Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Winter officially starts in a few weeks and it's getting noticeably colder here. I cooked a pot of pea and ham soup last weekend. And used my last bouquet garni bag from the pile I made a couple of years ago. I find the bags so much easier than tying bunches of herbs together. Fill with fresh and/or dried herbs - even pop in a few peppercorns - then draw up, knot and trim the twine. When your soup is done fish out the bag, let it cool down and put the whole thing into your compost bin. I made more bags today. They're quick to make - no accuracy or seam neatening required - just a little draw string bag made from cotton "butter" muslin threaded through with cotton cooking twine.

I've also been experimenting with drying herbs. I've probably left it a bit late in the season but I've started with oregano which thrives in my garden. I rinsed the oregano first and gently shook off excess water. Tied it up in small bunches and hung them in my pantry from a little makeshift clothesline. Apparently you should dry herbs in a cool, dark place. You need to leave them there until the leaves are crisp and brittle. This took three weeks. Once dried just crumble up the leaves and store in an airtight jar. From a decent bunch of oregano I harvested about one tablespoon of dried herbs - which isn't much but does prove how much more potent dried herbs are over fresh. I'm encouraged and have started a second batch. Next autumn I think I'll do a larger quantity but also try other herbs like thyme or sage. Have you tried drying herbs? What worked for you?

Reading: The rules do not apply a memoir by journalist, Ariel Levy. The blurb says "in 2012, at age 38, when she left on a reporting trip to Mongolia, Ariel Levy thought she had figured it out: she was married, pregnant, successful on her own terms, financially secure. A month later, none of that was true." I'm only up to the married part. Too soon to comment but so far, so good. ☺

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


An apron made from a tea towel for the grand one. 

To make an apron you'll need:
a tea towel
ribbon for the ties - I used 2cm wide cotton twill
a pair of "D" rings
Hold the tea towel up against your child to calculate the length, the width of the yoke across the top edge and the placement of the ties at the waist. Cut off any excess length and fold up and sew a narrow double hem. Draw a line on each side connecting the corner of the yoke and waist. Add a seam allowance. Cut away triangle corners and sew a narrow double hem along sides of apron. Attach side ties folding under raw edges. Double hem the tie ends. Attach the "D" rings to the end of one neck tie. Attach both neck ties. 

We had a great morning last week wearing our aprons and baking.

Ginger bread cookies
100gm butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp golden syrup
1 cup wholemeal flour or wholemeal spelt
1/2 cup plain flour

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line baking trays with baking paper.

Cream butter and sugar until pale and soft. Sift and add ginger and baking soda. Add golden syrup. Gradually add flours. 

Gather the dough together using your hands and turn it out onto a well floured surface. Roll the dough out using extra flour so it doesn't stick to the rolling pin. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters and carefully place onto trays. Decorate with dried fruit - currants, glazed cherries etc. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Another pair of selvedge pillow cases like these ones - but mismatched this time - in "stone" and "duck egg" milled linen from The Fabric Store. This is a really nice mid-weight linen and comes in a range of beautiful colours with a handy striped selvedge.

And a small pile of fabric bought from the Auckland Quiltmakers Show held over the weekend. There were some amazing quilts on display. I feel inspired and encouraged to keep quilting. And overwhelmed that there are so many people out there making beautiful things.

Reading: Quilts around the world by Spike Gillespie - for just a bit more inspiration

Susceptible by Canadian illustrator and musician, Geneieve Castrée - comic/graphic novel, maybe autobiographical, about the sufferings of childhood and the release into adulthood independence. Tender, heartbreaking.

Thursday, May 4, 2017


Meet my new plant Ficus "Samantha" in her newly decorated terracotta pot. Sadly I gave up on my maidenhair fern. I loved that plant and really tried hard to make it happy but, in the end, it got powdery mildew that I couldn't control. And, to be honest, it was so much work. I needed to water it almost every day. And mist it regularly. And whenever I went away I had to ask a neighbour to look after it which I felt was just too much responsibility. So now I have hardy Samantha who could actually survive outdoors (where a plant should be, really).

And meet tiny bear and tiny rabbit made using this free pattern from Little Cotton Rabbits. The rabbit is made from 4 ply wool using 2.25mm needles and the bear from 8 ply on 3mm needles. The knitting is very quick and uses such a tiny amount of wool. There's an excellent I-cord tutorial on Purl Soho - necessary to make the arms and legs. Putting it all together - sewing up and embroidering the faces - is a bit fiddly but worth it, I think.

Listening: Leisure by NZ band Leisure for a bit of grooviness

Reading: How to be a person in the world by Heather Havrilesky. A selection of questions from Heather's advice column Ask Polly.