Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hot cross buns! And a giveaway!

In our house we all love hot cross buns, so I was very keen to try out some from Bakers Delight over the weekend. We got three flavours; Choc Chip, Mocha and my favourite, Traditional. Yup, I like the plain things in life; vanilla is my favourite ice-cream too :) Anyway, I was keen to try something interesting and I think we invented something quite cute: the Hot Cross Bunny. Those ears weren't very successful though, but raspberry licorice sticks were the best I could do. The teeth were marshmallow quarters and the Smarties were stuck on with some icing. The kids loved the Choc Chip flavour, of course.We made Bread and Butter pudding for a pot-luck dinner party on Sunday night and it went down a real treat. I used the Edmond's recipe, but for 6 buns I used about 5 or 6 eggs and maybe 3 cups of milk, and cut every bun into 8ths. I threw in a handful of frozen mixed berries, and it made for a very fruity pudding. This photo doesn't really do it justice, but it was delicious!

Bakers Delight are having a fundraiser on April 9th, called 'Bundraiser', in which $1 from every pack of hot cross buns sold will go towards Starship's Air Ambulance Service. This service does a great job airlifting sick children from around the country who need specialist treatment, so if you're planning on buying some buns, make sure you do so on the 9th.

I can help you out with a $5 voucher; I've got 5 to give away. You can just leave a comment here; tell me how you like to eat your hot cross buns and I'll do a random draw on Sunday. Make sure I can reach you, so leave an email address if you're not on Blogger. It's only open to NZ residents, sorry, but I know they're running a similar promotion in Australia at the moment. Check out their website or Facebook page for more deals.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Here is the reason for my long absence from this little corner of Blogland:Hours and hours of work...

Yes, those eagle-eyed fabricspotters amongst you might recognise this one. It's 'In the neighbourhood', in colour. Crazy colour, inspired by the hues of the Bo-Kaap and Portmeirion, two of my favourite places in the world. I'm getting ahead of myself a bit, it's not even on fabric yet, but hopefully I'll soon have a sample at least. I'm telling you about it now, because I'd like to share my process, and I haven't got much else to write about, anyway :)

First I had to get some design software, and my budget didn't allow for Illustrator. I discovered Inkscape, 'an open source Vector graphics editor', which to me means I can draw images that can be reduced or enlarged without a change to the resolution, for free. It took me ages to decide to download it; the home page looks extrememly boring and unassuming. I'm so glad I did though, because it's given me the confidence to start working on textile designs. I'm still learning a lot, but here are a few tutorials that I've found useful:
Inkscape compared to Illustrator
General Inkscape manual
Creating a pattern repeat
Inkscape has a few drawbacks I've discovered so far, but I find there's a big online community with many tutorials available when you do a Google search.

Once you have your design, you need to get it printed. I've been very happy with my screenprinted fabric, but it's restricted me to working in one colour. Digital printing seems to be the answer, as there is no difference in cost between printing one colour or a thousand. Spoonflower is probably the cheapest way to get fabric digitally printed if you're working in small quantities, and it's really easy to use. One problem people seem to have is that the colour on your screen is different to the actual printed colour. This tutorial series was very useful to me: Spoonflower fabric development series by MammaMadeDesigns (she also uses Inkscape); look in the RHS colomn of her blog for the whole series. You can read a little bit more about it from a previous post. Of course you don't need to use a vector programme to design for Spoonflower; you can draw something by hand and scan it in, or use Photoshop, do a collage, etc.

I'll report back with my fabric as soon as it arrives, fingers crossed it's just the way I imagine it!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tea and hankies

It was time for my annual Tea Party, the 8th ever. It's a day some of my oldest girlfriends here in NZ and I get together on our veranda, and act like ladies. We wear sundresses, eat fancy cakes, and of course we drink tea (iced, made with Rooibos; and black tea). It's a great tradition, and a chance to look back- and forwards together. In the past 8 years, our get-togethers have been punctuated with talk of pregnancies, babies, a few weddings, a couple of break-ups and new starts, new houses, career and job changes, travels, and shoes and frocks of course.

I really treasure this day, partly because in our casual society we don't always make time for life's little rituals; and 10 friends getting together over a cup of tea to compare notes about the past year is a ritual in my book. Having these friends to share life's ups and downs with in a country where I don't have my own sisters, cousins and school friends; now that's priceless.

The tea party is also a chance to use my collection of vintage crockery, silverware and linen. This year the styling theme was all about handkerchiefs. I used this gorgeous free download for my invitations, which was inspired by old-fashioned hankies, and then started discovering piles of gorgeous old hankies in second-hand shops. I decided to use them for bunting, and just pegged them to some string. A great effect, I'm pleased to report.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Autumn food

The best thing about this time of the year has to be our vege garden: we have a lovely crop of sweetcorn, basil and figs in various stages of ripeness. I've dealt with some of the sweetcorn already, but the basil is destined for pesto and the figs will be eaten straight from the tree with skin and all, as long as we can get in before the birds.
I bought a big bag of capsicums for just over a dollar the other day, and wanted to use it in a relish with our corn. I googled for a recipe, but eventually just googled 'images' so that I could find what I wanted. I read a few recipes, and sort of cobbled one together. This is the result, and it's delicious. I've been snacking on it all day just looking at this picture has my mouth watering for more! Have a great weekend :)
Sweetcorn and capicum relish
5 cobs of corn, kernels removed
10 capsicums (the more colours, the better), seeded and chopped finely
1 onion, chopped finely
2.5c white vinegar
1-2c white sugar (I'm a sweet tooth, so used abt 2 cups full)
2tsp salt
2tsp mustard seeds
2-3tsp cornflour and a bit of cold water to mix to paste
Boil vinegar with sugar, salt and mustard. Add corn kernels, capsicum and onion and boil for about 15min over low heat. Add cornflour paste and boil for another 5 min. Check consistency and add more cornflour if it's too runny.
Makes about 6 or 7 medium-sized jars.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Move over Pascalle West, this IS the best bag ever. Now that's a grand claim, I know, but I think this might be it. I've been lugging around enormous shoulder bags and totes the last few months, and found that the more things I can stuff in, the smaller the chances are of actually finding those things when I need it. So yesterday I sat down and thought about my needs (small bag, space for small Pump water bottle/sunglasses, individual pockets for phone and I-pod, messenger strap). I drew up a pattern, spent most of the day in my work room, and here it is.
I'm so happy with it that I think I might make another and photograph the process for a pattern and tutorial for my shop.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Helping out

It's been over a week now since the big quake in Christchurch. I've been thinking about what I can say about it, but I still feel quite speechless. Thankfully the few friends and family we have there are fine, but of course there are so many others whose lives have been profoundly affected.

What has struck me so far has been the response of everyday New Zealanders to this disaster. People are helping out in very practical ways, like taking in now-homeless residents, driving around collecting dirty washing to return clean the next day and local students forming a volunteer army. There are also so many fundraising efforts and it seems people are digging deep to contribute. One such effort came to my attention last night, and I thought I'd share it with you here. A young family friend of ours, Nicholas, is selling his very own cookbook to collect money for the Relief Fund. He wrote and tested all the recipes himself, and is busy writing a second book. If you look around his website, you'll notice that he is a very special young man who has already packed a lot into just 9 years. You can email him through his website to order copies of his book, which is available for $5 + $1.50 p+p.