Monday, December 26, 2011


Today along with the rest of Wellington, I did what is normal when confronted with the calmest and sunniest of days in our oft inclement capital; I drove straight into town and hit the Boxing Day sales. It was a bun fight I tell you and my particular mission was to cover my own buns with half price pants. To ensure I had the best advice on what suited me, I took my adult daughter, a veritable savant for clothing. I also took my cash because she gets terribly hungry shopping; I blame that on her early experiences as an enfant, when in new mother desperation to get out of the house I would load her into a buggy and push her up to Merivale Mall where we would start with coffee and a bite to eat and end up in Quinns. When the February quake hit Christchurch, we both wept to see those devastating pictures of shoe boxes hanging out of the establishments exposed second floor...

“I’m after shorts” I declared, “something for our holiday next week, sort of mid length cargo kind of things.”
“Hmmm” replied the Knowledgeable one, “I’ve never really liked you in those.” I’ve worn this sort of thing camping for about 20 years now, so this was news to me. How long have I embarrassed her with my comfy strides?  Two decades apparently.

We started with the obvious, Glassons where I have bought all my previous shorts. I looked around but all I could see were tiny little frayed things that required much bikini waxing and labial tuck surgery. Some of them went up to size 16 which had me quite alarmed at the images that crowded into my head. Camel’s foot and all the humps. Luckily there was a pile of longer style shorts which the Savant delightedly assured me were the favoured style of cruise ship tourists. I ignored her and tried on 4 pairs, some with turn ups, some without. They all ended above my knees which end shortly above my ankles- height not being a terribly strong feature of my family’s genetic code. I looked quite like one of The Hobbit Dwarves on a hiking holiday. 

Kathmandu had an extra 20% off everything that was discounted by 50%. That made pants a mere $78 for something that didn’t fit either. “These are fricken boring” said the Savant, “let’s get some cake.” Their pattern cutters work with leggy Norwegian backpackers for a template. As I am  a) miserly and b) not called Astrid, we went on our way.
The cake shops were shut and I was surprised that a 23 year old can sigh just as long as she did as a tot on retail excursions; especially when we went into Max. At first it looked promising; racks of long shorts, or was it short pants? I gathered up an armful and headed off to the changing room. There were a few waiting before me and we patiently stood garments in hand. It was good practice for the shower queue at the camping ground. What DO people do in those cubicles? Are they wearing enormously complex support undergarments that require much lacing, or maybe they are Libran with the decision making ability of a jellyfish. Many foot tappings later (and more sighs from the daughter) I was in and out of the changing room in under a minute. It doesn’t take THAT long to realise something doesn’t fit- the minute it won’t pull up over your calf muscle or do up at the waist, or shows far too much bra indentation, it’s a given that you won’t be thinking ‘Maybe...’ If you do, you have far too much disposable income. Give it to me; I’ll invest it in shoes from I Love Paris.

I won’t go into the detail of every shop and pair of shorts I tried on. We could be here for hours. I certainly was. The last pair I tried on was no better than the first. I wanted cargo pants; they were pedal pushers. They were designed to forbid my knees from ever cycling again. Wide at the hip, skinny in the leg; like miniature rugby goal posts, making me feel like a front row prop trying thrash my way into them. My hand wandered towards another pair on the rack. 
   “No!” barked the Savant “they are menopausal green!” I withdrew my fingers from the sap coloured fabric as she muttered about ‘Women of a Certain Age’ and their predilection for top stitched shoes and ghastly Hulk clothing. To lighten the mood I picked up a pair of white Capri pants and suggested I buy them. Over the years we have shared many snickers about the suitability of white to cover one’s derriere. The possibility of VPL, flower print knicker show through and the ever present threat of menstrual catastrophe has meant that we have restricted (in our heads) white pants to pre-pubescent and post menopausal women. Therefore, when we see someone of an age between that band wearing them, we share a disapproving moment. It bonds us and smooths over any differences in opinion on any other topic at hand.
“Oh God Mum, you are a good ten years away from those and then you’d have to holiday in Majorca in them,” she said rather too loudly for the Yorkshire woman in white capris standing next to us.

We tried one more shop, Jay Jay’s. There was nothing for me there at all, but the Savant tried on three pairs of cute little vaguely vintage numbers. They looked amazing and were only $30 a pair. I admired her lean and (longer than mine) legs, her tiny waist and pert bottom. “Are you going to get them?” I asked breathlessly. Heck, I’d have bought all three for her; such was my delight at finding shorts to fit someone in our party of two. “Nah,” she replied, “they aren’t quite perfect.”
“Sweetheart,” I said sighing louder than she ever could, “that’s just pants.”

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bottoming out

My TV career then and ...then

This morning I stepped on the scales to find that I had magically gained half a stone somehow and my jeans were a great deal tighter around my derriere than last week.Two things occurred to me:

Firstly, maybe this is what happens when you hit your 50’s and spend the week before Christmas eating and drinking at a multitude of social gatherings; your body just says ‘bring it on’ and there it stays. On your middle, your thighs and your behind (never, I notice, on your chest where it would be more Nigella like). And secondly...if I was Pippa Middleton, my enlarged gluteus maximus might have bought me a publishing deal of epic proportions, well if I was 25 years younger and my sister had just married the next king in waiting of course. And too, if the bottom in question was a great deal more uplifted than it is these days, as it peers downwards seeking the comfort of any available couch. 

As I poured light milk on my porridge to counteract the maple syrup I’d liberally doused it with, my husband pointed out the Dom Post article about the Nelson couple who have ‘hit the mother lode’ with an 8.5 million dollar Lotto win. I hope it’s the friends we go camping with so that we can ditch the tent this year and all go and stay at a luxury resort on their money (they’d shout us wouldn’t they?) I’d like to rest my weighty buns on something more supportive than a camping chair this season. I refused a piece of toast proffered by hubby, not just because the bread was a bit mouldy, but because if we did go and stay somewhere posh, I’d need to look fabulous in togs and I have a week to do it.

This bought me to another realisation...why do I need to look like a 25 year old when I am clearly not? My mother and grandmother never had this compulsion. But they were never on the telly. And low... the light went on- I am not on the telly anymore! With the demise of Avalon and Good Morning moving to Auckland, my current (sporadic and tiny) TV career is at an end. I no longer need to look good on the streets in case someone sees me and it’s all over the Women’s Day that Fifi the Craft Queen wears daggy old jeans, a threadbare Glasson’s tee shirt and no lipstick on a daily basis. Not that I ever made Woman’s Day of course- it’s a scenario that we like to play out in our heads isn’t it? The fame and fortune one. It’s one I’ve been playing for years and like Monopoly (which I suck at) never goes the way you dream of. A roll of the dice and the empire you hoped to build is rubble before you even finished the foundations. 

Fame and fortune, like winning Lotto, rely heavily on two things; commitment and serendipity. The Nelson couple played those same numbers, regularly for years. On the rare occasions that I buy a Lotto ticket I go for a Lucky Dip- my odds of winning are not improved by buying a ticket 3 times a year; and...the numbers simply never come up. Likewise with my TV career. My 7 year stint on What Now as a Craft Queen and 6 years on The Good Morning Show came about not because I was set upon having a job as a television presenter, it was because I was persistently and consistently doing something I really enjoyed; arts and crafts – then someone in broadcasting noticed and wanted me to show viewers. I couldn’t have got the work if I’d taken myself off to broadcasting school and bombarded TVNZ with my CV, show reels and egg cartons. It’s not the way it works.

The flipside of such random luck is the voice inside your head that says ‘This is it baby, you are on your way and now the deals will come in- you’d better start getting professional about this!’ And then you worry about your clothes, your wrinkles, what you might say on Twitter and if your arse is too big. When I worked on What Now there was no internet or digital media; opinion and gossip spread a little slower. Getting drunk on a Friday night didn’t mean your audience would see pictures of you on Saturday all over Facebook, hair and dress askew chatting up a bartender.

 Since I’ve been on Good Morning, I’ve sanitised this blog so that it has become mostly a (fairly boring) web page for craft instructions, set up a fan page for facebook so that my personal life is kept hidden from my art followers and chewed my adult son’s ear off in the supermarket car park for being surly to a check out operator...”Do you know how hard I have worked to build up a public profile? And I don’t want you jeopardising that with your attitude- you hear me?!!!” And still the offers of further greatness haven’t arrived; and at 51 with a sagging bottom, they aren’t going to- unless I take up the art of cuisine (and that is never going to happen).

And you know what? I don’t care! I don’t have to do any of the above anymore; I’m not accountable to viewers who might sit in their armchairs scoffing Cheezels whilst criticising TV presenters for their back fat (the cruel things people say on forums is unbelievable) And I’m going back to why I set up this blog in the first place. To write about stuff that makes me mad, makes me sad or makes me laugh. No-one is going to offer me a £400,000 publishing deal because of my connections and shapely rump. I don’t envy Pippa, she has her whole media scrutinised life to lose ahead of her. I’m delighted to just be ME- an artist, teacher, wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend who loves drawing, making stuff and writing odds and sods to amuse myself and others. I shall also let out my waistbands.

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season 

xxx Fifi

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Pretty Paper Poinsettias

Paper Poinsettias

Here they are- Pretty Poinsettia flowers as seen on Good Morning today. My last spot on the show- it moves to Auckland next year with a whole new team. Sad for Wellington and Wellington based contributors and crew, but folks, that television!

Paper Poinsettias

Sarah says she can’t keep her poinsettias alive, so I’ve come up with some paper ones for her to make instead! Simple to make with my templates and a few basic materials- and look great on a present, the Christmas tree, side plates on the dinner table or even just blu-tacked to the mantelpiece.

You will need:
  • Fifi’s Leaf and petal templates
  •  Red, white and yellow paper (if you want to make two different coloured ones- otherwise just red paper will do
  • Green paper or card
  • Scissors
  •  Large gold sequins (I found nice flower shaped ones from Spotlight
  • Tinsel coloured chenille sticks (pipe cleaners)
  • A green felt tipped pen or coloured pencil
  • A sharp pencil
  1. Trace or print the templates onto the paper- the leaves on the green and the petals on the other colours. You will need two petal shapes and one leaf shape per flowers.
  2. Cut them out. Draw veins on the green leaves. 
  3.  Punch a small hole through the centre of each shape. I used a sharp pencil for this and put a piece of thick corrugated card underneath so that the pencil made a neat hole through the leaf and petal shapes but not through my table! 
  4. Crease each petal on the flower shapes (but not the leaf) 
  5.   Cut the chenille stick into 4 (enough for 4 flowers). A pair of side cutters/pliers is good for this- don’t blunt your best craft scissors on the wire
  6.  Thread a sequin on the end of one bit of chenille stick and bend the top over so it doesn’t slide off.
  7. Thread the 2 petal shapes and then the green leaf onto the chenille stick and push them up tight. 
  8. And that’s it! You can bend the chenille stick around the tree branch to hold it on.
I'll be making these at Te Papa on the 20th and 21st December- details here. 
They are free events, so come along, bring the kids, all materials are supplied!

Merry Christmas and all the very best for the coming year, Fifi