Thursday, November 26, 2009

Christchurch Treasures

This trip to Christchurch was a combination of relaxing (going to bed Kiwi time, waking up Sydney time is how I describe it), day trips to interesting little towns, retro/vintage shopping with the MIL who has kindly kept an eye out for wonderful little retro shops and cut out information on them for me, (over) eating yummy stuff at restaurants, cafes plus delicious home-cooked meals.

I scored 2 lovely items. The first is a brown, crocodile-skin handbag made in the 1940s, still in an extremely pristine condition for something that is half a century old. It is a beautifully-made Kelly bag, very sturdy and yet very feminine. I love it to bits. And the fact that I only paid NZ$10 for it at my favourite vintage shop there, Foragers. I can't wait to use it.

The second item is a wee cake dish with a green leaf and rose painted on. Just nice for one person, I can see myself using it and enjoying my little cakes and biscuits on this little treasure, with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

I love the fact that I've spent so little and got so much. The feeling is priceless.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

A Subtle Non-Conformist

Today, I clutched a bag of old clothes and books and trudged up the hill to Vinnie's to do some good. I was pleased to have cleared out some old stuff which I've not worn in a long while and which I didn't think I would want to wear again. The books were paperbacks which I've read and which were either gleaned off the kerbside on some council clean up or which I had bought sometime back from opp shops. And so I donated them for more recycling and reuse. I do love the whole recycling culture here.

However, after I parted with the bag, I wandered around the little shop and discovered this Veronika Maine charcoal jacket. It is quirky and asymmetrical and fitted me to a T. I decided I had to have it, if I had to wear a work jacket, I would wear something like that, and not one of the usual penguin suits. I pride myself on being just a wee bit non-conformist, not enough to make people feel uncomfortable - no black lipstick or blue nail polish or fashionably torn clothings. But just enough to proclaim that I'm an individual and no, I don't really give a rat's ass to dress the same as the rest of you, thank you very much.

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On The Jacaranda Trail

The other day, armed with my trusty little camera, I decided to go on a Jacaranda trail in the neighbourhood. Apart from the lovely purple blooms set against a very hot, blue sky, and the fallen petals forming a lavender carpet beneath my feet, I got a few more interesting little nuggets along the way.

There was a retro horse float that was parked by the side of the road. It was the cutest thing and didn't look quite big enough for a regular-sized horse. Maybe a Shetland pony? Or maybe horses in the old days are smaller than those today, a little like people?

Then the tri-colour of yellow, pink and purple blooms set next to one another caught my eye. The sunny Spring weather has caused all the plants to flower and what a visual treat that is.

Yet another retro-looking object along the way, a drinking fountain in the green patch overlooking the lovely views. It actually works.

So I got more than purple flowers along the trail. Life is always interesting, even the small, little things you observe along the journey.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Ten Things I Would Miss About Sydney

1. The weather. I like the temperate nature and the changing seasons, even though I am not so keen on days turning dark at 4.30 pm. I like how the flowers bloom in Spring or even a warm late Winter, especially the luscious pink Cherry blossoms and the beautiful purple Jacaranda. I like the fresh days where it's not too cold. I like the warm days where 30% humidity garners a universal howl from Sydneysiders.

2. Treasure-hunting at weekend markets and opp shops. My all-time favourite activity. I love the different markets and the aspects special to them. Rozelle for new clothes made from vintage patterns and material, Surry Hills for all things retro and gorgeous, Glebe for wonderful, bohemian gift ideas, North Sydney for home-made yummy goodies, Kirribilli for a mish-mash of old cast-offs and new arts and crafts.
3. Great coffee and fabulous cafes. I like the cafe vibes and the lovely aroma of coffee. I like the independent cafes which means no one needs to ever go to a chain like Starbucks, pay a fortune to get a lousy coffee for their caffeine fix. I like how your regular barista remembers your order even if he doesn't know your name. I like the fact that soy milk is widely available for lactose-intolerant people like me.

4. Shop assistants and cashiers at the supermarkets sound genuinely friendly when they greet you and talk to you. Friendliness comes easily to them and is not forced and artificial. It makes going to the shops such a nice experience.

5. Strangers at the bus-stop or going for a walk in the neighbourhood or that you meet going alone to the cinema say hello or good morning to you. Sometimes, they even strike up an interesting and not-so-brief conversation. Once again, neighbourly friendliness is not frowned upon. It makes community living so pleasant.
6. Cheap and authentic Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Due to the large number of immigrants from these communities, they have also brought their cuisine with them and their price range caters to the student and immigrant worker sectors.

7. To-die-for bread. Bread that is solid and heavy and filled with wholesome ingredients, freshly-baked and piled high on the shelves. Fennel and sour cherry, hazelnut and raisins, fig and barberry, caramelised onion, soy and linseed - these are some of my favourite varieties.
8. Bus drivers who will inevitably patiently wait till an elderly passenger with their shopping or a mother with a child, laden with a stroller and nappy bag, has shuffled down to their chosen seat, sat down before moving off. And also drivers who say hello and good morning and passengers who sing out a thank you from the back door to the driver before alighting at their stops.
9. The great parks and beach walks. A free and wonderful way to connect with Nature, breathe in fresh air, look at the beautiful blue skies and just enjoy Mother Nature's gift to our 5 senses.
10. Lastly, the handful of good friends that I've made, with whom I've shared many a soy flat white, Malaysian curry chicken with fried rice and a caramel slice.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Art & Craft Therapy

This morning I woke up feeling like I need a break from the forex trading I've been doing. Last night's loss of $1,200 plus the possible huge loss of an open position was not a good feeling. The upside was the possible huge loss became a loss of $280 which was realised this morning. So I thought I would give all things forex a break and do something creative.

I had already cut out salvagable pieces from my candy-striped flannel PJs bottom the other day when I decided that it was time to retire it as there were "parts" (won't spell out which parts) that were almost thread-bare. The leg portion was still in very good condition and I love the cheerful colours. I figured I could make a couple of pouches from the leg bottoms. These pouches are always handy for popping in odds and ends like keys, make-up for emergency, gum and lollies for that sugar fix which you can then toss into your handbag so that you don't have to rummage around for one of these small items. And if you are a girl who likes to change your handbag to match your outfit, having one of these pouches, makes the switching so much easier.

So in about 45 minutes, I had whipped up a pouch, using nothing but a needle and thread. The button was 1 of many that I had snapped up at a flea market on 1 of my button-crazy phases. I just love how cheerful it looks. I think I feel a bit more cheerful myself after this!

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Spring And My Anti-Green Fingers

Some people have green fingers, I know my mum does. Unfortunately, I did not inherit those genes from her. In fact, I have what I call the anti-green fingers. Everything I attempt to grow, inevitably dies sooner or later. I've managed to kill hardy plants like cactus, usually by enthusiastic over-watering.

Thus I've developed what I think is an idiot-proof way of handling cacti. Not that I've gone out intentionally to buy more plants - just to end up killing them. But this cactus was 1 of 3 that I picked up just outside my first flat when someone was moving and left them out, together with a lovely jade plant which I've handed over to a friend when I went away for 3 weeks and never took it back since I figured it would thrive better in his courtyard.
But back to the cactus, there were 3 of them but now there are 2. I cannot remember exactly what befell the third as I've probably blocked the trauma out of my memory, but the last 2 have survived the last 3 years with me. My idiot-proof solution is to ignore them and not water them. For weeks. It seems to work. I water them when I remember that I haven't done so for a long time, especially when it hasn't rained for a while. So the other day I went out onto the sunny balcony and saw 2 furry grey nubs on the top of my cactus. I figured it was a sure sign of impending death. Something was growing on it, some fungus or parasite or something. So I did an act of kindness and fed it some water to send it on its last journey which I was pretty sure would be forthcoming.
Little did I expect the bigger of the 2 furry nubs to sprout open the following day and yellow petals could be seen. OMG, it's not a parasite, it's a flowering bud and it's started to flower in the sunny weather once I've watered it.
That was really amazing. And today, the bud has opened up into a lovely yellow flower with a red dot centre. Spring is truly here. I've not killed the cactus, but instead have helped ("nurture" would be going too far I think) it blossom.

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