Kitsch: Why I can’t do minimalism.


I blame my love of kitsch for my inability to be a Minimalist.  The concept of being a Minimalist is bang on… I understand the benefit of keeping things simple, keeping the feng shui moving around the house and feeling more liberated with less stuff – but it’s just not for me.

Sometimes I call myself a vintage collector, sometimes a hunter gatherer and sometimes a hoarder.  Either way – if this beautiful stuff didn’t make me happy I  might have been  the type of person who could thrive with bare minimal possessions… I could live in a house that looked like everyone else’s and was easy to clean… but I choose to surround myself with beautiful stuff.

Beautiful might be a stretch…  You see, I have a thing for kitsch.

Kitsch is defined as “art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way”.


I should be ashamed of it – the tackiness of it.  But I’m not.  Part of me is proud of saving this stuff (that has stood the test of time) from landfill.  Part of me is proud of having a unique home that was sourced for next to no money from opshops.  Most of our decor is 1950s-1970’s so there’s stories with pretty much everything we have.  Not even just our stories but other people’s stories – passed on at garage sales; markets or through nostalgia for a common item. I should be ashamed of spending our little disposable income on stuff… but I’m not.


As you can see – one of my kitsch collections is shell art.  Everyone seemed to make random little shell objects back in the day including most tourist shops…  My particular favourite in that image is the mermaid.

Shells aren’t the only kitsch thing I love though…


Queen Elizabeth II; Ballerinas (Carlotta Edwards); Ducks/Swans (Vernon Ward) and Religious icons were all really popular in the 1950’s.  So there’s lots of those sprinkled around our house.  The vintage ballerina alarm clock was my Great-Grandmother ‘s so it’s extra special.  Ella’s not allowed to touch it.

There’s a religious corner – and a “bad taste” (often considered racist) shelf -with my favourite pieces of German Pottery (not kitsch – but of the era).  That’s only a smidgy part of that collection – I’m fond of Black African lady ornaments – one of my ‘prized possessions’ is a lamp that one of my Teacup customers tipped me off about after she saw it at Restore (Bryant Road).  Speaking of “racist” memorabilia.  Native Affairs shared this article earlier in the week.  “Aboriginalia and the politics of kitsch”.  It was interesting – but hasn’t made me hide the pieces I have.



You guessed it, the kitsch spills outside.  I took these to show Ian Duggan who wrote this article about gnomes in New Zealand gardens… Well worth a read.  The one at the front (who is missing his fishing line) was James’s Grandmother’s and the one with the watering can was my Nana’s (we brought it up in our luggage from Dunedin after finding it lonely in the yard after her house was sold).  Needless to say – the dump has given us even more friends.

So – kitsch.  It’s the reason I can’t do minimalism.   I would love to see your kitschy items!! Please feel free to share your photos and stories with me.


The moral of the story is that there is none

One of the biggest lessons to learn as a parent is to get used to your efforts being spat back in your face.  We use cookie cutters to make rabbit or butterfly shaped sandwiches only to have them returned without even a nibble taken.  We bring home small gifts, carefully chosen in shops – to have them declare, that “Dora’s for babies” or to get a flat refusal to acknowledge said item.  We book a whole term of swimming lessons, after a summer of begging – only for them to announce they changed their mind.  (Accompanied by refusal to participate in expensive lesson).  Kids are fickle.  They frustrate the heck of you, but you go back for more.

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This photo popped up on my “Facebook memories” the other day (from 2014).  It was a reminder of how unrewarding parenting can be sometimes.  I normally avoid the Base, like the plague -but decided, since I’m a good Mum… I’ll put my own feelings about mass-consumerism aside and take her to meet Elmo and Cookie Monster, who were visiting for the holidays.  The flashy, white shininess of the mall blinded me and I was dismayed to see a line (despite being early to avoid that situation).

However Ella’s excitement was contagious and I remember telling her how excited I was because I never got to meet them when I was her age (clearly a little bit of embellishment for her benefit).  She made friends in the line, with other well dressed, well behaved little people and as we got near the front of the line (30 minutes later!!!) something began to change.  She became quieter… less chatty and then told me she wanted to go home.  HALF a fricken hour after getting in line!!  We were so close.

So, I did what parents do best… I went into bargaining mode, telling her – she will like it when it’s her turn and that she’ll regret it if she didn’t meet them because they might not come again.  I tried telling her Elmo would be said, that Cookie Monster would be disappointed (yes… I used the word ‘disappointed’ to manipulate a three year old kid). Then, I got desperate and the bribes started… first a lolly, then McDonalds… but it wasn’t working.  Elmo came up to her to say Hi…. the tears were welling, ready to explode… this was it.  With a sigh of resignation I held her while she tried desperately to hide from him, grimaced for the camera and we were on our way.

Good parenting has an element of show.  You cant tell behind that “haha” grimace I was losing my shit.  Losing it, over driving to a mall I loathe, waiting in line and then having to pretend it didn’t bother me that it ended this way.  Good intentions are not always rewarded.  There isn’t always a happy ending.  I showed her this photo before writing this and she shrugged and said she remembered she didn’t like it.  I asked if she was glad she went anyway and she said No.  So much of what we painstakingly do is a waste of time.  Moral of the story.  There is none.


A day in the life of a Modern Woman

Photo: Sshhhh...don't tell anyone ;-)

Today started like most weekdays… which is with me battling an (equally head strong) 5 year old to get out the door on time.  “Ella… can you get dressed?”  “Ella… your breakfast is getting cold”.  “Ella… have you brushed your teeth?”  “Hang on… Why aren’t you dressed yet?”  I have no idea how people get more than one child ready for school/work on time. Fortunately we are a 10 minute walk to Frankton primary so at least I don’t have commuter traffic to battle.  I was stoked to find that the op-shop across the road from her school was open early so popped in and found a new (old) skirt and blouse for a grand total of $6.50; what an awesome start to the day!  It was then time to get to work.

I’ve taken a part time role as a Recruitment Coordinator for the Women’s Health service at the DHB.  I’m involved with trying to attract midwives and doctors to Hamilton to provide obstetric and gynecological care.  As you can imagine, promoting Hamilton is second nature to me and I’m really enjoying the chance to be able to utilise my love of the city to attract others here.

I rushed back to school a bit earlier to attend a meeting by a parent lead group who focus on fundraising at the school.  We’re working on next month’s Spring Fair.  It will be held on Thursday October the 27th and provides an opportunity for the wider school community to visit and help with a number of fundraising efforts to purchase more outdoor gear.

I walked Ella home before heading off to my next appointment.  (More serious content now).  On Friday – I found a lump in my breast during a self examination.  My Gp put me at ease and the awkward process of her checking was not as  bad as I expected.  She confirmed there was in fact a lump – and she explained to me what happens next.  I (like most people my age I guess) don’t have private health cover so will be relying on the public health sector for follow up.  I’m now on the waiting list for a ultrasound and mammogram.  I’ll probably have to wait about two months…   My husband and I did briefly discuss “going private” but given the risk is low… (no known family history and a non-smoker) we feel comfortable to wait.  I’ll keep you posted, but do want to take the chance to remind women to check themselves regularly for any signs of changes to your breasts, shape – size – colour and lumps. It’s all about changes.

Get your mammogram!:

That wasn’t the end of the day.  I’d really been looking forward to the YWCA “Suffrage day Candidate event” as I am passionate about supporting women in politics.  It was an opportunity for women standing for local body elections, their supporters and the public to come together marking 123 years since women won the right to vote.  The event involved candidates for the HCC, Regional council and DHB introducing themselves and having the opportunity to answer questions in a “speed dating” format.  I’ll be writing more about this event tomorrow – but it wrapped up a day which for me was all about being a modern woman.  Juggling, aspiring and succeeding in nurturing our families, our jobs and our community.



Day in the life – May 4th be with you

Nothing major in the diary for today – though lots to do.  After dropping Ella at kindy we decided to check out a few shops.  We don’t often “do” op shops any more, they tend to be filled with over-priced bric a brac – but since there are no markets or garage sales on during the week we do a few anyway.


I have a fondness for industrial vintage so was happy with these two large gold anodised lampshades, sheep? skull, and vintage rustic “explosives” box.

I also picked up an 80’s does 40’s dress for myself, which I’ll post a photo of another time.

After coming home to do domestic drudgery and a few adminny type jobs – it was time to pick Ella up again.  Heading into winter I decided to take her shopping for a new top and pants.  Cuteness overload.  We then headed to pick up some printing from the Western Community Centre.  It’s the cheapest place to get my A3s and A4s printed – but even if it wasn’t – it’s such a great organisation that it’s worth the detour to Nawton.

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While Ella was having snack number 1000 since finishing kindy – I saw that my most recent blog post on “living in Hamilton” had been published on Stuff Nation. That was pretty cool.  I’m hoping to keep it up – I’m definitely opinionated enough to have something to write about.

We came home to go for a walk to the Dinsdale shops – and then down the road to visit a neighbour.  We live in a great little community – the majority of the people who live directly around us have been here at least 30 years.  Extremely unusual I think.

5pm – A little more admin stuff – facebook/emails etc, before starting dinner.


So – a boring but busy day.  Not particularly intriguing for the reader but we don’t all have newsworthy days.

P.S.  Here’s the link to the Waikato Times’ post.. which differs to my blog post version slightly.

For the record – I would never have had the Chiefs photo as the main photo for the link (I DID state I don’t even like rugby – I just recognise it’s a good thing about the Tron).  ALSO.  I HATE the photo the Waikato Times has on file and cringe every time they rehash it.