Monday, October 31, 2011

whoooooo twas a fun night.....

Halloween is not widely celebrated here in New Zealand
but in our street all the little children get dressed up 
and knock on our neighbours' doors getting little treats!

We decided to drag our bbq out to our front lawn and cook the kiddies some
sausages to counteract the effect of much sugar.

A bbq, a table, some sausages, bread, tomato sauce and drink
a few chairs and a few quilts on the ground,
some paper serviettes and some festive bunting...
it's a party!!

You can dress up as much or as little as you want to,
I had two pirates and cute little pirates they were!

Up and down the street they went collecting goodies.
The little ones were so excited.

Look aren't they adorable??
They could not believe their luck getting lollies!!

Everyone came and stayed and chatted and ate all the sausages
and drank all the drink! it was a beautiful night and lovely to hang out with our neighbours
and meet some new ones!

Even the big boys had some fun.

I know there is a lot of discussion about whether Halloween is good or bad but
I firmly believe if Jesus lived now He would drag out his BBQ and feed the little children
I do not believe He would shut himself in his house and say "GO AWAY"
and ask any of our neighbours,
we had a great party out on our front lawn, that's what community is all about!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thrifty finds...

First there was two little brass dogs belonging to my Uncle Ian.
I never met him and this is all I own belonging to him.
They were lonely, so one by one other dogs are coming to live with them.
This little "forsaken soul" had an ugly gloopy mess on her head
where some 'hair' had been stuck.
But a clean up and she's lovely!

I've said it before but it's still true.
Things get broken in our house every single day.
(some days more)
so a few new plates, especially pretty ones, are always helpful.

My beautiful Crown Lynn Swan broke in an aftershock so this little cutie is nice to have.

We always have candles now, just in case
and these lovely candle stick holders had to come home with me.

This is as close as you'll get where I sleep!
A tiny vase and a wee plate for bits.
Annie tipped the flower and water into my bed the other day, nice
but it gets worse, she also wet it while she was asleep.
And it dried, and I slept in it. Don't hate me, I was too tired to change it!

If I was nice I would post this to my sister,
but I think I'll keep it and think of her instead when I go to bed!

More finds and treasures here

Saturday, October 29, 2011

22 February 2011: My Story

21 February 2011 was Reuben's birthday. He had the best birthday ever. He got some lovely presents and did lots of fun things. The sun shone and all was lovely. James was finally back in school, we had a meeting that day with his Learning Adviser in Southern Star house and all seemed back on track after a stressful few months.

22 February started just like any other day. Chrissy slept in and rushed out the door barely saying goodbye, without any breakfast. Reuben and James went off to school too, and Annie-Rose and I went to music and then had lunch with Grandma. After lunch we started off for home in the car to give Ashyn her first knitting lesson.
Driving down Opawa Road, suddenly the car started rocking voilently and at first I thought I had a flat tyre and stopped the car. Instantly I saw the tower of St Marks Church swaying violently and realised it was an earthquake. I sat in my car watching the tower sway and the tiles fall off the church roof. After it stopped I shakily drove down the road. I had to quickly decide what to do and decided to go to the youngest child at school. I hoped the teenagers would be ok.

I arrived at school, took Annie out of her car seat and run into the school ground. I rushed up the hill to where the children were gathering, checking children I knew as I went. I came Reuben's group, I can't even remember being puffed. His teacher was in shock (I later found out she was newly pregnant) so I sat on the ground and tried to comfort the hysterical children.

 I had a text from my sister saying she was ok and I quickly text her to go and find my kids for me. I had no idea what hell I was about to send her into. David text me to say he was ok and going to find the kids too and I soon heard from Jo that James was ok. I tried and tried to contact Chrissy, and resigned in my heart that she might be dead.

All the while I sat on the ground with the children. The ground shook so violently all the time. The children were so frightened. I promised them over and over someone would come for them, but I never promised their parents, who knew if they would come? I kept a smile on my face and gave hugs and kisses to the most scared. I encouraged those who were feeling brave to put their arms around the others. My arms were not long enough to hold everyone. At one point I held two little girls and prayed out loud for them.

Gradually most of the parents came and when there were two children left in Reuben's class I left with Annie-Rose and Reuben. We walked down to the car and I wondered what to do for the best. As we drove off I remembered David's mum who is 89 and we drove to her house. She was sitting in her drive waiting and listening to the radio. I wonder how long she would have waited if I didn't come. I got stuck in the liquifaction in her drive and texted David to come and help. I sent many texts but I didn't know he didn't get them. I thought he would just come but I didn't know the whole city was gridlocked. Also he ran out of fuel while he waited in traffic. I borrowed a spade from a neighbour and dug my car out. Then I basically carried Nana down the drive and put her in the car. We set off for our house.

 It was constantly shocking driving around and seeing all the destruction. Somewhere in this time I heard Chrissy was alive. It wasn't till months later I found out she was standing at the bottom of the Grand Chancellor Hotel, the tallest building in Christchurch, a building now doomed. We arrived in our street and the neighbours had set up a bbq on their front lawn and were making cups of tea. I settled Nana down and the kiddies and went home with another neighbour.

I had been brave for so long, but when I saw my house I lost it. I could hardly get in the door for all the stuff that had fallen down. There was just unbelievable mess and destruction. I could see the house was structurally quite damaged as well. I grabbed some necessities and armfuls of quilts to keep the children warm (it was a cold day) and went back down the road.
David arrived much later without the children and explained he couldn't get to them. He tried to tell us how bad it was in town, but there was no words to actually describe it. He left to pick up Jo and the kids who were walking out of town.

When they arrived I remember all of us standing hugging each other crying, holding each other so tight like we would never let each other go. It was so emotional and intense.

I decided to try and leave town and rang our friends in Invercargill. We could not have picked the worse possible day for them, but they galantly agreed to let us come. David came back to the house with me and we threw random stuff in bags for us and drove off. I didn't have much fuel but prayed my way to Rakaia where we filled, went to the toilet and got some food. We drove to Timaru where we eventually got accomodation with a neighbours brother. It was pretty amazing really. People were so good to us and my cell phone stayed charged just long enough to organise it. We fell into bed exhausted that night.

The next day we got up and drove to Invercargill. It was the most horrible trip of my life. I think Chrissy cried all the way. There are not words to describe how devestated we felt. One bright spot was when I loaded my emails at Dunedin Mcdonalds and there was 50 emails from you, my blog readers. I cried there. Thank you is not enough to say what you did for me that day. That was enough to get me through the rest of that horrible day.
Today for the first time since 22 February I walked down the Cashel Mall where my children walked. Part of the city reopened today. I cried all the way down the Mall, but once I got my breathe back and let go of what was, I was able to see what is now. It was amazing and vibrant and joyful. It was new and fresh. It's impossible to describle, it's a shopping precent made of shipping containers and it's good.

It was so painful to do, but it's done now. I guess it was like a snake shedding his skin, the process is nasty and uncomfortable, but once it's done it feels a lot better. I brought each of my children a Christmas decoration like I have every year at Ballantynes. It's called Fresh Start and it is.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just a few more camping and caravan pics (I couldn't help myself)

One of the ingredients of a good camping trip is lots of food eaten out doors!

The caravan was great, it had lots of shelves to put kids games and suchlike
perfect for rainy days. I love using tins, it's kinda like a surprise when you open them!!

I read The Help (it's amazing) and The Slap is for next time.
These china dogs I brought at the market,
Mum and Dad had these exact dogs when I was growing up, I wonder what happened to them?

Of course we took lots of quilts, it's not camping without quilts,
well quilts and thrifted blankets!!

I think the main thing I'll remember from this trip is all the camp fires.
Basically and all day every day camp fires.
Great to sit and talk beside.

Annie wore shorts for the first time this summer and she looked so cute.
Teeny tiny shorts for a wee girl!

The big kids even went swimming (why??)
It must have been freeeeeeeeeezing brrrrr

Camping by the sea really is the best.
Can't wait to go back.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dresden Plate Tutorial for Old Red Barn Co Flickr Quilt-along (Part 1)

 So you have your pile of neatly pressed fabric scraps (or charm squares). This is how you cut them. If you are using scraps cut a 4 x 5 inch rectangle first. Then cut on the diagonal as in the photo above, one inch in at the bottom. I'm finding this impossible to describe but I think the picture shows it. The top of the wedge measures four inches and the bottom two inches.

 So that's the tricky part over!! Now you can either machine or hand piece these. I've done both. My first one was hand pieced and now I'm machine piecing just so I have a quilt to show you at the end of this!!
 Fold over the four inch side of the wedge and sew a 1/4 inch seam. You can chain piece this for speed and you get through them in no time.
 Trim the corner and then turn right side out. I actually think it is best to finger press at this stage and press the points in after your have sewn the wedges together. You will see why when you start sewing. You just have to adjust your point to suit the side seam.
 It should like like this. I poked the point out with the end of my scissors just to make sure it was pointy enough.
 Then sew 16 of the wedges together to make your dresden. Yes it's that easy. Cut your background to 18" square. Of course you can make it bigger, but this way I got them out of some stray fat quarters I had around. I'm sure we all have those!!
 Pin securely down and hand or machine sew down. I'm hand sewing mine because I think nine will make a good sized quilt and that's not too much bother to sew down. Now don't worry about the centres, I have a magic trick to show you for those. By the time you have a Dresden or two done, I'll have written the next part with the centres!
 Isn't it beautiful?? I'm loving the scrappy look. I'm using all my special fabrics in this. Charm packs (they retail at $25 here in New Zealand) are very precious here but they are an awesome way to get a taste of a range that might not have come into the country to the local quilt shop.
Now I can't wait to make some more. But the breakfast dishes and the laundry is calling and a certain two year old would like a mummy cuddle. Please upload your pictures to the Old Red Barn Co Flickr Group, I'm so excited to see what you are all doing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

To my friends at Playcentre... [taking a new route]

Today I saw a sign for the Festival of Cycling with the words "New Routes" and it struck me that embracing the new is not the hard part, the hard part is letting go of the old. One of the things about a natural disaster is that you don't wake up in the morning knowing it is going to happen. So the last time Annie-Rose and I went to play with our friends at Woolston Playcentre, we had no idea that it was goodbye. We didn't get to look around one last time and hug our friends there. We just never went back. (It's still yellow stickered)
 
Over the last few months we have all been adjusting to the changes in our lives. Chrissy goes to a main-stream school that values academics above free thinking, James has left school and gone to work. Annie-Rose and I have been becoming part of the community at Lyttleton Street Playcentre.  All of us are doing things that we didn't plan to do before the earthquake, but that have worked out ok actualy for us. Today I realised it's time to acknowledge to my friends at Woolston, that we are there to stay.

I love what we built together at Woolston, I love all the amazing play we had there, I love how the garden had never looked so amazing, I love how we were busy preparing the older children for school with the writing table, but it's time for me to say Goodbye.

I have to acknowledge our life is not going back. We've all moved forward and changed. So to my friends at Woolston this is goodbye and thank you. Thank you for teaching me so much. Thank you for letting me play with your children. Thank you for teaching me the meaning of "What next?" Thank you for doing the clean up when Annie fell asleep.
 Playcentre is such a awesome place. It's a place for children to feel safe. It's a place to embrace creativity. It's a place where lots of learning happens while the children play.
 It's also a place for mothers and fathers. It's a place to feel safe. To share laughter and tears. A place to be vunerable when we need to, and strong when we want to. A place where we all contribute, each and every one of us. It's a place for learning as well.
For Annie and I our journey is going to take one of the new routes. So to all my friends at Woolston, Kia Kaha! Please invite us to your reopening, we will come with cake! We will rejoice and we will play for the day, and then we will go back to our new home at Lyttleton Street. 

Change is not necessarily
good or bad,
just different.

A few camping pics [six of a possible 280!]

We had such a great time at Kaikoura,
I think I downloaded over 200 photos but don't worry I won't post them all!!
The weather was chilly but the site was heaven.
If you can picture a road threading around the base of the mountains
and a strip of gravel by the road and then the sea.
We camped on the strip of gravel at Omihi.
It's just amazing.

We spent most of the time at the beach (sometimes wrapped up warmly)
while Reuben and Lily lit fire afte fire after fire
and boiled water in the thermette and cooked random stuff!
 
David came to help us set up and then for the weekend at the end.
He likes fires too! I think it must be genetic.

I remember hours and hours of fun when I was a kid, boiling the thermette with my brother Jeremy
It's one of the best memories from my childhood, hunching over the tiny fires
and then drinking the hot tea when we had success!

Annie-Rose loved it. She was very happy in the caravan
and the two children slept well which was great.
We put them together on the permanent double bed and we slept on
the bench seats at the other end of the caravan.

I could probably write a post about the caravan, it was so cosy.
Luckily it has yellow curtains which lift the brown wall lining,
add a few bright quilts and pillows and some retro bits and bobs
and it looks great!!