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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Wild and windy empty shores


Ain’t no jumper like a seventies acrylic waistcoat

We have been in NZ for a lovely ten days now, although it is just our luck to arrive when it is tipping down so badly they have had to evacuate whole towns due to flooding. Poor timing on our part. BUT as ever, there is a silver lining – because lolling on the beach is out, a serious amount of lolling around charity shops is IN. Can I get a whoop whoop!

As we wander around these junk stores I often find myself wondering what people do when the clouds open up? In my opinion secondhand shopping is quite simply a wonderful, all round hobby, perfect in every way for those rainy days.

We are majorly limited by what we can actually buy as we have to lug it all back across the world but this hasn’t hampered our browsing. Amongst other things we have found some cool old toys for Ramona, a yoghurt maker (one of the things on my hope-for list) and some fabric. But today is really an ode to some of the retro style you can pick up here in NZ so easily.

UK charity shops often lack good vintage clothing- is it because vintage dealers nab them first and stock up their own shops with it? Or is it just harder to find amidst all the Primark tat? I very rarely find great retro clothing back home.

So here it has been a particular pleasure to rummage through these shelves and admire some nice Kiwi old skool. I left my FAVE cardi back in England (It was one of those “I will put this cardi here in this special place so that I DO NOT FORGET IT” moments) so have managed to pick up three cardi’s to take it’s place. Nothing beats a nice seventies acrylic cardi! All three of them made lovingly in NZ. Here we are squizzing at the cat in the next door neighbour’s garden- Ramona is utterly obsessed with them. You also get a good look at my finger toes in these shots. Your welcome.

Hand Knitted Lemon Yellow Cardi-  £3.99 from the Salvation Army in Lower Hutt

White Acrylic Waistcoat with Gold and Navy Trim- 25p from the Hospice shop in Levin

White Acrylic Cardi with Light Blue Patterned Stripe- £2.99 from Savemart in Levin

Ramona’s Green Checkered Dress- 25p from Hospice shop in Levin (they were having a beauty 50c sale)

Our first visit to the beach


Her name in sand


Eating sand


The day my booby monster baby went on strike

We are at Singapore airport, killing 12 hours before the next leg of our flight to New Zealand. I have been dreading this flight- Ramona’s first, and what an epic one to begin with- thinking it would probably be fine, but if it was bad it would be INSANELY AWFUL. So far, it hasn’t been that. Phew. She has mostly slept.

We are immensely excited about this trip to Tim’s homeland; Ramona’s first meeting of many family members, including her Grandad and newly minted cousins. We also get to escape the bleak midwinter to bask in glorious sunshine and swim in cooling lakes.

However there is something a little bittersweet about it, as it marks the end of my maternity leave. The week we return to England in January is the week I return part time to work, and where Tim steps in for Daddy Daycare half the week. Splitting the parenting exactly in half is ideal, don’t you think? But I still feel quite heartbroken thinking about it.

This last week has already heralded a  transitional period for Ramona, since turning one she is becoming much more a child and much less a baby. She is speaking words and less dependant on me for things like sleep – which everyone always told me was the reason I shouldn’t breastfeed to sleep. In fact right now she is not nursing at all. I am pretty sure we have entered a full blown nursing strike.

Before I began breastfeeding I always assumed I’d just do “the norm” – be that a few months or whatever. If you had told me back then that I’d be upset when at 12 months old Ramona would stop nursing I would have found that massively odd.  “Nursing a baby over one year is just a bit too keen” I would have said.

But it has now been 24 hours since her last nurse in the dead of night and 36 since her last concious nurse and it is really quite devastating. She is completely uninterested. It is an abrubt, unexpected rejection of breastfeeding that is leaving me with painful lead boobs the size of the packed parachutes under our seats. And I am totally gutted. I miss her. And she is right here with me. My brain is on overdrive wondering what could be happening and my heart aching with the prospect that she might never nurse again.

I should get off this lovely free computer for another session in the loo hand expressing into her Tomee Tipee cup.

So sad.


So. I hit SAVE DRAFT instead of PUBLISH and am now on the other side of the world  and joyously on the other side of the strike. About 4 hours after I wrote this post she just accepted one of the millions of offers and calmly nursed as if “yeah, actually, I could do with a dash of milk right now, thanks!” I almost cried with relief. And now she is nursing just the same, in fact today she is on a bender. What was the story? Her bunged up nose and cough?  Her upset at me leaving her for an hour while I went to the dentist? I’ll never know. But I now see our breastfeeding relationship as so deeply precious. Thank God I have met people along the way who have encouraged me past those “norms” I mentioned earlier.

New Zealand is being good to us. Ramona absolutely LOVING her new cuzzies, the warmth, being outside, her Grandma’s baking. The second half of the flight was INSANELY AWFUL!! We had powerchucks, crying, no sleeping. We had that baby. I am not the one to write the book “How to survive 35 hour journeys with a one year old and your sanity intact”, that’s for shizzle.

Photos coming soon hopefully!

Ethical and thrifty festivities

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To me, thriftiness speaks of a “make do and mend” attitude, a beautiful scraping of the barrel, a sense that less is more. Sometimes I think thriftiness is confused with ‘bagging a bargain’ and we accept that low cost for us sometimes means a high cost for someone else in the chain. And sometimes holding high ethical consumer values can seem out of reach for people truly on a budget- Fairtrade can be double the didgets, an eco label comes with a hefty price tag. I think even the best of us sometimes leave our principles at the door when it comes to Christmas as the pressure to BUY is so immense. These are the four ways that I am trying to keep it ethical and thrifty:

  • Buying secondhand is THE best way to shop ethically- utilising cast offs means essentially opting out of the supply/ demand system which wreaks havoc amongst the world’s resources. Over the last few weeks we have found some fab bits and bobs to go in our pressie drawer (we all have one, eh?) that aren’t new but we know people will enjoy. Ebay is an even more predictable way of buying secondhand goods – but I find less joy in it; mining piles of sticky jumble gives me a lot of pleasure.
  • For the last few years our extended family has just done Secret Santa- where all the names go in a hat and we are given a £20 budget to buy for one person. This takes the pressure off massively and £20 can get someone a really stunning fairtrade item. This creates soooo much less waste – or more space in the pressie drawer if you are one for ‘regifting’ (Not me though, I would NEVER) (Ha.)
  • Buying in bulk is the third way that I am trying to be ethically thrifty. I buy all my shampoo/ handwash/dishwashing liquid/showergel in huge tubs from Ethical Superstore. This brings it down to a very reasonable price and saves on packaging. Decanting some lovely organic showergel and crafting up a lush label is making a trusty quick, inexpensive gift for some friends this year.
  • The last one is equally as obvious but making pressies using up stuff you have is probably the pinacle of being ethically thrifty. There are a zillion and one ideas out there – #thriftythursday tag on twitter throws up some goodies – but the main point is to do something simple that shows your love for someone, innit? For me, this year, it is all about embroidary. I have a new embroidary hoop and a shed load of fabric remnants and, Oh my, it is the dog’s bollocks.

It would be pretty ridiculous of me to not mention this as I have been pouring my heart and soul into this for the last few months, but I also realise it is a shameless plug…

This Saturday on Oxford Street is Fair Christmas Fayre. It goes from 12-7pm and there are over 30 wonderful stalls, jampacked with eco/ fairtrade gifts. We started running this fair 4 years ago as we felt buying ethically was such a challenge in central London. There are a huge variety of items starting from a few pounds so if you live close by and want to have an ethically thrifty festive season do pop in and say hello! There is also live music, a fair trade cafe, vintage badgemaking and festive facepainting so it would make a cool day out for all the family.

Would love to hear your four point plan for being ehitcally thrifty this Christmas…