See the magic of life!

I spent yesterday unpacking/sorting out things at my new job, and today I meet the Best Beloved’s family for the first time, hence no Friday Five. I will instead just put out this thought from Pagan Connection. Happy Lughnasadh everyone!

Monsterful Monday: My Arcana Court, part one: Swords

From Jason Chang on Flickr of Swords by Jason Chang Knight of Swords by Jason Chang Page of Swords by Jason Chang





I wanted to do something a little different for the next few Monsterful Mondays. It’s partly inspired by the Parlour, but also with the big move happening VERY soon, I’ve been thinking a lot about the people in my life.

In a recent Parlour, Veronica talked about the Minor Arcana Courts of the tarot deck (Page/Princess/Daughter, Knight/Son/Prince, Queen/Mother and King/Father of each suit- cups, pentacles, wands and swords), and how they represent people- people who are in your life already, people who are coming into your life, or even yourself (depending on where they appear).

It got me thinking about the people in my life who have affected me for the better, and the different ways they’ve done this. Those of you who have read me talk about my Best Beloved before will know that I see him as my King of Pentacles.  The more I thought about it, the more I was aware of how different friends represent the different tarot suits in particular ways. I’m grateful for their presence in my life, and I wanted to take this opportunity to shout it out.

I’ll start with my own Court of Swords. People who represent the Swords are about cutting through to the heart of the matter. They’ll give you the honest truth, they communicates clearly and get things done, they don’t back down. If you think about ‘rapier wit’, that’s part of what Swords seem to be about. Cutting through the rubbish and getting clarity and understanding.

My Page/Daughter/Princess of Swords (the gender on the card doesn’t necessarily track to the gender of the person) was my counsellor, who I started seeing last year after an anxiety attack (something I had never had before) combined with the worst depression I’d had.

He identified what was causing the depression, cut through my own excuses, delusions, limiting beliefs about myself, negative self talk- all of it, and then he gently helped me see what was really going on inside me. He planted the seeds (which is what Pages are often about) of a more positive way of being, and got me started on the way out of where I was. For that, I will always be grateful.

Sophie is my Knight of Swords. We’ve been friends for a few years now, and she’s one of the most grounded people I know. She is guaranteed to give you the honest truth, and when I’ve sought her advice she’s always given it to me straight, as well as giving me encouragement to take action to get past the bull and accept what I need to do. Knights are all about action, and I’m very thankful that she’s been there to give me a hard shove in the right direction when I’ve needed it.

Aja, who I’ve known for 14 years now, is my Queen of Swords. Like all my Swords she’s honest, doesn’t dance around the issues. She asks the questions that needs  to be asked, and gives the answer you need to hear, even if it’s not the one you want. She’s supported and nurtured me (as the Queens do) through difficult times, and (like all my Swords) is someone whose good opinion of something is extremely valuable. I’m so glad I have her in my life.

Finally, there’s the King of Swords, and that’s my best friend Ian. He’s got the mastery of communication, he gives the tough love but also the absolute steadfast support. He’s there for me, no questions asked, even when being there for me means saying something I won’t like.  He’s by turns cheerleader and guide, always with my best interests at heart, and I’m incredibly lucky to call him a friend, let alone my best friend.

Seven Logics for a Peaceful Life

Wise words indeed.

Tales from the Sick Bed

Here’s the thing about illness. There are cultural attitudes about it. Don’t believe me? Try getting sick abroad, whether it’s on holiday, or while you’re living in a foreign country. 

I grew up with very British ideas about being sick. Like so many other things, there is an element of keeping a stiff upper lip. Add to this a mother who’s a doctor, and thus the idea that only when I had a temperature and/or was throwing up was I ‘properly’ sick, and you have the concept that you have to drag yourself everywhere unless you’re really truly sick. All the advertising panders to that same idea, for example in this (badly dubbed into Geordie for some reason) advert for Lemsip:


In my case, this has included walking all over Rome feeling unwell only to end up delirious with food poisoning, and the time I went to school with a sore throat only to be sent home. I even had a boss in the UK who told me (while I was on a temporary contract) “I love temps, they come in to work on their hands and knees if they have to”.

It wasn’t until I moved to New Zealand that I realised that not everyone in the world is the same. The first time I came to work with a cold, people were astonished. Going home on my boss’ orders that time, it felt odd- I was at home with just a cold! But then an odd thing happened…I felt better. Much sooner than I would have in the UK. 

In England, being sick is, in some ways, a sign of weakness- as in the Lemsip advert above. The business rival has tried to capitalise on the main guy’s illness, and failed because of the magic medicine. Very dog-eat-dog. 

In New Zealand, though, illness- at least physical illness- is just something that happens. You stay home, so others don’t get sick, and you rest, and you get better. That’s just how it works. 

Mental illness, of course, is another matter entirely, and one that merits it’s own post- so more on that next week. 

What attitudes have you noticed people have to sickness where you are? I’d be interested to know.

A Wednesday roundup- plane plague, moving and other shenanigans

So first, I have to apologise for the interruption to the regular posting schedule. I woke up on Monday morning with a death plague which laid me out for two days. I’m now into the lemsip-and-convalescing phase, a step up from lemsip-and-napping-on-the-sofa-while-flatmate’s-girlfriend-plays-Mass-Effect phase. I’ll continue the tutorial series next Tuesday but in the meantime to catch up, time for some gratitude and some linky funtimes!

First and foremost, I’m grateful that I’m now in the final stages of getting ready to move. Starting the new job, living in the same city as the Best Beloved, starting to explore said city, there’s a lot to be excited about.  

Watching: Gilmore Girls

I can’t help it. When I’m sick I mainline TV, and this time it’s been Gilmore Girls. Luke/Lorelai <3 forever. I’ve also been knitting a few hexipuffs between naps- never underestimate the healing powers of brainless knitting and TV that doesn’t make you think too hard.

Reading: WordPress for Beginners by Reeta Krishna

That is before the sickness knocked me out, and between chunks of ‘The Four Agreements’. It’s all to do with building the shiny new website for A Small Aubergine. What can I say? I’ve got dreams, and I never cease being surprised and grateful at the way that the Universe sends me the tools I need to start making them happen. 

Funding: The Atomic Tarot

It got funded! I’m very excited, though of course I’ll have to wait a few months to get the deck itself. But still, something to look forward to. 


The ‘Men in Knitwear’ calendar by Stitch Seekers. Yes I know it’s July. But how did I not know this was a thing? “We don’t want to distract you from the knitwear so the models won’t be wearing loads of other clothes.”- LOVE. 

Convalescing has also led to some internet rambling. Veronica Varlow mentioned Faerie Magazine recently and I ended up downloading a digital back issue- some great writing and beautiful photography. I think I found a new treat! That in turn let me to Novel Atelier on Etsy, and this nautical tattoo silk cloth is now high up my wish list. 

Star Wars pancake moulds! I can’t buy them until after the move, but after the move…well, the Best Beloved loves Star Wars, and I love pancakes, seems like a match to me. And Offbeat Home suggests using them to shape watermelon pieces– bring on summer. 

In the meantime, bring on the blanket and the nap. Hopefully my regularly scheduled programme will resume tomorrow.

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Monsterful Monday

Yep, it’s that time of the week again. I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Mine involved the Best Beloved, breakfast in bed, not being booted out of bed for getting crumbs everywhere (those last two may be connected), delicious Italian food and karaoke in good company, many snuggles and finally seeing the Footrot Flats movie. I feel a little bit more Kiwi just being able to say it. Also it gives an interesting new spin on some Dave Dobbyn songs I love. I also ran into someone I first met 8 years ago- as in before I had officially moved to New Zealand, and it turns out we actually also ran into one another last year at a convention- it’s a very small world. All things to be grateful for, but here are some other highlights:


We’ve started casting for a big LARP I’m helping run, and it’s one of my favourite parts of writing and running a game. I enjoy working out what characters to offer people, and then seeing which ones they take. It’s often quite surprising which ones people choose- more often than not it’s not the one we would expect. But it all builds up to the moment of seeing everyone walk into the room as their character, which is such a fun thing to see. I’m also putting together the cast list for another game I’m running at the same convention (apparently I don’t learn). I’m always grateful that people are excited about games I run, and casting is when that starts in earnest.

Using up the stash

I have quite a bit of yarn left that didn’t sell at the Social Wool Fair, and I’ve been browsing Ravelry for inspiration to use it up- and it has delivered! I’m quite keen to adapt Lee Meredith’s Krewe cowl into a blanket pattern, using up a whole bunch of my worsted/aran weight. I’m also going through my fabric stash, and coming up with plans for the fabrics I want to keep. I’ve got some navy polka dot fabric which I think is begging to become a Jorna Dress (though I plan to lengthen the skirt to just below the knee for that retro feel).

Hotting up on the job front

The destashing and decluttering is going on with a will again, as I’ve had a few nibbles on the job hunt in Auckland. I don’t want to say any more than that, but with the move becoming more likely to be in the near future, I want to get rid of as much as I can before it’s time to start packing.


On Friday the Best Beloved and I went to ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’. It was exactly as big, loud, and over the top as I expected. As we’re both children of the 80s (well, technically I’m a child of the 70s but all my memories are of the 80s) of course we were excited to see some of the toys of our childhoods coming back, and seeing it together meant we could relax and just get on with enjoying the movie because we both knew the other person was as unironically thrilled by the prospect of a giant robot smackdown as we were. He was looking forward to seeing Hound brought to big-screen life, and for me it was the Dinobots. While I was a little disappointed that Grimlock didn’t talk (because what are the Dinobots without pronouncements starting “Me Grimlock”?), they were still epic and cool in the way that only robotic dinosaurs (or robots, or giant monsters) can be. What can I say? It’s a bit of my childhood. And they still make the proper transforming noise. These are things that matter when you grew up with something.

And the little things:

A lovely thank-you card, Wellington Library’s awesome selection, delicious cheese, exploring, crumpets, cups of tea, hexipuffs, a warm bed, and missing some of the really bad weather by being indoors.

What about you? What are you grateful for this week?

Friday Five: Five great places to get a retro sewing/knitting fix

Subversive Lesbian Anarchic Knitterseriously, how can you not love a site with a name like that? And she has some utterly beautiful vintage knitting patterns available, for free, on her site.

Mrs Depew Vintage has patterns from a range of eras, all downloadable and print-at-homeable. While there are quite a few for ‘intermediate’ sewers, the styles are just beautiful, and a good way to learn some new skills. At least I think so.

If you want to go REALLY retro (or you have a thing for Steampunk), then Truly Victorian is the place for you. I’ve made several of their patterns- they take a LOT of fabric but the results are gorgeous. If you’re serious about the Victorian look (at least the womenswear) the bustle petticoat is a must. And if you have a thing for trim, Victorian is the era for you. Basically it’s Step One: add trims until you think there’s probably too much and too many, Step Two: add more trim, Step Three: Fabulousness. See how I give you an excuse to buy more trim? Or maybe to use a bunch of the trims you already have lying around- if you’re the sort of person who HAS trims lying around. I don’t assume- I read a craft magazine once that presented a project for “your stash of gorgeous vintage silk handkerchieves.” Who has a stash of vintage silk handkerchieves? (If you do, then yay for you. It’s nice to have a stash of something.)

For a little knitting snack, how about this gorgeous polka dot ascot and beret from ZilRedLoh? Haven’t you always, when someone asks “what are you knitting?” wanted to be able to answer “an ascot”? Of course, it’s also fun to be able to answer “a ball gag”. I know this from experience. But it’s not so retro-chic.

And finally, for an easy way to retro-ify your outfit (admittedly this won’t work if you’re wearing a onesie, or a tracksuit, but it would probably work on jeans and a striped top, for example), here’s a tutorial for making a retro turban out of an old t-shirt. Retro AND waste-not-want-not upcycly goodness. I’m planning on making one of these very soon, and accessorising with a fabulous brooch or maybe some feathers. Or both. Because why not get all Norma Desmond with it? Exactly.

Friday Five: Five things that are better than ‘Twilight’

‘What We Do in the Shadows’, a New Zealand vampire mockumentary, was released last night. I went to see it at the Embassy and it was great. Gory in a funny way, fab performances, with the main characters likeable (especially Taika Waititi as Viago) but still monstrous. In honour of that, I’d like to present five great alternatives to watching or reading ‘Twilight’.

An alternative movie: ‘What We Do in the Shadows’, obviously- go see it this weekend. In the Q&A last night the directors, Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, said that this weekend, being the opening weekend, is really important for them. So definitely go see it this weekend if you can! You won’t regret it. Also it has Rhys Darby as a werewolf and it’s everything you would expect from that.

If you’re a fan of vampires: Read ‘Sunshine‘ by Robin McKinley. This is a beautifully-written story, a masterclass in ‘show, don’t tell’. There’s the sympathetic vampire, under no illusions that he’s anything other than a monster. And a badass heroine. Also it will make you want to eat cinnamon rolls (don’t say I didn’t warn you).

If you love supernatural romance: Read ‘Lips Touch: Three Times‘ by Laini Taylor. Three short (but not too short) stories, utterly compelling stuff. ‘Goblin Fruit’ will break your heart, but you still won’t be able to stop reading. I got put on to Laini Taylor by my flatmate Jenni, and I’m very glad I was. Now I just need to wait for the sequels to ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ to be available at the library…

If you think Edward and Bella have the best relationship: Read the Women’s Refuge’s power and control wheel. I’m not kidding. Others have said it much better than I ever could, but the relationship between the two of them is unhealthy and abusive. He takes the spark plugs out of her car so she can’t drive anywhere, because he doesn’t want her seeing her best friend. Um…WHAT? It’s definitely worth understanding how their relationship is unhealthy. Love is not an excuse for mistreating another person.

If you love supernatural romance and want to be IN the story: get four friends together and play ‘The Silver Kiss of the Magical Twilight of the Full Moon‘. As well as one person running the game, the four players play two sets of best friends. One pair are human, and one pair are supernatural (you can be any kind of supernatural being you choose). One of the humans falls in love with one of the supernaturals. Teenage angst and drama ensue. While I’ve run a session of this that went very dark and serious, most of the time in runs of this game you’ll be laughing your ass off. I know one friend who had to go and lie down for 5 minutes in the middle of a game because she couldn’t breathe, she was laughing so hard. Full disclosure, my flatmate wrote the game- but she wrote it long before she was my flatmate and I thought it was fab from the off. It’s got easy rules, it’s a lot of fun, you get to be in the story, and it involves candy!

How about you? What are your go-tos for supernatural entertainment (that aren’t by Stephanie Meyer)? Let me know in the comments

Things I Think about Thursday- the accidental truthbomb

I overheard it quite by accident, drinking my second cup of tea of the day. A friend was talking about a conversation she’d had with her sister. Her sister had asked her something, and it’s a damn good thing to ask:

“Tell me how you would change your life if you knew you’d never win the lottery”

Knowing you’ll never be able to just quit and live on your winnings, would you stay in a job that doesn’t fulfil you? Or would you start upskilling, or looking for a new opportunity that really floats your boat and gets you fired up to go to work? Maybe you’d start putting some time and thought into going into business for yourself?

Knowing that you’d never be able to give a huge windfall of cash to your favourite charity, would you start giving a regular monthly donation? Or maybe you’d start doing some fundraising for them some other way? For most of us, it’s possible to be generous even when you’re not a millionaire. Especially when you’re not a millionaire. For example, there’s Kiva, a micro-loan organisation where you can give a little bit to help people all over the world. Or maybe you could volunteer at your local animal shelter or soup kitchen, or donate cans to a food drive. All the little acts of kindness add up.

Knowing you’ll never be able to walk into Chanel and say “I’ll take the lot” (or in my case, go to Pinup Girl and buy All The Things), would you just keep buying cheap, easily worn out clothes? Perhaps, instead, you would save your money and buy one or two things that are made to last, building up your wardrobe over time? Or maybe you’d do what I’m doing- practice your sewing skills, garment by garment, so you can make beautiful clothes for yourself which are unique and lovely, that you’re excited to wear.

Would you just never go on the dream holiday? Or would you save up some money, and still go on an amazing trip somewhere, maybe staying in youth hostels instead of five star hotels? You could start exploring and adventuring in your own town, or your own country. There are bound to be things near you that you haven’t tried.  Maybe you’d even find a job abroad?

And knowing you’ll never be able to just buy them a house/huge diamond necklace/a skein of every single Socks that Rock colour (OK maybe that last one is just me), how would you show the people in your life that you love them and they matter to you? Because here’s the thing- cuddles, spending time with those people, sending something silly that made you think of them, or even writing a letter, to tell them how much you care, will all do just that.

Most of us are never going to match all those numbers.

And it doesn’t matter.

You can still build a good life for yourself, do things you enjoy, be loved and loving, spread happiness, and help others. You can even own the odd shiny thing. Having a lot of money is only one way to be rich. There are so many others that have nothing to do with a game of chance. Being grateful for what you do have is a good place to start. A big part of happiness is realising how many blessings you already have. Without gratitude, even having a pile of gold coins to dive into like Scrooge McDuck won’t make you happy, because you won’t be able to enjoy it. There will be an empty space where the happiness should be. But if you can see the ways that you’ve already been given wonderful things by the Universe, and appreciate them and give thanks for them, you’ll be happy no matter what you have or don’t have.

It’s not that it’s not fun to dream, and maybe one day you might be lucky. But the truth is, you don’t have to wait around to change your life- nor should you if it isn’t what you want. You have the power to make changes. You are never as stuck as you think. Start small. Do some research, apply for that job, sign up for that class you’ve been meaning to take, make a date to spend time with someone you want to hang out with. You’ll be surprised how far the little steps will take you, and how, once you make the decision to make a change, the Universe can rush to support it.

So go on, what one small step could you take today towards a happier and more fulfilling life (and if you already live a happy and fulfilling life, hurrah! Let us know what blessings you’re most thankful for)- let me know your ideas in the comments. Lets get our inspiration on!