Friday, December 30, 2011

Maxi dresses, painted toenails, nurses' capes, stripes, cricket, books.

So far this holiday, I have discovered the joys of:

Maxi dresses. They simultaneously make you feel like you're part of a very conservative religious group and/or going to the Oscars and/or a Hollywood celebrity living a casual summer life - especially when you're wearing one in an airport.

Painted toenails. I have never painted my toenails before (technically, I still haven't), but yesterday my friend Hayley's Mum, who has recently opened a beauty salon in the big front room of their house (also known as 'the smoking room' because it's where Hayley and I had our first secret cigarettes ever, sitting out the big sash windows; we would have been caught except her step-Dad has no sense of smell, so when he came into the room to say goodnight, he actually believed us when we said we were sitting out the windows because we were 'hot'), offered to paint both my toenails and Hayley's toenails. I copied Hayley and had them painted in 'Cherry Crush', a dark, but not too dark, shiny red. They are so amazing, every time I look at them I love them - so tiny, so colourful! And they distract from my blistered, yam-like feet which is an added bonus.

I have also bought an actual old red nurses cape from an antique shop having a closing down sale. The cape needs some mending though, so its pictorial debut will have to wait. I am definitely going to wear it in the winter.

In Wairarapa fashion news, Maggie is apparently a huge proponent of the double-stripe look. A bold statement, but one she definitely pulls off.

Meanwhile, Hamish had Nana and I out playing cricket on Wednesday evening. Maggie kept telling me, 'I'm on your team' as she bounced on the trampoline. Hamish observed, 'You're not very good at bowling are you, Cherie? Or catching. You're pretty good at batting though.' It's true, when a bright orange ball is coming at me not too fast, from not too far away, I can actually hit it.

For a short time, Isla joined us in reading a book before crying. I guess she's not a fan of Hamish's latest favourite series, Boy vs. Beast.

Now it's raining and I'm reading How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. The verdict is still out.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas (or, I take a million photos)

After a false start due to more earthquakes on Friday afternoon causing Christchurch airport to close and our flight to be cancelled, my sister Megan, step-sister Claire, and I made it down to the farm on the morning of Christmas eve. The delay, while frightening and extremely inconvenient for the people of Christchurch, actually worked out pretty well for me because it meant I got to go to a Christmas eve eve BBQ and party.

Once I arrived at the farm I harvested some lavender. Naturally.

This lot was tied with twine and hung upside down in the hotwater cupboard to dry. I have plans to make little lavender bags with it. I doubt this will ever actually happen.

I then harvested more lavender and put posys of it in glass jars in everyone's bedrooms. I was sharing a bedroom with Claire who gets hayfever, I forgot about this.

After harvesting, I got to attack the overgrown lavender bushes with big clippers which is one of my FAVOURITE things to do. By the time I was finished with them they looked like neat little box hedges.

After a team effort baked cheesecake (how many people does it take to make a baked cheesecake? At least five apparently) and some other preparations for the next day's feasting, Claire and I went for a walk. If there was one reason I would want an iPhone, it's for the Hipstamatic app. I love these photos Claire took.

Mum and Dave's Irish friends and their two daughters are staying at the farm, so after watching Love Actually (I saw it for only the second time last Christmas and hated it; surprisingly, I didn't hate it as much this Christmas) we did the requisite Christmas eve duties for the five year old once she was asleep.

Then it was Christmas day.

Claire and I decided that this photo could go on the front of a Christmas card from the two of us next year, and say: 'Merry Christmas from the Christmas Spinsters'.

The five person baked cheesecake is bottom left, dusted with icing sugar. SO GOOD. 

I (sunsmartly) sunbathed after eating way too much, while some of the kids played with playdough and made an excellent mess of playdough crumbs. 

A month or so ago when Claire and I were in The Warehouse, we saw a book about some country romance. We decided our country Christmas could potentially follow the plot of the novel, hence my wistful scan of the horizon for a dashing veterinarian.

Claire, Sarah (the eldest Irish child), and I went for a long walk to try to counter the extreme amount of eating we'd done. It kind of worked, except that by the time we got home we were able to partake in round two - leftovers dinner. I then watched the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special which reinforced my love of the Welsh and Ruth Jones and James Corden.

Yesterday we went to Hanmer Springs for a picnic in the shade because it was so hot again. Then we went swimming and came home for a dinner of baked SALMON. I made potato salad which I christened 'Heart Attack Potato Salad' because of the amount of Real Foods mayonnaise in it. I think when I look back on this Christmas, I will remember the sheer amount and deliciouness of all the food, and the heat.

The company was pretty good, too.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Family heirloom

On Thursday after work I caught the train to Masterton for dinner with the Jacobson side of the family. While I was there my two great aunts, Olga and Paddy, gave me a pretty amazing present. It came with a card that read:

Dear Cherie, As the oldest member of the oldest son I thought you were the rightful recipient of the enclosed... When John was sick I wanted something simple to do as we sat and talked to him or he slept! I picked up a piece of patchwork that my mother had nearly finished and completed it to make into this cot cover. As my mother had a very soft spot for Vic I thought it was also appropriate that you should have it. I hope you will treasure it as a gift from the past which contains lot of memories. I hope you or some members of your family will enjoy using it. Christmas blessings from Pat and Olga.

My great grandmother died in 1978, so it makes sense that some of the fabric is so clearly from the 1960s and 1970s. It's very colourful and very awesome. It has a matching pillowcase and I love it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pretty magic

For the second year in a row, I had the privilege of attending Christmas carols at Longwood, my friend Frankie's family home just out of Featherston. Longwood is beautiful, the food was amazing, and there's something pretty cool about gathering around an electric piano and a violin and singing carols with a group of people.

The five of us girls (including Frankie) arrived early and helped with some of the food. I took on the task of 'smearing' homemade pate onto rye bread. Ginny and Fleur shared the cutting of the coriander and grapes and placing them 'just so'.

As well as yummy finger food, there was a giant glazed ham, a green salad with roasted kumara and cranberries, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, and warm bread and LOTS of cheese. Later on we had strawberries, florentines, crunchy oaty caramel slice, and chocolates. I ate so much I had to sit in a food induced stupor for a wee while to recover.

We sang all the best traditional carols (I love 'Good King Wenceslas' and 'Ding Dong Merrily On High') and a couple of not so traditional classics ('I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus'). The evening ended at 11pm with those of us left singing the song that's always left until the very end. There are only a few copies of the words so everyone has to huddle in close.

I drove us over the hill and back again (it was 12.30am before I got home) so it's left me pretty tired this week, but it was definitely, definitely worth it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fa la la la la, la la la la

Yesterday morning as I was sitting in my pyjamas making Christmas cards while listening to Christmas music, one of my flatmates said, 'You're so Christmassy...' I don't really feel very Christmassy at all, but I guess compared to a lot of people I am.

We not so fondly refer to our workspace as The Bunker due to the fact that we are basically underground with very few windows and little to no natural light. The garish yellow walls inside The Bunker are a cruel reminder of the sun that we can't actually see.

We put up and decorated the tree at work on Friday and then I made some paper 'snowflakes' with some origami paper I happened to have in my desk.

I'm going to try to get people to make more this week. Angry Tony helped me make a few of my initial ones and he got quite into it.

Tonight I went to The Big Carol Sing at the Town Hall with Fiona and Bret. I hadn't been before and it was really cool singing carols accompanied by the giant organ and the Salvation Army band. However, there was quite a lot of religion which isn't really my thing. The Musical Island Boys sang though, I haven't seen them in ages and they were great.

The kids in the manger scene were pretty hilarious. Joseph and the shepherd looked utterly bored the whole time (as Fiona said, 'I guess there aren't many half pipes in Bethlehem'), while one of the angels got her groove on during the songs and clearly loved being on stage. She kept whispering to the other angels who seemed a bit overwhelmed by their roles.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Twinkle, twinkle...

Last night I put the Christmas tree up. I had grand plans to make amazing new decorations with silver card and ribbon, because I'm a bit sick of the coloured baubles I've had for the past three years, but realistically, I wasn't going to get around to making them in the next week so I just put the tree up and used the same old decorations. It still looks pretty good anyway.

I was so excited to show off the tiny little fairy lights to my flatmates when it got dark. Apparently when one of them came home from working at a bar till the early hours of the morning, the tree with its lights on in the dark of the lounge made her a bit teary eyed. Success!

I also bought a Christmas album I've wanted for a few Christmasses now: 'Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas'. It was recorded in 1960 and is so great! She says amazing things like, 'Look at that crazy red suit' when talking about Santa in 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' and 'I'm just crazy about horses!' at the end of 'Jingle Bells'. Oh, Ella.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Alien life

This amazing flower is growing behind our house. I noticed it while hanging out the washing. Then, while taking a photo of it, I noticed the even more amazing buds.

They're like tiny little aliens, all scrunched up, taking a deep breath before exploding out...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Private Road

It's been a big week. Two weeks, really.

I've walked past this sign many a time on my way to work, but yesterday I felt the need to take a photo - it was probably the flowers.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

1st of December

There have been signs of Christmas approaching - the tree in Midland Park with its sad, faded decorations going up, this awesome Christmas village window display in Juniper, a pile of presents being bought and wrapped in time to make the postal deadline for getting to London (and Ed) in time for Christmas - but today is the 1st of December and I am officially allowing myself to get EXCITED.

That's right. A Very Cherry Christmas was back on the iPod this morning, I'm wearing a green dress and my red Christmas earrings, and upon arriving at work I immediately set up this CUTE tree from Swonderful. We have our work Christmas thing this evening so I am looking forward to gin and yum food.