receptacles, ted hughes and a pony

Happy spring!

*cue ubiquitous Daffodil photograph*

I took this photograph at Mount Lees Reserve which was a-romp with daffodils. I don’t even like daffodils! but they are eye-catching en masse….


Here is a recent op-shopping haul:


I’ve been looking for some kind of baskety receptacle for when I pick things out of the garden – this basket is perfect, big enough and sturdy enough. You can expect to see a lot of it as I take yet more photographs of stuff what I grew.

A great little tool box, which still smells like a grandad’s shed – kind of smokey and engine oil-y…I’m going to keep embroidery cottons and tools in it in a nice feminine/masculine mash-up.

A book of essays by Ted Hughes about writing poetry. Fantastico! The sort of book which is impossible to find in book shops…plus it has a lovely fox on the front, The Thought Fox perhaps?

A pretty top for summer. I buy less and less clothing these days, op-shop or otherwise, but I find it hard to walk past a small-scale floral on a dark background…

& A little horse posey vase, for a friend who loves horse-kitsch.


If you, like me, get a vicarious thrill from reading about other people’s op-shop finds…do I have the blog for you! OP SHOP MAMA. A New Zealand lady who op-shops til she drops in Hamilton. I love her blog partly because I enjoy seeing what she got and partly because she buys so much stuff she makes me feel better about my own modest-in-comparison magpie habits. These days I op-shop monthly rather than weekly and am heaps more selective about what I bring home, partly because I’m trying to save money and partly because I’m heading more towards simple living….less is more….zen yada-yada. So yes, I read Op Shop Mama and it’s like op-shopping without the actual parting with cash or then trying to figure out what to do with the random stuff I just bought…. 😉




reality check at the vintage clothing sale


I went to a vintage clothing sale recently and had a lot of fun time-travelling through the decades as I looked through the racks. One thing really struck me though – the majority of the clothing was 1980s! Shoulder padded, two-toned, inverse triangle shaped, taffeta ball gowns….80s, 80s, 80s! And a bit of 90s. Which makes perfect sense, of course, because the 1980s are now 20+ years ago. It made me feel kind of old, however, as when I first started op-shopping – the ‘retro’ clothing was from the 50s, 60s, 70s, with majority of stuff from the 1970s. It was still possible to find an incredible 1950s cotton sundress or silk evening dress. This is extremely rare these days.

So much of the 1980s fashion is just not that attractive! While a fifties circle skirt has a timeless appeal, a 1980s two-tone cotton overall with massive baggy pockets? Well, it’s ‘quite a look’ as one of my friends says. (Translation: ‘What the hell is that person WEARING?’)

My favourite era for vintage is the 1970s and I guess that is because I was a child then so I have a lot of nostalgia for polyester evening dresses, silver floor length skirts, shirts with extremely pointy collars, floral velveteens, Laura Ashley-style cotton sun-dresses…..*happy sigh*

I didn’t end up finding anything for myself at the sale, although I did find a couple of great things for a friend. I did, however, find the above polyester dress at the op-shop recently.

Some people hate polyester and I understand that. It feels weird and plastic-y if you aren’t used to it. But here are some reasons I love vintage polyester – it keeps it’s colour, doesn’t fade, it is extremely easy-care – you can treat it mean in the laundry room and it keeps on bouncing back. It dries super-fast – twenty minutes on the line and it’s good to go, and you never, never, never have to iron it! It’s true that polyester doesn’t feel that nice against the skin, but you can get around that by sticking to polyester skirts, or wearing cotton singlets under dresses.

I’ve been wearing 1970s polyester skirts and frocks since the 1980s. I guess I always will, until there are no more 1970s artefacts to be found.


this week

I had the best cafe breakfast EVER – avocado mashed with feta and mint on sourdough toast with a poached egg on top, at Tomato Cafe:

I DIDN’T buy these things from the op-shop:

Horse fire-guard. I love these gothy horses…but I don’t have a fire that needs guarding…

Gorgeous Magnolia plate….but $25?? C’mon, op-shops, please stop that grandiose pricing:

I’m loving taking photographs of stuff in op-shops, instead of buying them! I get to ‘keep’ the discovery…without the loss of cash or the clutter. I think a big part of the joy of op-shopping for me is just spotting cool old stuff, so snapping a picture is often thrill enough.

I did buy this wonderful handknitted deer jersey, though:

I pulled all my Penguin Classics from their various hiding places and put them in a pile. Just because. Some are originals and some are recent reproductions.

I worked a lot on my journal project – I have a (self-imposed) deadline for this because I want to enter it into a competition, so the pace is picking up a bit:

& just because it’s winter, it doesn’t mean salads can’t be pretty – winter greens, parsley, radish and calendula petal salad from my garden:

As well as that, my oldest son turned 12, which feels like one of those significant ages because next birthday means the teenage stage begins…causing me all kinds of nostalgia/melancholia/emotional-wrenching…..and also some cake-making and happy birthday party throwing.

Hope you have a good, warm, inspiring week. X

indoor plant life

I had this idea about myself that I couldn’t do indoor plants, after killing off a few African violets and cyclamens…but then one friend gave me some unkillable mother-in-law’s tongue and another friend gave me a cutting off her giant begonia which is now growing in my living room window like a triffid so I got my indoor plant confidence back a little…

…then at the op-shop last week I spotted these wonderful 1970s kitchen canisters (they came with wooden lids). I didn’t really need more canisters, though, and I thought they would make very cool planters. I went to the garden centre and got these tiny house plants for $2 each:

That fired me up and then I remembered a 70s pottery drippy green shallow planter a friend had given me – so I potted up some ‘baby tears’ fern.

And then I potted a cutting of a friend’s aloe vera plant in this pretty vase? cup? handmade thing I op-shopped a long time ago because I liked the flower motif on it…but hadn’t really used much. The aloe-vera is on my kitchen window for instant aid for cooking burns! (Of which I suffer many – I have so many grill burns on my hands, they are stripy and it almost looks intentional.)

Now I just hope I can keep them all alive – if they die I will go back to my indoor-planting self-doubting ways. My friend who is an expert indoor-plant grower – her house is like a jungle- tells me indoor plants usually die of over-watering, not under….so I will restrain myself on the watering front and see if that’s the trick!


The Red Cross hold an annual book sale here. It is amazing – two giant halls filled with books, magazines, music. It is so big and so busy it can be more than a little overwhelming! I go every year and always find incredible things.

This year I decided to focus just on vintage children’s books (one of my passions) and I found plenty….but then I couldn’t help myself having a stroll past the poetry table on the way out and I am SO GLAD I did.

Firstly I found these beauties – the Plath is a recent edition and looks in mint condition – like no one ever read it (shame on you, previous owner). I love the mushrooms on the cover. I was excited to find this early James K Baxter (pre-beard!) and someone had sellotaped a cutting out of the newspaper about his death in the back cover with a rather depressing photograph of him dead in his coffin.

Then I found the Lowell and Ashberry and was very happy. I had nothing by either poet in my collection so they fill a substantial gap.

But then…..THEN…>>>>>>

I found a copy of Turtle Island by Gary Snyder! A book I’ve been hunting for for years. 

I was so excited I yelped ‘OH MY GOD!’ out very loud and clutched it to my chest in a possessive manner.

A man standing next to me looked at me with some amusement and said ‘What? WHAT??’

so I held up the book so he could see the cover.

He pulled a face conveying how unimpressed he was and shrugged….proving that one person’s poetry-nerd-gasm is another’s ‘whatevs’.

I love Gary Snyder is an irrational, gushing kind of way. His books are hard to find. (If anyone has any Snyder they feel ambivalent about….contact me, maybe we could swap or I can buy them off you!)

There is a wonderful photograph on the back of the book of him with his wee son Kai. I guess he was in his 30s here:

In my studio, I have a photograph of him in his late 70s, with Alan Ginsberg which I snipped out of a New Yorker and framed. I love how happy he looks and how typically lugubrious Ginsberg looks. When I’m feeling blah about poetry, I just need to look at this picture and it makes me feel a bit better. It reminds me that a) poetry is for life and therefore I (hopefully!) have a long time to write, to improve, to grow in my work…and b) friendship, especially friendship with other writers is how you keep going through the poetry life:

Here it is in all it’s beauty:

Best Red Cross book sale find EVER.


little blue shoes


I op-shopped this pair of little blue 1970s leather shoes recently, for a friend who had a just had a girl baby. I had a pair just like it when I was wee. I remember wearing them with white knee-socks and one of those woollen kilts with the white cotton top attached. (Does anyone else remember those?)


This little shoes conjured up the weirdest feelings in me. I had them sitting on my window-sill for a long while, so I could contemplate what the feelings were.

I am very affected by pictures and by objects. For me, it’s sort of like certain images or objects emit a frequency that only I seem to tune into. That probably sounds a bit crazy, but I can’t think how else to describe it. I have a heightened awareness of the ‘energy’ of objects and the emotional states of people, which can make life….interesting at times.

I’ve tucked the shoes away now, to send to my friend when her daughter is a bit bigger. It was good to be with them for a while. They gave me back some inexplicable sensory experience of my childhood.