Saturday, 30 January 2016


The poor lad has been wilting in the intense heat. A few days ago I attempted to "wet groom" him, by dampening my hands and stroking him vigourously. He wasn't quite sure what to make of that, especially when he saw me with all his fur on my hands. But the massage made him very relaxed and seconds later he was zoned out.

It has taken me two summers to realise that even sitting on a covered verandah you melt. However, sitting under a tree with open branches and lots of foliage can be several degrees cooler. So we both decamped to the Empress tree, set up a table and took our books. It's amazing - I'd never experienced this view before. We also took lemonade!

The bean teepee is producing lots of beans, I can't explain the joy, but it was very real and I had a chat with my dear departed dad and hoped he was proud of this first trinity of runner beans.

Today, I was back to verandahing with my sewing - I have a project to make lots of Christmas tree ornaments as a fundraiser for a sewing school my husband and I are helping in Tanzania. Get your orders in quick!

Some proto-types (minus the hanging ribbon)

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

150 years of catalogues

One of the treasures I purchased on Saturday at the magical shop called Three Buckets Full, was a 1924 mail order catalogue from a company in Manchester called JD Williams and Co Ltd. I finally had the chance today to do a bit of research on them. It transpires they are still operating out of Manchester. Here are a few pages of my little piece of history.

Saturday, 9 January 2016


During my button fundraising adventures, I have met the wonderful Ruth Meier, a button expert and collector of some 60 years standing. She is always hugely generous with her knowledge and had helped me understand a bit more about the buttons I sell.

She has recently had a 6 month exhibition at the Dowse Museum in Lower Hutt (sadly it comes to an end at the end of this month). It was part of a larger exhibition called "All that Jazz" celebrating the artistic input of the jazz era. Here are photographs I took yesterday (without a flash, so they are quite dark). I came away inspired.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Packing away the tree

Tonight, one night late (aka Thirteenth Night), I unmade and dismantled our artificial Christmas tree. It is a bitter sweet experience for me every year. Not because I am a big fan of the pzazz of Christmas, but because each ornament on the tree has a story. For some reason this year it felt sadder than usual. My decorations fall into groups; there are the decorative trees to go on the tree, the reindeer ornaments, the angels, the round baubles, the nativity scenes,the hand made items, the stars and the wintery icicles. Then there is the long red camel ribbon that is twisted around the entire tree (miniature red pompoms on red braid).

I thought of the Singaporean nurse working in Yemen who gave me my olive wood nativity set, and the German friend who sent a precious hand carved and painted nativity scene in birchwood as a wedding gift. A Viennese friend who has sent me two beautiful trees for my collection, and a university friend who hand embroidered a green and white tree. 18 years later her daughter made me angels from wired beads. There were the tiny snow men bought at an Amish fair in upstate New York and baubles painted with camels that I bought in a Middle Eastern bazaar. There are two crystal Swarovski snowflakes, mementos of my first job in NZ, and items bought for me by my mum, in a tradition we have had for years, buying each other a Christmas ornament. This year two new friends also added exquisite items to the collection. My angel at the top of the tree was from the Norwegian Seaman's Mission bazaar in Dubai and a few hand made items from when I was too poor to buy decorations, instead decorating my rubber plant with lights and ribbons.

So many faces come to view when I remove the ornaments. People who have meant and do mean a lot to me. Memories of places from a wonderful past and a blessed present. A Christmas tree actually has nothing to do with Christmas, but the memories behind mine makes me so very thankful that I share this season with so many precious people near and far.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Introducing Oxana

I appear to be starting a Coneysthorpe tradition - making a new Matryoshka doll each New Year. The one I made last New Year was purchased and sent to the UK as a gift. So here is 2016's lady, Oxana. She is made from 1950s cotton and old lace. I had a run of doll purchases before Christmas and only had one left, looking a bit lonely in the spare guest room. So Oxana will be a companion, until she is sold too.

Oxana narrowly avoided being photo bombed by our resident diva, who was watching a bird very closely on the lawn.

As the rain has come (thank you Lord) forays into the garden are out of the question, so this afternoon will be making plum desserts for friends.

Wishing you all a lovely start to the New Year.