that this happens when they lose their sense of where they belong, their land, and their people.

Sometimes we Pakeha can feel awkward and vaguely guilty around Waitangi Day. It's meant to be our national day, but usually any celebrations are overshadowed by protests and shouts of "honour the Treaty!"

This year after playing tour guide all summer, I've found myself yearning to understand my country and my history better. The more I've talked about New Zealand to our beloved tourists, the more I've wanted to really know.



I recorded Mike King's series "Lost in Translation" (on Maori TV, Waitangi Day) and spent the last day or so watching every episode back-to-back. It was a beautiful thing.

Did you know that there wasn't just one Treaty signing? There were nine sheets sent out all around New Zealand. I didn't know that.

There was a lot I didn't know, but watching Mike King's (most excellent) programme I learned a lot. It gave me a sense that as country we have a truly unique and special history, which I want to learn more about.

Yes mistakes have been made, but as the programme showed, the spirit of the Treaty was well intended. I can be proud of our country's foundations. And I want to understand and honour the people who were here in this beautiful place first.



My ancestors came here fleeing poverty and repression in Ireland way way back in the 1840's. I am grateful they found a place here.



One of my ancestors on my dad's side was a nurse called Charlotte Speedy, and I'm told she nursed a Maori chief back to health from his death-bed and was made an honorary member of the tribe. I'm now on a mission to find out which chief, and which tribe. I would love to think that my little family could have ties to the "people of the land" ... honorary or not.



It's a stunning country. And in my humble opinion? The best little country in the world. (And I think our tourists would agree with me).

........

BEST KIWI SONG EVER: "WELCOME HOME"
Dave Dobbyn's song sums it all up perfectly...



Kiwis: What do YOU love most about Enzed?
You other poor buggers: When are you coming over?