Visions of Decoupage*

Well, my experiment in a new craft is going pretty well so far.  It started with a couple of cheap tables off TradeMe and an old dictionary (Warning to bookcrossers and other booklovers, the following images contain graphic scenes of book abuse. You may want to look away now.):








It still needs another coat or two of varnish, and I have to decide if I want to do anything to the base, but I’m pretty pleased with how it’s looking so far!

As for the second table (modelled below by Parsnips), now that I’ve got the basic technique worked out, I’ve got even more ambitious plans…


In other news, I went to Avenue Q on Thursday night – just a local amateur production, but it was really well done and great fun.  The actors did a great job with the puppets – I very quickly found myself watching the puppets’ faces instead of the actors’, which is probably a good sign they’re doing it right.  It’s still on for a few more days, so Christchurch people I highly recommend you go!


*Harvestbird reckons that’s my new band name 🙂

Beautiful things

Look what was waiting for me in my letterbox when I got home tonight:


Yep, the wonderful Yetzirah sent me a copy of her watercolour cat! And a bonus little bird! Thanks Yetzirah – they’re just as gorgeous in person as they were on the screen. I’ll have to go in search of a suitable frame at the weekend – they’re definitely going on my wall of art.

And talking of pretty things, lookit what I made myself last night:

There’s a new craft shop in Church Corner (with attached cafe – perfect!) which offers classes, and they’re are almost all in the evenings or weekends, so I can actually go to some of them (unlike the classes at Hands, which all seem to be held during the day on weekdays – I suspect their proximity to Merivale means they cater mostly to the ‘ladies who lunch’ types who don’t have to do anything as menial as work).

So last night I went to a class on making a charm bracelet, and the above prettiness was the result.  It was a really fun class, too – there were only three of us enrolled, so we all just sat round a small table with the tutor.  And although she’d made up little kits with the components we needed to make the bracelet, she had a huge collection of other beads and charms with her, and let us swap out anything from our kits so we could create exactly the bracelet we wanted. So we all ended up with completely different bracelets despite starting from the same basic components.  Don’t know if I’ll ever take up jewellery making as a hobby (it looks like it could get very expensive fast, plus there’s the whole too many hobbies already thing), but it was fun giving it a go.

Oh, and tea and cake was included in the price of the class, so it was all very civilised!

Wet stuff falling from the sky

I think our drought has officially broken.  After a long dry summer when we’d all forgotten what rain is, two days of pouring rain (with several more to come, by the look of it) have reminded us.  It’s a bit of a shock, suddenly being all cold and miserable like this – I’m definitely not ready for winter yet!

Neither is the house, it seems.  I discovered yesterday that although I’d diligently cleared the gutters ready for winter, it was completely in vain, because some thirsty plant has grown its roots down the drain the downspout empties into, totally blocking the drain and the downspout.  So although the gutter is beautifully clear, the water can’t get out of it, so it’s backing up and some has flowed into the ceiling, producing a lovely wee leak in the corner of the sunroom.  Yay.

My attempts to clear the drain have been completely unsuccessful, so it looks like I’m going to have to call a professional of some sort tomorrow morning.  Wonder how much that will cost me?  And then of course I’ll have to see how much damage it’s done to the ceiling – hopefully it won’t be *too* bad, because it’s only a tiny drip coming through – most of the water luckily is flowing over the outside edge of the gutter rather than the inside edge, so it looks like not that much is getting into the ceiling (though of course any at all is a bad thing).

Apart from the leak (and clambering around on the roof in the rain making sure it wasn’t a broken tile causing it), I had a great day yesterday.  Jenny and I had been talking about an expedition to Hands for ages – she because she’d never been, and I because I had a voucher from Lytteltonwitch burning a hole in my pocket – so we finally got round to it yesterday.  We went for lunch first at a cafe nearby (which had an open fire – perfect in this weather!), and then spent a very pleasant hour or so wandering around Hands.  I ended up buying some materials for an experimental project I’ve got in mind – might try and make a start on it next weekend, in which case there’ll be some work in progress pictures coming soon (unless it all goes horribly wrong, of course – like I said, it’s a bit experimental… it’s something I’ve read about that I know is technically possible, but I’ve never actually tried it, and I’m a little vague on the details…)

Afterwards we went back to Jenny’s place out in Sumner to visit the tiny kittens she’s fostering for Cat Rescue.  They’re very young (about a month old, I think?), and still a bit unsteady on their feet, and incredibly cute – little bundles of fluffy silver tabbyness.  At one point I ended up with all four of them piled up on my lap, tangled up together in one big ball of fluff and all purring incredibly loudly.  I was sooooo tempted to sneak one into my pocket and take it home, but I don’t think Parsnips and Pushkin would have appreciated it (besides, I’m already breaking the “don’t have more cats than you have laps” rule with two of them!).

Later we got takeaways for dinner and watched Forgotten Silver (Peter Jackson’s hoax documentary, which I’d never seen because it aired when I was living in the UK).  Jenny and MrJenny are both very knowledgeable about cinema history, so it was really interesting watching it with them – they saw a lot that I completely missed (and vice versa – there was a lot of NZ stuff that they were oblivious to, having only been here a few years).  Really cool film, anyway, and I could see why so many people were taken in by it – he was very clever in the way he made it just plausible enough and intermingled the hoax with a lot of genuine history and local legend to create a story that it was guaranteed people would want to believe.  Of course, knowing in advance it was a hoax I was easily able to spot the clues he’d put in (the frequent references to bulls (as in, a load of…) for a start), but I think if I’d seen it when it first screened I would have been totally fooled.


As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been struggling to get back into any sort of creativity.  I’ve managed the odd bit here and there, though.  Like an attempt at a zentangle (inspired by Yetzirah’s much more artistic versions).

I haven’t decided quite which way up it goes yet 🙂

I’m not 100% happy with it, but it was fun to play with. I’m thinking if I do another one, I might try colouring it – watercolour washes over the top could be fun to experiment with…

I was much inspired too by a craft fair I went to on Friday night at Mairehau High School.  Lots and lots of pretty things to see inside and out (they had so many stalls they had to overflow from the school hall out into the playground, which led to some very creative lighting techniques by the stallholders to keep their products visible), and entertainment in the form of women from a belly dancing class.

I went away with several purchases I just couldn’t resist, loads of ideas for things I could try making, and a leaflet for some crafty-type courses coming up.  Watch this space?


Mojosmom’s suggestion of a peach cobbler sent me off to Google.  I’d only ever encountered cobblers in fiction, but Google quickly turned up a plethora of recipes, all completely different.  In the end I found one that seemed to resemble what she’d described, so (after a bit of tweaking to adapt it to metric measurements, halve the size (the original recipe served 8!!!) and replace the self-raising flour (which I hate the taste of so always use real flour plus baking powder instead)) I gave it a go.  The ingredient list is pretty similar to the muffins, actually:

2-3 cups sliced peaches
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
50g butter
3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk

Make up a syrup with the water and half the sugar, and boil the peaches in it for 10 minutes. Mix flour, baking powder, remaining sugar, and milk to make a thin batter. Melt butter in a baking dish, and pour the batter over the top, without mixing. Spoon fruit and syrup over the top, then sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 180C for 25-30 minutes.

The batter rises up around the fruit, and you end up with a sweet, slightly chewy, doughy fruity mixture. Delicious, but very heavy – I had to share it with friends to be able to get through it all.

I’m having a very enjoyable long Easter weekend so far. On Friday Harvestbird and I went to see a Chilean film at Alice’s, preceded by a walk through the wide open spaces of the ex-CBD. After the movie we went for a very late lunch, sitting outside in the sun and discussing literary theory and the application of narrative to everyday life – a very pleasant afternoon, and it gave me some very helpful new ways to look at the world.

Then on Saturday night I went out for dinner with Jenny and MrJenny – another lovely meal and great conversation. They’re off on holiday to Dunedin this week, so I was sharing my (rather out of date) local knowledge of the best things to do and see (I made sure to direct them to the beach where Skyring nearly tripped over a seal, so they can have their own wildlife close encounter).

Yesterday it was bottling day. Despite my best efforts at muffins and cobblers and eating a huge amount fresh, I still had a large pile of fruit left.

So I set to work making nectarine chutney.

That only used up half the fruit though. I thought about making a second batch, but I didn’t have enough of the other ingredients left, and it being Easter Sunday, the supermarket would have been closed. So I decided to be very brave and attempt some bottling.

I used to help Mum and Dad with bottling fruit all the time when I was a kid, but generally only with the preparing the fruit part – once it got to boiling hot sugar syrup being poured around, I kept out of the way. And my memories of it being a very arcane and esoteric process meant I never tried it for myself as an adult. But here I was with a pile of fruit and plenty of jars and lids I’d already sterilised. So there was only one thing for it – consult the trusty Edmonds book, turn my big stock pot into a water bath, and dive in (metaphorically, that is – literally diving into the stock pot would have been quite painful… and a bit difficult, seeing as it’s only big enough for my head).

Not many photos this time – there was way too much sugar syrup getting spilt around the kitchen for me to want my camera anywhere near!

End result, 11 jars of chutney, and 10 of bottled peaches and nectarines (and only 3 jars that failed to seal, which I’ll have to use up first). That should keep me going for the winter!

The long weekend was rounded off quite nicely (though it’s not actually over yet for me – I’ve got tomorrow off as well) by breakfast with Dad and Stepmother, who were on their way back from Australia. They were staying at a motel just up the road, so we went to a nearby cafe for breakfast, then they dropped me off in Riccarton on their way out of town. After a quick dash into the mall to get a couple of things, I headed to Deans Bush to play with my camera in the gardens.