Monday, June 29, 2015

the rocky shore

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

pea soup

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

fine spells

Waiheke Island from the Maraetai Coast Road taken in the rain on the way home after last weekend's visit to the Clevedon markets.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

sparrows and finches

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

yellow beanie

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.