Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Countdown

Last night we had a Christmas Eve Eve Eve dinner at Beth and Ed's. I found the best crackers ever at New World and they weren't even very expensive. We had lots of yummy food (as per usual) and wine and played Celebrity (which I've never played before and is such a fun game!). An excellent practise for the real Christmas day. Also, Adrianne made the most amazing cake (not in any of the photos unfortunately) - Nigella's Damp Lemon Almond Cake from How to Be a Domestic Goddess. I think I need that recipe book now.

On Monday night I got to visit a house I have wanted to visit for years. My friend Frankie's parents own Longwood: 'reputedly New Zealand's largest private home'. It was amazing. Frankie drove four of us over for a Christmas carols evening - there were about thirty people there and we sung all the classics grouped around her Mum on the piano and their family friend on the violin. The cutest part was when two young French boys (who looked tres European but also like Justin Bieber) and their father also got out their violins and played along for one song. I love singing Christmas carols so it was a really nice evening - followed by a delicious wee supper.

I got a quick tour of the house and it is MASSIVE: a servants' wing, a former school room, so many bedrooms - the Master bedroom basically has a staircase either side, a library, large grounds. Everything is decorated in keeping with the style of the house but it isn't so opulent that you feel like you can't touch anything. I was really taken by the picture over the fireplace in the library - it's carved into the wood surrounding the fireplace. It really emphasised the age of the building and some of the things in it. I don't think I could live in such a big old house though, I'd get way too scared!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Very Cherry Christmas

I love Christmas! I was so excited on the 1st of December when I realised what the date was as I was walking to work. I immediately changed my iPod to the best playlist in the history of the universe: A Very Cherry Christmas. I LOVE so many Christmas songs and I think the reason is partly because I observe a strict 1st - 25th December rule with them. Nothing before or after. The same with decorations. It's just unnecessary and too soon to get your Christmas on before the 1st of December. Well that's my opinion anyway.

I have made Christmas cards and Christmas gift tags for as long as I can remember, with varying degrees of success. I feel like this year I hit the jackpot in terms of cards that were easy and quick to make, not too expensive, and had a Christmas feel that didn't involve icicles or anything that's not so relevant to New Zealand in December (I mean, honestly, what could be more relevant in any context than a series of knitted leaves?). Also I was happy I got to use one of my favourite photos from the year for something practical.

I was glad to find card in a nice shade of red that has a good thickness and a bit of a metallic sheen to it, somehow it made them seem a bit classier. Overall, I think the finished cards look pretty darn stylish if I do say so myself.

Yes I know, I sound overly pleased with myself about this but I actually love these cards. So there.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Quickly Christchurch

On Thursday afternoon I flew down to Christchurch for a very short visit to attend my sister's graduation - she is now a fully fledged primary teacher. The ceremony was pretty long and boring but not too too long and counting the number of people with the middle name 'Jane' (of which my sister was one) kept me entertained. There were 39 - it seems that it was a very popular middle name in the late 80s/early 90s! Other contenders were 'Marie', 'Frances', and 'Louise'.

While in the city we went to this crazy little time-warp grocery shop - there were two white haired men in white dust jackets running the show, shelves bulging with tins and packets, toffees, boiled sweets, and chocolates in old fashioned packaging, and a ladder to reach the uppermost corners. I asked what something I could see on a shelf was and the man behind the counter replied, 'Ahh, that's a Faberge egg, it comes filled with lollies. Although look at the date for me, I think it might be a bit past its best'. The best before date read some time in 2009; his response: 'Never mind, it'll be fine' as he put it back on the shelf. Mum bought some Earl Grey teabags (because I always complain when I'm down there that there's only Bell tea) and as he was ringing up the purchase he said, 'Now these are bit past their best before date but they'll be fine, tea lasts forever, especially packaged up like this.' So it seems the style of the shop isn't the only thing in a time-warp.

I had to buy this chocolate because I liked the wrapping, luckily it hadn't passed its best, although it did melt in the car.

We also visited the Ron Mueck exhibition at the Christchurch Art Gallery. I had been looking forward to this as Ed saw it when he was in Melbourne earlier in the year and there have been posters all over Wellington warning that the exhibition is showing only in Christchurch. It was definitely worth the $15 entry charge - so many things about the works are surprising and confronting. The detail is amazing - hair follicles, veins, freckles, moles. Everything is so realistic, yet the scale is often either much smaller than life-size or massive.

I was especially excited to see 'Two Women'. They remind me so much of the characters Georgia and Emily in our show Tea for Toot. I was expecting them to be life-size, though, so it was a surprise to see that they aren't.

(I am carefully standing outside the white line like a good exhibition-goer)

While it was great that taking photos was allowed, it was also kind of annoying because there were quite a few people there and everyone had their cameras out so you felt a bit in the way wherever you were standing trying to look at the sculptures. I mean obviously I was just as much a culprit as anyone else but it highlighted the good and not so good aspects of allowing photographs in an exhibition, especially one as popular as this seems to be.

It was a nice but brief visit and SO HOT on Saturday. I was glad to get back to Wellington where it's muggy but not quite so scorching. I managed to squeeze in some cupcake knitting for Christmas presents and Christmas card making - get ready for some photos from the production line this week...

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Royal Garden Party

The Royal Garden party on Saturday afternoon was a deliciously delightful success. Beth is amazing, there were strawberry macaroons, lavender scones, guiness cupcakes, sandwiches with cucumber, mint and cream cheese, coronation chicken, and egg and sprout fillings. And lots more. I finished making my bunting and we got a real Christmas tree and decorated it in the blue colour theme. The back garden looked so cute with white paper lanterns and while I didn't achieve my goal of three knitted cupcakes I did manage two. One 18 month old girl was very smitten with them so I gave her one to take home.

Such a lovely afternoon - which then turned into a night of dancing. Perfect!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

View from my window

Except now that I've transferred jobs, I don't have a window anymore. The one window I can see if I turn around has plants squashed up against it that have been planted to try to hide a concrete wall.

But I do have...

This building across the road from our entrance which seems kind of Elizabethan and spooky - I thought it was empty (you can't really see in the photo but the open entry next to the green doors is covered in graffiti) but I saw a woman walk into it as I was going out for lunch and the window is open so maybe not. I will have to investigate.

I also have this cute wee cafe a couple of doors down from the spooky building. I had amazing lemon coconut slice from there today. And they do a decent hot chocolate. So clearly, with my first day down, I've sorted the most important things out.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dream weekend

I am having such a good time at the moment. I just spent the weekend in Auckland with Alex and Ed. We went to check out The Basement, where we'll be doing our show in the Auckland Fringe 2011, and generally have a fun time. We saw Toys at The Basement which was invaluable for getting a sense of the theatre space (very different to BATS Theatre), although the iPhones (aka iPhads - their size makes them more like a cross between an iPhone and an iPad) Alex made for us so that we would fit in in Auckland didn't seem to impress all the Shortland Street and C4 people sitting around us. What a surprise.

While our unanimous verdict was that Wellington is a million times better than Auckland in almost every way, we did prefer the Christmas window display in Smith & Caughey's over the one currently in Kirkaldies and Staines down here.

It's a 1920s Cinderella story based on a book they're selling in the store. There were such cool details in all the window scenes - the furniture, clothing etc and the marionettes moved so cleverly.

I got to go to one of my favourite things in Auckland - the French-style Farmers' Market in Parnell and eat yum food.

And we went to the Auckland War Memorial Museum to see the Outrageous Fortune exhibition - which we were a week too early for, but spent a couple of hours looking around the museum anyway. There are some really cool permanent exhibitions, like New Zealand Design and Decorative Arts, which showcases furniture, clothing, and decorative items from the past 100+ years. I haven't been to the Auckland Museum since I was quite young so it was nice to be able to pay it a visit.

Then, because we were right next to it, we went to another of my favourite Auckland spots - The Winter Gardens at the Auckland Domain.

We happened upon a hip wee craft market back in the centre of the city on Saturday afternoon, Cassette's Supermarket, which is apparently held every Saturday in the Cassette bar. I loved all the bunting - which reminds me I need to get onto sewing mine for the Royal Garden Party this weekend!

On Saturday night we went to the Auckland Theatre Company's production of Cabaret. SO AWESOME. It was in the Salon Perdu - a travelling European Mirror Tent (spiegeltent) that they've erected on the Eastern Viaduct for the show. The venue was so freaking cool and the show was also amazing. Very very sexual but totally appropriate for Cabaret. Great performers - the woman who played Fraulein Schneider was my favourite, exactly how I picture the character when I listen to the original cast recording - and suitably chilling towards the end. I am so glad I went.

That night we saw some random street art that tickled my fancy...

When we got back to Wellington we had the 2010 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards and while we didn't win in either of the categories we (/Alex) were nominated for, our friend Lucy did for her play Katydid so we were very happy. And we had a great night that involved a lot of dancing and everyone looking like total babes. I wore a black dress shot through with silver I bought from Frutti that made me feel very Audrey Hepburn, unfortunately my camera was not enjoying the low light inside the Opera House so I hope someone has a good photo of it because I don't.

I took today off in anticipation of the very late night so I have managed to stretch the weekend out as much as possible; even still, I wish it wasn't back to work tomorrow...