Friday, November 12, 2010

the beach

A week ago we took a break at 'the beach'. This spot, Riversdale beach, is on the coast of the Wairarapa. My grandparents bought the section 29 years ago (so I've been going there all my life). For 20 years it was just a couple of caravans. In the 2000s they started building a little village comprising of a bigger sleep-out and a wendy house and a couple of sheds and what not.
Goodbye long-drop (yes!) and hello mod-cons. But not too modern - my family are habitual collectors of old things and cannot, no cannot, throw anything away. So it goes to the beach.
Occasionally someone will splurge and buy something new for 'the beach', and that's nice, but actually I relish in the hodge podge of stuff still to be found there, from 1970s swimwear and shoes and sunhats, to vintage tennis rackets and badminton shuttle cocks, to a 1990s kitchen of hideous colours, and an old formica table and chairs and a pull-out couch with musty old mattress and squeaky springs and beds pushed together that don't match up - that sort of thing. It feels like me, it feels like a permanent memory. Quite simply, it is my favourite place in the world. (Not that I've travelled!)

This holiday we found the kids were a perfect age together. Our little Laidey slept or lay on the beds, the other two explored safely within the watch of two relaxing parents. Sometimes we played on the beach.
Sometimes we searched the property and found things like bird nests and pine cones. These we took home for the fireplace. They make excellent kindling!

We have a large patch of tussock grass on the way to the beach. This proved to be the best fun of all, Hugo and Georgia falling down into it for fun. I used to despise the grasses for prickling my feet and legs and harbouring katipo spiders (which I now know don't live this far down the North Island.
The kids topped and tailed in a bed. So much better without a cot!

These wild lupins were Chris' nemesis. As he hacked them down I rescued a bunch of flowers and took them home for Oma. 
Then he cut me a bunch of these geraniums, which also grow as weeds there.

We treasured each moment and felt so grateful to have this place to escape to.
It's lovely to think of Georgia gaining her first memories of the beach. I remember being her age and being afraid of sharks in the sea but going in all the same and getting dunked by the waves and walking the endless 1km to the shop for an ice-cream. Bliss.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Russian doll invitation inspiration

Mum's turning 50 and I wanted to create something special for her invitations.
Several false starts later I fell upon the idea to use my Russian dolls (and they are the real deal from a Kyrgyzstani friend for our Wedding) as a backdrop for photos of Mum.
One doll for each decade.
The hardest part was finding the right photos, scanning and resizing and even colour-setting them to fit.
Tracing paper for sizing, masking tape for sticking.
I photographed them - was quite hard getting the light right to stop a reflection interfering with the images...
Tomorrow we'll be printing them and sticking to orange cards with message inside. Then sending them immediately as the party's a week away!
(I am in two photos, middle and second from right)

Saturday, November 6, 2010


I've been making this bread for a few months since seeing it on a few blogs, firstly at Tiny Happy (thank you so much for posting about this!) then at Angry Chicken. The master recipe is available here (the authors have two great looking books, one is for gluten free recipes!) and it makes a good amount - 3 or 4 small loaves and, here's the trick, it needs no kneading (love that phrase) and it keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!
It rises once then it's ready to use. I generally make two small loaves then use the last of it up in a batch of fruit buns by rolling in some raw sugar and some currants, sultanas, raisins and peel.
I have found that it keeps rising in between uses though. I'd like to use a smaller container to keep it in the fridge to take less space, but it's burst out of ice-cream containers on several occasions with only half the dough remaining. I reduce the salt to one tablespoon too.
I've also tried keeping a little dough to incorporate into the next batch to give it more of a sourdough flavour - it got a little too sour, or bitter in fact, so have gone back to clean starts.
Using wholemeal flour has been ok. I started with that, then have gradually used more and more plain (high grade) flour as it makes a softer and more raised bread.

And sometimes I like to make traditional bread. Using Jamie Oliver's Naked Chef basic bread recipe (and look, there it is online) I made Foccacia the other day. I even used his strange topping suggestions - potato and rosemary, and fried onion. Both were exceptional. Here are two with the potato topping, one with kalamata olives added and parmesan. Better than pizza? Depends how hungry you are. Why did I not photograph the onion Foccacia? We were too busy eating...

a bean bag for the little ones

I made this bean bag a few months ago when I found the kids needed a chair of their own for lounging on.
There was a good tutorial on the net. I followed the instructions pretty fully. Had to copy and trace the pattern onto newspaper. I liked the idea that it has a lining, for strength and safety. There is also a nice tutorial and pattern in Kelly Doust's new book, the Crafty Kid. It has more of a 'back' to it and a traditional bean bag shape.
So mine was easily sewn together with a good spout in the lining for filling with the beans. Boy was it a prick to fill though - the beans went everywhere and on our wooden floors they resisted the broom with static electricity, went under the bed. Had to be vacuumed up in the end. (I was terrified of leaving any trace of them around as I understand they are a pretty bad suffocation risk if inhaled by small children!)
All in all, it's sturdy, attractive, useful, can be tucked away behind a chair easily enough.

Seats two (they're under 15kg each)
or one baby (supervised)
and is Dad's favourite footrest too.

The fabric was a mix of found materials from the op-shop and an auction.

a little gardener

 Georgia made these practical garden labels. We have the vege patches weeded at last, ready for planting. But no plants! Packets of seeds (I spent $100 last year on seeds!) and a sudden urgency to have them growing.

She found sticks in the garden, some of them were hardened flax cut into strips. With cellotape she connected the labels to the sticks and stuck them into the pots.
She enjoyed making these and it was great to have her to something useful and for her to see her contribution to our business of growing our own food. We'll see if anything's ready by xmas.