Monday, January 23, 2012

Those who don't believe in magic will never find it....

Little beetle visitor
I have been journaling these past few weeks and in the process came across this inspiring quote from Roald Dahl;

"And above all watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.  Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."

These words really resonated with me.  It's so easy to miss the magic in everyday life while rushing around from place to place, job to job and so on.  Roald Dahl is such a wonderful wordsmith, I must read some of his books again.  Childhood favourites on mine from this author were George's Marvellous Medicine and Matilda. 
Mr. Beetle

Anyway I digress, back to journaling.  Integrating art in to my everyday life is something I am working on and to help me along the way I signed up for this Art Journal All Year E-course from Red Velvet.  It has been a great prompt and reference for creating art regularly.  Being artistic more often has been satisfying and feels like getting to know part of myself that I had almost forgotten (I used to draw and paint often at high school).  So far I haven't managed to sink my teeth into art journaling daily but am documenting thoughts more often. 

Thinking about art and 'seeing' potential moments to document has been a wonderful side effect of this course.     It is such fun noticing everyday moments that I might have missed before.  The quality of light, the way objects cast a shadow, contrasting and complimentary has suddenly become so much more vivid. Feel like I have been wandering around with dirty glasses on! It annoys me how complacent I had become in the absence of creating pieces of artwork regularly.

Evening light catching on my favourite glasses,

 dancing on my bed

and sparkling on the kitchen floor!
Mind you I haven't been just wandering around in a wondrous state!!  I have been at the sewing machine too. Whipped up some snack bags on the overlocker and sewing machine the other day.  Used some lovely fabric because these little beauties are going to be used everyday.  Better than staying in the fabric stash waiting to be made into a 'special' quilt that I just may never get round to making.  This Angry Chicken tutorial is the one I used; my goodness these are super fun to make.  Soo quick to finish and are lovely to eat morning tea treats from.  Some of these wee bags will be sent away as gifts, too much fun to keep for myself. 
Pretty snack bags
We have a friend staying for a while. It's awesome to have another person in the house but this little apartment is not so private.  So to make the stay more enjoyable for our lovely guest I made some curtains for the doors that join the bedroom with the lounge (there used to be some horrible, grubby, net curtains there).  This was another quick project and I like them so much I think that I will leave them up even when we don't have any company!
Chirpy new curtains
Down the hill in front of us is a construction site.  A new house is being built on what was just an empty section. I can only imagine how very exciting it must be for the owners seeing their dream home becoming reality, it certainly is fun to watch the progress. However I was concerned for a certain little Mr. Kingfisher friend that spent most afternoons flitting around the empty plot. I was ever so excited when Mr. Fox saw him again.  Such a funny little fellow, he seemed rather nonplussed by the changes. So glad he is back!

Hello wee friend.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A day to myself.....

With my work not quite back up to full time until next week for me, I had Monday to myself.  The day was beautiful, too nice to stay at home.  So with time on my hands and the aim of saving as much money as possible this year I thought a little, no-cost adventure was in order.  With my camera in my hand and no schedule to keep I set off.  Such an adventure called for appropriate attire......

Altered thrifted dress

This dress was only couple of dollars but used to look markedly different. Size 20 originally and super long... oh my!!  The happy daisy print was way too cute to leave on the rack of the op-shop though. 

I was a bit nervous about reconstructing this dress but bit the bullet and got started.  I laid a favourite dress on top, lining up the neckline.  I drew around the outside leaving a generous seam allowance.  It needed a few darts here and there and is a smidgen tight across my hips but is definitely still wearable. 

The crisp white and cheeky print get me smiling.  Very glad I just cut into the fabric, normally I choke at the last minute.  I have a few other beauties waiting for makeovers that I must get brave and modify.

My newly sown seeds have popped their little faces through the soil.   So before I ventured out I made sure to give them a little water.  Mmm summer greens, can't wait to eat them.  Hopefully the slugs won't decimate this crop.

Hello babies!
I let my feet lead and my mind wander.  As I walked on in that lovely sun I thought a play with the camera at the graveyard would be pleasant.  Ma. Fox loves to visit graveyards, as does one of my wonderful friends. The old headstones are so beautiful.  Often deserted graveyards are such lovely places to meander through.   With moss and dappled sunlight it was an oasis in the middle of the city. 

From the graveyard to the Auckland Art Gallery is a short stroll.  I spent a quiet few hours there.  Recently refurbished and renovated the gallery is a must visit if you ever get the chance.  Hours can easily be whiled away exploring.  The Victorian Tales of Love and Enchantment exhibition is incredible with works by Frank Bramley, John Godward, John Waterhouse and more. Really there are no words to give these works enough credit. Will be going back to soak up these works more throughout the year. 
Lord Frederick Leighton (1830-1896) The Spirit of the Summit Oil on canvas, c1894 101.6 x 198.1 cm (3' 4
My favourite work; The Spirit of the Summit,  Leighton . source
I came home that day with my spirits high, ideas buzzing around in my head and a spring in my step. Ever so glad I ignored the cleaning!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Food for the soul..

The lack of sunshine around these parts has been a bit of a downer, making it hard to stay inspired.  In between the showers we have been making an effort to get out and about. Attending the Fleet Foxes concert at the Auckland Town Hall was the highlight of the weekend. These guys were tight, the harmonies were so impressive live. It was lovely to have a date with Mr. Fox too! There really isn't many better things in life to enjoy than a live band.

Sunday was rather laid back. Had a lovely chat with a darling friend, made even sweeter by the good news she had to share. Ohh exciting times ahead indeed.  A break in the clouds meant Mr. Fox and I could head out to the Auckland Botanic Gardens.  A bit of a drive from central Auckland but a good excuse to get out of the city.
So many Hydrangeas
The reason we ventured out was to see the sculptures but quite frankly we were both pretty underwhelmed by what was there.  The flowers and park itself however were worth the drive. The park is huge, we only managed to wander around some parts. It was great to be out in the sunshine and breathing in fresh air.  Along the paths there were the most wonderfully colourful hydrangeas. Took way too many photos much to the amusement of Mr. Fox but they were just so gorgeous.

Oh that blue
The warm afternoon had drawn out many people, lots of families picnicking and couples walking hand in hand.  Despite most of the sculptures not being to my taste I did have one favourite. A bear, he was huge. This sculpture had a sense of liveliness, it caught the light and was perfect from every angle. Certainly made up for all the other ones for me.
My fav sculpture
It is certainly good to just do stuff sometimes isn't it.  Enjoying the sunshine on my skin, the breeze on my face and soaking up some fresh sights helped lift my spirits. Felt more motivated and ready for new projects. Like this one that started late last year. It is a Heirloom Baby Blanket, probably to put away for myself one day. Got stuck a little the other day but I think it's a mistake that won't be noticed when it's all done. The wool I have chosen is cream, 100% merino.  Perfect to work on while watching Breaking Bad.

Heirloom Baby Blanket progress

Monday, January 9, 2012

Time to ponder....

Reflecting on the year just past and looking forward to this shiny new one has been on my mind these last few weeks.  2011 was a huge year of change for me.  The decisions i made were terrifying and liberating all at once.  Last year changed me in so many ways; I feel like I am finally growing into myself.  I am learning to accept my flaws and be proud of my strengths.

Visiting Monarch between showers
I quit a responsible, reliable, well paying respectable job last year.  Burnt out, every day had begun to feel like a struggle.  When you have to psych yourself up for the day's work and can't wait to get home you know it's time for change.  Big change.  So I quit.  With no job lined up and little idea of what I wanted to do.  Handed in my resignation, worked out my notice, said my good-byes, left that job.  Have never been so scared in my life.  This post on Gala Darling explains the essence of letting go to commitments that are just too much so eloquently, more so than I ever could.

A little splash of colour

Working with the elderly I miss but not all the other stuff that went with it.  So now after a lot of job hunting and a short time working in a store I have found a job that allows me to have great work-life balance.  As a Nanny/Nurse for children both healthy or have medical issues I get to have fun at work.  Laughter and spontaneity are huge part of my day and I love it.  There are moments that I have to take a deep breath but I no longer drag my feet to the car in the morning and the day passes so very quickly.  Work brings me so much joy and inspiration these days.

Wild weeds in an empty plot

I am so proud that I made the leap and shook up my career so much. Proud and so very grateful to have a loving partner who supported me every step of the way.  Thankful to have a family that cheered me on even when I started to think that I may just have made a hasty and stupid decision to quit.  Being brave enough to leave that job has made me more confident that I can handle situations that are daunting.  A change in career direction was not my only achievement .  My crafting skills moved forward with the addition of reading knitting patterns and working on circular needles.  Patterns in general are less intimidating and I am more willing to give more complex projects a go. Crochet, sewing and knitting are a huge part of my life.

Summer...where are you??

2011 was also the year we moved from a tiny apartment on the 13th floor of a busy, inner city building complex to our sweet, spacious space on the ground floor of an old villa.  We love this space to say the least.  It really feels like a little home.  Filling the space with special trinkets, art and memories has been a highlight of the past year.  So wonderful to have a haven to come home too and to share with friends.  Putting in a little herb and vegetable garden has been satisfying.

 I tried to say 'yes' to opportunities to have fun more often.....I think is becoming habit now (because life is short right?? and just why the hell not!!).  Tried to take more photos and be present in each moment. I am excited about 2012 and all the fun it will bring.  More personal growth and achievement are high on my goals for this year, a bit of travel, lots more photos and enjoying another trip around the sun.  Ooo so excited and it has just begun!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A sunny Christmas and a very wet New Year

Southland put on a great show of fine weather for Christmas.  It was so warm and sunny that we opened our presents on the verhanda. We drank coffee and homemade lemon cordial, we snacked on all sorts of goodies that Ma. Fox had whipped up. And as the sun tracked across the sky and our lunch settled the badminton set was erected. What fun the badminton was, lots of laughs and missed shots. Not a breath of wind either (very odd for Southland). Christmas day was special and relaxed and I am so very sad that it all went so quickly.

Let the games begin!
This festive season was great for so many reasons. A traditional  'Pre-Christmas Curry' night was celebrated with friends and past flatmates in Dunedin. A super jolly night with great music and special mates. Nana and Pop Fox cooked a special Christmas lunch for Sister Fox, Mr. Fox and I. It was scrumptious and so very good to catch up with them. We managed to catch up with many family and friends on our short trip south making the holiday busy but enjoyable. The sun shining brightly was the cherry on top.
Super cute sister fox
New Years was not so sunny. In fact it was ridiculously wet and in turn muddy. Nevertheless it was an amazing couple of days. We went to the Coromandel Gold music festival in the Whitianga. We had hoped for a weekend of sunshine but alas it was not to be. It poured on the long drive there, it rained while we unpacked the car and put up the tent, and it absolutely bucketed down while we danced the night GUMBOOTS!!

Oh yes I don't think it could have been any wetter if it had tried. The national weather report described it as torrential, they weren't exaggerating. Rain aside, the weekend was as fun as ever. Mud was everywhere in the campsite..ankle deep in most places. The bands were fabulous and we had great company.  What a memorable way to say goodbye to 2011 and welcome to 2012.
New Gumboots

Oh that mud!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas crafting reveal

Now that the presents have been unwrapped I can finally show you what this fox had been working on in the months before the big day. It was awfully fun to see all the goodies together before wrapping them up. Had trouble getting a good photo due to the appalling weather we have had here in Auckland. Rain, rain go away!

Christmas crafting

This year it was lovely to have planned and started crafting for Christmas early. My knitting has improved after all the hats and slippers. It felt good to try out some patterns/ideas from my scrapbooks too. Everyone seemed to enjoy their gifts. 
Christmas tea-towels, flannels and hand towels
I love my Christmas flannels and hand towels that Ma Fox gave me last year so much, they really are such fun to get out at the start of December and use during the festive season. So I made some too giveaway (and a couple to keep). There are some really lovely Christmas themed fabrics out there and it is great to use them on items that are going to be used year after year. And who doesn't love a little festive cheer in the kitchen and bathroom!!

Woolly warmth
2011 was the year that 3D knitting was tackled so it was no surprise that my Foxy family and friends received hats or slippers. The hats with the tassels are using the pattern I blogged about here. The stripey hat was a new pattern in my repertoire. It is the Turn a Square Striped Beanie from Brooklyn Tweed and what a fun hat to knit up. Fits my Pa Fox just right....."not too tight" he says. I added a little extra length to the brim as the winds in Southland, New Zealand can be freezing. Hopefully no cold ears for my family this winter.

If you are reading this my sweet friend Sammy.....Stop!! Your present is yet to wing it's way South yet. Hmmm not the best organised in getting your present to you this year. So look away and scroll down past this next picture my friend! A wee part of this picture is in your parcel.
Owls and fancy collar
Three more cheeky little owls were born this festive season. Using this lovely pattern I blogged about here. Ma Fox received the teal coloured collar. Should keep her cosy during her winter days at work. The pattern is Marcelle's Fancy Neck Wrap from the Interweave Crochet Accessories. The collar is worked in both knit and crochet. The pieces look a little weird before being blocked and sewn up. I very nearly gave up as I just couldn't envision the finished project looking anything like the photo shown in the magazine. So glad I didn't though.

Nana Fox's scarf
Another pattern from the Interweave Crochet Accessories booklet turned out pretty darn good too. The scarf above was given to my Nana. She loved it and was especially pleased with the yarn choice; a merino and possum blend. It is super soft and has a beautiful drape.  The pattern is called Maria's Scarf.

Flannels for a baby boy, pillowcase and oven mitts
The pillowcase was for my Pop Fox....a man that is very had to buy for. I thought this pillowcase would be a fun alternative to socks, chocolate etc. The oven mitt I didn't use a pattern for, just winged it. Copied from my own oven mitts. It has a few layers of woollen blanket scraps and a tea-towel for the outer layer. I am hoping that this will be easy to wash and will last a long time. The flannels are for a sweet little boy that I finally got to meet and cuddle in December. I thought the shapes would be fun in the bath. Oh my what a dear little boy, so  cheeky and cute. Such a pity I live so far apart from him and his parents.
Christmas dishcloths and pincushions
Whew...last picture! Cotton dishcloths are just garter stitch rectangles. The pincushions are cobbled together scraps and are inspired by lots of different pincushions on the net. The ribbons are so the pincushions can be tied to a chair or other tricky spots for crafting on the go. They look better stuffed and have dried lavender and lemon verbena inside too. Mmm fragrant crafting!! 

So I was a little crafted out a few days before Christmas day but of that didn't last long. I started a wee crochet blanket on the plane to Southland but more on that later. Christmas this year was super sunny and I had fun. Enjoyed spending time with my family and friends. It was over all too quickly.

P.s: Ma Fox started a blog, won't you drop in and say hello to her....... Daisies, Doilies and Donkeys