Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Brown Paper Bag

Ever in need of some wrapping paper?

Perhaps you have a plain old paper bag.

I had a second hand one in my stash, and a gift to wrap.

Add a ribbon, and brown paper becomes quite delightful.


How Many is TOO Many?

I'm wondering, how many undies do you think is too many undies?

Caught you off guard there, didn't I?!  I bet you were thinking tomatoes or zucchinis, pegs, or some other innocent item.  Well, I do have a lot of pegs.  And I'd love to have the problem of too much garden produce (maybe if the sun stays out for long enough this month?!).  But no, I was referring to undies.  Aka underwear, panties, bloomers.  Those things we wear but try to pretend we don't own.  You know, the ones that people tend to hide in the middle of their clotheslines, hoping no one will notice them.

Well, I'm just wondering if there is a magical point between forever running out and having to hang them on the shower whenever you go on holiday, and what could be considered excessive.

I fear I may be leaning towards excessive.

Guess how many pairs of undies I currently own.


FOURTY-THREE.  Or there abouts.  I might not have added correctly.

Now before you decide that I really am a fruit loop, weirdly obsessive person, let me explain my undie-keeping position.

It all started with a new stash before we moved back to NZ.  I was chuffed.  I thought I wouldn't have to buy any for ages (remember, I HATE buying clothing as I really struggle to find things that fit well).

But then there was a baby.  During pregnancy, I expanded over a size in clothing.  In fact, my waist and hips went up at least 2 sizes (from a NZ 6 to a 10 - clothing was suddenly easier to fit!).  So my lovely new undies got all stretched then started cutting off my circulation.  I bought more.  They got too tight.  I got some more.  And then some more.  Finally, we come to Munchkin's arrival.  Four sets of undies for ONE baby boy!  Wow.

So, since then I have had to lose 9kgs (20% of my bodyweight).  It got to the point that I needed new undies again, before I faced undie-wearing horror (aka undies around your ankles!).  So off I headed to get some new ones.  Only I somehow managed to buy the most uncomfortable underwear I have EVER owned.

Finally, yesterday we headed back to Farmers and I got some new, new underwear.  And decided I really should sort out the chaos that is my underwear-sock drawer. 

These ones are now going into my maternity wear box, just in case they are needed again in the future.

I discovered 7 odd socks.  6 now have partners.  Not quite sure where the other one has gone.

And of course now I know why I've not been able to find anything I actually wanted in my drawer!  It was stuffed to overflowing with extra-large undies!

So there you have it.  I am the not-so-proud owner of around 43 pairs of underwear.  But I now have a drawer that I can actually find things in, and hopefully will not be buying any more undies for quite some time.

So, just wondering.  Is there a magical number?


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Christmas Cheer

A little belated, I know.

Our Christmas decorations are actually all packed away, ready and waiting for next Christmas.

But I thought you might like to see Munchkin's Christmas tree.

I got one specially for him.  He gets to decorate it himself.  "Our" tree is fibre optic and stands well out of reach of small fingers so it doesn't get knocked over or the delicate glass decorations smashed to smitherines.  But I saw this idea at a local Kindergarten and loved it.  The idea is that the kids have their own tree and some decorations.  Each day they can decorate or undecorate to their heart's content.  They get to enjoy the thrill of their own Christmas tree, touching its branches, deciding where to put this ornament or that, learning and thinking and feeling.  All without any adult interference.  Okay, so that might be how it will look next year.  This year, Munchkin was really still too young.  He loved it.  But he doesn't know how to put the ornaments back on.  He can take them off, and frequently did.  But then he'd have to come find me, asking me to put it back on ("Ah, ah, ah" with a great deal of pointing and excitement!).  He did, however, manage to put a book, a teddy bear, and some balls on his tree (missed that with the camera, darn it!)!  Now that's ingenuity for you! We kept his tree up for just a few days this year before packing it away ready for next Christmas.  Next year, he can help put it up, then decorate it himself over and over, and over again!  At a cost of $5 for the tree and not much more for ornaments (bought the week after Christmas on sale), it really doesn't matter.  But you'd never know it was cheap, would you?  It is just gorgeous.  All glittery and shiny and green!  At 120cm tall, it's perfect for our boy and lounge.  Now I just need to get his Christmas stocking sewn before next Christmas rushes round!


The Girls (and Co.)

There have been many developments in the chook department since I last blogged about our girls. 

Turns out, one is NOT a girl.

He is a very loud, very delightful ROOSTER.  Grr.  Fooled us all, because he was so much smaller than the others.  Ember has now been renamed Fred II.  Fred I was the bantam rooster we had in Townsville which we ate for dinner - not that there was much to him, but the name is one we now use for all roosters, as I'd decided never to name a rooster in case it had to be eaten, then my enterprising husband started calling him Fred!).  So, Fred the second is a really nice bird.  He is quite friendly, and would even let us stroke his feathers.  BUT, he is still a boy.  Not an egg-laying girl.  Nope, a rather LOUD boy.  No strangled or garbled attempts at crowing for this young man.  He, at the delicate age of around 13 weeks, has been managing a full throated crow, at least three times every morning.  Not as long as a mature adult maybe, but definitely as loud, and very, very definitely a crow.  As we are not allowed to keep roosters in the city, he had to go.  Even if we were allowed, he would still have to go.  My parents would have done it if I (or the neighbours!!!) didn't.
Fred the second.  A small, voluble rooster!
I had to put notes in all our closest neighbour's letterboxes informing them of our (and their) misfortune.  And advising them that Fred II would be finding a nice country home as soon as possible.  As he is such a gorgeous bird and a purebred Barnevelder we were not going to eat him.  He was our pet, which doesn't help...if I'd always known we'd eat him that would be okay, but I can't just decide to do the deed now!  I tried to find someone locally who would swap him with me, but don't have enough contacts.

He ended up returning to Precious Poultry on Tuesday.  Dropped of entroute to Auckland airport so at least the fuel was not just for returning one chook.  My dad returned with these in his place:

They are Bantam Sussex, which I didn't even know you could get till we visited Precious Poultry to collect our original birds.  They lay a lot less eggs, but also eat a lot less.  And they are just CUTE, don't you think?!?  I paid for a second bird, as they are so little I didn't one one poor wee bantam on it's own at the mercy of our two full sized birds.  Being so small they only take up the room of one full sized bird anyway.

Much discussion and concern arose while trying to settle them in.  I had to do it all via phone while my longsuffering parents did all the leg work for birds that are not even theirs (theirs have caused no issues other than having to be put to bed the first week we had them!).  Boyo was working last night, which meant I was stranded at home with Munchy-baby.  My parents introduced, watched over, intervened, and ultimately created the new babies their own little sub-cage within our big one (you are meant to introduce any new chooks gradually but we don't have another cage we can keep them in and Autumn, our big New Hampshire was being rather mean).  They are babies, not yet fully grown and I'm not sure exactly how old, but they will not get a huge amount bigger.  Hopefully after a few days of living in closer quarters (and forgetting about Fred II) our birds will happily share their space with their new companions.

Temporary accommodations while we all get to know each other!
Check out the size difference between them and Autumn.

Very big, and very small!
 Although, I must confess to feeling very paranoid about Autumn today.  I am worried, oh so worried, that she might be a boy too.  I find myself wishing she'd taken a trip to Ngatea yesterday just to be sure.  She looks different to the other New Hampshire, has always been bigger but we thought she might just be a few weeks older, or perhaps a different breed.  Now I'm not so sure.  The feathers around her neck are really shiny and fine.  The other girls are not.  And her comb is turning dark red.  She is TALL, much, much taller than her 'sisters' in the other cage.  Very leggy.  Oh dear.  Oh dear.  Oh dear.  This was supposed to be economical.  Or at least have the semblence of being so.  Having to do yet another trip for yet another single bird is NOT economical.  Plus I don't want to deal with any more crowing in the interim.  I do hope I am imagining all this.  Maybe I could wake up tomorrow and she be morphed into a perfect model copy of the other birds???

The other girls (Mum and Dad's) are doing well.  Although very scatty compared to mine.  We have discovered that this was an accidental inclusion in the breeding line when they were trying to get more genetic variety.  So I'm guessing that means not all New Hampshires are this flighty.  Ours are certainly much less people friendly than the Barnevelder or Australorp.  I am hoping they will settle down a bit more with age though.  Or they can lay us lots and lots of eggs so we overlook their lack of people skills!  Grin. 

Polly, Molly, or Dolly.

In the meantime, little Tui is a darling.  She is quiet, gentle and just plodding along while all around her is chaos.  She now has no tail feathers at all.  This actually looks a bit better than her 3 mangled ones did.  She's growing more, but very slowly we are just not looking too closely at her naked rump!  Wouldn't want to embarass the poor dear!

Tui with her tail-less rump.
So those are our chook adventures for the present.  Owning chooks has certainly not been as simple as I imagined.  I should have known better, I know.  I have done this twice before now.  You'd think I'd learn.  Well, this time round I have learnt something important: next time we buy chooks I am buying older birds (at least 12weeks or more so we are more likely to get accurate sexing!).

Anyone want to own chooks?   Totally put off?  Don't be!  They are amazing workers, lay beautiful, delicious eggs, and cluck so nicely (when you don't accidentally get a boy!).  They really are wonderful.  I know, I am a bit silly about chooks, but seriously, they are great.  Even with all the work.  And by the time I'm done here I'll be able to tell you the perfect breed, and the perfect cage for terrific easy-peasy back yard chooks.  I hope.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Bit of Creativity

Munchkin and I made some cards.  He drew.  I supervised. (read: stopped him from eating the pens or drawing on anything other than the piece of cardboard, helped take lids off and put them back on, and verbally encouraged lots of drawing - I must admit to having a definite goal in mind!)

Then I cut out little squares from his drawing, popped them onto cardboard, and wha-lah!  A whole bunch of thank you cards.

I think they look quite cute, don't you?


The Tshirts (and More!)

I promised photos of the tshirts for our Shoeboxes...here they are:

Aren't they so cool?!?  We got one for Munchkin for next year or the year after too (knowing him, probably next year!).

Warehouse Stationery currently has it's 'Back to School' sale on!!!  The absolute best chance to get good stationery for cheap, cheap, cheap.  I picked up some for the Shoeboxes, of course.  And stocked up on our family supplies for the year ahead too.

I love these little coloured pencils.  $1.50 per packet, they would fit in the palm of an adult's hand.  A great size for shoeboxes, a great price, and the kids will be so excited to get something coloured to use!


The Multiple Uses of a Trug

My parents gave us a gorgeous basket as an Engagement gift.  It sits on the china cabinet in our conservatory, near the front door.

Last year, I used it every week to collect vegetables from their garden.

The harvest from our small unit garden this week.

This year, I have discovered that it is a very versatile basket indeed.

This week?  Folded laundry.  it fits Munchkin's gear really well!

Perched atop my old dolls pram, with the peg bucket beside it they are at just the right height!
Last week?  Pegs.

This past winter?  The assortment of 'things we really need to give back to various people and keep forgetting about!'

I wonder what use I will find for it next?  Do you have any of those multi-use tools around your place that you just love to use for one thing then another, and another?


Monday, January 9, 2012

Emotionally Yours

It makes me want to laugh.  And cry.  Sometimes at the same time!  My husband created himself these labels on a particularly mad night at work recently and proudly wore them on his uniform all night long (he works nightfill in a supermarket so you can imagine what it gets like the week before Christmas!).  I got up to find them stuck on his desk, as you see here. 

Ever feel like you are reduced to clear?  Last in line.  Bottom of the heap?  Yup, sometimes that is me.  Wondering when there will ever be time for ME.  And I mean real me time.  Not sorting-through-the-photos-to-send-to-family time.  Not rushing-out-to-plant-overgrown-seedlings-again time.  Not even read-a-few-pages-of-a-book-that-I-can't-seem-to-get-into time.  Real time for me.  For me to think and breathe and BE.  Sometimes I do wonder where Amy has gone in the midst of wife, mother, student, and employee.  Still there, just sometimes snowed under and in need of a rescue mission.  A friend rescued me recently.  Probably doesn't realise, but she did.  She gave me a massage.  And we just chatted.  It was bliss.  We did not talk about my studies.  We did not talk about my baby.  Or my messy house, dishes, or washing.  Nope, we actually talked about her.  And that was nice.  I felt connected with her and cherished by her care and friendship.

So then there are the times I am reduced to tears.  Which doesn't happen nearly as often these days as it used to.  Interesting.  I think some of that is that I've worked out that tears require energy.  Energy I am frequently lacking.  Plus I get a disgusting head full of snot (sorry, but that is the grim reality!), a puffy red face, and just as often as not don't feel like anything was relieved or solved by all the waterworks.  But, sometimes I am reduced to tears.  The scary ones are when I am absolutely certain that I am over reacting.  When I know that there is absolutely NO reason to cry about anything, but never the less it starts to well up inside.  Yup, that's when I know that I really need to take a break and gauge my emotional thermometer (and check the calendar just in case it is THAT time of month and I can write off my emotional rollercoaster ride to hormonal fluctuations rather than emotional overload!).

Perhaps I could be like reduced cream?  Creamier, longer-lasting, good-dip-making material.  Whatcha reckon?  Emotionally yours, Amy

New Year, New Box

While the new year is only a scant nine days old, our new shoeboxes for the year are already filling up.

Here are our endevours from Christmas Day.

Boyo is becoming as expert a wrapper as I am. Grin.  Just don't tell him I said so though, okay?  It is a feat brought on by necessity (aka WIFE) and one he is not proud of or even very willing in.  And don't ever ask my mum about wrapping shoe boxes (she battled head-to-head with a recalictrant box on my behalf last October!  Mum won, but vowed off shoe-box wrapping forever afterwards!).

We found some cool little matchbox cars in our family shoebox gift expedition.  And came home with an extra one for Munchkin, seeing as he is more than a little car mad at present (mad enough that we are thinking we might manage to get him one each month for the next few so he has a little set).

Add to them the toothbrushes we also got, plus the flannels (face cloths) we had left from last year's boxes and things were looking good.

Then I found some tshirts this week (photos yet to come)!  Wahoo!!!  Size 4.  Boys.  Very nice.

We are only trying to do three boxes this year.  I am finding it quite hard coming to terms with this.  I just want to do more.  Some because I know there are so many children in the world who don't ever get gifts, get to go to school, or have any real hope for their lives so I wonder who are we that we should have so much while they have so little?!  Then some of it is just that I love giving gifts.  I have already, just this week, found three small things for my arriving-in-April nephew.  I had planned on waiting till he came to see how long he is, but I just can't hold out that long!!!  He's getting all Munchkin's outgrown gear to borrow, but there's something in me that just has to find him something special.  I made his sister bootees.  Yeah, don't have time for that so I've been on the look out for a few little things instead.  Yay!

Anyway, I digress.  I want to fill as many shoeboxes as I can.  If I wasn't a working, studying, mummying lady (does that make any sense?!?), I'd probably be volunteering to coordinate shoebox drops or something.  But I am all the above and don't have the time or energy to do more than what I'm already doing (and sometimes I wonder if I really have the time or energy for this!).   I've been happy plodding along doing my twelve boxes a year, hoping to get a few other people doing them too, but no one else has really picked it up.  But we have had to rework our budget.  And it came down to a choice between a Cover Up Blanket and some shoeboxes.  Don't get me wrong, we are making ends meet fine.  But we need to pay our rent and insurance and be responsible for our son's welfare.  And our local church has been getting so little of our support, despite rallying around and supporting us amazingly.  So we've had to look at our priorities and work out what can and can't be shifted.  I can fill a shoebox for around $20-30, then the postage donation is about $9.  It all adds up.  I can't get anything with the grocery money anymore like I used to years back.  It all (and more) goes on groceries (and just the basics these days too).  I nearly went with shoe boxes, honest.  They fill such a vital need, opening communities up to God's love and some amazing help as well as touching a young child's life.  But the thing is that knitting is my soul solace.  I knit when I need to think.  And I knit when I need NOT to think.  And I just can't see myself managing to remain sane for a whole entire year without knitting!  So I ended up putting myself first on this one, and deciding to expend the hours and hours of work involved in just one blanket for just one child in the hopes that it might radically change their life, and in the knowledge that even if it does not, it is helping me keep mine in balance!

So there you go.  Shoe boxes are under way.  And I am holding out hope that somewhere, out there, someone else will take up the mantle and fill a shoebox this year on my behalf.   


Saturday, January 7, 2012


Here we are again.  A new year.  2012.  New, and yet somehow still just the same.  Ever noticed that?  That life generally just continues on, and things rarely ever suddenly change just because we all stayed up and shouted "Happy New Year" at each other?  So life continues.  We've had some time off, a few days spent away with family...which was exhausting by the way.  We came home to have a rest and sleep.  Munchkin was VERY happy to see his bed.  So was I.  Sharing my room with my toddler was okay, but certainly not conducive to peaceful repose.  But it was lovely to go away, all the same.

In blanket-land, I am now halfway through!  I was congratulating myself on my knitting prowess until I realised that I'm hoping to make Munchkin two cardigans (jerseys) this year.  Which means hours and hours of knitting and no peggy squares. So here we have squares 23-28.  The halfway mark. 

I'm now almost out of wool.  Again!  This seems to be a common problem!  Fortunately, Spotlight is once again coming to my rescue with 40% off this week!  I just hope they have some nice colours.   I think I need another 15 balls. Hopefully I'm right.  Grin.