Fashun

I’ve never really been interested in clothes or fashion. I tend to go with the flow – I make do with what’s in the shops but usually select the current season’s version of the same stuff I always wear. Over time I’ve developed a better sense of what’s going to work for me and what I am comfortable in. Like most women, I have listened to various “fashion gurus” (remember Trinny and Susannah?!) over the years who scold me for wearing this or not wearing that. I have fought against my own preferences in order to follow along and fit in. The older I get, the less I care about following fashion advice.

Here are some things I’ve recently decided about my own likes and dislikes. My goal for this year (and beyond!) is to follow these and not listen to all the noise about what’s right and wrong:

  • I like dark colours – mostly black. It’s just easier and I’m lazy. It doesn’t mean I’m boring.
  • I prefer to wear loose-fitting clothing – I hate the feel of tight waists and restrictive arms and legs.
  • I prefer long pants / skirts / dresses – I like having my knees covered up. Skirts and dresses are okay as long as they come to mid-calf, or I wear tights underneath. Wearing a dress with pants can be a thing if I want it to be.
  • I only ever want to wear comfy shoes. High heels are awful and I’m done with them. I like lace-ups.
  • I like wearing jackets. I’m usually cold when other people are warm, so these help me stave off the cold.
  • I like wearing scarves – same reason as above. They have the added bonus of bringing in some colour when I’m in the mood for that.
  • I’ve recently decided I like wearing shirts – I like the androgyny of lace-up shoes / pants / shirt / jacket. The only problem I find is that most shirts are made for flat-chested, flat bellied women. Wear are the shirts made for curves? I’m on the look out.
  • I don’t care about labels, but I do want to shop ethically. I think it’s stupid that a shirt in a fashion shop costs five times something I can get in a department store. I do care about buying stuff that’s going to last a while, and wasn’t made with sweatshop labour. I like buying New Zealand made clothing. I’d like to have the crafty-confidence to make more of my own clothing.

What are your fashion struggles?

Now I can crochet

I recently took up knitting again after a long (20-year) hiatus, but have found it hard on my hands/wrists/shoulders/neck to manage the two needles, so took the bold step of (re)learning to crochet. My Nana taught me both as a kid, but I never really took to the crochet – it seemed overly complicated to me at the time. Then, joining a craft group and watching the ease by which crocheted items slipped off the end of the hook, I was inspired to give it a try.

Much to my delight, crochet is speedy, versatile and so easy! And portable too – I can tuck my project into a small bag and get some crafting done whenever I have some down time.
So, in the last few months, I’ve been able to whip up a couple of afghan rugs using Peggy (Granny) squares. It’s so satisfying to build a whole blanket one small square at a time.
To sharpen up my skills, I’ve been making use of YouTube. You really can learn anything with a good YouTube tutorial!

The first tutorial I found was by Bella Coco. I find English tutorials easier to follow because they use the same terminology as New Zealand (4/8ply, hook sizes, double/treble crochet etc.). This one taught me the basic double (treble) crochet:

I started with Bella Coco’s Granny Squares for beginners

I also really like Bonny Barker – even though she’s American she has a good way of explaining really complex stitches. I whipped this dish cloth up in a couple of hours:

Dish cloth for beginners

2019: The year ahead

This one’s hard to write, because I am not sure what’s going to happen in 2019! We’ve spent the last couple of years laying the groundwork for our future and I suspect 2019 will be more of the same.

I’ve established some good routines around family, fitness, food, hobbies, sport and voluntary work that I am really happy with. After a few years of struggling with taking on too much, I feel like I have a good balance between doing all the things I want, and taking time to connect with the couch.

But there are also plans afoot to change things up this year – Stephen and I are both working on shifting things around in our careers, so watch this space to see how that pans out. Ooooh, mysterious!

I took the bold step of putting my hat in the ring to be a candidate for Community Board at the end of last year. Because I have opted to stand as a People’s Choice candidate (left-aligned local body political grouping), there is a bit of a process before I can actually say I’m in the running. I can’t say that I love Politics (with a big P) but I love working in my community, and would relish the chance to get more involved. I’ve met a lot of hard-working and dedicated people since I’ve been on the Dallington Residents Association, and if I could do half the job they do, I’d be pretty proud of myself.

I think this is the first year in a really long time that Stephen and I have no (national) travel plans! We have opted not to do our usual Auckland /  Wellington / Tekapo / Random trips this year, and save it all for a big trip overseas instead. We haven’t been away on a big trip since 2015, and we actually weren’t planning on going away this year either. But when Rachael and David’s wedding invitation arrived, how could we say no?! Especially since they are getting married in Edinburgh. I can hardly wait! We are planning to go to Iceland and Ireland also – two big bucket list places for me.

I’d like to get some more renovations done this year. There are two main things I’d like to get done – the rest of the windows double-glazed and the butler’s pantry installed. But I’m not sure the budget will stretch that far, so we will see.

Year in review: 2018

Usually at this time of year I reflect on the year I’ve just finished and think about the year ahead. Sitting down to write about what happened in 2018, there were so few milestones that I decided not to do my typical month-by-month account.

The main thing we achieved in 2018 was to renovate the main bathroom. I am happy to report that it’s lovely! We made a great decision to use a bathroom designer to help with layout and selecting all the fittings, and I think it made a huge difference to the finished product. We also hoped to do convert the laundry into a butler’s pantry, but didn’t quite get there with that. Maybe this year.

Main Bathroom
Beautiful new bathroom

I had fitness goals last year … I planned to bike more – and did not achieve this! I just can’t seem to work out the logistics of biking to and from work. I also planned to run the City to Surf (fail!) but I did run the 10km event in the Christchurch Marathon. After struggling with running the last couple of years, I think I have hung up my running shoes for good. My body just doesn’t respond well to running. Instead, I’ve been enjoying a variety of different fitness classes at Les Mills – RPM and Sprint help me achieve the same cardio intensity as running without the jarring impact on my joints.

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My Marathon Medal

We didn’t travel as much as usual last year either. We had a great long weekend away in Akaroa in February, a family fun weekend in Tekapo in August, and went to Auckland Armageddon in October. I was pretty underwhelmed by Armageddon last year, so I don’t think I’ll be making the trek to Wellington or Auckland next year.

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Post hockey nosh-up with Lake Tekapo as out backdrop

2018 has been a regrouping year – resetting goals, figuring out where to next, laying the groundwork. 2019 is likely to be similar as we start to slowly move towards some of these goals.

Nana

I’ve been thinking about my Nana a lot lately. I think it’s because my grandkids are now getting to the age that I was when I spent more time with her, and I’ve been thinking about what kind of Nana she was compared to the Nana I am.

In honour of my Nana, I’ve been working on two projects – one I made for her birthday (26 October) and one that I am still working on.

With the help of a friend, I designed and made a “Nana” apron – a pinny that has big pockets on the front that I can wear when I’m baking. I love it. I called it my Dot apron. The thing I love most about it is that it has a crossover back that doesn’t have straps – it’s unfussy and easy to slip on and off. Now when I bake, I can think about Nana.

The second Nana-inspired project I’ve been working on its a crocheted Nana blanket. When each of her grandchildren were born, my Nana either knitted or crocheted them a blanket – knit for boys and crochet for girls. I still have my Nana blanket, and Antony’s was the last that she made. They are both so precious to me. So obviously I am well behind – Wyatt is about to turn 10 and he has no blanket yet!

Rather than starting with Wyatt and Arlia, I am making myself a blanket first as a tester. I am making the same style as my Nana blanket, made up of 100s of Peggy squares. I’m aiming to make a knee rug of a 100 squares, and trying to do one a day (sometimes I skip days and do multiples when I can). So far it’s taken me two months, and I’ve completed 65 squares. I’m well on track to be finished by winter!

I am inspired by my Nana everyday.

Blog, I missed you!

Poor old blog – I posted a great plan for the year and then just got on with it! Now it’s October and I realise I haven’t blogged all year.

So, what have I got to say for myself? It’s been a busy one!

In August last year I joined the Dallington Residents Association, as they were looking for new members and a new secretary. I put my hand up for the job. I blogged about that here.

Then in May this year, the Chair resigned and I found myself in the role of interim Chair (and voted in as the new Chair following the AGM in May). It’s been a big learning curve for me to be involved in local community politics, and hugely rewarding. Our committee is a group of very dedicated and long-serving members of our community – they’ve been very supportive and helpful as I learn the ropes. I couldn’t ask for a nicer bunch of people to work with.

It’s lucky that I really love doing this work, because it’s like a second part-time job! I probably work 10-15 hours a week on top of my ‘real’ job; attending meetings, keeping in touch with people, helping to plan activities, representing the committee in discussion of local issues.

It’s probably good that I’m a sticky-beak!

2018: The year ahead

I haven’t really bothered with goal-setting for the past few years. Stephen and I plotted out some substantial goals after we got married and purchased the house, and we’ve been slowly working our way through those. We have fixed up the kitchen and tidied up most of the rest of the house.

This year the big goal is to renovate the main bathroom, and convert the laundry into a butler’s pantry with a side of laundry. The bathroom planning is well underway and should begin in the next month or so.

In order to pay for this, we have opted for little NZ-based trips only this year. We’ve planned our usual Tekapo trip for August, and will go to Auckland for Armageddon. Other than that, we will stay close to home. We are going camping in Akaroa for a few days in February, and then nothing else is on the horizon for the time being.

Personally, my main goals are around fitness and health. I’ve been working on my abs with some pleasing results, so I will keep that going. I have signed up for the City 2 Surf again this year, so have started training for that. I would like to bike more this year. The roads are much better these days, with some good cycleways between home and work. The only issue I am having with that is how to manage the rest of my life around a bicycle. Typically I go either to the gym or out after work each night, and lugging all my gear around on a bike just makes the whole thing much harder! I have committed to regular biking to work in February and then I’ll see how it goes after that.

At the end of last year, I made the decision to cut down the amount of dairy and meat I was eating. I am almost entirely dairy-free now, and eating mostly fish and a little bit of chicken. I would like to keep that up for this year.

For work, my goal is to learn as much as I can, and be as awesome as possible. I really feel like I am still getting to grips with how it all works, so this year I will be concentrating on what I can do to work at my peak.

As with other years, my focus will be on achieving a good balance between family, work, fitness, and hobbies.

Year in review: 2017

It has been a year of changes for me this year. I’ve continued with the theme of doing less and saying no more, but also taken on some new challenges.

January: The Frompsons go camping for new year, followed by a few days in Kaikoura for Stephen and I. We take Wyatt and Arlia to Auckland for a holiday. We get Hue bulbs for our house … the beginning of home automation. My training for the 2017 City to Surf begins.

February: This month starts with another trip to Kaikoura for Stephen and I for Waiting weekend. I take Wyatt and Arlia to Flip Out, my first trampolining experience. Canterbury experiences one of the worst fires we’ve ever had – it burns for weeks. More training for the City to Surf, my running legs are coming along nicely. I travel a bit for work. We commemorate the earthquakes once again, six years on now. Stephen and I have a lovely mini-break in Hanmer. We prepare for the arrival of the Nintendo Switch with some epic MarioKart battles on the Wii.

March: We celebrate six years married with the traditional gifts of sugar and dinner out at Spice Paragon (same as last year, yum!). We stay up until midnight for the release of the Nintendo Switch – it’s as epic as I imagined it would be. Zelda Breath of the Wild is amazing. Christchurch Armageddon is on Mario Day (Mar10), so I make my own Mario costume. I run the City to Surf with a great time, super proud. We finish our Grade 4 hockey season in third place, just managing to avoid the wooden spoon.

April: I begin this month with a lovely retreat in Brunner (it rains). Stephen and I travel to Napier to check out the Art Deco and the Dixie Chicks. Megan and I make Anzac poppies for the family and we attend the commemoration at Prebbleton with the Mount Albert Thompsons. Antony buys a house!

May: Megan and I travel to Auckland for the Green Day concert – it’s a life milestone for me. I resign from Synapsys and get ready for a new role at Regenerate Christchurch. After nine years it’s time to move on. Bronwen gets her driver licence.

June: We have a lovely visit from the Sydney Thompsons. My work with Synapsys finishes with a lot of stress and travel, business as usual. I start my new job on the 19th, it makes my head spin. Stephen and I have a great little break in Hokitika.

July: Knitting Club turns one, we have a knitting party to celebrate. I spend time getting to know my new job. We publicly release our draft concept for Cathedral Square – our team’s first big milestone. I get an adorable new iPad Pro (and so does Antony).

August: We have an awesome Frompson hockey holiday in Tekapo. I join the Dallington Residents Association and become its secretary. There is lots of work, gym, kids, fun.

September: Arlia turns seven! Stephen and I take an awesome mini break in Hanmer, so relaxing. The sun comes out, the flowers bloom. It’s a quiet month.

October: I take a mini break on my own to Auckland, Bronwen turns 17, Stephen, Megan, Bronwen and I attend Auckland Armageddon – the best one yet! John Barrowman! We have an election and finally a Labour government. Prime Minister Ardern is amazing. The Dallington Residents Association holds a very successful public meeting to discuss the land use options for the red zone – big decisions ahead! Megan and I have a fun roadie to Timaru and watch some roller derby.

November: We have our annual epic birthday celebration, this year we are 9, 29, 45, 47, 65, 71. I get bitten by a spider on my toe and it just won’t go away. Megan and I attend outdoor Love Actually. I sign up for the 2018 City to Surf.

December: Megan announces her move back home – a year away was plenty. We move her out and temporarily into Squirrel and Herman’s. The East Frame walkways open, as does the New Brighton playground and new whale pool. I finish Breath of the Wild. The spider-bitten toe still won’t heal – I’m waiting to become Spiderwoman. Christmas is quiet, followed by a very low-key holiday break. We prep for family camping.

Looking back, it’s been one of the quietest years I’ve had in a long time. We had some good family and couple holidays, but not as many as usual. Changing my job has meant heaps less work travel, which feels luxurious. My focus for the year has been getting fit, learning new things and spending time at home. It’s been wonderful.

 

It’s been a wild ride

I’ll post up my review of the past year in the next few days, but I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on the last few months. It’s been amazing, but so busy. I’m amazed at how much mental bandwidth it takes to start a new job! After six months, I think I’m a just starting to get the hang of it. New people, new routines and new skills is a challenge, but I’ve also needed to learn a whole new language! My new job comes with its own database of information that I really don’t know much about at all. I’ve really loved getting a crash course in these, and I am lucky to have patient workmates who are happy to explain their areas of expertise to me.

Regeneration

I took an opportunity the other day to wander through the Otakaro Avon River Corridor (residential red zone). I wanted to get a sense of it – where it’s up to and how its looking. Before I note my impressions, here’s the back story.

Stephen and I recently joined the Dallington Residents Association. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages, but just haven’t had the time. With Stephen less involved in hockey, and me travelling and working less, now seemed a good time. So I answered a call for a new DRA secretary. It’s a great little group with some good ideas, but maybe lacking direction and a bit out of touch with the resident population. Dallington has changed massively since the earthquakes. We lost approximately half our residents, and I suspect that a lot of those were older people. Demographically, Dallington is now a young suburb, with almost half of the residents being under 30. That’s in stark contrast to the DRA, where the average age is probably around 60. While the DRA has some great ideas about community events and beautification, I think it has been slow to react to the changes that the earthquakes have caused.

This month Regenerate Christchurch released a discussion document for the various land use options its considering in the area. At our last DRA meeting, I suggested that we could hold a workshop for residents on the options, with the objective of producing a submission from the DRA on our view of the options. The committee agreed, and that workshop is scheduled for 31 October.

So this is why I found myself wandering along the new Otakaro bike trail thinking about regeneration.

And what was my sense? It’s a beautiful place. The river looks as though its well on the way to regeneration all on its own, taking parts of the neighbourhood with it. And that feels right. Maybe for this area, regeneration means letting the river find its place again. Maybe it’s about giving the land a chance to settle, and then we can figure out what bits to give over to the river, and what bits we can use again.

I stopped along my walk to look at the plants and trees that now delineate the house boundaries.

In my logical brain, I look at the land and understand that its an valuable asset. We can’t realise that asset unless we use it for something. But in my heart, I feel sad for the people who had to leave. I know some of them went willingly – they took their money and found more stable ground to rebuild on. But a lot of people left only because they had to. If that was my former home and I was faced with the prospect of it being sold on to new homesteaders, I’d be upset, and maybe angry. It seems too soon. Leave it alone for a while. Give people a decent chance to grieve.

How long does that take? It feels like seven years isn’t enough. It might take 20 years. Or fifty. Can we afford to wait that long? I think we can, out of respect for the people who were moved out.