Friday, 29 June 2012

WTFF: Spot the Dress

I had a dress planned to wear today and I was determined to wear it.  The problem was, it's a dress that would look stink with most tights and a bit crazy with boots and it's bloody freezing in Dunedin at the moment.  So as I was lying in bed last night pondering how I could wear the dress, it came to me that I could cheat.  Don't hate me for it, it really is frickin' freezing in here Mr Bigglesworth.

I still wore the dress I'd planned, I just turned it into a top.  This is actually a cunning plan that I highly recommend for a number of reasons.  Firstly, you get more wear out of your dress.  You can rehash it in a variety of different guises.  You also have that "old as new" feeling that you sometimes get from your clothes when you find a different way to wear them.
However some words of caution.  Be careful how you wear the dress as a top.  You need to be mindful of the shape of the dress and the thing that you put over it.  You can end up making yourself look like you have a whole lot more junk in the trunk than you do.  And not in a good way.

Today's dress worked as a top for a couple of reasons.  It's straight (no fullness in the skirt), has no detail below the waist (no buttons and bows making odd shapes in my skirt), and the material is fairly thin (no bulky knits to make it look like I'm wadding my tights with newspaper to keep warm.  Although that might have been practical today).  The other half of the dress-as-top equation is, of course, the skirt.  You can have a dress that ticks all the boxes above, but if the skirt isn't right, you can go astray.  Today's skirt worked because the skirt was longer than the dress (although you could possibly make a cool look from this if you were careful), the skirt was fuller than the dress (so the dress didn't look bulky underneath the skirt), and the waist of the skirt sat well with the natural line (or lack of) of the dress.

Perhaps I'm making it sound unnecessarily complicated.  When you put a dress on underneath a skirt, you'll know if it looks crazy or not.  I looked, I thought this didn't look crazy, I left the house with the outfit on.  Simple.

So the dress.  I bought it at this Vintage Fair in Auckland in April.  The fair itself was rather interesting.  It was organised by a community of people who love to live a 'vintage' lifestyle, not just sell clothes or items.  Nearly everyone there was in vintage attire from head to toe.  The products were many and varied (make ups, hair products, undergarments, crockery) but all with a vintage feel.  Most of the things weren't actually true vintage, but new-as-vintage.  They had a best dressed competition, old cars, dancing... it was all quite curious.  I wished I'd known the feel of it so I could have gone appropriately attired!  Anyway, I picked up this polka-dot smock.  I sometimes think it makes me look a spotty checkout chick, but I just love the colour and the buttons so much I don't really care.  It's in pretty good nick - a couple of pulls here and there but not very obvious.  I really liked the way the tie of the dress hung down across the top of the skirt.  It looks much better here than it does when I wear the dress alone - it kind of disappears but against the black it pops.

The skirt I've had for about 10 years.  You know how people in the fashion-know spout jargon like 'investment pieces'?  Well as pretentious as that sounds, this is definitely an investment piece.  It's World (not the Warehouse one, the New Zealand designer label) and it's been one of the most useful items I've owned and hardly looks worse for wear.  I love the high waist on it and the deceptive simplicity - the back gathering is actually an insert piece that has a zip on either side which you undo to get the skirt on and off.  I've always loved high-waisted things - they have that 'other timeliness' about them.

I bought the shoes at I Love Paris last year and they cost me a pretty penny but I was lured in by their white leather brogue siren song.  I figured that they too, could become an investment piece.  They better last a good 10 years.  But I do love them.  They pick out the white buttons and spots on this dress nicely.

Nearly everything else I'm wearing is for warmth's sake - the tights, the black merino underneath.  All except the pearl necklace.  I own about 5 different pearl necklaces.  I love them.  Maybe I like playing ladies or something.  None of them are real but all are lovely in my eyes.  My mum bought this for me a few years ago and it's a good length for the neckline of the dress.  I also think it suits the style of the dress and again, picks out the white on the dress.

Today Edie wore a cute knit cotton tunic dress from Frugi but she was rugged up all day so it was hardly on display.  I did take a couple of snaps but she just wants to take the photos herself so they're all pictures that look up her nose as she lunges for the camera, or they're of her packing a sad as I tried to move the camera enough of a distance away to get a photo.  I'll have to try the outfit again on another day when she's not so grumpy or so cold.

I hope you'll allow me my dress cheat today.  I did wear my frock, I just layered it.  Hopefully you find some inspiration to give a frock of yours a new identity.
Is she flipping me the bird??

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Top 5 Floor Filth: Why I Need to Vacuum Every Day

It's no secret that I am not a neat freak.  Most people seem to emerge from their teenage years of filth and squalor with a newly acquired need for cleanliness.  This level of this need varies from person to person but it for some reason it often seems that females are more needy in this sense - they require a level of 'clean and tidy' - a Level of Cleanliness - to feel comfortable that exceeds that of their male counterparts.  This Level increases with certain milestones in one's life, for example, when you buy your first house.  There's something about suddenly being financially wholly responsible for a property that makes a person want to keep it spick and span.  Another Level changer seems to be having a child.  Suddenly you're aware that your pride and joy can't be rolling round in what might previously have been an acceptable Level of mess.  The sad oxymoron to this is that the child creates whole new layers of mess and dirt that you suddenly have lower tolerance for.
It has been the subject of much envy and conversation amongst my friends that I struck it lucky with Phil.  Not only is he neat and clean-aware, he is proactive and requires things to be tidy before he can relax.  I don't think blokes really talk about this sort of thing, but if they did, Phil would experience the opposite reaction from his mates - they would feel sorry for him that he ended up with a wife who is, honestly, a crap housekeeper and who leaves the majority of the housework to him.  It's not that I don't have any Level of Cleanliness and I want to sit amidst empty pizza boxes and dust bunnies, it's just that my Level isn't as high as is commonly acceptable.
Now as mentioned, there are life events that have escalated my Level of Cleanliness but it seems that in the last few months one of two things has happened.
a) My Level of Cleanliness has suddenly had a massive growth-spurt and I am finally hitting my post-adolescent need for clean (my Mum will be so relieved); or
b) There has been an on-going, almighty shit storm in and around my house that suddenly means that I am dealing with an unprecedented level of filth on our carpets and lino, resulting in the need for vigorous vacuuming.

I find it hard to believe that it's taken until my 30s to discover 'clean', so below I outline the Top 5 things that have come together to form the perfect floor maelstrom.

1. Cat fur.  This is not new, Albert has lived with us for over 5 years now.  In fact, we're down to one cat from two, so in theory there should be less cat fluff.  And it's winter so surely he wants all the fluff he can hold onto.  But I think the cat has formulated a cunning plan.  A silent protest if you will.  He is staging a fluff-in.  What is a fluff-in?  A fluff-in is Bertie objecting to the invasion of his domain by a two legged, grabby thing.  Namely Edie.  I think it's a domestic cat evolutionary development - they can shed at will just to really piss you off.

2. Bird Feathers and Mouse Poo.  Not content with restricting the protest to fur, Albert also brings in a stream of innocent small creatures.  This serves two purposes.  The first is to really piss me off by having to chase the creatures out, or pick up the remnants left in the hallway, or track down their petrified bodies behind appliances.  The second is to scare the creature into roaming around the house as much as possible, leaving their filth behind them (Bertie's probably dropping fur as this happens just get double coverage).  Yesterday I had two birds in the one day.  That was a lot of feathers.  There also may or may not be a rodent of some sort living under our dishwasher.  Or is it behind the entertainment centre? Either way, it's probably spreading filth on the floor.

3. Rice Crackers.  Why is it that snacks designed for babies and children are so freaking messy?  If you don't have kids, you've probably never seen a rice cracker half masticated and spat up again so let me tell you aaaall about about.  They are like gooey snot when they're still wet, all thick and gluggy.  Then when they dry they're like concrete.  So I stopped giving Edie those and buy her those little rice cake things.  Problem solved.  Though now I have a new problem.  These crackers crumble.  It's like she's worried she'll get lost from the kitchen to the bedroom so leaves a trail of rice crumbs.  On the plus side, I can always find her.

4. Paper.  Ah, kids and paper.  Today Edie got a late 1st birthday present.  It was lovely.  She barely registered what it was but she did clock the wrapping paper.  She almost burst out of her skin trying to bust free of the high chair so she could attack the paper.  She proceeded to tear said wrapping paper into a multitude of tiny paper pieces (perhaps she wants to wrap some small gifts for the mouse under the dishwasher?).  Let her at a circular, an old envelope, a magazine... anything that is paper, and she will destroy it.  She rips until the pieces are so small, it's not worth picking up by hand, the vacuum is needed.  We could make a nice nest for rats or gerbils at our house.

5. Onion Skins and Dirt (that one took you by surprise didn't it?).  At least that's what it was today but really I mean any number of things that you didn't intend for the floor but somehow ended up there.  Like the rolled oats I mentioned in Baking - an Expose.  Things that you foolishly leave somewhere small hands can reach.  Or maybe you knew they were in reach and you watched the small hands sprinkle the filth all over the house with gay abandon but were too apathetic about what was going on to disrupt their enjoyment.  Edie found the bucket of shallots that Phil had harvested from the garden.  It was about half full but a lot of the contents was dirt, onion skins, and other garden material.  Edie began by scattering the odd onion skin around the house (she kindly took some to our bedroom and left it beside our bed), then slowly extended her distribution until the whole bucket was upended and she was literally rolling in the dirt and shallots.  It looked quite fun actually so I left her to it.  But clearly I needed to address the chaos at some stage and in another Top Mum moment, left the vacuuming until she was over-tired and just followed me and the vacuum cleaner around the house grizzling, periodically lying in front of the machine like she was sacrificing herself to the gods of vacuuming.

I have not even begun to talk about all the 'things' that litter the filthy floor and must be picked up several times a day.

So really, I think it's clear that a quick vacuum every day is the least one could do with all this foulness around them.  And I don't even achieve that most days.  Sorry Mum (and Phil), it would seem I still have a very low Level of Cleanliness, it's just that I live in a whole lot more filth.
Edie in shallot and dirt nirvana

Monday, 25 June 2012

Cool Shit Monday: Childhood Fantasies

image: thefrenchpear via all the pretty pretties

I saw this tree house the other day and had one of those Swiss Family Robinson flashbacks.  No, I don't mean a flashback to the time I was stranded on a desert island with my family (that's a whole other story...), I mean to watching that quaint 60s Disney movie of the book where they build that incredible home.  When I was a kid, that totally seemed like the sweetest place anyone could ever hope to live.  There's something about a system of levers and pulleys to help run a household in completely unnecessary yet totally cool way that just floats my boat.  I think it's the lingering impression left by those awesome sequences in Sesame St where they show you things like the processes at a peanut butter factory.  Anyway, a tree house (a fancy one) still seems like a pretty cool idea.  So here are some other cool things that I might either put in my tree house or appeal the child in me.
And all the animals were their friends.  Aww...

You've probably seen this staircase.  It's been doing the rounds on Pinterest and facey.  But it would be a treat in my tree house.  I once did a school project when I was 8 in which I had to come up with a creative way to get to and from school.  I had to walk up and down a couple of hills so I decided that I would like to take a gondola (the aerial kind, not the boating kind) to the top of the hills, and a hydro slide down.  I still like this idea (yes, yes, I know there are many logical reasons why it would actually be crap) and this staircase puts me in mind of it.

I think it was my 7th birthday party where I had the Sweet Shop cake.  If you grew up in New Zealand or Australia, you know THE BOOK of birthday cakes that every home seemed to have.  I'm pretty sure it was a Woman's Weekly number.  I spent hours poring over that book, planning which cake I would have for an upcoming imaginary party.  There is a classic photo of me leaning on the table in front of the sweet cake and I look so stoked (in the same photo, one of my party friends is throwing a wobbly - also quite funny).  As soon as I saw this site and their beautiful creations, I was put in mind of that cake.  I don't know which of all these beautiful set ups I want.  I may just spend hours poring over them creating imaginary parties...

Bunks: a dorky hassle when you have to live in the same room in your brother because your big sister brings home an exchange student who stays for the better part of the year (clearly one of my life experiences), or the perfect excuse to share the fun and avoid sleep (remember that as a kid you didn't want to sleep.  Oh how things change)?  With these kick-arse bunks, there is no doubt it's the latter.  There are so many amazing kids beds out there to choose from I had trouble picking ones to show you.

Wonderland beds

Source: d'Home interiors
I think it's a compulsory that my childhood fantasy tree house has a cool reading room.  And it's very handy that Kid's Republic Bookstore in Beijing has created something pretty darn close to perfection.  I want to go here.  Now.  I wish to curl up on/in one of these shelves and read Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton.

I miss the limitless, logic-defying ideas of childhood!  Who wouldn't prefer a Swiss Family Robinson-style stranding to the Tom Hanks grown-ups version?  The rope swings and friendly elephants beat a bloodied volleyball and rampant facial hair any day.

Friday, 22 June 2012

WTFF: Pastoral Pretty

Today I felt very smug about the fact that I bought local, whole produce and I actually made some sort of effort beyond picking up a product with a "locally grown" sticker at the supermarket.  Terry (of Meet the Foodies fame) and I took our kiddies and went for a drive out to a little dairy out by Port Chalmers (we even car pooled so I we can feel smug about being environmentally conscious).  I'll take some photos the next time I go as it's really very cute and worth a story of its own.  Plus Phil plans to make cheese with the milk I bought so hopefully that's story-worthy too.

But what has all this to do with What the Frock Friday?  Not much actually but I'm stretching it so it does.  The dress I'm wearing today is another Voon number, appropriately called the Meadow dress.  Get it?  Meadow, cows, milk, pasture... I'm really clever ay?  Ahem.  I actually think this dress is a perfect Spring dress - floral, short-sleeved, mid-length, wool.  All excellent things in Spring.  But it's not Spring, it's the middle of Winter.  The Winter Solstice actually.  So today I paired it with some tights (not my ideal tights/dress combo but they were what I had in the draw.  I mentioned the tights shortage in last week's WTFF), and a cute wool blazer just to make a little more Winter-friendly.

The Meadow dress.  This dress is a work horse (did you like that one Harriet & Sam??).  By this odd turn of phrase, I mean to tell you that I bring it out over and over again and I still love it, it's still in great nick, and it keeps looking good.  It's the dress that keeps on giving.  As mentioned, it's woolen so is perfect for Dunedin's chilly climes.  I like the innocence of it - the high scoop neck, the short sleeves, the mid-length skirt, and of course the demure satin bow at the neck.  I think it all suits the beautiful floral perfectly.  The colours in this dress have always appealed to me.  The coral red of the roses with the golden yellow flowers and deep blue background.  Classic colouring that works well on me (not that you can tell it by the time we took the photos at 6pm in our crap lighting).  As the wool has stretch, the dress is obviously fitted, but the texture and pattern of the material mean it's forgiving.

A much better representation of the material
The coat is also a Voon number (can you tell I loved that store??) and I'm pretty sure was called the Cotton Candy Jacket.  It also came in a fuschia pink and black too I think.  I always loved the classic cut of this blazer and the cute collar (it looks great done up).  And true to Sophie's impeccable styling it is adorned with gorgeous buttons.  Should this jacket ever give up the ghost (no sign of that yet) I will definitely be salvaging those buttons.  Sadly, this little jacket doesn't fit me as well as it once did and it's a bit big in places (it hasn't stretched, I have).  If I was to be picky, I would say that as a result, the shape of the jacket doesn't allow the shape of the dress to work it's magic.  Compare the pics with and without and decide for yourself.  However, I've always liked picking out the red in this dress and the jacket obviously does a great job.  Since that mustard colour has come back into fashion I've had a few more options with warm layers but I'm sticking with the demure jacket today - I think it fits my pastoral/fairy tale idea better.  It's like a Little Red Riding Hood outfit.  For an adult.  With no hood.  You know what I'm getting at...

Tights.  Don't want to bang on about it, but if I were to style this ideally, I would probably go for no tights (the Spring thing comes back again) as I feel it suits the simplicity of the dress more.  And failing that, I think block colour tights would be best so as not to detract from the pattern of the dress and also compliment the block colour of the other accessories.  But these tights will do today.

The shoes are an old I Love Billy pair that I have trashed but I love the colour and the pattern of the material.  With a skirt of this length, I would generally opt for heels of some sort to balance my proportions better but something in this dress often makes me head to my flats.  I think it's something to do with themes previously mentioned - youth, innocence, fairy tales...  Am I sounding a bit mental?  I sound like I've tried to pretend I'm 12 by putting on a flowery frock.  I hope you're following my thinking here.
My shoes and Edie's shoes (in case you thought I have a bound right foot)

Aaaand just to compound the issue, we'll move onto the hair ribbon. I put it in because, well, it's young, fresh, innocent... I'm not having a mid-life crisis I swear.  I went through a phase in my early 20s of wearing hair ribbons often.  I don't do it as much any more as my hair is short and I don't think my hair cut always works with a ribbon in (it's longer than it's been for ages).  Plus I can't be bothered.  I also harbour a fear that I will turn around and find out that I'm a 65 year old woman with loooong greying hair who wears hair ribbons.  It's just not right.  But I'm not there yet so today I went with a ribbon.

This dress is not the one to wear a necklace with (neckline and ribbon - don't need a necklace in there over-crowding things do we?) so today I added some earrings.  A good option also as the ribbon means they are seen a bit more.  These gorgeous specimens were given to me by my sister.  I have a feeling she bought them in Scotland.  And yes, they have real daisies in them.  Cute, huh?  And very in theme.

And there we have my Pastoral fantasy.  I just needed to be carrying some of the milk I bought today in pails, or taking a basket of baked goods to Grandma's house.  But that's all a little much when also carrying your child.

Today Edie was also wearing a dress meant for another season: Summer.  I'm not a totally neglectful parent, I did "Winter" it up for her.  The dress came from Pumpkin Patch and she wore it to Bianca's wedding and not again.  It was really a little too big for her at the wedding and there hasn't been another occasion since that I could bring it out for.  So if she was ever to wear it, I needed to do some serious layering.  I put her in a white long-sleeved onesie from Frugi and some white tights.  She has some cute little slipper mary janes from Pumpkin Patch also, so I put those on them picked up the red by giving her a red hair-clip and little flower brooch I made using red ribbon and some broderie anglaise (super easy - just used a gathering stitch around a long edge, pulled the cotton tight and voila - flower).
Of course she also had her ultimate accessory, her glasses.  I need to get some more purple things to match them.  Just bought her a cute pair of purple boots today so that's a start.

Edie and Charlotte - straight out of a fairy tale and onto your computer.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Spectacular Unveiling: Top 5 Things I Have Learnt About Children and Glasses

Edie got her glasses today (it's only taken a month.  Geesh!) and so far, she's only pulled them off and biffed them across the room a couple of dozen times.  Not too bad.  She's yanked them off and bent them at odd angles another few dozen times, smeared banana on the lenses, and possibly made her first scratch in the 'scratch resistant' lenses, but what do expect from a one year old?

In positive news, she has also tried to put them back on herself at least twice.  Once she almost garroted herself but the other time she got them over her eyes.  They were just upside down.  Still, you could see she felt pretty pleased with her bad self.
Lesson to be taken from all this:

1. Glasses only make you look smart.

I am already having to do some deep breaths so I also don't hiff the glasses across the room.  Phil reckons we're going for the "do it so many times til it bores the shit out of her" approach.  She takes glasses off, we put glasses back on.  She takes glasses off, we put glasses back on.  And repeat.  Ad infinitum.
Lesson to be taken from this:

2. All advice about "never enter a battle of wills with your child" applies to everything except eyewear.

I caught myself saying, "Come here, Goggy" after she'd had the glasses for less than an hour.  Clearly this practice will have to cease if I am to have any hope of building my child's positive self-image.  Calling her or her glasses 'gogs' or 'goggy' may not be entirely constructive behaviour.  Also, other people may give me The Look that strangers give to people they believe are unfit parents.  I hate this look and wish to avoid the judgement of strangers where possible.
Lesson learnt from this:

3. Refer to glasses as... well... glasses.

In order to not only make neutral glasses references, but positive ones, I seem to be employing the "Awww... Pretty" Parenting Technique.  This is used when you are making your child wear something they don't want to.  If you have a boy, you may call it the "Awww... Handsome" Technique but either or.  I'm sure that if I tell her often enough, she will agree that her glasses are indeed pretty.  It would be helpful though if I stopped following this affirmation with snickering.  I know, you're all giving me The Look right now down your internet connections.  I'm not actually laughing at her because I think she doesn't look pretty with glasses, it's just that she looks so damn comically cute that I can't help myself.  But she doesn't understand this nuance so I shall have to be more careful with my reactions.
Lesson learnt from this:

4.  Be sincere in all positive affirmations and do not follow with guffaws, snickers, or any other behaviour that could be construed as undermining the positive feeling you just tried to engender.

Glasses cost a lot of money.  Did you know this?  I was vaguely aware of this but as I don't, nor ever have worn glasses (and the same can be said for Phil), I have never truly appreciated just how freakin' expensive they are.  Until today.  Also, I assumed there'd be some sort of tiered costing system.  Edie is approximately an eight of the size of an average adult, therefore her glasses would be an eighth of the cost, give or take a fraction or two.  Oh no, my fine friends, not so!  Being small is of no advantage when it comes to discounting glasses.  And if it is, Edie will be getting a part time job when she's 5 to start saving for the glasses she may need when she's 15.  So just how much were these little masterpieces of visual correction?  I won't give you the exact figure, but it was over $400 for these fine spec-imens.  The optometrist (who is lovely and in no way seems like a rip off artist, just in case you think we were had) assures me that these glasses should last her for a couple of years and they darn well better!  Given the treatment they have received today, I am nervous to say the least.
Lesson learnt from this:

5. Make sure my uterus forms the eyeballs of any subsequent children a lot better than it did last time round.  You're on notice, uterus.  There's a nasty alternative for malfunctioning uterus' (interesting plural...): it begins with 'h' and ends with 'ysterectomy'.  I'm sure as you seem to have done a fine job in all other aspects it won't come to this, but just so you know...

So apart from my 5 swiftly-learnt life lessons today, I'm feeling quite positive about the glasses.  The magnification is pretty big like we expected (having to seriously restrain myself from making Furby jokes here), and there will definitely be some struggles keeping them on, but she doesn't seem to hate them and neither do I.
She's my baby anyway - she'd make even the dorkiest gogs look cool.
Love you Edie xxxooo
Taken with Papa's iPhone at lunchtime

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Miraculous Happenings

I made some vague excuse last week about being tardy with WTFF.  I also promised I would post photos of the vague excuse.  I'm going to do better than that, I'm going to write a whole post about it.

One of my besties, Harriet, had a wild and wonderful idea a few years ago to start a baby store in Dunedin.  There was a massive hole in the market here.  You could go to the Baby Factory for basics, or TNT if you wanted your child to be highly flammable, or Arthur Barnetts if you could get past the smell of old ladies and cona coffee, and that was about it.  The magical internet was available of course, but sometimes you just want to go into a store and buy something.  Harriet was working in an incredibly unsatisfying job where her fabulous ideas and talents were not appreciated.  In search of retail-salvation, she started a new job as Assistant Manager in a business that was just starting up in Dunedin.  Her manager was an affable young lady named Sam.  Sam and Harriet quickly discovered that they shared the dream of opening a decent children's store in Dunedin.  They also quickly discovered that they didn't hate each other's guts (quite rare for retail work colleagues) and actually, they could handle seeing each other day in, day out indefinitely.  And they could make sensible decisions that the other didn't completely disagree with.  Sounds like the recipe for a good marriage, doesn't it?  And it was - A business marriage.  Harriet & Sam bit the bullet, took the leap of faith, and other cliches, and started Miracle.
Opening morning - Sam and Harriet lacking sleep but still smiling!
That was four years ago.  They have, as one might expect from any new business, their fair share of ups and downs but the heart of the matter remains: they have a good business idea, and they have the brains to implement it.  And so it was that at the beginning of the year they found themselves in a temporary store.  It was a pretty big challenge that they weren't entirely expecting to face but like so many of these serendipitous twists and turns life throws you, it's been an awesome clarifier for them - an unexpected boon.  The change from a massive store space to a much smaller one has focussed their business objectives and allowed them to make some changes they had been wanting to make for a while, and also discover some new successes they didn't know existed.  And through their temporary store, the metaphoric door has opened to their new permanent location.

It was this location that we worked hard to pull together on Friday, ready for the grand opening on Saturday.  It's like moving house except it all happens in a tight time frame and then you have to be ready to have an open home the following morning.  It's pretty full on!  Thankfully they were only moving down the corridor this time, but there's still a lot to do when you move a whole store of stock.  Stress levels were fairly high, people were tired, there were up to 10 of us all trying to work in a small space, not including the various off-spring roaming around or screaming the house down... it was chaotic to put it mildly.

But shit these ladies are funny.  As the hours ticked by and the bags under the eyes started to get darker, the jokes became more and more inappropriate and the laughter turned to giggling and cackling (most females are prone to the odd cackle when they're overtired).  Most amazing of all, the shop started to look good.  Really good.  Despite all the bossing (thanks Micaela), dithering, screaming babies (what would a baby store be without them?), and generally flummoxing, we pulled it together.

The result is a store that looks like a a delicious cupcake - beautiful quality ingredients topped with lots of colourful sprinkles.  The quality shoes, the cloth nappies, the beautiful merino clothing, and then bowlfuls of bright toys, and puzzles.  These girls have always known what they wanted, they have known what they needed to do, and with the new store they have taken another step towards their retail dream.  It's so awesome to watch.  It seems other people agree.  When 10am rolled around on Saturday morning, Harriet and Sam had more than just lack of sleep to deal with, they had a queue down the street waiting for the doors to open.

I'm happy to say I'll be doing a little more than just watch their success as I am about rediscover my retail feet and be their Monday Girl.  They've also got me looking after some of their online content too so I am slowly wheedling my way into the business.  A little Miracle with jam and cream?  I think I like that combination.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Cool Shit Monday: Oldies but Goodies

I've recently rediscovered a few things that I had forgotten existed.  Sometimes that's for the best, for example, any outfit I wore between the ages of 12 and 18, but in this cases I've unearthed some loved gems.

This camera.  I'm not a big photographer or photography aficionado (you're shocked, I know.  My photos are so amazing and all) but even this appeals to me.  So this camera was originally released back in the early 60s as a novelty item but quickly became the darling of the photography world for the cool imperfections it created in its photos.  This is a re-release of the original complete with handbook and accessories so even photo-failures like me have a shot at getting a good pic but the fact that it's all supposed to go a little bit wrong appeals to me.  And you get the added bonus of having a coral camera. If that ain't cool, I don't know what is.

Shit My Dad Says.  I'm sure most of you will have seen this website or the book or the facebook page or any other number of ways of viewing this wonderful thing, but I'm reminding you to look again.  The concept is a simple one: a guy in his adult years lives with his elderly father, father comes out with classic Dad phrases and advice, guy writes these down.  Whoop de doo.  But it is seriously some of the funniest stuff you will read.  You get some typical dad-isms mixed with brutal honesty, perceptive insight, and a little bit of old person racism/stereo-typing.  Nothing funnier.  Go read and give yourself a smile.  I dare you not to laugh out loud.

The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra has been round for a number of years now (Bret Mackenzie was one of their founding members dontcha know), fighting the good fight for slightly dorky music.  I know, that doesn't make them sound all that cool but believe me, they are.  You have to be uber-cool to pull off a B-side Prince number, "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man", and not destroy it.  You have to be hyper-awesome to make me want to sing Kenny Rogers' 'Ruby' over and over.  And you need to be get-out-of-town amazing to take a song like 'Africa' by Toto and make me want to put it on repeat.  So much better than the original.  They manage to be both self-deprecating and actually good all at once.  It's a talent.  Check them out if you haven't already, and put them on your playlist again if you've been neglecting them.

Not my favourite song but the best video.

This website has provided me with hours of amusement and I had forgotten all about it until Frankie magazine reminded me of it's awesome existence.  I try to be positive on this blog (because my true inclination is to be scathingly sarcastic and that's just not very healthy to indulge on a daily basis) but I freely admit that Cake Wrecks is all about showing you the idiots of the world.  Through baking.  Could there be a better combo (jam and cream are up there of course)?

Some biscuits have a mystery about them - they are ridiculously simple and yet so good.  Chocolate Digestives are just such a biscuit.  I believe the UK equivalent are McVities and Chocolate Malted Milks in the US.  It's a wheaten (boring) with a thin layer of chocolate (thin?!  stink!) that must barely qualify as chocolate as the cocoa percentage is so low.  Am I selling it?  But somehow, somehow the combination of all these really average things makes a delicious biscuit that is one of the best dunking biccies I know (you just need to make sure it's a quick dunk, not a gingernut-length dunk).  Interestingly, their rival brand equivalent, the Chocolate Wheaten, is a bit shit.  I'm sure that there must be all sorts of disgusting additives to make the Chocolate Digestive as good as it is, but I'm going to stay blissful in my ignorance.  In fact I am going to have a cup of nice earl grey and a Chocolate Digestive or two right now.

Also, if you happen to have anyone who is an oldie but a goodie close at hand, I suggest you give them  cuddle (or a high-five if you're a bit anti PDA and physical contact).  That's some cool shit right there.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

WTFF: Vintage Ombre

Friday was a busy day here.  I went and investigated a couple of at home carers for Edie (we'll save that for another post), and as I mentioned in my brief post, I went to help set up shop for my friends Harriet and Sam.  They run what has always been a beautiful children's wear store, Miracle, but it has recently undergone a bit of makeover which has culminated in a light and spacious new store.  It really does deserve to do well after all the love they have put into it.  In all the comings and goings I didn't take any photos but when the excitement of the opening weekend blows over, I'll get some to show you how lovely it is.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that it was a day I could have easily forgone a frock.  Firstly I knew I'd be in and out of the car and in the houses of people with kids and I'd be wrestling with my own child, keeping her from stealing all the toys of others.  Secondly, I knew I was going to the store and there'd be moving and cleaning involved.  A dress was not the most practical thing to wear.  Thirdly, I didn't have time for a shower (too much information?) hence the pinned back hair and un-ironed dress.  But I decided that I was going to stay true to my cause and rock a frock.  And not just any old jersey-frock number, but a real pleats and flounces dress.  I am happy to report that when I arrived home at 11pm, my dress was still in one piece.  I barely even registered the dress "inconvenience" through the day - it wasn't an inconvenience at all.  So I take this as a lesson that frocks do rock and my excuses for not wearing them are not always valid.

So down to business: today's dress.

I bought this dress at a Vintage Clothing and Textile Fair in the Woman's Hall on Moray Place (Dunedin).  I actually went to the same fair again this morning and picked up a cute skirt for $10.  But I digress.  The dress was hanging on the wall and I eyed it as I wandered around the stalls.  Eventually I decided to ask the stall-holder if I could look at it.  She kindly informed me that I could, but the dress was pretty small.  I decided to walk away.  Why look at something I could never wear and just get dress-longing (you know what I'm talking about, I'm sure)?  But it kept calling to me so I went back and asked again.  It was a cold day and I was wearing a big puffer jacket and when I took it off the lady was able to better judge my size and we decided that it might actually fit.  And low and behold, it did.  Like a glove.  I promptly handed over the cash and walked out with a thing of beauty in my nappy bag.  It really does fit like a glove - as I said when I bought it, I can't ever gain a centimeter but it's totally worth it.  I wore it to Edie's 1st Birthday as it's such a party dress - full skirt, fitted bodice - but I decided that I wanted to see if I could turn it into a dress to be worn on any other day.  So I paired it with my brown boots (seen in WTFF: Parisian Chic) and a cardi, and left out the petticoat.  I think it was a success.

There are many things to love about this dress.  Firstly I was drawn to the changing hues in the material.  I called this post Vintage Ombre and it's not strictly ombre but I think you see where I got that idea.  None of the colours in the dress are any that I wear normally, but they are just so... appealing.  Like a delicious apricoty peachy dessert.  I love the paneling around the waist.  Each panel is about 2 inches wide so it has about 15 individual panels around the middle of the dress.  A lot of work went into making that dress.  Full skirts: I love them.  My mum sewed a petticoat with a tulle layer years ago as part of a costume for her.  The petticoat has seen many reincarnations but is now a staple in my wardrobe for just such a full skirt.  As I said, I ditched the petticoat today to make it more of a day dress and you are still able to appreciate the shape of the skirt as it has so much material.  The neckline of this dress is quite unusual - a wide v with a binding in the same material.  I don't think I've seen many other garments with this style.  I love the buttons down the bust - they pick up the cream in the material beautifully.
This style of dress is perfect for people who are bigger round the hips/bum/thigh area as those parts fall under the skirt of the dress.  You don't have to be small-waisted as the flair of the skirt means that the part above the flair (the waist) looks small.  Of course if you are small-waisted, it adds to the effect.  50s dresses are generally a flattering shape for most bodies, in my opinion, as their bodices come in such a variety you can find one to suit you, and the skirt works on almost anyone.

The cardigan I bought at a shop in Queenstown a couple of years ago.  Unfortunately I can't remember the name.  I would love to go back there.  It was a shop run by a lady who also did image consulting so she was incredibly helpful in the store.  I think this cardi cost me about $40 which is a bargain in my book.  It's not wool but still makes a great warmer layer.  I find long cardis don't often work well for me for a couple of reasons (short legs, curvy hips...), but I just need to wear them the right way and they're fine.

I've already told you about my boots.  Read here if you'd like to know more.   As I mentioned I wore them to "dress down" my frock.  I also have a cool pair of white leather brogue-type shoes that I considered wearing but it was cold and I have a dearth of tights at the moment, so boots it was.

The earrings are my wedding earrings - pearls my sister and I chose a day or two before the wedding.  They are very simple but I love that.  My gorgeous wedding dress (I will definitely write a post about that one day) was beaded and so I didn't want elaborate jewellery.  I wear these earrings all the time.

Yesterday was pretty miserable day, weather wise, so I ended up dressed like this for a large part of the day!  The hat I got through a friend of mine, Shannon, who was living in Dunedin for a year while she studied.  She now lives back in her homeland, Canada.  Last I heard, she was teaching in a remote part of Canada with a mostly Inuit population.  I should get back in touch with her because she made me laugh and I just know she's leading an interesting life.  Anyway, a friend of hers was making the hats and I like this one.  I love hats and one of the great things about living somewhere cold is that you get more chance to wear them.  They do make your hair look funny, which is not so cool.  I kind of get this "pressed" look on the top of my head and then curls springing out from underneath.  It's not flash.  But as long as you leave the hat on your head, you're fine.

The cool coat I bought at a store in Dunedin, Halo, which has since closed down.  But the brand of the jacket is Augustine which still exists and I have another coat of theirs, plus a couple of dresses.  Good stuff.  I was obviously drawn to the colour of this coat (I fight against making everything black just because it's "practical".  BORING!) but I also love the big buttons, the pockets, the swing cut, and just to make it extra awesome, the hood.  I will be sad the day it gives up the good fight.  I loved the bright pink with the apricot pudding colours - clashing but cool.  You wouldn't miss me coming down the street! I thought the length of the coat allowed the skirt to still be seen too so that's an added bonus.  You don't want to put on a frock then cover the whole thing up so no one can appreciate it!
Albert keen to get in on the action

And now some notes on Edie's frock.  It's not Aunty Natalie today.  It's Aunty Wen.  She is my brother's wife and I love getting parcels of clothes and other goodies from her and her mother as they're a treasure trove of coolness.  Wenjun is originally from China so she gets packages and pass-ons from relatives there and Chinese relatives here in New Zealand.  This can go in many directions - you may get beautiful and unusual things that are unique and special, or you get crazy stuff that is weird and wonderful and it's not even clear what it's supposed to be used for.  Wen has lived in New Zealand long enough to know the difference and so if you get the crazy stuff, she's normally sending it so you can appreciate the craziness, not make it a staple in your wardrobe.  It's win-win.  This dress wasn't from China.  Well, it probably was, but it went to Albany on it's way.  It's a Cotton-On Kids number.  That place is awesome for basics and the odd gem like this cute wee dress.  The cardi is from Aunty Natalie.  It's a Boden item and Edie's worn it to death.  I love the 'swing' shape of it - so cute on little girls.  The tights are also from Aunty Natalie and were sent to go with the dress Edie wore last week so they're Marks & Spencer.  The hair clip is also making a repeat appearance from last week (Jane, that's a mention two weeks in a row).  The shoes are See Kai Run and they are fantastic.  Harriet and Sam sell them at Miracle and I can't say enough about them.  They are podiatrist-approved for little feet and tick all the "I'm being a Top Mum and doing the right thing by my child" boxes, but still look freakin' cute.  Edie has two pairs but her See Kai Run shoe wardrobe is soon to be expanding...

You can appreciate why I wanted to save the awesomeness of this outfit for a Saturday morning when I could dedicate the proper time due to writing about such a lovely frock instead of slapping up a couple of pics at midnight on Friday.  I hope you can forgive my tardiness and enjoy the frockin' wonder that is Vintage Ombre.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Work in Progress

Just in case you were waiting up for it...

WTFF post will be with you tomorrow.  Which is Saturday.  Is this cheating?  Not really, I wore the frock on Friday.  And it's my blog, I make up the rules dammit.  Me and my frock spent the evening helping some lovely ladies move their lovely business into a lovely new store.  It was clearly all kinds of lovely and well worth putting WTFF post on hold.
I think you should all be proud of me for achieving such a feat in my frock.  It did mean I missed out on ladder-type jobs too so there were definite pros.

Until tomorrow then.


Thursday, 14 June 2012

Meet the Foodies

I figured that since starting this blog I have mentioned several different foods - delicious pops, cinnamon swirls and custard squares, red velvet swiss rolls, roast lamb and pudding - and waxed lyrical about them.  It's clear the food is a bit of a fixation for me.  I would go as far as tentatively describing myself as a Foodie.  The reason I do so tentatively as I find the label "Foodie" to be bandied about a little too easily these days.

To take an interest in food is, after all, a basic instinct of any growing species of plant, animal, or insect.  So to claim that you "love food" seems a little redundant to me.  Only those people who are unwell (literally) do not "love food", therefore to try and say you're a special kind of person who loves food seems a wee bit odd.  But it does appear that these days, there are a special kind of person.  So what is a foodie then?  They are so much more than a Goodie with a typo.  I googled it just to make sure.  Wikipedia says:
"foodies differ from gourmets in that gourmets are epicures of refined taste, whereas foodies are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news.[1] Gourmets simply want to eat the best food, whereas foodies want to learn everything about food, both the best and the ordinary, and about the science, industry, and personalities surrounding food.[2]"
Am I a foodie?  I'd perhaps call myself an amateur foodie.  An amateur amateur.  As with most other things in my life, I'm pretty lazy with food.  I am interested for sure.  I love cookbooks, cooking websites, cooking shows, and cooking magazines (I used to have a Taste subscription before I became a poor procreator).  I love trying new and interesting food and I am interested in processes and techniques in cooking.  I'm just not that interested in doing it in my own kitchen every day of my life.  I can cook and I do love to experiment but for the most part I tend to be a one-dish wonder kinda gal.  But just like the craft, I am surrounded by people who are so much more than an amateur amateur.  REAL foodies, and perhaps even the odd gourmet.  I could tell you about how much I love Heston Blumenthal or some other celebrity chef who I do not know from a bar of soap, but the real food inspirations in my life are people much closer to home.  Let me introduce you to the people who have taught me to love food.

One of my newer food inspirations is my friend Terry.  Terry is interesting.  In many ways, but we'll just keep it to a few reasons for brevity's sake.  She is of Vietnamese descent (her parents fled Vietnam to the States in the conflicts of the 70s), grew up in the States, married an American of Dutch descent, and moved to Dunedin, New Zealand a few years ago.  Terry and her husband, Jeff, happen to be two of the most social people I've ever encountered in my life.  I swear they host some sort of dinner party every night.  Having a 10 month old is only a minor obstacle in their varied social calendar.  In their brief time in Dunedin, they have befriended about half of the population and regularly enjoy inviting all of them over to their house.  At once.  One of the benefits of knowing half the world's population is that  they are really well connected and this transcends to food.  Or perhaps their good connections only go as far as food as this is what they base most of their friendships on - the ability to provide and appreciate good food.  Anyway, Terry's table is always laden with rabbit just shot by this friend, and kale just harvested by that friend, and special treats sent from the States by another.  She is so abundant with food ideas and advice that she has done what she should have done years ago and started a profile on facebook to share all these wonderful recipes and tips.  I know it will be a raving success because she knows half the world, after all.  Check it out if you happen to be the other half that hasn't met her yet - Phamily Cooking - Simple & Easy Family Recipes and Cooking Classes.  Oh and she loves to be talked about so leave her a message.  I'll know she'll be stoked that I mentioned her in my anonymous little blog :o)

Some of the deliciousness Terry served at a Peking Duck dinner (steamed buns at the back)

About as far away from Terry and her food fixation as one can be (while still being on my foodie list) is my Dad.  Food wasn't hugely varied and crazy and full of taste sensations when I was growing up.  Mum and Dad didn't have the funds or the energy to do that with 3 kids.  Having said that, we always ate well and food was well prepared.  We didn't have the typical disgusting batches of amorphous slop that was some amalgam of vegetables like some families did.  Things were rarely over or under cooked (except chops occasionally but I feel this was a reflection of the 80s rather than my parent's culinary skills), and they were basic but tasty.  Mum freely admits that cooking is not really her thing.  Not that she can't cook, she can.  Very well actually, but Mum lives life at a million miles an hour and food is the fuel that gets her from A to B.  It's kind of a pain to have to sit and savour anything at great length, let alone prepare it.  Mum has one of those asbestos gullets with which she is able to ingest steaming hot food and drink without a second thought.  Eat it and move on.  In truth, Mum does love food and she and I have had many fun times together in the kitchen, especially with baking.  I think her "just get it in" attitude towards food is a hang over of running a household with 3 kids for so long, and helping her Mum to run a household with 7 kids before that.
My father is the antithesis.  He takes so long to eat his food, half of it turns to a congealed lump by the time it reaches his mouth.  It doesn't help that he doesn't have that many teeth, but it's also in his nature. Dad does savour, he does enjoy.  He loves to think of himself as a foodie and eat good food.  It's all within fairly controlled boundaries (he's not a big fan of trying too many new recipes, just variations on the food he already knows he can cook) but he does try the new.  And he is awesome when it comes to trying wild food.  He's pretty competitive, my Dad, at least with things he think he can be good at.  So if it's spicy or weird, he'll gulp it down with a grin.  I remember as a kid that you earned some sort of imaginary "Dad Badge" if you sucked the marrow out of the bones of your meat, and extra credit if you enjoyed it.  He taught me to savour and enjoy food.  To appreciate all the things on the plate.  Even the weird stuff.

And the last food inspiration in my life is a significant one.  I've already mentioned my beautiful and talented cousins, Aja & Bianca, several times.  I've mentioned their food endeavour, Liana Raine Gourmet Artisan Pops, several times too.  It's a wonder it's taken these ladies as many years as it has to get into the food business.  What they don't know about food in Sydney isn't worth knowing.  A visit with them is an endless parade of visits to exquisite and eye-opening food experiences.  But the while they're inspirational, it's the reason behind their expertise that I'd like to talk about here.  Their mum, my Aunty Michele, is one of the most amazing people I know.  Full stop.  To talk about her only in relation to food seems a bit weak, but I'll contain my effusive praise of her to this one topic today.
Aunty Michele grew up in a pretty bloody shady part of Porirua (which is a pretty bloody shady place at the best of times), and came from a meat & 3 veg household.  If they were lucky.  When she met my Uncle, she and he ran as far away from Porirua as they could - they went to Africa.  And lived in a commune.  Seriously.  And so Aunty Michele's food adventure began in earnest.  By the time Aja and Bianca (and I) came along, Aunty Michele was well into creating and providing a vast of array of international cuisines as part of daily fare.  She fed us tabouleh, hummous, and curries in many forms, far before they became a cool part of food culture.  Aunty Michele finds inspiration for food from people.  She is a provider and a nurturer and food is one of the many ways she finds to do what comes to her naturally.  She looks to give the best of what she can to those who she loves.  I was lucky enough to live with Aunty Michele for a while and I can quite safely say that I have never eaten so well on a daily basis and probably never will again.  She showed (and continues to show) me that food is fuel but it's so much more than that.  It's connection.  I can't thank her enough for sharing this with me.

And so these are my Foodies.  The people who make me fall in love with the amazing variety and abundance of foods we have available to us in this lucky place.  It's nice to have people who remind you to be thankful for what you have and find the happiness in every morsel.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Milestones or Millstones

"Oh is she doing that already?"
"Really?  Still not talking?"
"His head looks quite large compared to Johnny's"

... and other such comparisons and observations that are made about children.  The motivation for statements and questions like these is varied but they happen all the time.

When you have a sprog, you are constantly watching them.  I mean this in every positive and negative sense of the word.  You are watching to see all the cool new things they are doing, looking for that first roll onto the back, the first step, the first word.  You are also watching to see if they've done another explosive shit all over your carpet.  Or if they've drawn all over the walls of the house.  Or ripped the pages out of a new book.  That is still in the book store.  That you are now forced to buy.
And as much as I'd like to think of myself as a relaxed parent, you do watch to make sure these things are happening.  By which I mean you are interpreting every movement, word, and gurgle, and deciding if that's an acceptable level of movement, speaking, and gurgling.  On the sliding scale of parental behaviours, I find people's standpoint on this issue fascinating.
I read the blog of a lady who writes about her personal battle with anxiety and how that reflects on her parenting.  She is constantly fighting with herself to allow her children to explore and take risks while still ensuring their safety.  Clearly if she allowed her to neurosis to run free, the children wouldn't leave their house, but she understands that this is her issue and her children need to discover the world on their terms, and so she tries to put aside her conversations and let them go.  I think every parent can identify with this on some level.  You are always trying to juggle caring for your child's well-being and allowing them to play and build their own resilience and independence, right from a young age.
Personalities of parents play some part in where their boundaries for their children lie - the anxious mother I mentioned above is probably far more "in control" than say, someone who believes in child-directed learning.  I place myself on the more relaxed end of the scale and I think I allow Edie to rock and roll around, independent of me.  I certainly don't think of myself as a Helicopter mother (you know, the hovering kind).  However it's pretty safe to say that lots of helicopter parents don't think they are!

The term "helicopter mum" is not mine.  It's quite a well-known descriptor these days.  I think this in itself is an indicator that there are a lot of overly-concerned parents out there.  Perhaps more than there was, say, 30 years ago.  I'm sure there are a lot of studies about why this is and that they will give you much more accurate information then my hypothesising, but here's what I think.

There are too many studies.  Too many studies about everything to do with children, parenting, and development.  And they are all too abundantly available.  Ok, that's more "troglodyte" than what I actually believe (poetic licence).  I'm not against the search for knowledge, far from it.  I only mean that there is so much information available to people these days and it's frequently given and read out of context.  So much so that people begin to worry about things that they have little or no control over, or have such an infintesimally small probability of occurring that it shouldn't even be a consideration.

Ever been sick and done a Google search with your symptoms?  Every sniffle you have may be an indicator of Hideous Disfigurement Disorder where you will grow pustular sores on all parts of your body which will eventually sprout hair then leak all your bodily fluids until you die.
What I mean is if you want to find something nasty, you can.  You find that you only need have two other symptoms and you will be a text book definition of some frightening illness.  You find yourself thinking back, trying to decide if that hang over last weekend was the result of too many Lindauers, or a cancer rotting away at your insides.  Most people are rational enough to think about it, then reason that Lindauer and a fill of McDonalds at 2am is the most likely cause of the churning guts and headache, and move on.  But when it comes to your children, even the most level-headed of people begin to second guess themselves.

Parents want reassurance.  Being a parent is such a confusing, amorphous, unpredictable thing, that you just look for little bits of certainty where you can get them.  Your friends, your parents, your doctor, your Plunket nurse, the internet, your Woman's Weekly horoscope... anywhere.  But here is where you can come unstuck (what, you mean the Woman's Weekly is not a completely reliable source of life advice??).
The parent who is educated and informed looks for information.  They seek this information from a variety of sources so as to be able to form their own opinions.  This has worked for them before.  The problem is, everyone has something to say about how to parent (Hello, I'm a pot, you're a kettle, I'm letting you know that you are darkish in colour).  So what they come away with is a variety of conflicting advice and recommendations, leaving them feeling even more confused than when they started.  This confusion, the over-flow of information (especially of the scary type) can start the descent (ascent?) to Helicopter parenting.
The parent who is less into the research and wants the answers immediately does a quick survey of their friends or the internet and gets an answer that suits them.  This does not mean it's a good answer.  It could be an answer that confirms their worst fears.  They then take this information (often unchecked, word of mouth information) and pass it on to others.  They do this to help out and share their 'knowledge' and experiences.  And so the misinformation, or negative information, is continued.  The also run the risk of being a helicopter parent.

So what does this have to do with milestones?  Milestones (child rolling over, child following objects with eyes, child's first tooth/step/word...) are solid markers that help parents and caregivers to know that the child is healthy and "on track" for normal development.  They are used to provide some of that reassurance for parents that I was just talking about.  And they are, in my opinion, just as dangerous as all other information and misinformation.

Normal.  One of the most insidious words in the English language.  By having normal, you infer that there is also abnormal.  Of course there is.  But what's normal and therefore, what's abnormal?  I get that you do, as a responsible developed people, have to have some checks in place to make sure that children don't fall through the cracks but I feel like all this 'normality' is taken way too far.  Milestones say that by this age, a child should weigh no more or less than 'x', and should be doing 'y' action etc.  Most health providers will tell you that if your child is not doing x and y at the determined age, it's probably ok.  Your child is probably still normal but it's just something to be aware of.  If a parent is told that there child falls outside of x and y, what most parents hear is "abnormal, abnormal, abnormal".  They begin to worry about why little Johnny is not yet walking when his little friend who's younger is.

My personal approach to milestones is to ignore them.  I take Edie to the Plunket nurse for her check ups and enjoying seeing how much she weighs and how much taller she is.  I love seeing her take steps, and sprouting new teeth.  But I have no idea if she is doing any of those things "at the right time" developmentally.  So how do I know she is ok?  How can I be sure she is tracking 'normally' if I am not marking off her milestones along the way??  Well sit back people and get ready for the shocking answer: I watch my child.  I know my child.  I know what she does and doesn't do and when that changes.  No one knows Edie like Phil and I do.  No chart can tell me what I don't already know.  If some chart happened to tell me that she wasn't as tall as she should be, I would consider what I know about her before I jumped to any conclusion: does she seem healthy?  Does she seem happy?  Has anything changed for her that I was not expecting it to?  No?  Then she's fine.  And I do notice.  Edie is getting glasses because we watched her.  We noticed that something changed for her.  Something wasn't quite right.  And we were right.
From time to time, I succumb to the information monster and read too much on the internet, or read one too many books, and begin to angst over things but the moment I go back to my own instincts, anxiety drops.  I realise that I am actually doing an ok job and that's because my motives are good - I'm trying to do the best I can for Edie.

I'm not anti-advice, or anti-research, or anti-medicine.  I will take all of those things as tools to help us make any decision for Edie, but my most valuable tool is my instinct and knowledge as Edie's Mum.  I think we are all too ready to stop trusting ourselves and our own abilities to understand.  With so much information available, we allow our own opinions to be washed away and diluted by research and advice.  We are short-changing ourselves - we are better than this.  If you are a parent, remember to feel empowered by your role - it's a strength, and a mine of information much deeper than anything you can find on the internet.

*Disclaimer: I'm assuming that if you are reading this blog, you're operating at a certain level of intelligence.  You've passed a basic IQ test by getting this far.  If by some freak set of coincidences you are an idiot and you find yourself here, disregard what I've said and listen to the advice given to you by external sources.  Thank you.

I'm off to make sensible and safe decisions Mummy!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Cool Shit Monday: Wintery Wonders

It's bloody freezing here in Dunedin today and I'm sitting on my couch waiting for the snow to roll in.  I hope it does - what's the point in enduring biting cold wind and rain if it doesn't turn into pretty white snow flakes?  It's definitely a 'cool' Monday though.  So I thought I'd do some cool winter shit.
Well firstly on a cold day you need some good reading material.  I do love a good book and there's nothing quite like curling up with one but I have recently discovered (I know I'm a bit behind the times) that there are a whole slew of online magazines, and they are FREE PEOPLE!  So you get to have all the awesome articles and info and hot tips and you can ignore the "How to Know If You're Needy or Nerdy" and other pointless fodder.  Actually, I don't tend to buy magazines that have those ridiculous "help" articles in them but these ones definitely stay away from anything of that ilk.  These are worth checking out but you will lose hours of your day in doing so.  Perfect for a cold day on the couch!

I am keen to add one of these beautiful patterns to my long list of "Things to Make".  I discovered one of their pattern books in Spotlight the other week and had been 'visiting' the book just to keep me interested (does anyone else do this?  Visit the things they want to buy, without actually buying them??), then I figured I could use this new fangled interweb thingy and I found all the patterns online, plus you can buy their gorgeous-looking merino yarn to make them with.  I have my eye on one of these dresses for Edie.  Keep her snuggly on cold Dunedin days.

Speaking of keeping Edie snuggly, I love these cute jackets from Hatley.  And as if they are sickeningly cute enough, you can get the matching gumboots.  The parcel from Aunty Natalie that I mentioned the other day contained this one.  Lucky Edie!  They don't ship to New Zealand unfortunately, but I'm sure you can find an American to post you one, plus some Reeces' Pieces.  Every parcel that comes from the States should have compulsory Reeces' Pieces.

Enough kiddy stuff, let's get down to some more cool shit for grown ups.  Roasts.  I didn't grow up in a house where we did the Sunday roast so I don't have that emotional comfort food attachment to the meal as so many others seem to.  However we bought a lamb roast the other day and cooked it with some taties from my father-in-law's garden (I could do a whole post about that garden.  It's like something out of a Beatrix Potter story), a bit of pumpkin and some steamed broccoli.  Even writing that does nothing to whet my appetite and trying to find an enticing picture/recipe of a lamb roast?  Forgeddaboutit (in my world anyway)!  But the roast we cooked was freakin' delicious.  The lamb was tender and tasty and the veges were sweet and perfectly cooked.  I get why people love a good roast.  There's no doubt it's perfect winter food (even if lamb roast is more Spring-like).  So here's a lamb roast for you to salivate over.  If you're that way inclined.

And no roast is complete without pudding.  I love rice pudding but I know it's one of the Zooey Deschanel of desserts - you either love it or hate it - so I think the more universally popular roast accompaniment is apple pie or crumble.  I believe you can tell a lot about a person by their crumble.  Specifically the crumbly part.  My crumble must have brown sugar, whole oats, coconut threads (desiccated coconut: what a waste of space that stuff is), and optional chopped almonds.  I'm not sure what this tells you about me, but I'm sure it's a lot.  The recipe in the picture below uses a cheat's method: toasted muesli, but I guess if you find a yummy toasted muesli it'd be acceptable.  I mostly loved the picture - it does look pretty good!  And I've thrown in a rice pudding for me and all the other Zooey Deschanel lovers out there.
Source: Adeline & Lumiere
With coconut and almonds - that's what I'm talkin' about.
Source: With Style & Grace

And of course you need the perfect spot to sit and knit and read e-mags and eat your roast & pudding while your gorgeous and perfectly self-sufficient child plays outside in the freezing cold in their styly raincoat and gumboots.  A couch is the natural choice on a winter's day.  A soft, squishy, stretch yourself out, kind of couch.  I found it hard to choose one so here are a selection.  Insert the one that tickles your fancy into your Winter Wonder fancy.  Get a bowl of pud and snunky in for the day.

Couch or Bed: Why choose?
Pillow Couch - it's calling to me...
Source: Design Squish
Library couch.  Oh to have a mezzanine library
Source: Southern Accents

Nana couch.  Perfect with the rice pud.