Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Movie Review: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the latest film by New Zealand director Taika Waititi. The screenplay is based on the novel Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump. I thoroughly enjoyed Waititi's last film, What We Do in the Shadows, and in fact it was my favourite movie of the year last year, so I was looking forward to seeing his latest one.

Ricky Baker is a 13-year-old with a reputation for being a juvenile delinquent. He has never known his parents and has only lived in a series of foster homes. As he is dropped off at a remote farm in the bush, he is warned that if this latest foster placement doesn't work out, he will be sent to a juvenile prison. The farm belongs to Bella, a kind-hearted Maori woman, and Hector, a gruff bushman with a shady past. After a few false starts, Ricky settles in happily at the farm.

After a tragic series of events, Ricky and Hector find themselves forced to camp out in the bush for 6 weeks. When they try to return to civilisation, they discover that Hector has been accused of kidnapping Ricky, and a reward has been offered for his capture. The two go on the run with their dogs, chased by the police, a crazed child welfare officer and a group of hunters. Ricky becomes somewhat of a folk hero, and finds just as many people willing to help him as catch him.

Moments of poignancy and sadness are interspersed with a series of increasingly over-the-top chase scenes. The eventual ending sees all of the characters (the ones we like, anyway) finding happiness in a quiet, not sickly-sweet kind of way.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople has the same offbeat comedic sense as Waititi's previous films. I found it dragged a little as the action became more farcical, but the strong characters more than made up for this. Julian Dennison's portrayal of Ricky is brilliant -- the cliched rebellious teen just looking for somewhere to belong is made individual by his quirky character traits. Sam Neill as the other half of this odd couple plays subtle comedy as well as he always does. The only criticism I have is that the comedic and tragic scenes seemed to alternate with a predictable regularity. Several scenes which have not much to do with the overall plot expose the movies' being based on a novel, though I found they helped me to empathise with the characters.

I noticed references to several other New Zealand films, and I'm sure there are plenty more that I missed. The stunning New Zealand scenery contrasting with the slightly cheesy 80s-inspired soundtrack provided another level of comic absurdity. The 'Ricky Baker' birthday song was adorable and I found myself singing it for days afterwards. I was relieved that the cinematography avoided the stereotypical mountainous scenery we saw in Lord of the Rings and focused instead on New Zealand's forest and desert landscapes. Another lovely touch was the division of scenes into chapters with the titles appearing in a quirky font on the screen.

The film is not suitable for younger children as it depicts survival situations, scenes with guns and some violence involving animals. It is not a pure comedy as the television advertisements make out, but is much deeper and I think would be enjoyed by both adults and teens.

Would I watch again? Yes!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

8 Reasons Why I like the KonMari Method

All photos today are of my own house and belongings.
Perhaps you might think I have a lot of stuff?
But it was much worse before, trust me!

The KonMari method of de-cluttering has taken the world by storm in the last year or so, but in case you haven't heard of it, I wrote about it here and here. I'm more than halfway through KonMari-ing my house now, and I'm very pleased with how well the method works for me. Here are 8 reasons why I think that is:

Many de-cluttering books and shows take a 'hard love' stance on the subject. They envision a frenzy of throwing things out, with garbage bags full of unwanted clutter lined up on the footpath. To me, it seems quite cold and heartless. Anyone who has seen TV shows like Hoarders can clearly see what an emotional toll the process has on the homeowner. In these shows, having an emotional reaction is usually depicted as a weakness to be overcome. Even when a psychologist is brought in to help the subject, his or her struggles to deal with the process are swept aside when a group of hard-nosed de-cluttering experts turn up armed with rubber gloves and a huge skip. In contrast, the KonMari method is gentle. Marie Kondo says it's important to acknowledge (she uses the word 'relish') the emotions that come up during tidying; this actually makes the decision easier, not harder. The decision to keep or discard is made by asking yourself whether the item makes you happy. KonMari asks: does holding the item make your heart leap and put a smile on your face? If so, then keep it!

I arranged my shawls in a box from Ikea so I can see them
every time I open my wardrobe door. Happy.

I found it interesting that in the title of her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, Kondo uses the word 'tidying' instead of 'de-cluttering'. This is the case throughout the book as well. Konmari never uses the word 'clutter' or 'rubbish' to refer to possessions, and she is careful to use terms such as 'discard' or 'retire' instead of 'throw away' or 'get rid of'. The book has been translated from Japanese, but I think this careful use of terms is very deliberate. As I learned from the Fluent Self method of self-care, the words we choose are very important. Words like 'de-cluttering' and 'getting rid of' tend to create an automatic resistance in people's minds. Gentler, more respectful and positive words make people more amenable to following the method.

Body wash and face mask samples are all grouped together in the bathroom.

It seems that many people have misunderstood the KonMari method, thinking it promotes a lifestyle of minimalism. It doesn't. The method merely says to keep all of the items that make you happy. KonMari says not to feel bad if you want to keep something. This means the item sparks joy and you should keep it. Recently on NHK TV there was a special called Tidying in New York with KonMari (I believe it's on YouTube now). KonMari was helping a young woman with her apartment. The girl became visibly upset at the thought of having to throw a box of things away. I think they were drawings that she had created. KonMari then said to her, "but if you don't want to throw them away, you don't have to!" Her face cleared and she beamed. The drawings made her happy, so why get rid of them? The aim is not to have as little as possible, but to live in a space where everything in it makes you happy.

All of my books are unpacked now! And Husband's too!

Many other decluttering methods focus on numbers: you should have no more than so many of each item. Articles on clothes are particularly big on this -- to build a 'capsule' wardrobe, you should have 2 shirts, 2 pants, 2 skirts, etc. The KonMari method doesn't put any limits or absolutes on anything. If you had 43 handbags and 38 of them spark joy, keep those 38. (Not that that's a specific example from my own life or anything, ahem.) If, for example, you don't keep any skirts at all because you don't like wearing skirts anymore, that's fine, too.

Makeup has been sorted, duplicate colours weeded out,
and arranged in trays and a basket from Daiso.

The 'does it spark joy?' method of deciding what to keep acknowledges that everyone is an individual. As Marie Kondo says, everyone has a different understanding on what the appropriate amount to keep is, so there's no point in specifying numbers. The important factor is whether or not you feel comfortable being in that room. Some people prefer a minimalist room, others love being surrounded by their treasured items. The KonMari method allows people to express their personality. If you have 50 kitten figurines and 48 of them spark joy, then it's perfectly fine to keep all 48. Keeping 48 kitten figurines might seem completely bonkers-crazy to one person, but totally normal to another. It's up to you to decide what's right for you.

Speaking of kitten figurines ...
Many people who collect things for a hobby can't put their finger exactly on why they do it. There's no rhyme or reason behind it, only emotion. Other methods of decluttering often don't acknowledge this urge. Nobody needs 20 teapots, or 3,500 troll dolls. Sources that tell you to discard excess items or throw away things you haven't used in a year aren't helpful for someone who has a valuable and treasured collection of original boxed Star Wars figures. Asking yourself if this item really makes you happy is a much more appropriate way of going about discarding when it comes to collections.

Now my stud earrings are arranged in a lovely vintage dish instead of the
ugly fishing tackle box I packed them in to move house.

For those who lean towards an animist view on life, the respect with which Marie Kondo treats her possessions will be familiar. Before she begins tidying a client's house, she greets the house and asks it to show her where it would like everything stored. She advises that when discarding an item, to thank it for its service. This allows you to discard it with a clear conscience instead of guilt. Finding a permanent spot in the house for the remaining items is also very important. She says: when an item has its own place, it's happier, and this vibe spreads to the whole room and its occupants.

I finally found all of my dangly earrings and the stand to display them on! So happy!
The stand is on an open bookshelf opposite my bed so I can see it all the time.

Marie Kondo doesn't give advice regarding particular types of storage systems. In fact, she advises against purchasing elaborate storage 'solutions' for the home. This, she says, only leads to acquiring more because excess items are out of sight and you may forget you have them. She herself uses old shoeboxes and other re-purposed things to store many of her belongings. What's important is that when you open a cupboard door, you can see everything you own, and it makes you happy. Your storage can be as elaborate or simple, expensive or cheap as you want it to be.

I have some more posts in the pipeline on the KonMari method, such as tips, how I deviated from the method (gasp!!), and how it has changed my life. Has it? I'm not sure yet. Stay tuned to find out!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Hobonichi Planner Unboxing

I'm now the proud owner of a Hobonichi Techo. Hobonichi is a range of diary planners from Japan. They are coveted because of their sleek minimalist design, and more importantly, their high-quality River Tomoe paper. The paper accepts watercolour well and doesn't bleed through with most pens. This makes them perfect as a daily art journal.

I first heard about the Hobonichi Techo last month when I subscribed to Rainbow Holic YouTube channel. Kaila had a series of videos called 'Hobonichi with Me'. I was instantly struck by, not only the cute art, but the design of the planner that combines a daily planner with an artistic practice.

I really, really wanted one! But it was halfway through the year, and the thought of having to wait 6 months to start one of my own was, well, I have to admit, a little heartbreaking. Imagine my pleasant surprise on learning that Hobonichi also sell a 6-month version of the planner, called the Abeku. Not only that, but the July-December 2016 version was going on sale in just a couple of days!

I hesitated for a while, but by the time the Abeku went on sale, I'd managed to convince myself to purchase it. It was relatively expensive for a half-year planner, but on the other hand, I thought, the daily format and beautiful paper would encourage me in my goal of drawing more often. The coincidence that Hobonichi offer a 6-month version, and I heard about it just before it went on sale ... I was convinced it was a sign! I made the purchase and waited anxiously for it to arrive. The wait wasn't long though -- it only took 4 days from Japan to Australia.

My Hobonichi came in an excitingly large, yellow package styled like an old-fashioned gift bag.

Inside was a sleek sky-blue coloured box, and the planner was inside that. The Japanese version comes with several free gifts -- a tri-colour pen, a tissue holder and a poster. Everything was packed in clear plastic bags.

There was no packing material inside the box and everything rattled around a little bit. I don't think this mattered too much as everything was made of durable materials and was wrapped in plastic.

The Hobonichi Techo comes in two sizes (A5 and A6). I decided to purchase the smaller size for my first. I didn't purchase a cover or any other accessories, as I wasn't sure if I'd want to settle on the smaller size in the long run. Plus, it might be fun to make a cover myself.

The planner has month-at-a-glance and week-at-a-glance pages at the front, but the main body has one page per day. At the end are sections to list addresses, favourites books, movies, etc. as well as recipes, and other information. Much of it is in Japanese so I can't read it, which is a bit of a shame, but I like that the main pages of the diary are in Japanese. I love looking at texts in different languages and it gives me a chance to do that every day.

I couldn't wait until the end of the month to use it, so I wrote in the dates for birthdays and events for the rest of the year, and did this painting in the front:

I'm quite happy with the painting. It's been a long time and I'm very out of practice. I'm very happy with the Hobonichi as well so far; hopefully that will continue.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Can I Grow Rosehips?

About 6 months ago (the timing being not at all coincidental, when you switch hemispheres) I read a post on The Woman Who Married a Bear about gathering rosehips, and making syrup and other beautiful things from them. I wondered, can I do that? I have 7 rose bushes, and I don't even know if they grow rosehips. All the sources I've read on caring for roses focuses on the flowers. They say to prune off the rose as soon as it finishes flowering. (If you haven't already cut it for displaying or giving away, that is. Or bathed in it.) This doesn't allow the rose plant to grow its fruit, the rosehip.

The Flamingo just won't stop growing.

I looked up some information about rosehips. I can't remember where I read it now, but it said that all rose varieties grow fruit, however some grow larger and sweeter than others. It went into a long list of varieties with botanical names and, I have to admit, it made my head swim a little bit. I decided to just let my roses grow this year and see what happens.

The Hot Chocolate is the most vigorous. The Circus Gold in the background is still flowering.

The results were very interesting. All of the bushes grew visible rosehips, but some were larger than others. The largest and plumpest rosehips were on the bush that I watered the most over Summer, the Flamingo. The smallest and saddest looking ones were on the bush I only watered a couple of times (variety unknown). It's the one furthest from the tap, and it always looked to be doing fine when I checked it, so I didn't bother to water it.

Another nice rosehip on the Hot Chocolate.

It makes sense, when I think about it, that roses would grow better fruit when watered more, just like my fruit trees. I'll be more conscientious with that next year. I'm not sure yet at what point the rosehips should be harvested; I'll have to do some more research on that.

The only drawback of growing rosehips of course, is that the gardener has to put up with an ugly-looking bush for a few months. But it's just a reminder that nature isn't always pretty.

The rose furthest from the tap (variety unknown).

Thursday, 2 June 2016

My May

The weather really turned cold by the end of the month. We've broken out the extra blankets, and there are frost warnings already. There's been a lot more rain. I heard about the 30x30 Challenge, which is to spend 30 minutes outside every day for 30 days, starting on 1st May. I wanted to do it, but then it rained for 3 days straight, with barely a 30-minute letup, so I decided to wait until Winter is over before trying it. Of course, I want to spend as much time outside as I can, but at this time of year it would be quite difficult to do it every day.

What I've been sorting ...
My KonMari adventure has been continuing. I've almost finished my clothes, and most of my accessories. I've unpacked a lot of boxes in the last few months, but there are still quite a few things packed (or lost??!) which mean I can't gather everything in some categories together to KonMari them.

I'm also pleased to say that I've unpacked all my books now, which was No. 96 on my 101 Things in 1,001 Days list.

My hair decos. Not too many?

What I've been making ...
I finally finished this crocheted mushroom. I wanted to make one as part of the Mori Girl Challenge, and, I have to admit, this project did double-service. I had two Geocaching Travel Tags to send off. The Travel Tags can be attached to any small item you like, and the tracking code turns it into a trackable item. It's then placed into a geocache for other players to pick up and move to another cache. There's more information here for the interested.
One of the fun things about creating a trackable is to attach something to it that will be fun for other players. And that was the problem! I didn't know what to attach them to. Being me, something handmade was preferable, but I'd been procrastinating for months because I couldn't think of anything. Then an idea struck me: make amigurumi mushrooms!
I (quite cleverly if I do say so myself) embroidered the tracking code under the cap of the mushroom but unfortunately I can't show it to you. It's against the rules. Otherwise anyone could log the trackable when they aren't actually in possession of it.

At this stage, I've almost finished the second one. I used a different pattern so I might write a separate post with my thoughts comparing them.

I also started a new design for a knitted monster plushie. I've made crocheted ones before, but I wanted to see if I could design a knitted one. I ran out of steam though, when I couldn't decide how to do the arms.

What I've been dreaming of ...
Not so much dreaming, but meaning to get around to it. With the rainier weather, the garden is greener than ever. I've started to notice dandelions popping up all over. They're one of the few wild plants I can recognise and know to be useful. There's a wonderfully informative post on The Woman Who Married a Bear on the very topic, so it just remains for me to give it a try.

Selections from Instagram

Mulled wine and drinking games for the Eurovision Song Contest:

I planted a tree! Well, more of a small shrub, really.

I also decorated the fernery a bit more with this gnome from Daiso: