Friday 26 June 2009

Tagliolini al limone (pasta with lemon)

For one serving:
1 lemon (zest and juice)
1 tbsp marg or butter
1 tbsp yoghurt
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
2-3 tbsp chopped parsley
80 grams pasta

Cook pasta until al dente.

Gently melt marg in a small pot, add zest and juice. Let evaporate a little for 2 minutes, then add yoghurt and warm gently. Add parsley.

Drain pasta, toss in sauce, add cheese and toss again to mix.

Add a can of tuna (like I did in the photo)
Add chopped cooked chicken or bacon
Add mushrooms or sugar snap peas
Use basil or chives instead of parsley

This is a great quick meal to cook for lunch, and it's easy to double to serve 2 (or you can freeze one portion). It doesn't even matter if your yoghurt is fruit flavoured, as the lemon flavour is dominant and you won't taste it.

Does anyone else know any easy pasta recipes like this?

Wednesday 24 June 2009


Another gloomy winter weekend. Clouds lowering, wind blowing and drizzle weeping softly. Unable to take being closed inside any longer, I pull on my hat and boots and step outside for some fresh, if damp air. Wandering the fencelines, my gaze runs aimlessly over the shrubbery... needs pruning, has buds, shall I pull that out?, and then, my eye alights on it. Wintersweet! I know it at once, even though a month ago I didn't recognise the twiggy, spindly bush and I cut it well back, making a mental note to rip it out before spring. I'm so glad I didn't!

I cut some sprigs and the day brightens - literally, as the clouds choose that moment to blow away and let in some much needed sunshine. I bring the sprigs inside and the sweet fragrance fills the room. I detour out of my way when I enter the room, so I can pass near it and breathe in the scent.

All together now... sniff... ahh!

Monday 22 June 2009

Weekend crafting

This weekend I spent a bit of time with my embroidery hoop and thread. I just wanted to play and not worry about finishing something, but it went fast and I ended up with this. Not that it is anything... I'm not even sure what it could be. A patch on a bag? A very small pillow?

My most and least favourite stitches next to each other... French knots (favourite) and satin stitch (least favourite).

I had so much fun I even sketched up a design for another tiny pillow.

I also decided to make an afghan for the couch in the lounge. All in one colour, since I'm trying to theme the room in chocolate and turquoise, and for some reason I decided it would be better to make a throw than to buy one.

But not quicker... nine down, and I don't know how many to go. The plan is to just make as many as I feel like, since the throw will be just for decorative purposes (ie artful draping over the arm of the couch). The design is Alhambra from Jan Eaton's 200 granny squares book.

But maybe I started too soon - I just love this delicate pattern from Mypicot. And it looks so pretty multiplied. Oh well... who says a couch can't have more than one afghan... just as long as the first one gets finished!

Wednesday 17 June 2009


It's not quite the shortest day yet, but my garlic is in. I dug over a patch of garden which I don't plan to be digging in during summer, added some dried manure, and popped in the bulbs. At the end of the row is a rose bush, so let's see if those rumours about garlic keeping aphids away actually work! (Don't worry, I did cover them up. The photo is just at the laying-them-out stage).

I also went with supermarket garlic to plant. I know you aren't supposed to, but it's NZ garlic, Marlborough in fact, so shouldn't be chemically treated. And, when you can get it at the supermarket for $4.99 instead of $8.99 at the garden centre, why wouldn't you?

It's all a bit of an experiment for me. The bulbs might not even sprout, they could rot, wither or be eaten by slugs. But hopefully, I'll get lots of lovely bulbs to plait into strings. And there won't be any vampires around here!

Monday 15 June 2009

Gardening on a winter's afternoon

Behold, my broccoli! Actually and rather disappointingly, it can be beheld in the palm of your hand. There are several other heads forming, and it looks like I'll have to pick them all at once to get enough for a meal!

I still have cauliflower, cabbages, bok choi, leeks, spring onions, broad beans and silver beet... none of it is quite ripe for the picking yet though.

Still boosting my hopes are these arctic tomatoes. Sown on March 26, they haven't grown very fast but at least haven't died. I won't be harvesting winter tomatoes but maybe some early summer ones? Has anyone grown these - what are they like?

When is the right time to prune a lemon tree? It needs a bit of a trim but I can't bring myself to chop off ripening lemons... these! I did however weed under the tree and give it a feed of epsom salts.

Then I inspected the flowers.

And Lui and I played a fun game where I would try to take a photo of him, and he would jump up, turn his back, walk away a few paces and sit down again.

Like this.

Until distraction struck - (birdie birdie birdie!!)

We basked in the brief sunlight until it began to fade.

And we were forced inside once more.

Friday 12 June 2009

It's gone!

That great, hulking, lurking pile of bushy twigs and branches is done and dusted. After many backbreaking hours feeding branch after branch into the hungry maw of the chipper, the pile has slowly diminished, and now it's not there anymore!

What is left is a wee bit of firewood.

And some mulch.

Five bags full, to be precise. Tell you what, the fun never ends here... our next job is cleaning out 80+ years of rubble from under the floor so we can have insulation put in. I'll keep you posted on that one!

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Frosty morning

It's 8am, and very quiet. The sun has not yet peeped above the trees and houses.

Underfoot, a soft crunch. I tiptoe, quietly, my breath a halo.

Everything outlined in delicate crystal. A coating of white, yet colours shine through.

Soft and smudged, almost otherworldly. I don't recognise this place without sunlight.

Amongst the frozen wilderness, buds open. Petals unfurl. I am grateful for winter flowers.

Monday 8 June 2009

Pretty things

Some days, you just need pretty things. I had such a day on Saturday, so I caught the bus and took myself off in search of them. First stop was the Craft 2.0 fair, where lots of vendors were selling lovely handmade goodies. It's fantastic to see such an event, and such a lot of support for the handmade, but I felt the same way I did last year after visiting: get a bigger location! It was held at the Our City gallery, the same place Gothic Punk was held, and it was packed to the gills. Hot, stuffy, barely room to move, let alone browse the stalls. With a determined effort I pushed my way through, and came away with a couple of lovelies: a handmade porcelain doll, and a sweet printed bird pin. After that I bolted for the door and fresh air, and felt as though I had been through a bit of an ordeal.

As I was walking through Cashel Mall I passed a cute little shabby chic shop that I had visited before, and saw to my dismay a big CLOSING DOWN sign in the window. The silver lining was that everything was on sale, and I found a string of wooden hearts, and a metal bird ornament - which is actually a bell. Would you like a closer look?

I think he is daydreaming of metal trees.

The string of hearts makes a pretty silhouette in the window.

Dancing ballerina dolly from The Busy Finch.

Hand printed bird pin from In My Backyard.

Tuesday 2 June 2009


I was recently commissioned to make bookmarks for two little girls who are moving away. As I don't know the little girls, or their interests, and I can't draw horses, I just decided to do my favourite house motif in as girly a colour scheme as I could manage. One is pink and one is purple.

Then I just added hearts.

What do you think - girly enough?

Monday 1 June 2009

Reading list

As the days get colder, I take comfort in having a big pile of books on hand to cuddle up on the couch with and dive into. Actually, it doesn't matter what time of year it is, I get panicky if I am on my last book and don't have something lined up to read after that. So here is my current hoard, it's a mix of library and bought books.

Some garden inspiration, some fantasy escapism, a favourite from childhood, and a new Better Homes and Gardens magazine...

Oh, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Someone told me there was a book with that name, and I thought, that can't be true, but oh - it is! It is the origninal Pride and Prejudice story, but with the added bonus of hordes of zombies (AKA unmentionables, or dreadfuls). And Elizabeth the Zombie Slayer. Fortunately Mr Darcy quite likes a lady with fair features and some uncommon skill with a blade.

And, I thought this was rather interesting - the cover of Trickster with a bookmark I made back in 2003.


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