Monday, October 19, 2015
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Two views of Broadbeach on the Gold Coast - the beach and the river.
We've had a short trip to Australia to visit my husband's mother - who is ninety-one and just decided it's time she gave up international travel.
For those of you in Auckland Fabric-a-brac is happening again on Saturday 5 September 9.00 - 12.30 at a new venue - St Columba Centre, 40 Vermont St, Ponsonby. See you there.
Reading: Until further notice, I am alive by Tom Lubbock
and Style council : inspirational interiors in ex-council homes by Sarah Thompson.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
- Lake Waihola, near Milton
- Paterson Inlet, Stewart Island/Rakiura
- Scenes from Stewart Island/Rakiura
- Stewart Island robin/toutouwai on Ulva Island
- Native forest, Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara
- Te Waewae Bay
So long since my last post. I've been away for a week to Dunedin, Stewart Island and Invercargill and came home with a terrible flu which kept me out of action for another ten days. Anyway... here are some photos from the trip. It was cold - plenty of frost around - but mostly sunny days. The highlight was visiting Ulva Island - a native plant and bird sanctuary about a ten minute boat ride from Stewart Island and meeting some people panning for gold at Te Waewae Bay. Remote and beautiful places.
Best meal: From the Howl at the Moon Cafe, Gore - the vegetarian beef salad
Reading: H is for hawk by Helen Macdonald
Watching: The Sopranos Season 6
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Monday, June 29, 2015
These pages are from Seashore life of New Zealand published in 1971. I love the illustrations and especially the seaweeds done by Eric Heath - so bold and graphic. When I was at primary school and about nine or ten years old the class spent an afternoon at a local beach were we poked around in rock pools looking at sea anemones and hermit crabs. My husband did the same. Probably every school child in New Zealand got to do the rocky shore project back in the day.
Anyway you can read more about Eric here and even get yourself some of his artwork.
Have a great week.
Reading: The iceberg by Marion Coutts - a beautifully written account of living with her husband's illness and death
Viewing: Unposed portraits by Lucien Rizos showing at the Anna Miles Gallery
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
I love linen tea towels. And I loved this project because it was so random. I couldn't be sure how anything would turn out. So, somehow, it was full of delight with every outcome a revelation.
It was actually an un-dyeing process using household bleach to "discharge" the colour from the linen. I added 125ml (half a cup) of bleach to 4 litres (just under a gallon) of water and I let the fabric soak for two hours.
The two above are my favourites. The striped one was accordian folded and then dip-dyed. And the green tie dyed one was pleated and then held together with rubber bands.
The only thing I had to buy was the linen - that I washed, cut and hemmed. Everything else I had on hand - buckets, bleach, rubber bands, pegs.
If you're thinking of having a go yourself, I'd say "do it" and I'd recommend this book Tie die dip by Pepa Martin and Karen Davis.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
I've been making soup lately as the days grow colder and one of our favourites is pea and ham. I always use this recipe from Alice Hart's book Friends at my table.
1 smoked ham hock
1 large onion
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
bouquet garni of 2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs of thyme and 2 sprigs of rosemary
300g green or yellow split peas
400g fresh or frozen green peas
Soak the ham hock one to four hours in plenty of cold water to remove excess salt, then rinse, before cooking.
Put everything (apart from the fresh or frozen peas) in a large, lidded saucepan with 1.6 litres of water and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat to low and leave to cook gently, lid on, for an hour and a half. Add the fresh or frozen peas and cook for a further five minutes.
Turn the heat off and remove the bouquet garni, then carefully fish out the ham hock, dropping it into a bowl. Allow the hock to cool a little before shredding or chopping the meat quite finely, removing and discarding the skin, fat and bone as you go. Set aside.
Puree the soup in the pan with a stick blender, or pour into an upright blender in two batches. I don’t puree this thoroughly, so the soup retains some texture, but blitz until smooth if you prefer.
Return the soup to the heat, along with the ham. Taste and add salt if needed and a little black pepper.
Let down with water if the soup seems too thick to you, the consistency is supposed to be hearty though, not thin. Serves 8.
As you can see the recipe says to make a bouquet garni. Usually I'd just throw the herbs into the pot and then spend ages trying to remove the bay leaves etc once the soup is cooked. It's easier if you've made a little posy of the herbs and tied them all together with thread or string. But the simplest method of all is to put the herbs into a little drawstring muslin bag. Most kitchen shops sell these but I made my own bigger version to hold plenty of fresh herbs. Instructions coming.
I hope you try the soup. I'm sure it would also make a nice vegan version. Minus the ham, of course.
Friday, June 12, 2015
Sunday, June 7, 2015
I don't know why I worried that the birdfeeder would go undiscovered. The birds found it three days after I put it out. How did they know? Lots of house sparrows and a few greenfinches. And spotted doves - that I've never seen before - eat the seed that falls on the ground. I've enjoyed watching them and have now moved the feeder closer to the house.
If you're interested in feeding birds in your garden (in NZ) there's good advice here.
Have a good week.
Listening: Are we there by Sharon Van Etten
Monday, June 1, 2015
When I posted this photo of my granddaughter digging in the sandpit I realised I hadn't shared the pattern for the yellow beanie. So... here it is.
This is a simple pattern suitable for beginner knitters and perfect to keep your little one snug on a cold and windy day.
1 ball Misti Alpaca yarn
4 mm and 4.5 mm needles
Gauge 5 sts per inch on US #7 or 4.5mm needles
With 4 mm needles cast on 76 sts
K2, P2 rib for 12 rows
Change to 4.5 mm needles and work 28 rows in stocking stitch.
Begin crown working in garter stitch (all rows knit)
(K3, k2 tog) to last st, k1 (61sts)
Knit the next 3 rows
(K2, k2 tog) to end (46 sts)
Knit the next 3 rows
(K1, k2 tog), k1
Knit one row
K2 tog across row
Break off yarn and thread through the remaining sts.
Sew up seam, make and sew on pom-pom.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Another birthday to celebrate on Saturday - on Waiheke Island. And it rained nearly all day. I was hoping for walks on the beach and photos of the sea and distant islands. Instead we mostly stayed indoors in front of the fire. But it was a wonderful day - food, wine, friends. How lucky I am to know Susie.
Reading: Out of winter by Carol Lee
Monday, May 18, 2015
Now is my favourite time of year. I love the red leaves and the sunny days that are a bit chilly. And dreaming of winter shoes. And thinking about a new knitting project. I can't decide whether to make this or this.
We've put a bird feeder in the garden for the first time - hoping it might stop the birds digging up our winter vegetable seedlings in their search for worms. But also to help them out with some food when there's not much around. I don't think any bird has found the feeder yet. Perhaps I need to entice them with apple. Have you ever had a bird feeder in your garden? How did it go?
Reading: Gracefully Grayson: a novel by Ami Polonsky
Eating: persimmons - from our tree
Monday, May 11, 2015
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
And last weekend we improvised a sandpit for our granddaughter. Digging and running seem to be very important things to do. I remember how I used to love making mud pies when I was about six or seven years old. I used to decorate them with flowers and then sprinkle sand on the top to look like icing sugar. I can't wait to get into that again.
Reading: Smoke gets in your eyes & other lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
Watching: The Sopranos season five
Monday, April 27, 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-B1460'
Because this year marks the 100th anniversary I thought I'd share this photo of my grandfather, Thomas. The photo was taken in 1916 soon after he joined the New Zealand Army. He was 21 years old.
Monday, April 20, 2015
These are fabric works made by French artist Louise Bourgeois. I think they are beautiful. They remind me of spider webs and umbrellas. Louise was known as "Spiderwoman" because of the giant bronze spider sculptures she made. I was lucky to see one in New York many years ago.
Apparently you can visit her townhouse - which has been preserved just as she left it - in Chelsea, New York.
The images are from the book Louise Bourgeois: the fabric works by Germano Celant.
Further images of her work here.
Reading: The first bad man: a novel by Miranda July
Sunday, April 12, 2015
These decorations were inspired by Evie Barrow's easter garland. I cut out simple shapes (eggs, flowers, carrots) from my granddaughter's drawings, glued them onto card and hung them up with string. Although she did the drawings over several weeks and then I did the rest, it felt like a project that we'd done together. I'd forgotten how much fun doing arty things with children can be. I used to make stuff with my own kids all the time and it's so nice to be doing it all over again.
Reading: The life-changing magic of tidying by Marie Kondo
Monday, April 6, 2015
This is Muriwai - a wild, west coast beach famous for its black iron sand. We visited on Friday hoping to make the most of the last of the warm weather with an autumn swim. I wasn't brave enough to get into the cold water. So we sat on the clifftop looking out to Motutara Island and ate a picnic lunch and watched the surfers.
Reading: We three go South : the 1890 diary of Ethel Richardson's trip to the Sub-Antarctic
Viewing: Judy Millar : the model world showing at Te uru Waitakere contemporary gallery
Watching: The Americans season 3
Eating: feijoas - fresh from our trees
Monday, March 30, 2015
This play mat for my granddaughter isn't a fancy quilt. But I'm sharing it with you because it's finished and it's the first thing I've made in ages. I whipped up the whole thing in a day - using what I had. The top is made from left-overs from a giant duvee cover that I cut down to fit. The backing and binding is a purple cotton that I'd had in the cupboard for years just waiting for the right moment. And the wadding is a quilted mattress protector - doubled for extra thickness. Everything is machined and simply quilted "in the ditch". And I rounded the corners so I wouldn't have to mitre. (Why doesn't everyone make quilts with rounded corners? It's so much easier). But the binding needed to be folded over and hand stitched on the back. For months I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Finally I worked on it while watching the semifinals of the ICC cricket world cup (New Zealand vs South Africa) on television. It was such a thrill. New Zealand won. And I finished the quilt. Mexican wave!
Reading: French milk by Lucy Knisley and Not my father's son by Alan Cumming
Viewing: Billy Apple: the artist has to live like everybody else showing at the Auckland Art Gallery