Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Vietnam comes to Sefton

Matt wanted me to post a photo of the Vietnamese dinner I made him the other night - I planted some Vietnamese mint not long ago and also have Asian cabbages in the garden so it ended up tasting just like the food we used to order at Thy Thy in Melbourne.... rice paper spring rolls, dumplings (steamed and fried) and a chicken coleslaw with a Vietnamese mint and lime dressing.
Yummo. Perfect for a warm summer night (although the champagne we drank with it sort of clashed with the whole Vietnamese thing.

'Twas the blog before Christmas...

I put my hand up this year to provide the potatoes for Christmas dinner (yes, even though we live in the Southern Hemisphere and it is the middle of summer we still have a cooked lunch on Christmas day).... I planted them some weeks ago using some old spuds that had sprouted in the pantry (the banner above is me planting out spuds with Boo)... well they have reached an enormous size:

...and so this morning I went out and discovered what lay underneath... lots of spuds!!

Fortunately I won't be letting the side down in the potato department. I also picked anything else which was ready and so got some fennel and beetroot for a yummy salad (I'm thinking with some yoghurt and fresh mint)..

On Sunday night I saw Jamie Oliver make some Christmas mince pies and so when mum had some mince pie filling left over I stole some and had a go at making them myself. Instead of shortcrust pastry they use filo and puff pastry and you kind of make a tray of pies that you break up into individual portions.

I am too scared to try one, I'm going to wait until Christmas day.

I hope you too have some yummy treats in store for the next couple of days....Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Summer southerly

Sad herb garden...

...sad cows...

...sad Boo...

It's a sad day all round when a southerly sweeps through in mid December (actually the herb garden isn't that sad because it actually quite likes the rain).

Friday, 19 December 2008

Christmas countdown...

Well we are definitely on the slippery downhill slide towards Christmas, and I think I have finally finished my pre-Chrissy production line. Present are all sewn, knitted, baked and preserved - they just need wrapping and delivering. The final installment in the kitchen was another round of my peach and ginger chutney (which is so yummo with curry) and my first ever batch of boysenberry jam, which turned out quite yummy but nice and tart and boysenberry like.

I had to spruce things up a bit for those jars being given as presents so used pieces of fabric cut form Matt's old business shirts to tie onto the lids with string. I thought they turned out pretty good.

I also embarked on cleaning the house and in particular the spare room/sewing room/office, which was no mean feat. It has taken me TWO DAYS to achieve this. That is a lot of cleaning.

But now I am truly ready for Christmas. Bring it on baby.

For some pre-Christmas cheer then go to my current favourite blog . But be warned there is frequent use of expletives on this site.

And finally, for those you have asked, Farmer Godfrey did indeed come and fix the piano situation. Not before he created an additional hole in the floor with his own foot however (which made me feel better). The piano is now propped up on sturdy blocks of wood (which makes it slightly too high so that when I play I feel a little like I am seven again cos I have to reach up towards the keys) and seems to have escaped unscathed.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Tar-struck Monty

Letter to the Editor in the Christchurch Press on Saturday:

Monty has six black tarry stones stuck to his tummy fur.

He picks his way over the shingle-strewn driveway of his home in Birdwood Avenue, Beckenham. His owner is out there with a yard broom. The acrid fumes of hot tar are choking in the 24-degree heat.

A huge truck dumps another load of coarse, sharp shingle. The noise is horrendous. Flying gritty black dust blasts shrubs, lawns, driveways, house windows and walls. Monty bolts.

Inside his neighbour's place he settles between the black tar blobs on the carpet. With his sharp teeth he tugs at a black tarry stone embedded in his tummy fur. Slowly, painfully, he hauls it off with a plume of soft grey fur attached.

Monty has five black tarry stones stuck to his tummy fur.

N. Elphinston. Beckenham
What is he saying? Is he complaining about the road works? Or that his neighbour's pet keeps coming into this house? I Monty a cat? dog? mouse? Who knows, but I'm certainly looking forward to the next installment from N. Elphinston.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Christmas Party

Golly gosh, that was the worst illness I have had in forever. Five days of pain then finally this morning my tummy has stilled somewhat and I can eat again. Hoorah. I hardly left the house and almost missed the Sons & Co work Christmas party but then Matt told me what they'd planned and I had to go along. Basically there were Matt and Tim, the two programmers and their partners and the cleaner and her partner (and their little boy)...and it started out simply as wine and cheese in the office for an hour or so. Just as things were getting uncomfortably lame, Matt invited everyone downstairs.......which is an abandoned photography studio. They had set it all up for dinner and had a band (The Eastern) playing in the corner. It was crazy. Dinner was put on by Indochine who are just next door, so the waiters came through and took our orders as if we were sitting in the restaurant. Nutso. Shame I couldn't really eat. I had a nice prawn dumpling that stayed down though. Sorry about the dodgy video work, but you get the idea.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Other tales of late...

Firstly, to those of you who reside in Auckland and who I failed to inform of my whirlwind Kylie related visit, I'm sorry, nothing personal just no time, no time. If it's any consolation Karma has caught up with me and I now have some sort of nausea-and-back-pain virus that means I cannot sit upright for long periods and I cannot lie down for long periods. very uncool indeed.

In more uplifting news, when I returned from the north, I found that our garden had given me some presents...

...several large heads of broccoli:

...and one large cabbage:

Cauliflowers are on their way. I forgot that the thing about brassicas like these is that they all mature at the same time, so we have 8 broccolis to eat in the next week which is quite a lot. I am going to consult the recipe books to find some sort of broccoli preserve so that they don't go to waste.

And in very concerning (but I am choosing to put it in the back of my mind) news...yesterday I came into the house to discover that my piano was on quite a pitch - turns out it is slowly falling through the 78 year old floor of our house. Not cool. When Matt got home from work we tried to right it again but in my nauseous-backpain state I could not help and together we had no chance. So, we have tried to support it with lots of blankets while we decide what to do. We may get farmer Godfrey's assistance with moving it but are not sure where to put it...the sooner we find a new house the better.

Be strong piano, don't fall yet.

Miss Minogue

Oh Kylie, you were everything I had dreamed you'd be, and more. Six costume changes (all Jean Paul Gaultier), a dance troupe of 10 strapping men, dry ice, glitter showering the crowd, a backing band reminiscent of the Holograms, a visual extravaganza of projected imagery. I didn't even mind that we were in the 3rd to back row of 10 000 people.

I thought you might play a few more of your older songs for those of us who have been waiting 21 years for your visit, but that's ok, I understand how boring it must get, and I did appreciate "I Should Be So Lucky" as your final encore.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Passing time

Summer is SO here. It is always warm and the soles of my feet are stained a dirty brown. However my industrious time off has been stalled by this book:

It is a great read - well written and interesting and all but it is SO LONG. Like, nearly 1500 pages. That's heaps. And you can see my bookmark - I'm only a third of the way through! I am sure Vikram could have condensed it into a 700 page job. Hmph. Anyway, I tried to make some muffins a couple of weeks back and I failed dismally. Turns out the Edmond's muffin recipe isn't all it's cracked up to be. But the other day I stumbled across a recipe for ginger, chocolate and banana muffins and folks, we have a winner... bang on.

They look a little pale and under cooked but they were fine. Yummy. Today I made another batch - this time rhubarb and chocolate.

It is great having enough time to do things like stuffing a shoulder of lamb for dinner....spinach (from the garden), mint (from the garden), basil, feta, pine nuts, almonds and garlic. Yummo. Matt will be pleased.


Tuesday, 25 November 2008


People used to comment that they thought I resembled Katie Holmes. Well, I went to my hairdresser today and we decided to give a fringe a go. A proper fringe - no wispy, layered thing but a full bodied no mistaking it kind of fringe. And blow me down if I don't look just like little miss Suri Cruise. Except much taller. And about 30 years older. And not as cute.

I haven't decided yet whether I'm that into it. I'll keep my eye on Suri and see if she updates her look soon.

Monday, 24 November 2008

It's not all about the gin.....

Of a morning (when it's not considered the done thing to crack out the gin) I have taken to drinking a heck of a lot of tea - English breakfast, green, oolong, peppermint, chamomile and berry. But my fav right now is some jasmine tea we got at an Asian supermarket.

Although not very sustainable, it comes in pretty individually wrapped teabags with the following message:

Ideal gift? Well there's Matt's birthday sorted.

My leisurely life.

I have had many people ask me how it is being a lady of leisure, and I have to say that I am surprisingly busy. The garden is in good nick, the washing is all done and the house is relatively tidy. I have been fielding emails with job offers - we live in a small place and fortunately there are lots of vet jobs. Many people refuse to believe that I could possibly not want to work for the next few months. I suppose it's better than struggling to find work.

Anyway, Matt took this photo demonstrating my fine multitasking skills which I utilise in order to fit in as many of my favourite activities at one time:

Basically I am: knitting, drinking gin, eating cherries, reading a book and (although you can't see it) listening to music. Not bad eh?

I only feel that my break has started this week as I have had two weddings to attend in the past week. Now that they are done I can concentrate on finishing off my Christmas presents, and continuing my Elderflower Cordial production line (which we had yesterday with gin and soda and lemon - not bad at all).

Our house is looking particularly spring like right now - I have somehow managed to decorate with large numbers of lovely roses. The kitchen table has lilac ones from one of the weddings (my bridesmaid bouquet) and pink peonies from our friends Jo and Alistair...

The mantelpiece and the sideboard has wild roses from Dot's garden:

Only six days left of spring then summer is here. I can't believe how time flies.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

While we're on the topic of flowers...

From the flowers on this tree...

...to this...

...to this...

...to this:

Homemade elderflower cordial. Good with gin apparently (not that I'd know). Next month I'm going to attempt some elderflower champagne.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Rose cake

I am officially now a lady of leisure. I have had an afternoon nap every day for the past week, my feet are grass stained from running around barefoot and today I found myself at a loose end for the first time in forever. So, I made a cake for the boys in the office. Yesterday I made some lemon and poppyseed muffins as a special request for Matt but they somehow turned out to be extraordinarily inedible so I had to redeem myself today. I found an old recipe on a scrap from a magazine for a rose, cardamon and walnut cake, and I have to say that I really outdid myself. It was so yummy. Check it out:

Those are rose petals from the garden on top. I think the boys were pretty impressed. Only a little bit came home again.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

I want THIS kitchen

Our hunt for the perfect house in Christchurch continues... we haven't found it yet, but we've come close. Today we looked at this sweet Warren and Mahoney house in Cashmere (er.. yes slightly outside our price range) ... I instantly fell for this kitchen...I just love the original sliding cupboards and the colours. The bench was also covered in awesome small green tiles. So cool.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Pizza and Peonies

This evening was my farewell drinks and pizza at the clinic. I arrived a little flustered and VERY thirsty so I quickly downed 3 glasses of champagne on arrival. Although this helped with my nerves, it didn't help with my impromptu speech.... I don't think I said anything too bad though. I was actually quite taken aback by how many cards and flowers and chocolates I got, both from staff and clients - some of these were really touching and I can't help but think it would be nice to know how much people appreciate you before you leave. I was even a little sad to be going despite feeling like it was an overdue step.

There are some stunning peonies out at the moment and a lovely client brought in the bunch in the photo above - the same client made me a chocolate cake too! A whole cake just for me! BUT, I was so tipsy from all my champers that I left it on the roof when we drove off - we got right to the Sefton garage before I asked Matt about it - fortunately it was still swinging around on the roof, saved only by Matt's kayak rack which was keeping it snugly on top.

I haven't got a photo but the clinic got together and bought me a gorgeous 1920s Japanese lacquered tray. It is stunning, I will have to photograph it and put a photo up tomorrow.

Ah, the end of an era.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Gardening can make bad days at work slightly more bearable.

That's me in my garden attire, snapped by Matt while planting some spuds for Christmas (planting potatoes really just means digging a trench and throwing in some sprouting old spuds from our spud bin - it worked last year!).

Despite my initial reservations, the garden is going gangbusters:

This week I harvested my first veges - the chinese cabbage and a few leaves of spinach. I chose to ignore the little hole punches in the leaves - I didn't actually see any slugs or bugs.

I also threw in some peas and plenty of lettuces to keep us going.

Coming home and watering the garden is such a peaceful way to end a shite day at work. Speaking of work, my impending unemployment has been brought forward to this Friday!! Hoorah!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Labour Day shenanigans

Today was labour day which means that not only did I not go to work (cos I don't work Mondays no more), but neither did Matt. It was a stunning day and we decided to walk over the Bridle Path.

The Bridle Path used to be the only traverse between Lyttelton and Christchurch back in the olden days. Now it is chock full of crazy exercise types running and on bikes... and people like me (puffing and cursing and sweating).

We both walked to the top without incident (although I could hardly utter a word I was so puffed), then Matt and Boo descended into Lyttelton at a run. I waited at the top of the hill and got this piccie of them on the way up again:

Even Boo was tired at the end.

The day was nuts though in terms of weather. In the afternoon all we could do was sit around and drink. I had my first Vodka and bitters of the season. Yummo. I garnished it with some lemon balm that I found desperately trying to survive in the old herb garden.

And in case you're wondering, the glass is a Utility Glass made by Jonathan Baskett. We have about eight, all different colours and they are wicked.


ps only 5 working days left before the Summer of Gin begins (although I discovered Pimm's on the weekend and I think a fair amount of that will be drunk this summer too).

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Another productive Sunday...

Yes, another fine Sunday. It kicked off with an open home for a Peter Beaven house in Christchurch - the house was perfect, almost completely original and a wonderful section with plenty of room for my requisite vege patch. However, it sits right on a REALLY busy road which would be hard to conceal, and is kind of on the wrong side of town. We shall see.

Then it was off home for a lie in the sun (sampling my pickled onions) and a gin.

I have on a bit of a mission to use up all the hoarded fabric I have lying around. I have made plenty of cushions and quite a few shoulder bags, but for the less attractive samples my mum actually gave me the idea of making oven cloths/mits. Just take lots of layers of fabric, quilt together, finish with bias binding and..

viola! a new oven cloth.

Methinks these will make excellent (and cheap) Christmas presents for the ladies I know (cheap is becoming increasingly important given my impending unemployment).

Last weekend Dot and Godfrey visited Gisborne and brought back with them a bag of oranges for us. I used some last week when I made a fennel, sorrel and orange salad (didn't take a photo, but it was AWESOME). I used some more this afternoon to make Matt, Tim and Matt some orange cakes with lemon icing.


Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A Spanish-loving New Zealander from Japan

There's a new nightspot in Christchurch, and it's set to become our fav. Never before have we seen anything like this.

It's called Antonio's and it sits at the end of a dodgy little arcade in town. It's only slightly larger than our bathroom and has a tiny bar with 4 bar stools and a keyboard set up at the end.

Antonio himself is a humble man. Originating in Osaka he has lived in New Zealand for several years now (he has set up our bestest eatery "Osaka" which lies in the same arcade), and has twice traveled to Spain for several months at a time.

He loves Spain, and so the wall is adorned with photos of Antonio at the bullfighting, Antonio eating tapas, Antonio with his Spanish teacher.....

But, the best part about Antonio's is that he is always there, always friendly, and ALWAYS happy to turn the music off and entertain you with a ditty on his electronic piano.

Ah Antonio, you Spanish-loving New Zealander from Japan, whatever will you think of next?

Sunday, 12 October 2008

The French Festival

We drove over to Akaroa to the French festival this weekend. We arrived on Friday night to a lovely evening, had some horrendously expensive fish and chips and then a few gins. The French festivities were on Saturday, there was a parade, some dodgy period costume and a couple of entertaining cooking classes. The highlights though, were the lovely Citroen DS in the parade:

and the Three Boys beer garden:

Boo thoroughly enjoyed herself too, there was plenty for her to see and do, and it was a great opportunity to brush up on her French. Although she's not a Dogue de Bordeaux or a French Bulldog, there's something decidedly French about her... I can't quite put my finger on it..


Wednesday, 8 October 2008

We didn't think our carbon footprint was big enough...

Matt's car from Melbourne is finally on the road here, it's taken nearly 2 years, but the wait was worth it. Boo is very excited about the sporty new addition - although she's a bit miffed that there's no rear window for her to put her head out of while we're driving.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Boo blogs again!

For some reason, Lil didn't go to work today, even though it was a Monday. I was delighted to be woken by her and taken down to Waikuku beach for an early morning stroll. The sky was clear, the air was warm and there were plenty of smells.

After a bit of a sniff, I started my high-speed-early-morning-feel-like-a-puppy runaround. Lil took some great action shots:

Then back to sniffing.

It's hard to believe there's still snow on those mountains when it's so warm and sunny.

Colonel Boo Boo xx