Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Daily bread

Every couple of days we buy a loaf of bread from a bakery, or from the supermarket. It usually costs around $4NZD, and I reckon we buy about five loaves a week. It adds up (to $20 if you're good at maths). I've decided to have a go at making bread daily at home in an attempt to:

a) save money
b) eat nicer bread.

I started today, using this recipe.

And I ended up with this:

Which looks HUGE in the photo, but was actually only about the size of....well, not as big as it looks anyway!

Delicious though. I used plain flour this time, but might try High Grade flour for the next batch and see if it makes a difference.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

My weekend in photos...

Mr Mod's warehouse sale (no, we didn't buy anything)...

Hanging with Boo and Clem...

Spending some quality time at the dog park...

Sewing my new dress...

Taking Clem on his first trip to the pub (that's Moo the cat)...

And some pretty blooming tea at C1 (taken using my iPhone)...

All in all a pretty nice time had by all...

Friday, 27 August 2010

Chocolatey goodness.

I made a virtuous dinner tonight. Not only was it healthy, but it was put together from all sorts of bits and pieces in the fridge - I made a lovely chicken, bacon and vegetable soup. I used up the rest of last night's roast chicken, as well as a few veges I found lying around. And we had what was left of a loaf of bakery bread to go with it. Perfect. I felt so good about being both healthy and frugal that as soon as we had finished, I suggested a chocolate self-saucing pudding for dessert.

I used this recipe, it was super quick and easy, except it bubbled over half way through cooking and I had to stop and clean out the oven.

Perfect to sit down with in front of New Zealand's Next Top Model. My only gripe? The recipe says it serves four but it only served two of us....?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Glass Room

I am an avid reader. I am always reading something. I am also a nerd, and I write down the name and author of every book I read. Partly this is just to keep track of how many books I read (nerd!), but also it is to make sure I don't read books twice (which in itself is kind of weird - what's wrong with reading books twice?). I did that with Alan Hollinghurst's In The Line Of Beauty - I got about half way through before I realised that it was all very familiar...sure enough, it was on last year's list. This point serves to illustrate how I read the same way that some people watch television - I just passively absorb it. Sure, if it's a ripper of a story then I gulp it down, but that doesn't stop me from often forgetting what I've just read as soon as I pick up the next book. And it bothers me. I consider myself quite well-read. I have read loads of what are traditionally considered classics, both new and old. So when people bring up a book title I can confidently say "oh yeah, I've read that"...but does it count if you have no recollection of ever doing so?

Just last week I chose to re-read The Catcher in the Rye (I hardly ever re-read books) and it was like I seriously hadn't ever laid eyes on it before, nothing was familiar at all. It's a great book! So it got me thinking that I need to start processing what I read a bit more, instead of treating it like "in-one-ear-and-out-the-other reality tv".

Anyway, that was a really long winded way to say that I am going to start writing a few words from time to time about some of the books I read, starting right now.

Last week while ill I read Simon Mawer's The Glass Room. I can't remember why - it may have been on a best books of 2009 list or something. In simple terms it's about a couple who build this amazing modern house during the lead up to WWII, their love affairs and what happens when war breaks out (yes, at least a few of the characters are Jewish). All of the character's stories are tied in some way to this mental house (it has huge glass windows which mechanically retract into the floor, and a whole partitioning wall made of onyx - nuts!), but other than that it is your basic harrowing WWII story. And as a rule I don't like these books - I know it all happened and we shouldn't forget, but it is just so depressing. And there wasn't anything special about the story of these people either, however the thing that really got me with this book is that although the story itself was entirely fictional, the building it is centred around is based on a real house - the Villa Tugendhat in the Czech Republic.

If it wasn't for this fact, I don't think I would have found this book nearly as good - after discovering this early on, I spent quite some time searching Google images and therefore creating an accurate image of the setting, including the onyx wall and the custom made furniture.

It got me a bit interested in the Czech republic too - I never really understood how crazy it would have been living there in the first half of last century - peeps kept coming and changing the borders and renaming it and generally muddling everyone around.

I also don't know how much I would have enjoyed this book without my relatively new found interest in modern architecture, courtesy of Matt. The continual references to simplicity, smoothness and lack of ornamentation is so much more appealing to me these days.

Now I'm reading Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer...hopefully something a little lighter.

We're on the mend..

I think the worst of our sicknesses is over. The sun has come out today too which always makes things better doesn't it? I have had my surgery re-scheduled for next week, but just found out that if it had gone ahead as planned I might have woken up beside Dan Carter - damnit!

I found a couple of very sorry looking spring bulbs on our lawn - somehow surviving in a puddle of clay that washed down in the rain last month. Poor wee things.

And I have found time to bake, so we must be getting better - ginger crunch (with fancy pants pistachios on top cos I am a fancy pants kind of baker!).

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Grumble grumble.

Our household has been overrun with colds and flu this past week, we have now all three of us succumbed. I haven't left the house in about five days, but am feeling slightly better today. The most annoying part is that I was meant to have surgery on my knee this Tuesday (remember I dislocated my kneecap? Well an MRI showed "multiple loose bodies" floating around in there which had broken off and need to come out - the physio wasn't working and my knee kept 'locking' in certain positions which was excruciating). But now I can't have the stupid surgery because I am too sickly to have a general anesthetic. Grrr, grumble grumble.

Anyway, a couple of weeks back I sat down to start making my new dress with my pattern from Japan. Turns out they put all the patterns for all the dresses in the book (there's about 20) onto two pieces of paper - all overlapped and doublesided so you can't actually cut out pattern pieces, you have to trace them.

And then there are the instructions - I figured it would just be like a jigsaw where you just put the pieces together in a logical order, but I can't actually read the important bits like which side of the sleeve is the front and which is the back. It's all in kanji and hiragana.

Fortunately there are some pretty nifty online translation tools which I made use of and I think I have it sorted. I made a rough start on one of the dresses using old pieces of cotton to work out my size - as I suspected I am a giant in Japanese proportions - the largest size!

I will try and start the real thing this week. While I grumble about not having my knee fixed. Grrr, grumble grumble grumble. Cough cough cough.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Not long now...

At around this time every year, just when the wet and cold are really get us down, things start to happen in the garden to let us know that Spring is just around the corner...

It's just the boost I need to get me through these last dreary days of winter. I spotted those blossoms on our front path the other morning and upon further inspection also discovered some budding camelias:

And with a fresh bunch of spring flowers on the table, we can almost convince ourselves that we're there already!

Friday, 13 August 2010

A bit of a revamp.

While we were living in the country I went a bit cushion crazy, and at the time I was on some full-on craft drive where I was intent on using up all my old fabric and figured I'd make about 700 cushions in order to do so. The result was this:

Which, at the time, I thought was awesome - exactly the look I was going for. I even blogged about it. But in our new house it seems a bit dated. When I bought home my new fabric the other day, Matt commented that it would make good cushions. I was going to make a dress, but after thinking about it decided he was right. So this week I sewed five new cushion covers.

No more craftiness, just lovely clean cushions.

And, the fabric sale was still going so I went back and bought more of the same fabric so I can make a dress too! A dress that matches our cushions....hmmm.

In other thoughts - how crazy would it have been last night being one of the 1200 skiers stuck on Mt Hutt?

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Blue skies

I figure it might be getting a bit repetitive, but I just can't help but take photos on nice days when you can see the mountains...

Monday, 9 August 2010

Winter woollies.

We had a glimpse of the sun last week, so I took the opportunity to take Boo to the beach at Sumner where she had a bit of frolic with some other dogs...

Despite the sunshine, the wind was cold and fierce (as it seems to be every day here at the moment - it's howling outside as I type) so it proved to be the perfect time for the kid's new ear-flap hat to make it's debut:

I think he's pretty impressed with it, and it was super easy to make, so I whipped up another one in grey later in the week...

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Something a little more adult..

After being so good with using up and recycling some of my fabric, I decided I was allowed to go to the Global Fabrics sale and pick up something new.

I got two metres each of the following:

The top one is quite thick cotton, while the bottom one is a thinner, shirt-like cotton. Both are lovely, and it is such a novelty to have new fabrics in the house.

A couple of weeks back I ordered this pattern book from Japan on Etsy:

I am going to have a go at the cover pattern, maybe with the lighter fabric. I will have to go by the pictures only, as the instructions are all in Japanese, and I don't think my fifth form school Japanese will get me through it..

Friday, 6 August 2010

Sewing escapades...

It has been months since I sewed something (I think way back when I made the kid's bunting and birds..). I have been meaning to make him a cushion for sometime now, and finally got around to doing it this week...

Yet again, a project which uses up some of my stash (and Matt's old shirts) - that seems to be all I sew nowadays, and so while I was on a roll at it I whipped up a couple of bibs for the kid yesterday using my snap press.

I don't think I ever blogged about this way back when I got it as it's main purpose was for making snaps on nappies, and how interesting are home-made nappies? Not very. And baby bibs aren't much more interesting either, except that they seem far more stylish when they are made out of men's shirts - it is incredibly hard to find bibs that aren't all vulgar and bright with stupid words and pictures.

I know that at the end of the day they are just bits of fabric that get dribble and spew all over them and who cares what they look like... call me superficial, but I do.

I'm thinking of making some more....Paul - do you think The Lost Sock Office would like some?

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Feeding the locals..

This time last year, when we were still living out in Sefton, I made a bird feeder. It worked pretty well, but because the trees were some distance from the house, I never really got to see it in action.

This year, inspired by Jo's post and the bird feeder she had at Abberley last time I visited, I decided to splash out on a bird feeder from our local butcher. This time, I was able to hang it right outside our living room. Within minutes it was being attacked by large numbers of wax-eyes.

They love it - and are providing entertainment for Pot as well.


OMG, I went and saw Inception last night - it was NUTS. I have to admit I haven't been to a Hollywood movie for years, and the whole big-screen, surround-sound shenanigans just blew my mind. I spent most of the movie with my hand clapped over my mouth, eyes wide, hardly breathing, and the rest of it giggling. The best part? Coming away with huge doubts as to what actually happened, except that there were lots of guns and car chasing and layer upon layer of dreaming. And every time I see Ellen Page I become a bigger fan.