Thursday, 31 May 2012

Dressed by Aunty Natalie

I can not begin to entertain what life Edie might lead if she makes it to adulthood.  The world changes so quickly these days that she'll probably have a job that doesn't exist yet.  But if by some chance, she ends up attending a red carpet event, and some plasticy presenter with frighteningly white teeth shoves a microphone in her face and yells, "Edie!  Who are you wearing??", I know what she's likely to answer.
As an aside, I find that question beyond odd - who are you wearing?  It's like red carpet walkers are all livers-and-chianti, like Hannibal Lecter.  But I digress.  Edie, since the day she arrived on the earth (actually before that even) has had a wardrobe filled predominantly with items supplied by two people.  Logic would suggest one was me, but that's not actually the case.  I have had little need to provide any clothing for my child thanks to her two image consultants.  The first is my mother.  I suspect this is common - lots of people's mothers get excited about grandchildren and splurge on outfits that are many and varied.  My mother not only finds cute outfits for Edie but also crafts gorgeous items for her to mash banana into and roll in oats with.  The other provider of Edie's extensive wardrobe is my sister, Natalie.

Edie is not the first of my parent's grandchildren or my extended family's great-grandchildren.  She is preceded by two boys who happen to be two of the cutest and most entertaining children I know.  I know, this is nepotism in waiting I'm sure, but I think they're pretty cool.  These two, who are only a year or two older than Edie, have been lavished with family love and gifts since the minute they were born.  Many cardis, jerseys, blankets, and even the odd pair of dungarees have been knitted for these boys.  You should see the dungarees by the way.  They are so cool and you just know they're going to reappear in photos in years to come.  But Edie is the first girl.  This makes a difference.  A big difference.

I can confidently say that the family feelings of love and appreciation are no different between Edie and her two cousins.  I can also say that her tantrums and crying are just as annoying.  But where the sole difference lies is in her wardrobe.  There's just so much more scope when it comes to dressing little girls.  So until another girl grandchild or great grandchild comes along, Edie is the recipient of a vast array of stylish and interesting clothing.  Edie has more dresses than almost any other item.  And she has every accessory for every dress.

The items that get the most comment on a regular basis are those sent by my sister.  Natalie lives in the UK which has it's pros and cons.  Pros - the things she sends are unique.  Cons - well there are so many I hardly know where to start but I guess at the heart of all of them lie the biggie: my beloved sister, her fantastic husband (Fantastic Phil dontcha know), and her cheeky monkey child, live on the other side of the freakin' world.  She doesn't get to see Edie rocking her funky outfits chosen with impeccable style.   She doesn't get to see Edie's wee face when she opens her parcels.  She doesn't get to see Edie run through the house with glee, dragging whatever pretty item she picks from the collection (actually maybe that's a good thing.  Some of them are expensive).

I'm not writing this to make my sister feel bad or emotional about being so far away.  We already all know that it's not how we'd prefer it to be.  There are some pretty compelling reasons for her to be over there, and for us to be over here.  And I do love the easy access to fashion from the continent.  It's just that another Aunty Natalie parcel arrived today after I'd already discussed Caitlin Moran, Sherlock Holmes, potty training disasters, spectacles and many other of life's finer points with my sister earlier in the morning, I needed to tell you how cool she is.  And yes, the parcel held more fashion delights plus a new book that I read to Edie 3 times and then had to hide as she was crying out for more.  So I wanted to let Aunty Natalie know that Edie loves all her parcels and phone calls and even though she only gets to see her on Skype, she already knows what side her bread is buttered on and opens those parcels with relish.

So when the plasticy, big-toothed presenter shoves that microphone in Edie's face and asks her the Hannibal Lecter question, "Who are you wearing?", I'd be willing to bet she will smile winningly, look down the barrel of the camera and utter something like,
"This evening I'm dressed by Aunty Natalie".

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Baking - An Expose

If you're like me, you look at cooking shows and blogs and pinterest and all the other places where the perfect people display their beautifully-formed wares.  They flaunt their creativity and the perfection of their innovations and artistic talents.  Everything looks like it was made without mess, without mistakes, and without effort.  Oh sure, they posture about "I had a few hiccups along the way" but they gloss over that with a tra la la and an "any one can do it!".

I am here to tell you that I think they are frauds.  They're lying.  And if they're not lying about this then surely they are lying about some other aspect of their lives.  Martha Stewart: case in point.  I'm telling you (and me) this to make you all feel better about not being one of these perfect people.  If you happen to be the Perfect I am talking about, then I salute you and encourage you not to refute anything I'm saying.  Let the Non-Perfects in this world have some hope.

I like to bake.  It's always been an element of domesticity that has agreed with me.  Mostly because there's a sugary outcome, even if you mess up.  Uncharacteristically, I can even manage the tidying up.  Mostly because there's sugariness involved here too.  I'm no Nigella, but I reckon I make a pretty good bikkie and a tasty cake on my good days.  The only truly disastrous thing I've ever baked is grape muffins.  They were foul and I have two good friends who can confirm this.  Other than that, everything else has been edible at worst, delicious at best.  I'm telling you this so that you know what is about to unfold below is not usually how I like to operate and also so you know that I'm no mug when it comes to knowing my way around a mixing bowl.  Furthermore, I would like to placate any of you who have eaten my baking and are worried that a similar process occurred.  Phil and I were the only lucky recipients of this baking experience.  We chose to eat the results despite knowing the process.

Have I baited you enough?  No?  Well before I share with you my baking "tips", let me run over how things might look if you were a Perfect writing about your baking.

1. You introduce the delicious item with a quirky story about why you chose to make this today
2. You list all your ingredients and quantities and provide helpful hints on where to get the best produce  or the most effective way to prepare said ingredients
3. You provide clear and concise instructions, possibly with some lovely photos, about how to put the delicious item together.
4. You round it off with lovely photos of the finished product and encourage others to try your recipe.

Here is how it went for me.

1. Put on cute apron.  Feel smug that already looking the part of domestic baking goddess.

2. Begin to assemble ingredients for today's recipe, yo-yos straight from the Edmonds cookbook.  Foolproof.  Realise you are missing butter.  There are only 4 ingredients and you are missing the main one.  Text husband to bring you butter when he comes home for lunch.

3.  Answer call from husband standing in front of butter fridge at supermarket and give directions for which particular brand of butter is appropriate (a buttery one is good).  Husband arrives home.  Feel smug about greeting your husband wearing an apron - domesticity must appear to be in progress.

4. Wait for child to wake from nap, feed her lunch, and set her on the kitchen floor with a host of interesting objects so you are optimising her good mood time.  Consider dressing child in cute clothes and her apron so she can look like she's "helping" you bake, but realise that readers will see through this immediately as am never that organised, plus will use valuable good mood time.

5. Ready camera to take photos of baking in progress.  Remember that husband has taken said camera to work today so get hot pink snappy camera as some photos are better than none.  Realise hot pink camera has almost no battery charge but box on.

6. Cream butter and sugar.  Pick up child to show them what is happening so they stop freaking out about dodgy sound the mixer makes.  Put child down and distract with toys on floor.

7. Take a photo of creaming.  Feel smug that you are a domestic blogging goddess.  Realise that the chicken for tonight's tea is defrosting in the background of the shot so take another with it just out of sight.  No one will no what it is and if you drop the focus the shit on top of the dishwasher will be visible.  Feel smug that you are a domestic photographing blogging goddess.

By far the most boring shot of the day

8. Open flour drawer in kitchen and measure the flour.  Grasp fruitlessly for the rolled oats bag child has just yanked from the drawer.  Watch helplessly as child flings rolled oats all over the kitchen floor.  Child proceeds to slide around in rolled oats.  Allow this to continue as it's keeping her from trying to scale your legs.  Child enjoys spreading rolled oats around entire kitchen area.  Make a note to return Top Mum badge.

That's how I roll (get it?  Man I'm funny)

9.  Go to get custard powder from the cupboard.  Find the packet at the back of cupboard and look at it suspiciously - packet looks like it is circa 1995.  Look into top of custard powder packet and notice slight discolouration of powder.  Possibly traces of weevils also.

10.  Cross roads: try to resurrect what little custard powder you can from vintage, infested pack, or flag entire process.  Decide to doggedly box on.  If biscuits are gross, can be biffed before anyone has to taste them.

11. Sift less sinister looking bits of custard powder to make sure there are no weevils in the bits you plan to put in biscuits.  Pour rejected custard powder into the sink so it makes a congealed, yellow mess in sink.  Decide at this stage to stop taking photos.  Probably not very enticing...

12. Beat flour, vanilla, and dodgy custard powder into cream mixture.  Look on with concern as it looks like bread crumbs.

[side note: when you make "short" things like yo-yos, they often have a very crumbly look about them but come together.  Mine looked more like sand from the Sahara than bread crumbs]

14.  Attempt to distract child who is becoming bored of swimming in rolled oats.  Realise you are swiftly running out of good mood time.

13.  Box on (the theme of the day) with crumbly mixture.  Try to press into balls.  End up with pea-sized biscuits.  Try adding some melted butter to increase stickability.  End up with buttery bits in the mixture.

15.  Pack several pea-sized balls together to make decent-sized biscuits and place on baking tray.  Try to do this while singing The Wheels on the Bus to child who is now attached like a limpet to legs.

16.  Press biscuits with fork.  There are all kinds of things going round on this bloody bus that should not be there.  Typical of public transport really.

17. Get biscuits in oven and look at making icing.  Realise that butter icing needs custard powder.  Seriously consider scooping some out of sink but understand this is a bridge too far.  Settle for plain butter icing with vanilla essence.

18.  Get biscuits from oven.  Express mild surprise that they look vaguely normal (except the two that got the lump of extra butter added to make mixture more sticky - they've melted off to one side).

18.  Realise that child is alternating between trying to scale your legs using teeth as crampons, and rolling despairingly in oats.  Decide to put child down for nap before attempting icing.

Edie trying to scale my legs

Don't leave me down here Mumma!

19.  First real success of baking: child goes to sleep.

20. Whip butter icing by hand for fear blender will wake child.  Ice biscuits.

21. Step back and survey the carnage.  Try to clean up quietly so as not to wake child.

BUT HERE'S THE KICKER PEOPLE.  Look at what came out.  They look like some pretty edible biscuits.  And even my hot pink snappy camera managed to capture them looking alright.  So what's the lesson here?  The lesson is that I could have written that up to make it sound like Blog Recipe #1 up there.  I could have tried to say that it all went swimmingly with a few "hiccups" and showed the photo below and you might have believed me.  But that would make me a liar or at best, a stretcher of the truth.  How many people out there are doing this to us??  I am standing up for the Non-Perfect out there and letting you know that if you have ever been through anything like I did on Monday, you are normal.  The abnormal people are the Perfects (if they even really are perfect).

So bake away my friends!  Or whatever it is you do!  Do not be put off by people who seem to be in control of their lives.  They'll be on home detention for dodgy trading before you know it.

And yes, we ate the biscuits.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

People Watching: The Ultimate Hobby For The Nosy

Hello, my name is Charlotte and I am a People Watcher.
[chorus of supportive voices:] "Hello Charlotte"
I think calling myself a People Watcher is a polite way of saying that I make judgements about people I barely know, or don't know at all, based on how they look.  I don't intend this in a nasty way, in fact, sometimes my observations are very positive.  I have been known to approach total strangers and compliment them on some aspect of their appearance.  Admittedly as a female, this is much easier for me than any of my male People Watcher counterparts as if they walked up to some random lady and said, "I love your trousers", they'd be likely to get a suspicious reaction.  I think the assumption might be that either a) they were being hit on with a lame pick up line; or b) they were trying to be sold something.  Or if they were lucky it might be option c) the person would assume they were gay and feel very pleased about being complimented on some element of their appearance by a gay man, who must intrinsically have an amazing sense of style (I have to say that this is a stereotype and I have met some of the exceptions but let's leave stereotypes for another blog).
Now I don't want any of you to worry about this confession.  If you are someone I know, chances are I have "watched" you (ew creepy) but it doesn't follow that I judge your appearance.  I am not totally shallow - I form opinions of people based on how cool and rich they are as well as what they wear.  In truth, most of my observations come from a place of curiousity rather than judgement.  Let me explain.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people present themselves with so little regard for what they actually look like.  Which is not to say that the majority of society makes themselves look bad, more that it appears they didn't think about how they appear at all.  Part of me applauds this.  BLOW what you look like, people should just accept you for who you are on the inside.  And other cliches that never ring true.  Because the truth is, people are judging others all the time on their appearance.  Not all are as analytical about it as I am, most of the time they probably don't even know they're doing it, but right or wrong, it happens more often than not.

As this blog is mostly read by my Mum and some other friends of mine who are worried I'll know if they don't read it, I know they are now thinking, "Well you're no fashion plate yourself!".  And this is definitely true.  But I'm not talking about looking like the pages of a fashion magazine every day of your life.  Or even any day of your life.  Most of us couldn't achieve this even if we spent thousands of dollars on the latest fashion trends.  As much as my husband loves me, not even he could claim I look like Gisele Bundchen.  Close, but no cigar.  No, I'm talking about knowing you're not Gisele.  Or any other person who appears on TV or in magazines or in the local fashion store.  I'm talking about knowing who you are - not in an existential "who am I and why am I here?" kind of way, but in a "my body is this basic shape, I need to be presentable for ______ lifestyle".

Here are some of the most persistent crimes I notice:
(Disclaimer: I have been guilty of most if not all of these crimes at some stage(s) in my life, and probably will be again next week.  This is not about me being choice.  This is also not about what size you are.  I don't care what size you are as long as you feel happy and healthy.  Also, I can't actually see you at the end of this interweb-thingy so you could be Jabba, flip me the bird, and yet still subscribe to read more, and I will never know)

I see so many women with artificially blonde hair.  Nothing wrong with that.  I fully support the fact that they are making some effort with their appearance.  Where so many people seem to go wrong is where they are determined to be blonde when it makes them look like look they washed half of their face away, or like the ate a bad sandwich and are feeling the repercussions.  And then they wear nude lipstick which enhances the whole "I spend my life feeling slightly nauseous" look.

The guy who wears the jeans he bought in 1993 that were so cool back then but now make his arse look like a dropped pie.  He continues to wear them because the denim is holding up well and this really hot chick once told him he looked good in them.

You've all seen it.  The tunic/skirt/shorts are too short and the leggings or worse still the tights become the pants.  You end up seeing things you don't want to.  Say no more.

I could go on.  But the biggest problem I see can encompass all of the crimes listed above and more.  I think most of us have walked through this at some stage in our lives - mostly when we were under 20 and trying to work out who we are (this time I do mean in the existential sense of the word as well as the aesthetic sense).  You know, you're trying to be "normal" and "cool" which at that age means "being really individual by being the most normal of anyone you know without looking like you care about being normal or individual".  This attitude often leads to the Big Problem I'm referring to:

You saw it in a magazine or your friend bought it or you saw it in the store and you had to have it.  Unfortunately, "it" is a lime green crop top and you failed to notice that you are a voluptuous red head.  Ok so a lime green crop top is unlikely to call to many people, but you get the idea.  Why oh why can people not see that just because it's in all the stores or on the cover of a magazine, it does not mean it will do any favours for you?!  For a start, sometimes fashion makes mistakes - clogs.  Need I say more?  Secondly, chain stores copy what's going to be "in" for the season.  They do not think "well this is a bit silly as only 10% of the population can pull this off", they just copy.  Why?  Because they know people will buy without considering this.  Sometimes we strike it lucky and what is "in" can be worn by 80% of the population.  Hooray!  But not that often.  It's not just clothes either.  The same follows for hair and make up - any other aspects of outward appearance that are "adjustable" (which is pretty much anything these days).

This Big Problem leads to further problems.  People come out of their teens and realise that they wore some truly hideous crap and lose confidence in their ability to present themselves.  They buy the plainest, blackest, non-adventurous things they can find.  They clothe themselves and no more.
Or another option is perhaps that they looked awesome in the "cool" stuff when they were young and so they stop looking at themselves.  They fail to see that they don't look the same as they did back then, let alone consider whether they want to look like that anymore.
Or another option: they can clearly see they look nothing like they did at 18 and are so unsure about what to do with the new way that they look.  They feel unhappy about how they look now and tell themselves that they will return to a shape they are happy with at some stage.  It's not that they won't, it's that they don't deal with how they look now.

I could go on and I've already ranted for long enough.  What I am trying to say is TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT YOURSELF PEOPLE.  Stand in front of the mirror.  We can all find our flaws, most of us are pretty shit-hot at that, but find something you like about the way you look too.  When you dress yourself today LOOK at what you are wearing, how you do your hair, what make up you are putting on, the shoes that go on your feet.  Does it actually look good on your body?  Does the colour make you look like you're about to puke, or match your eyes?  Are you comfortable?  Did you show off the bit you like (keeping it PG of course...)?  If the answer is yes to those questions (except the puking one), well done you!  Go forth into the world today feeling good about your awesome self!  If the answer is no, is there anything you can do right now to change it?  Different pants, brighter lipstick, a paper bag (joking)...

I think basically I just want people to make some choices for themselves about their appearance instead of being sucked along and just doing enough so that they're not naked, or just wearing what was on the rack in the store you like.  You have brains, use them.  It's not superficial, it's intrinsic to how you feel about yourself, it makes a massive difference to how you approach your day.

So people - EMPOWERMENT - dress like you meant to, not like you fell into your wardrobe and came out with an outfit on.  You will probably make some mistakes, but at least you meant to.  That's my excuse anyway.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Cool Shit Monday: Round 2

It's Monday.  It's cool.  It's certainly not shit.  And your Monday won't be either once you sift your way through this treasure trove.

This lady here is officially the coolest person I know.  I once held a costume party where you could dress up as anything that took your fancy.  I had an outfit I wanted to wear and couldn't be bothered trying to think up a cool theme so just made it a generic dress up.  I think that's how most costume parties happen.  Leigh came as a tampon.  And she brought Toxic Shock Syndrome Information pamphlets with her and handed them out to other guests.  She even plaited a string trailing behind her and everything.  It was the best costume I've ever seen and I think it says a lot about how awesome she is.  Not everyone has the balls (interesting choice of words) to go to a party where you don't know many people dressed as a tampon.  She rocked it.
Another one of her most admirable exploits is as the ring leader of the SLA (Sugar Liberation Army), nicknamed "Angry Fruits".  She and another awesome lady, Luci, launched Operation Tang when Pascalls ceased producing Snifters, Tangy Fruits and Sparkles.  It was truly inspirational.
I have never been to see a Roller Derby although I find it intriguing.  I would go to anything just to see Leigh.  Especially in this outfit.
Stone.  Cold.  Fox.

BBC's Sherlock Holmes (you can watch it in New Zealand TVNZ On Demand here) is a masterpiece of television writing and acting.  Season 2 has just finished here in New Zealand and I was very happy to discover that Season 3 is being made.  Sherlock is just the most fantastic character and Benedict Cumberbatch is masterful in his portrayal.  I am excited to see him play the baddy, Khan, in the next Star Trek movie.  Martin Freeman is the shizzle too.  A perfect Watson and foil to Sherlock's sociopathic aloofness.  Interesting fact (straight from my sister who is the fount of all British popular culture knowledge): the guy who plays Mycroft (Sherlock's brother) is also one of the writers and is of course recognisable from another great British TV series, The League of Gentleman.  There you go, you learn something new every day.  I don't just bombard you with pics of crazy ladies in roller skates.

This dress is maybe not so cool if you don't have a little girl but I do, so it's freakin' cool.  Once again, it falls into the "I could make that" category.  I should change that to the "I could make that but even if I got off my chuff to do it, it would be one in a long list of things I'd be making so would never get it done". But that's a slightly less snappy name now isn't it?  Back to this cool shit... I love the Boden clothes for wee dots.  If only I had infinite resources.  They don't ship to New Zealand but luckily for me, I can send to my sister, who sends to me.  I would guess most New Zealanders know someone in the UK who can be their Boden mule so it's not too much of an issue.

I read this the other day and it cracked me up.  For a start, it accurately describes the laundry process in our house, but I also love that someone has a whole blog based on drawing shit Paintbrush pictures of their life.  That's my kind of art.  Here is the laundry process for you to read...
Direct from

This appeals both to my aesthetic and my love of words.  Such a cool idea.  If I had any original artistic talent, I'd like to think that this is what I might do.  But then it wouldn't be original.  Basically the artist has taken words no longer used in the English language (i.e. not in the dictionaries or common usage anymore) and made word art.  The artistic representation of the word tells you something of the definition.  Weekly challenge: include one of these words in natural conversation this week.  Let me know how you go.  Don't let it become pamphagous though (that was pretty weak but I'm pressed for time here).

Oporopolist (oh-pawr-po-.list )n. 1671 -1725; A fruit-seller.
Lettering by Karen To

Montivagant (mon-TI-vey-guhnt),n. 1656-1658; That wanders in mountainous areas.
Lettering by Karen To
This book is, in my view, compulsory reading for every woman.  And every man actually.  So EVERYONE READ THIS BOOK!  Caitlin Moran pretty much the funniest person I've read in a long time and she's extra sneaky because she disarms you with her hilarity and before you know it, BAM! you're actually thinking about stuff.  I wish she had more reading material readily available as her writing makes me feel affirmed in every way.  I aspire to be like her.  Although I do not aspire to wear me mum's hand-me-down undies like she did...

So there's some cool shit for your Monday.  It's actually really hard to narrow it down as it turns out there is a lot of cool shit in the world.  That's a nice thing to discover really.  Perhaps I shall have to make a sister-post, Awesome Things Thursday?

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Anyone For Tea?

It's Sunday.  It's midday.  I'm yet to get out of my pajamas.  It's rather Sunday-appropriate I suppose, but when this happens I often think about what I'd really like to be doing if I were more organised.  It's not that I want to be 'productive' necessarily, I just get wistful about the ways I could be taking better advantage of the day.  This has been a serious affliction for me through my life.  My mother has instilled in me this 'make the most of every moment, don't waste the day' attitude, and yet it fights with my natural inclination to sit on my chuff at every opportunity.  What results is I do sit on my chuff, but feel incredibly guilty about all the things I'm not doing, so don't enjoy the sitting.  I have taken this behaviour to extremes and let it almost cripple me at times - I have no idea how I have a degree or a post-graduate qualification.  I truly feel like all I did during this time was watch TV and stress about all the assignments I had to do and all the exams coming up.  At 31, after much soul-searching and self-flagellation, I have finally managed to  find some sort of equilibrium with this behaviour.  I still do it - I still leave things to the last minute, I still create unnecessarily stressful situations with my procrastination - but mostly I do actually get the job done.  This is a marked improvement from the previous 30 years of my life.

Thankfully today, I'm not self-flagellating, I'm merely thinking about tea.  This may seem a little like a bit of a forehead-slap moment on my part.  "Why don't you just get up and make a friggin' cup of tea and stop banging on to us about it?!", I hear you cry.  But you see I'm not simply thinking about tea.  I'm thinking about tea parties.  With proper tea sets and scones (with jam & cream of course) and pastries and cake plates and sugar bowls and posies of peonies and hydraengas... I can't be bothered with any of that right now, I just wish that I could snap my fingers and have it all.  Here's what I'd have...

Phil bought me this tea set for Mothers Day.  Let's start by having that out for my tea party.  Plus my other random assortment of old tea cups and saucers that I have sitting on my windowsill.  Mismatching crockery is so cool.

I wouldn't want Edie to miss out so she can have her  Oskar & Ellen tea set, bought for her 1st Birthday from the most awesome children's store in town, Miracle.  It's so cute I think I would almost be content with just this tea set and not the real deal.

I would be wearing this dress from Shabby Apple.  I think their stuff is uber cool and reasonably priced which makes it all the more tempting.  They do ship to New Zealand but the shipping is almost as much as the clothing.  I usually pull out the old adage "I could just make it" but as if I ever do.  One day I'll be feeling frivolous and just pay the shipping so I'll let you know how I go.  In the mean time, I can wear the gorgeous clothes to my imaginary tea party.

Apart from scones with jam & cream, I would have a plate of my favourite cafe treat.  Cinnamon swirls from The Good Oil cafe.  I once wrote a poem about them, I love them so much.  You can relax, I don't yet feel we're at the stage in our relationship where I show you my poetry.  I'm not a Vogon after all.

And Denheath custard squares.  New Zealand's best answer to the mille feuille.  So.  Good.  And they deliver within New Zealand.  I may go and order some right now...

I'm hoping it will all look a little something like this.

Does anyone else feel hungry?  I'm going to actually get off my chuff and go any make the cup of tea.  That's achievable on a Sunday.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Why I Never Finish What I Start

I've made reference to the fact that I often start things but don't complete them.  Especially when it comes to crafty-type things.  This is wholly and completely my own fault and I think comes from being the youngest and therefore most spoilt child - there's always a big person to help you when you get stuck.  But today I'm going to ignore this and give you another four, completely separate reasons for why I start crafty things and don't finish them.  When you are a quitter, like me, you get really good at making excuses that sound valid, and this is one of those.  The four reasons are, in fact, people.  I could go with the obvious and say Edie is the top reason for not finishing craft projects (who has time to be crafty when you are kiddy wrangling?), but the reality is she is currently roaming around the lounge right now while I type this blog, so if I can blog, I can craft.  Actually, she just fell over and hit her chin on the table and I continued to type.  I did ask her if she was ok.  I couldn't see any blood from here.  She's clearly fine.  I'm not going to give the old "blame your child for the end of your life outside of them" excuse.  So passe.  No, my top four reasons are more to do with "why finish it when there's someone cleverer than me who can do a much better job?".  This has the added of advantage of being able to claim the project as your own (you did start it after all) as the other person just put the finishing touches on.

Some families have lost the last old aunt who used to crochet, or the Granny who used to sew those dresses for everyone.  Some families are probably quite grateful for this - let's face it, just because it's handmade, doesn't mean it's good.  In fact, some crafty stuff is downright revolting; the ultimate in tack. My family is doubly blessed as not only are there an abundance of crafty-types, but they have the good taste to know a macrame owl when they see one and leave it in the 70s where it belongs.  All my aunts are blessed with creative talent - my Aunty Mary's house is a monument to home redecoration of the highest calibre (I'm pretty sure it's been in a magazine or two) not to mention her artistic skills.  But the four ladies I'm choosing to mention today get the nod because they have helped me in the crafty stakes somewhere along the way.

Talented family member #4: my cousin Bianca.  I have a lot of love for this girl for many reasons but her creative productivity is truly impressive.  As well as being one half of Liana Raine Gourment Artisan Pops (I mentioned those in Cool Shit Monday) and working her butt off to make delicious icy treats for the good people of Sydney, she also manages to find time to crochet and knit the coolest projects, like OB (short for One Ball - a reflection of the wool content, not it's genitalia) bunny here.  Edie LOVES that bunny and it's easy to see why.  Bianca does know how to chill out (our marathon sessions of Will & Grace back in the day are testimony to this) but these days she just does it with some needles in hand.  She has shown me that you can knit when you're under 40 and make it cool.

OB Bunny.  He's a cool dude.

Talented family member #3: Also making craft cool for the under 40s is my sister Natalie.  But what I have learnt from Natalie is that having a young child is no excuse for not completing artistic endeavours.  She has a particular talent for embroidery (I know, so nostalgic and 'Little Women'-ish!) which totally overwhelms me - too much fiddly stuff.  I have a cross stitch in progress actually.  It's been in progress since I was 15.  I shit you not.  Approximately every 3 years, I pick it up, do 50 little crosses then remember why I put it down last time.  It has rust marks in it from where the needle has sat in it for so long.  Natalie knits, sews, and embroiders (plus bakes a plethora of delicious morsels on a weekly basis) while maintaining a demanding full-time job and being mum to a gorgeous 2 1/2 year old.  It sounds like I'm trying to promote her on a dating site for 1950's goddesses, but "sorry gents, this little lady's taken!"

Cushion cover Natalie made for Edie

Talented family member #2: my Aunty Philippa.  Aunty Phil is a freak.  In all the positive senses of the word of course...  She is responsible for a production line of beautiful handmade items that she distributes to any family member or friend she thinks needs one of her creations.  I have been the recipient of so many of her artworks (that's what they are, no mistaking it) so many times it's almost embarrassing.  Perhaps my aura of uselessness works in my favour here?  Aunty Phil has turned her expert hand to such a variety of crafts I probably couldn't name them all (although I'm sure macrame's not in there).  I think my most special gift from Aunty Phil, however was that of my wedding dress, that she created with my Mum.  And all the bridesmaids dresses.  And the flower girl's dress.  And the cardis they knitted to for all of us in case it was cold.  Which leads me nicely to...

Detail on some of the embroidery Aunty Phil made for my wedding.

My number one reason for not finishing what I start, is my mother.  She is one of those people who you can never complain to about not having enough time to do anything as she seems to discount this as a valid reason in her own life.  She is exhausting - sleep seems to be optional at times for Mum.  My whole life has been filled with the many things she has made for me - dresses, costumes, toys, cardis... the list is long.  Mum and Aunty Phil and my Nana passed on their appreciation of handmade goodies to me.  Mum has indulged all of my attempts along the way and has had more than a small hand in most of them.

Bianca & Natalie doing up my wedding dress

So I'm blaming these four formidable ladies for my lack of progress with craftiness.  They either do it so well that there's little need for my feeble creations, or they are so productive that they finish a project 4 months before I've got further than buying the materials.

Having said that, I do seem to still insist on starting projects.  And actually, I have been having a little more success with my conversion rate lately (I'm watching the rugby right now, can you tell??).  I think it's fairly safe to say that any of my crafty accomplishments are also due to the significant influence of these four ladies.  I might be using them as an excuse for my poor track record, but I can't deny their enthusiasm and encouragement any time I announce a new project.  Like this blog for example...

I have to give props to Bianca, Natalie, Aunty Phil & Mum, not to mention all my other family members for their unfailing enthusiasm with all my many and varied endeavours.  I have truly tested the limits of their support with all the crazy shit I've announced to them over the years.  Hopefully I'm able to stitch together my own life a little more successfully these days but it's good to know their helping and capable hands are always there.

Friday, 25 May 2012

What The Frock Fridays

I've always been one for riding the coat tails of someone else's good ideas.  I'd like to claim it's because I'm smart but I think the reality is less glamourous - I'm just really lazy.  But this idea actually requires me to do something on an ongoing basis, so perhaps it will change my wicked ways.

So What the Frock Fridays!  It's not rocket science: I wear a different frock every Friday and tell you about it.  I am actually quite excited about this as I have an extensive collection of dresses that I wear far less frequently than I'd like.  I think it will take me a number of What the Frock Fridays to get through them all and then if I do, I'll simply have to buy or make myself some more.  What a shame...

I went to my Anti Antenatal group today (the lovely group of ladies whom I met anywhere other than antenatal class) and was told I look "a bit posh" today.  I explained about What the Frock Friday and I think I may have some mates joining me in a dress.  Anyone else keen??  I have to say I felt especially great (seriously) when I put on some old work boots and marched out into the paddock to take Edie to look at the horses.  Wish I'd taken a picture of that.  Footrot Flats meets Mad Men.  It'd be a crap TV show but makes for an outfit to talk about.

Today's What the Frock Friday Frock (hmm... may need to think of a snappier way to put that) is a wee number I picked up when I was in Sydney in February at Johnston & Bell which is a cute store that specialises in "quirky" fashion rather than copying what's in the chain stores.  I've found a couple of other cute things there in the past that have a vintage look which suits me to a tee as I love true vintage but this way I get something that doesn't smell of old ladies.  This dress debuts What the Frock because it's getting pretty freakin' cold here in Dunedin but we've been graced with this incredible run of Autumn weather.  I figure this light cotton dress isn't going to be able to make it into What the Frock for some months to come.  I have quite a few dresses that follow this floral, vintage look and I have yet to master how to wear them through the colder months.  Opaque tights and boots just don't always feel right with flouncy pretty dresses to me.

My biggest affliction when it comes to putting clothes together is my Mum's fault.  No offence, Mum - you received it from your mother before you.  I tend to have everything matching.  When I was a kid, Mum had what could only be described as a sack of hair accessories to match every possible outfit I had.  I have to fight so hard to take off that last necklace that matches the earrings that are the same colour as my shoes and the belt.  Oh and the hair ribbon.  It's not that I don't want things to match, I obviously like it.  It's just that I can go a bit far.

Today I did indulge.  I had matching aubergine (that's purple, in case you are a straight male and you've made it this far into today's post.  Unlikely, but I don't want to exclude you) tights, matching green suede shoes, a matching rose cardi, and matching purple earrings.  I stopped before necklace and hair clip today.  Such restraint.

The cardi is a Silk Body number.  Beautiful stuff.  If you get the chance to own some, take it with both hands and don't let go.  I bought the tights at Farmers years ago.  I liked the colour but doubted I'd wear them much.  You'd be surprised what you can match with a pair of aubergine tights.  Take that piece of advice to the bank - gold!  The shoes I bought a few years ago, not sure where.  I love them though.  They have a good practical heel - comfy enough to wear all day (I can't believe I just wrote that sentence.  Fashion Q will be knocking at my door in no time).  I wear the earrings all the time.  My sister sent them to me which is the story of most of the cool accessories I own.  I love that the little stamen inside the flower moves like a wee bell.

The dress has a wee belt which I decided to put on the outside of the cardi as the cut of said cardi is straight and I lost my shape without the definition at my waist due to the fullness in the skirt.  I think the cardi looks better left open as it helps give my short body a bit of length and you get to see the neckline on the dress which has a nice pleat detail.  And that's my dissection skills exhausted for the day.

Thus ends the first What the Frock Friday.  Back to jeans tomorrow I think.  With a few matching accessories...

PS.  Extra credit should be given to me for getting through the entire day wearing this outfit and not having a small child vomit, shit, or wipe their lunch on me before Phil got home to take the photos in the evening.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Kid With The Gippy Eye

A while back, Phil and I noticed that Edie had a gippy eye (scientific term).  For those of you not familiar with my technical explanation, I mean that her eye seemed to wander inward from time to time.  Quite a lot actually.  And both eyes.  After we made many jokes at her expense (Top Parents) we decided we should get it checked out so went to the GP.  She looked at Edie's eyes, told us they looked healthy and there was nothing sinster lurking in the background, but that she would refer us to the hospital for an assessment.  Three years later, we got an appointment.  Ok it clearly wasn't 3 years later but the public health system is hardly the most well-oiled of machines.  We got an appointment nearly 3 months later.  In the mean time, Edie continued to look gippy but it actually lessened a wee bit so we lowered our concern from Defcon 3 to Defcon 5.  Of course we still paid her out about it quite a lot in front of her friends but she's wee, she doesn't know.  Granted, she will  know when she's 15 but it's funny to watch them squirm by that age.  Kidding.  Sort of.

Our appointment finally rolled around on Monday and we were at the hospital for a fair chunk of time (is there any other kind of hospital visit?).  They put in those funky eye drops that dilate your pupils so they could examine her eyes properly.  We felt like really top parents for the rest of the day, carrying around a baby that looked like she'd just dropped an e on the way to a mid-morning rave.  On the plus side, it was quite pretty, like one of those weird 70s caricatures of children.

But I digress (who me?!)...  The opthamologist examined Edie's eyes with a set of lenses which looked like something that belonged in a museum of quaint medical equipment from the 19th Century.  My stoner child was remarkably still during this process - more in those drops than they care to admit?  Fairly quickly, the doctor said something like, "I can see a reasonable amount of long-sightedness;  Quite marked for such a young age".  Phil had his Daddy ears on and took this to mean "Your child can see a long way - well done for creating such an advanced specimen!" so when the doctor concluded a minute or two later by announcing that Edie would need glasses, his face fell.

Allow me to tell you a little about how Phil and I see the world for any offspring of ours.  We ain't no oil paintings.  Either of us.  This isn't a desperate cry for our friends and family to say "Pish tosh! [that's the way all our friends and family speak]  You are just fine and dandy!".  We know we're not totally fugly, but we're not going to win any beauty contests.  Although we do wish for world peace.  It's always been a running joke between us that any child of ours will be the child with "personality" which is just as well because it won't get there on looks.  Up until now, it really has mostly been a joke but it's been interesting to be now confronted with a child who has a wandering eye, or has to wear glasses.

I'm not going to pretend that I now I have a child with a serious health issue.  Believe me, I fully appreciate that in the grand scheme of things, we are incredibly lucky to have a child as happy and healthy as Edie is.  It's more that it's clear that our wee baby has something extra to deal with in life.  Maybe only for a few years, but maybe for a lot more than a few.  If you asked people if they thought children, especially little ones, with glasses are cute, I think most would say yes.  I also think that if you asked kids if they thought children who wear glasses are dorky, most would say no.  So what is our problem?  I guess we must think that kids with glasses are dorky, or not cute?!  I don't feel like that's true.  I think it's more likely we are harbouring this irrational fear that some nameless, faceless stranger will be mean to our little girl, or that someone will pass over her in some way because she doesn't look pretty.  Lame, but there you have it.

So let's turn this frown upside down and think of hot and wildly successful people who wear glasses!  I have actually found a blog dedicated to the topic of glasses, Miss Speculiar (the internet is a fascinating place) and I got some of my ideas below from there.

Daniel Vettori.  Part Italian, top sportsman, pretty spunky, and a spokesman for a brand of glasses.  A good way to kick off our list.

Pretty much the most talked about man in Hollywood in terms of spunkiness AND acting chops: Ryan Gosling.  And he wears glasses.

Modelling for

Gok Wan is bigger than Trinny & Susannah these days when it comes to styling and taste.  And he even has his own line of frames.

Image from

And now for some bespectacular ladies....

Tina Fey.  Brains and beauty.  Plus she's bloody funny.  I can see Edie being this kind of glasses girl...

Image from

Not just for the intellectual lady - possibly the world's most famous sex symbol.  Naughty librarian anyone?

There, I feel much better!  So Edie, four eyes can be better than two.  You rock that look baby!
Love Mummy (and Daddy)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Childhood Meals: A Russian Roulette

When Phil & I first moved in together, we were in that phase of a relationship where you create domestic bliss.  You know, when you are so stoked to be not just leaving a toothbrush at the others house, or have half your stuff in one place and the other half across town.  Finally you get to build a little nest together and make things "ours" not just "mine".  We loved planning our meals and enjoyed the chance to cook 'home' food - the things that make you feel like a grown up because they're what you ate when you were a kid.  It's sounds strange, but I think most of you will know what I mean.  It's what your Mum made, so when you make it, you feel like a Mum, or something like that.  One cold wintery night, we decided that the perfect comfort dinner, destined to be made while wearing fleecy slippers, was fish pie.
Phil and I bought our ingredients for fish pie, we searched the Edmonds recipe book (surely the source of all childhood pie recipes), lovingly created our meal and put it in the oven.  We felt so proud of ourselves and what this pie symbolised in our grown-up life together.  We sat down to eat the pie, dug in with enthusiasm and ate.  Slowly.  We did eat it but it was hardly what you would call "with abandon" and definitely didn't warrant the extra adjective "gay abandon".  The conversation dwindled, our smiles became polite and as our meals were finishing our eyes met across the table in mutual understanding. That pie, that symbolic, nostalgic, fish pie, was disgusting.  A confession burst forth from me.  "I don't even like fish pie!"
Pause.  A wry smile from Phil.  "Neither do I".
Of course the ensuing conversation involved us marveling over why either of us thought making fish pie was a ever going to be a good idea.  And why we'd used tinned fish.  I know, tinned fish.  Disclaimer: since this terrible incident, I have had fish pie made for me by a couple of friends (most notably Mike, and Carolyn) and it was delicious.  They used fresh fish for a start.  I have come to realise that fish pie can actually be good.

When my good friend Harriet was growing up her mum's food fell in to one of two categories: "hot and tasty and nice", or "cold and slippy down" - her mum's words.  When any of the kids complained about the food, she was often heard to say "Come on, it's _____ [insert one of the two descriptions here]", as if that was supposed to be all the reasoning they needed to eat whatever slop was in front of them (on good authority it was slop most of the time, it's not just poetic license).  It's funny how food which was served to us regularly as kids can become either food heaven, or food hell.  Some of the slop we ate as kids has a special place in our memory and we love to recreate it.  If we tried it for the first time today having never eaten it before, it would probably be average at best, but there are those "hot and tasty and nice" memories associated with it.  Conversely, there are things that we hated as kids and even though we concede they're actually ok now, we still hold onto those force fed, just 5 more mouthfuls, no dessert, straight to bed memories (I'll tell you the story of ox tongue one day).  But I think some of the best times are when you eat a re-creation of a childhood meal that you always found a bit ho-hum and you suddenly realise that it's delicious.  There are pitfalls of this obvious -  you eat something in the hope that it's gained some dimension that you simply passed over as a child but lo-and-behold, your 8 year old self was totally onto it - the dish is fetid and you can't believe your parents served it and claimed it as food.  Make no mistake, cooking food from your childhood is a dangerous game.  It could be heart-warmingly fantastic, or bring up some awful repressed memories.

So when I said to Phil on Monday that we were having chops for tea, he was understandably sceptical. Chops.  It's almost onomatopoeia - sounds like what it is: gross.  Especially with a New Zealand accent.  And I don't know about how chops were prepared in your house, but in mine they were cooked in a pan.  I don't know if there's too much more I can say about it as I doubt there was any sort of flavour added to them.  I could add "for a bloody long time".  Cooked for a bloody long time.  I can safely say it was the same in Phil's house except maybe his were cooked for a really bloody long time.  Til the word "bloody" is really not an appropriate one to use.
I found a recipe in the Taste magazine for chops with chickpea mash and a parsley salad and it was so nicely presented I thought it may be the redemption of chops for me.  I am happy to report that it was nothing like the fish pie episode.  We actually really liked our chops.  And before you ask, I didn't take a photo.  I think the art of food photography is mastered by few and it would have to be a master to take an appetising photo of a chop, even a tasty one.  Turns out you should turn the chops on their sides and fry the fat before you cook the meat.  This lessens the glutinous fat I used to have to chew through as a child which can only be a good thing.  Perhaps this is a fact that most people know, but in my family (and Phil's) you just cooked the shit out of it and hoped that rendered it all edible.  The (lack of) logic in this baffles me, but there you have it.
Anyway, a childhood dish has been saved from being relegated to 'Tragic Dishes I Will Never Inflict on My Children' and bumped up to the 'Hot and Tasty and Nice'.  Lucky Edie!

If you feel like adding a bit of zing to your weekly meals, I'd recommend playing Childhood Meal Roulette.  You can have your own wee gamble in an incredibly safe and bourgeois way.  Hopefully your life has room for a few more excitements other than this, but it's a nice place to start.  Perhaps you've written off Tripe & Onions, or Lambs brains?  Throw the dice people and add them to the menu this week!  Don't blame me if it's still totally vomit-inducing, but you could just hit upon a culinary gem.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Hero to Villain: A Fur Baby's Fall From Grace

I had planned a completely different post for today but then I had a swift change of heart at about 5:45am this morning.  I was all set to wax on about chops (I think you all dodged a bullet really) but my cat inspired a new, slightly more vitriolic spiel.  Or not so much my cat as what it left it the hallway.

My change of heart went something like this:
5:40am.  Edie begins to cry.  I lie in bed hoping she will just go back to sleep but of course I am well awake.  Why do I always kid myself into thinking I can just sleep through it?!
5:45am.  Resigned to the fact that I am going to have to go in, I roll out of bed and stumble down the hallway towards her room.
5:45am + a few more seconds. The carpet changes underneath my feet.  I don't remember there being a squishy, furry, barely warm patch.

In case my ridiculously elaborate explanation has not yet made it apparent, there was a rodent beneath my feet.  I don't know whether I'm grateful that it was dead and oozy or not.  The alternative is not particularly appealing either.  In any event, I chose to try and move on and deal with my crying child before investigating exactly what it was I stood on and what state it was in.

If you have ever tried to soothe a child in the night, you will know that you are desperately trying to do everything in your power to get the child back to sleep so that you can do the same.  You do things that you would otherwise consider ridiculous or in extreme cases, a little insane.  One of the things that I often find myself doing is inwardly reciting a mantra-like phrase; something like "If you are calm, she will be calm".  I try to use yoga breathing to relax each part of my body, toes to top, and calm my mind.  Mostly this ends with my chin hitting my chest, me waking up with a start, and Edie no more or less "calm" than she was when I started.
Last night, the mantra did not make it past my toes.  All I could think of was how my toes must now be hopping with fleas and other dirty foulness from the unknown rodent I squished with said toes.  I could physically feel them crawling on my foot.  But more disruptive to my meditative calm than the uncleanliness of my situation was my seething RAGE at the cat.

I like to give my readers perspective in the middle of a story it seems, so here it is in today's post.  I love my cat.  I know most pet owners love their animals, but I was a pretty ardent pet lover.  My cat was my fur baby.  I don't want to get too heavy (I was never a crazy cat lady after all) but just to illustrate the depth of emotion I felt for my fur baby I was often heard to say, "I better have a baby before one of my cats dies otherwise I'll be a wreck".  One of my cats died before I had a baby.  I was a wreck.  I almost took bereavement leave from my job but realised that would definitely post me as a crazy cat lady so I toughed it out.
People told me that once my baby was born, the one lovely fur baby I had left would be reduced to a nuisance.  I completely dismissed this idea.  More than that, it actually kinda pissed me off that people would think that.  Your baby is not a nuisance.  Well, not a mere nuisance.

I guess you can see what I'm leading to: those people, who told me my fur baby would fade into the background of my life were right.  I hate to say it, but it's true.  I do still love my cat.  I really do.  He's sitting opposite me now, all curled up and asleep, and he's rather lovely.  It's just that I can't give the time to him like I used to.  Once I would allow him to climb up me and wrap around me and sit on me at odd angles.  Now I just want him to piss off.  And I tell him so frequently.  Usually it's because I'm trying to change a nappy, or breast feed, or sneak quietly out of the bathroom, and a cats arse in my face is NOT conducive to doing any of these things successfully.  And the more I reject him, the more desperate he gets, so the more annoying he becomes.  It's a vicious circle.  I used to laugh at my own mother when she ranted about one of our family cats (we had several over my childhood) being a bloody nuisance who just malted fur all over the furniture and puked up cat biscuits for her to scrape into the bin.  She would rave about what an inconvenience they were, sitting on her sewing, playing with her knitting, and licking the margarine out of the container on the bench.  Then, when we caught her giving the cat a surreptitious pat, or shedding a quiet tear when they finally died, we would smile at how silly she had been as she really did  love the cat, it was all just some strange facade she put up.  Mum, I finally understand you.  The cat IS fucking annoying.  There's no two ways around it.  I do love him, really.  But he's FUCKING ANNOYING!!!

Bertie & I share a moment in happier times...
So last night as I was trying to soothe my child while seething at my lovely Bertie who was simply leaving me a(nother) present (fourth in a week after the live bird under the fridge, the headless rat on the front lawn, and the live bird in the lounge), I thought I would write about it.  For two reasons; firstly, to vent about the grossness of standing on a rat; secondly, to purge my guilt about swearing at a poor animal who just wants my love.  And then it occurred to me I should do it for a third reason.  I want this blog to be positive.  I don't want to bitch about life.  I'm pretty good at it, I don't need more practice.  I needed to write about this so I can remind myself how lovely my Bertie has been since Edie was born.

Everyday, Albert is squealed at, bitten, slobbered on, grabbed, pinched, patted (we are beginning to get that), and occasionally, sat upon.  And that's just Phil (Oh what mirth!  I of course mean by Edie).  He has his biscuits intentionally spread across the kitchen with gay abandon.  His mummy yells at him and he's not sure why.  The only way he can get love from mum or dad is to endure the aforementioned squealing, slobbering etc.  Yet he sticks around.  More than that, he seems to seek out the affections of Edie from time to time.  And. She. Loves. Him.  She is absolutely head over heels, obsessed with Bertie.  When we can't get Edie to eat her dinner we just say, "Where's Bertie?" and she starts to look all around her and opens her mouth for a spoonful in the hope that it will result in the appearance of Albert (a bit mean I know.  Told you I was a Top Mum).  I think Bertie would easily be the most "kissed" thing in the house if he stood still for long enough - not as good as it sounds as Edie's kisses involve open-mouth slobbering, sometimes followed by a bite.  That little girl thinks her cat is the bees knees.  So while life for Bert is a wee bit tough at the moment, I'm hoping that his patience will come to repay him in spades.  I might not have time for the cat's arse in my face anymore, but Edie will take any part he's willing to offer.

You can't be mad at that for too long

Monday, 21 May 2012

Cool Shit Monday

I have been wondering how to organically incorporate the sharing of some stuff I like into this blog.  The way I write is so bloody long-winded and more like a Wagnerian saga than a peppy "Hey!  I think this is so hot right now!  LOL!" blog.  So I've decided to concede a day to just telling you a wee bit about any neat stuff I find - Cool Shit Monday.  I don't think my Mum will like the title (swearing for swearing's sake - not really her style) but I think it fits.

If Cool Shit Mondays bomb out and no one likes my cool shit, then I'll just have another day of Wagnerian saga.  We'll see.  I'm aiming to only write 8ish sentences per cool shit item, otherwise I figure I'm defeating the purpose.  Wish me luck...

Top of my Cool Shit List:  Liana Raine Gourment Artisan Pops.  Doubly cool as they allow me to be clever and pun-savvy (cool and cool - get it?!  GENIUS!).  I unashamedly allow that having this at the top of my first 'cool shit' list is blatant nepotism as the gorgeous girls who are the true genius behind Liana Raine are my cousins (I mentioned Aja in my first blog post). But they are so much more than that; beauty and brains combine in these two lovely ladies and if I had money to throw into fledgling businesses, I would be tossing it freely in their direction.  Bianca's perfectionist taste buds, Aja's out-of-the-box business sense, and a double dose of creativity - winning combo!  I know, it's getting rather wintry in the Southern Hemisphere but these bad boys taste so good I'd be willing to brave a midwinter ice-cream headache.  A Pineapple Chilli with a sprinkle of salt please... Or maybe an Apple, Rhubarb & Ginger...
Photography: Marissa Fleming; The Simple Things Studio

Staying with a foodie theme - Some teas call for you to use a tea cup.  I mean a real tea cup.  With a saucer and everything.  Maybe even a matching cake plate if you're being proper fancy.  This Harney & Sons Tea is one such tea.  My sister sent me a care package from the beautiful Korora Gifts (worth checking out too!) a month or so ago and tucked in amongst the other delights was a beautiful tin of Harney Hot Cinnamon Spice tea bags.  They remind of Big Red gum with the "bite" that good cinnamon products give you.  They are caffeinated (a plus in my book), naturally sweetened, AND they come in beautiful silken pyramid tea bags which makes the whole thing feel rather decadent.  I'm was very happy tea-drinker when I discovered that I can order refills for my tin.

Moustaches: Not to everyone's taste I know, but even the greatest moustache naysayer couldn't hate this pillow.

Blabla use natural fibers sourced in Peru to make totally cool and quirky knitted goods.  They have worked with artisan knitters in Peru to combine their designs with the beautiful wool.  They adhere to Fair Trade ethics too which gives added brownie points.  Cool kids will have their stuff, I'm sure.  And my friend Clarissa who has a strange attachment to the comedy moustache...

My friend Carlie posted this video this morning on her facebook page.  It's from the Graham Norton Show.  I do quite like a bit of the old Graham Norton.  He says inappropriate things and I identify with that.  Go figure.  Anyway, this made me smile and sing along.  You will too - why do we all know the words to a crappy 80s TV show?  Beats me, but it's feel good stuff.