Creative Chaos

Creative Chaos

Monday 29 January 2018

Plum Cake

I'm trying so hard not to buy stuff we just don't need. I've even set myself a bit of a pact to not do much shopping at all, bar supermarket and petrol, during the uni term. I'm trying ever so hard to buy zero stationery and craft items and using what I have. I have had to buy one pair of school uniform trousers, which at $60 a pair I was pleasantly surprised at. Yes - that is pretty cheap in NZ. Our school uniforms for *one* child can cost anything from $200-800 at a free (haha!) state school. And a wee bit of school stationery. Schools start the new year from today - my two go back on Wednesday.

I'm quite a bore really - I get excited about collecting flybuy points (a rewards card system in NZ and Oz). And our local supermarket has a promotion at the moment where by spending $150 plus a week, you get a "free" lunchbox. I'm in! A very useful promotion! They have a different container over 3 weeks. I'm really in when they have a "save 40 cents per litre of petrol" by spending $200 a week. I only spent money on groceries last week (oh and ordered postage stamps by mail) and I'm hoping all I spend this week too is the $217 I spent at the supermarket this afternoon! My car was filled up with free vouchers from my credit card rewards. It all helps working towards my trying to live on what we've got mantra! We'll push the voluntary school fees *which could be hundreds of dollars* out as far as we can.

**oh** - I did pay university over $6000 in fees last week, but that's an investment for the future...

We picked a ton of plums at my parents. Most have gone into the freezer, but we've been eating some too. In this humid heat though, nothing is lasting long in the fruit bowl, so lots of fruit has to be kept in the fridge.
Today I made a plum cake - dirt easy and I'll be making it again next week. It was delicious with some icecream this afternoon and I'll probably have another slice later tonight!

It's a 10am start at university tomorrow, which is just perfect after a 3 day weekend!

Sunday 28 January 2018

Made by hands

Oh the heat. The heat. It's all everyone is talking about and New Zealand is heading for a record breaking month since records began in 1909. Having day after day of 27-29 here in Auckland (but feeling hotter), with extreme humidity is not normal! I've been cycling to university and getting there at 8am with a sopping wet t-shirt (back) from the humidity! That is totally stupid... I'm probably going to stop for a week or 2 or 3, as a nursing friend told me about heat stroke and was horrified at me cycling in this heat....

anyway... visits to the parents left me coming home with a pile of goodies and divine hand made items, made by my mum. And huge amounts of plums, which are now chopped and in the freezer, as it is waaaay to hot to even think about making jam!

Jams and chutneys

 a table mat -
 skating girls stitched -

 an oven mitt and a pot mitt -
 and a cute tea cosy -

Didn't I do well? And aren't they all divine things to treasure?! Very spoilt. My mum and dad split their time between two houses 6 hours apart, so Mum spends a lot of time crafting while being a car passenger. She has two houses full of crafty makes and thousands upon thousands of books at both house and 2 craft rooms too......
I love crafty makes as gifts! I'm lucky having a family who crafts - both my aunts too are hugely talented!
Have any of you just picked crafting up without having crafty family or friends? Do you make things as gifts?

Tuesday 23 January 2018

oh the heat (humidity)

It just goes on and on like this...!/ten-day

Today, at university, I found a group of 5 other good women! All 6 of us are basically peri-menopausal - we sat around and moaned about the heat, with the sweat clinging to our clothing and wet patches - it really was hilarious in our (very un-normal 2.5 hour) break! I'm so glad I've found a great group who identify with me, but we've been split into smaller workshop groups, so unless we can find each other at lunch or in the lecture theatre with 140 others... There are lots of old people at university! My campus is only for education and social work.

The humidity and the struggle is real people and NO - OF COURSE - there are no fans to be found in the multiple shops I've trawled through late this afternoon.

There is a pool at uni, but we've been told that it is now only open an hour a week and we have to have a lifeguard watch over us. We're not sure if they were joking or not about the hour opening a week or the lifeguard... but man, we so did want to break all the rules today and just go and jump in it!

Sunday 21 January 2018


We've had lots of decent good rain. Much needed and appreciated. I dried a load of laundry in the new clothes drier for the first time - it works much better than a 15 year old (at least!) model - it is bigger and faster and a lot quieter and does not stop after 2 seconds of going, then start, then stop, then really stop!  It's going up on the wall today, instead of sitting in the hallway.

I've also cleaned bathroom floors and toilets; dusted through the entire house; more laundry (but outside, as weather cleared!); sorted and cleaned out pantry; swept paths; cleaned my walk in wardrobe and put properly!; dug over the compost bins; vacuumed behind every bed and will buy the 16 year old some new bed linen/duvet inner/cover today at 60% off.

I feel happy having a pretty sorted house. I feel like I've had an awesome 3.5 months off work and have achieved a a lot whether op/charity shop runs, finishing craft stuff, travelling, sorting out photos, sorting out the house etc etc! Putting all my wool up onto Ravelry early in the new year was fabulous too - I'm going to try so hard not to buy much this year (along with clothes , stationery, shoes!). Maybe unviersity/education texts might be my thing instead....

An amazing surprise parcel arrived for me a couple of weeks ago -

A gorgeous knee rug sent to me from a penfriend Tina, who lives in Klippan in Sweden. I've met Tina back in 1997 and visited her little town then, but don't remember going to the Klippan Woollen Mill where this rug is from. The mill dates back to 1879 and uses a lot of New Zealand wool in their products. A few years back I bought myself one of their fullsize blankets locally at The Good Thing. I treasure both of these!

University starts tomorrow at 8.30am. I'm excited! I've my bag all packed - tomorrow is an orientation day. I'm hoping there are a few old students like me - I'm pretty sure there will be!
Lectures start on Tuesday at 8.30am! It'll be so different for me, but I'm ready!

Thursday 18 January 2018

Closer the day comes

I just said to someone I need another holiday (ha - I'm just finishing 3.5 months of doing whatever I want!).
It has taken 16 e-mails; 4 visits to two different university campuses and about 7 phone calls to get my final university transcript from one university to another university. My new university have taken less than 24 hours to confirm everything and matriculate me - yay! But I'm in a timetable holding pattern as a couple of the compulsory classes are already full - so I have to wait a few days for them to open more seats - thus putting a hold on me really, properly enrolling.

And it's THE manic time of the year, as high school 2017 results were released yesterday, so all the year 13's are sorting out university places for 2018!

Our 16 year old passed NCEA level one (year 11) with an excellence endorsement overall (I believe only 20% of year 11 students receive excellence) and 4 subject endorsements too, so that is fabulous. He wasn't too happy with physics. It's a crazy system of not achieved, achieved, merit, excellence and that is all we are told... credits are used and you need 50 or more credits at excellence level to be endorsed with excellence and who knows how many to be endorsed at merit. Really year 11 is pretty meaningless... and it is crazy to put 15-16 year olds under the stress they go through. I believe New Zealand is the only country in the world where students sit external exams in the last 3 years of high school. It needs to be scrapped in year 11 I think.  But you can do level 1, 2 or 3 across year 11/12/13, so it does not really matter. In my day, 50% of us passed and 50% of us failed.... the system now is a huge improvement. He is still on a school trip in Vietnam and we've had a few updates.

It has been strange having only one child at home... it's kinda like I've no-one at home, if he is out and about or in front of a screen! It's all pretty easy anyway! I've just been pottering for days, vacuuming , sweeping paths, tidying up piles, writing letters, reading - really trying to get the house as tidy and clutter free as possible. Husband knows I might be at uni till 8pm in library some nights, so he can sort food/dinners for the next year :)

University will be 50 hour weeks and I'll be in a school for 2 weeks within weeks of the semester starting! It will be busy. We get few breaks until July and even during uni hols are expected to be at schools/doing tests/assignments/interviews etc! There is already huge amounts to read/practicum schools to sort etc etc. I am excited!

I'll leave you all with this today...

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.
So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
--Neil Gaiman

Wednesday 10 January 2018

running out of time....

well what can I say? It's still stinking hot! Great for hanging washing outside everyday. We did just replace the 15 year old clothes drier (on sale, but really I am such a frugal user of it, so we didn't even look at a very energy efficient model. Even in winter it would only get used 2-3 times a month but with the storm last week it did get used twice in a week. I would detest not being able to hang laundry outside!).

It's kinda been a finish all the things week - I only have 12 days until university supposedly starts (*still* waiting for confirmation of degree being completed, although Univ. of Auckland tell me to just turn up on day one - I've been to see them in person as with still being un-conditional I know zero!) and I'm thinking "have I done all I wanted to do in my time off?".

(^^ I'm now starting to get very mad with my original university as Univ. of Auckland have bought me to a halt - I can't even enrol in classes due to no final transcript and I found out some classes are already full - they will open more - but I may not get my choice of a timetable and also may get charged late enrolment fees when nothing is my fault at all. I'm now ringing the university every day!)

The middle child went to Vietnam yesterday morning with about 20 other students on a year 12/13 History trip. That will be the most incredible adventure! It was a rush around buying a few new wardrobe items - it's when I realise how little shopping I do a year for teens now - only 1-2 shops a year for both clothing and shoes! That's pretty good. He gets his year 11 NCEA (NZ's stupid school system in years 11/12/13) results while he is away, so I had to beg for his password - ha.

The eldest has gone done south on his first ever road trip with mates - we've such a high road toll at the moment, it kinda freaks me out.

I've been writing letters, clearing surfaces, doing wardrobe culls - basically sorting anything that has hung around for (sometimes years!) a while that has needed to be sorted. Pity we haven't yet gotten to the internal painting or wallpapering which has not been done for 15 years or so.... perfect weather for it too.

There has been knitting of the beeswax scarf and polygon blanket. Ordering of our favourite samosas made to order. School stationery purchased (really cheap apart from the $110 graphic calculator that can wait until one has had a maths class).

Strawberry picking yesterday - hot work and back killing! But 8kg (17 pounds) of strawberries in my deep freeze now!

Saturday 6 January 2018

Central Otago travels

I really, really need a lot more time spent in Central Otago. This is my second visit in 2 years and both were only 3-4 day trips and there is so much to see! One day we'll do the Otago Rail Trail cycle ride.

These photos were taken in the tiny township of Ophir and it's such a cute little place with gold rush history back to the 1860s. We were basically the only people around in the middle of the afternoon....
This first photo is the road up to the amazing old bridge, which is quite an engineering feat!

 I keep on missing the very limited days/times that the post office is open, but I have posted mail from here. Ophir is in the middle of absolute nowhere and is known for it's extreme temperatures in both summer and winter.

 the long roads - so, so dry.
 Cromwell town - known for its summer stone fruits and cherries

 Clyde - i was stunned at the volume of housing that has gone up here - a great drive into the township and a huge, huge dam. Known for Touch Yarns...
 the old township is stunning and has divine shops, particularly a road back. This was the middle of a weekday afternoon... it was hot so we stopped for a beer at the pub - only ones there. cars around, but few people....

 Bustling metropolis ;)
 I'd love this house, but might go a bit dippy in a tiny township...

 Ophir township.

So much history everywhere - empty roads to this Aucklander! Hot weather. Stunning scenery. I'll be back one day!