Monday, January 23, 2012

I'm back, and I made jam!

Life's been pretty hard in Christchurch in recent times. Turbulent doesn't really begin to describe it. So I've spent a few weeks off remembering to enjoy the simple things. I've baked bread, made pasta, picked raspberries and bottled my first ever jam. I played my first game of golf (nine holes), had a picnic in Peel Forest and walked to a waterfall with Carina, and went on a day trip with friends to Quail Island for Emma's 30 Before 30.

I don't do New Year's resolutions, but I am resolved this year to do more things just for fun. I plan to spend more hours reading or playing guitar in the comfy chair in our backyard sunshine, to try new recipes and to get better at golf.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Lucy loves...

I've spent many hours in the last couple of months creating and updating gift guides on Felt, which basically amounts to extreme online window shopping (I love that the term "window shopping" works for browsers as well as shops in real life) for demographics, rather than specific people. There have been phases of discovery and delight, moments of merchandising madness, and bouts of serious shopping fatigue and brain failure.

I can now honestly say that I know Felt inside out - I have browsed nearly 10000 listings and I know most of 600 sellers by their username, if not their real name. I know whose listings have fabulous photos and who offers free shipping. If you're not sure where to go or what you're looking for, I'm your girl (my services as a personal shopper for handmade Christmas gifts are available for just $110 per hour).

Now, I could show you a selection of the lovely things I've picked out for my family and friends, but there are two good reasons not to do this. Firstly, I'm a Christmas traditionalist and I like my gifts to be a surprise - I have no idea whether anybody will even read this, but there's no point in taking unnecessary risks. Secondly, I'm also a Christmas procrastinator and I haven't picked out the lovely things for my family and friends yet. My gifts frequently remain a surprise even to me right up till the last possible moment to source or make them. If you're really interested, come back after Christmas and I'll write it up then.

However, in my armchair travels (or, more accurately, picnic table in the garden travels) around the handmade world of Felt, I have picked out a few things for my very own personal Christmas wishlist, so here they are. Aren't they pretty?

One of these things was even made with me in mind, to tempt me every time I look at Felt (now that's what I call crafty). If you can guess which one, win! There's no prize, but you can revel in the knowledge that you are smarter and cooler than everyone else.

Bloggers might also be interested to know that this list was created using a new feature on Felt - you can read all about it on the Felt forum.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hot chocolate with attitude

This made me smile today at the Coffee House...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Everything is amazing right now, and nobody's happy

Like many people, I've been thinking a lot lately about the state of the world and where things are going.

Last month I was lucky enough to be invited to Kiwi Foo Camp, a technology-based "unconference" attended by diverse group of interesting people. The highlight of the weekend was a hugely entertaining debate on the proposition that "New Zealand is fucked". After an impressive showing by the two teams and much spirited audience participation and gleefully gratuitous use of the word "fuck" in its many and varied meanings and applications, the outcome was that New Zealand is not fucked. Whether this was a fact-based conclusion, bloody-minded optimism, testament to the amount of alcohol consumed by the participants or all of the above, it was food for thought.

Russell Brown chairs the debate

The conclusion I reached several years ago, when the impending crisis du jour was peak oil, is this: it's about time people started taking responsibility for themselves and their actions. Fair enough, we pay taxes and it's reasonable to expect our government to provide infrastructure, but it seems like people are a little too comfortable with having everything done for them. Not only that, but there's a sense of entitlement that seems unfounded and arrogant to me. Basically, I think Western society needs taking down a peg or two, and whatever global crisis it takes to do that, bring it on.

So my stance during the debate was that we're not fucked, because what we really need is a good kick in the pants – something to get us thinking proactively and responsibly and acting accordingly – and economic crisis might be just the thing. Think "spare the rod and spoil the child" on a grand scale – perhaps it's time we endured a few hardships and really earned the lifestyle we've come to see as our right. Take away a few of the luxuries that seem to have become necessities and we might make space for some of the casualties of modern society to make a comeback: community, personal and social responsibility, quality time, self-fulfilment, work ethic and meaningful, considered communication (yes I do see the irony of blogging that into the ether).

What we seem to lose with every innovative new technology and luxury is just a little bit more perspective. We want everything and more now, whether it's necessary or not, and if we can't afford it, there's always credit. Someone will always bail us out - that's what banks are there for, right?

I'm a big fan of Tom Hodgkinson, who paints a very appealing picture of returning to the simplicity of pre-Industrial Revolution life in his books How to be Idle and How to be Free, and Alain de Botton, who observes in his book Status Anxiety the increasing sense of deprivation we feel even "blessed with riches and possibilities far outstripping those imaginable by [our] ancestors tilling the unpredictable soil of medieval Europe".
"Our sense of an appropriate limit to anything – for example, to wealth and esteem – is never decided independently. It is decided by comparing our condition with that of a reference group, with that of people we consider to be our equals. We cannot appreciate what we have in isolation, nor judged against the lives of our medieval forbearers. We cannot be impressed by how prosperous we are in historical terms. We will only take ourselves to be fortunate when we have as much as, or more than, the people we grow up with, work alongside, have as friends and identify with in the public realm."
In other words, our self-esteem is based on our perception of how we compare to the next guy. We've designed a world for ourselves in which we can never reach the top rung of Maslow's ladder, because we're stuck in a perpetual cycle of keeping up with the Joneses. So perhaps it's time to re-assess, to simplify and learn to live with less stuff and more appreciation for what we do have, to slow down and make space for the important things in life.

Having been subjected to my verbose opinions on these matters, my friend Nic sent me a link to this rant by Louis CK, to which I owe the title of this post. He hits the nail on the head, I feel. I've been trying to work out whether it's funny to listen to, or just a relief to hear.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Folding flowers

Mel and I spent last weekend coming up with a window display for the Antique Print Gallery's entry into the Ellerslie International Flower Show window display competition (part of the Festival of Flowers). It was a great opportunity to combine design skills with our crafty tendencies – inspired by a growing collection of antique print offcuts, it didn't take long for an idea to present itself, and the scraps were transformed into the origami flowers pictured below.

We're quite proud of our effort, having learnt origami especially. The Press is running a People's Choice competition for the best window – you can vote for ours by texting "PRINT" to 3444 (be quick, voting closes on Friday), and you go into the draw to win two tickets to the Premiere Garden Party at Ellerslie on Tuesday.

Special thanks to the lovely people at Acquisitions in Cashel Mall, who loaned us the gorgeous vase and supporting foliage which really made the display come to life.

The Antique Print Gallery (owned by my mum and dad) is also holding an exhibition of Sarah Featon's Flowers from 7th till 18th March, so if you're down New Regent Street way, stop by and check it out.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

29 things to do before I'm 30

I started this list in December, but it has proven to be a challenge and I'm now down to just 6 months to complete my 29 things. Maths is not a strength of mine, but I think that's over one a week till the end of August. I'm slightly daunted.

1. finish this list

2. return to life drawing

3. make myself some clothes, at the very least two pairs of lounge pants, but preferably something I can wear in public also

4. send a parcel of goodies to my favourite cousin, cousin-in-law and baby cousins

5. start making fresh pasta again (find a clamp for my pasta machine that fits the kitchen bench!) and perfect three new recipes

6. go blueberry picking and make blueberry muffins

7. learn a language...well start learning a language. or at the very least, polish up one I've already started on

8. restring my guitar and play it. I'd like to say once a week, but I'm trying to be realistic so I have half a chance of ticking this one off the list

9. go to a movie all by myself

10. watch "Chocolat"

11. plant out all my terracotta pots, the inhabitants of which perished during my last move, and give away or recycle the ones I don't want anymore

12. play a banjo, mandolin or ukelele

13. re-read Atlas Shrugged

14. start making this year's Christmas presents (enough of the sewing till the wee small hours of Christmas morning!)

15. (this is a big one which has been on my mind for a while) purge my belongings to conform to the words of William Morris: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

16. is related to 15, but big enough to have its own number – edit my wardrobe and give away, sell or donate all these clothes that I never wear to someone who might appreciate them more

17. start spinning

18. finish restoring the two styley dining chairs I got from the Supershed 3 years ago for 25 cents each

19. attempt to draw Punky

20. try yoga, and really give it a fair chance before deciding whether I like it

21. send Ava's finished cardy (my first real crocheted garment!) to Dilia

22. win a Scrabble game!

23. go to a play, a music gig, an exhibition and a Pecha Kucha night

24. make a cool cardboard box fort for the bunny (he likes boxes)





29. organise something really cool to celebrate my 30th birthday (suggestions welcome)

I'm clearly getting too old, because I got stuck at 25 things and I need some ideas for my last four, to be able to put a tick against number 1... So what are some exciting things I can do??