Thursday, January 31, 2013

Karmic Gift Wrap - Japanese Wrapping Cloths

Japanese wrapping cloths are the perfect solution to too much fabric.  I picked up some old* curtains made from barkcloth, knowing that a friend was collecting this fabric.  It has bubbly slub that just invites touching.  Barkcloth is a little thicker than some typical furnishing fabrics and strangely, is the drop cloth of choice for many a thrifty painter as demonstrated by these curtains.  Unfortunately, my friend had too much fabric and for a brief moment, so did I.

After trying trade me - no-one wanted my darling curtains, I gave them a good wash and they became giftwrap.  Japanese wrapping cloth or Furoshiki to be exact.  You can read more about how these cloths and their uses here.  Each piece has that loved patina of little paint spots here and there.  Combined with some other former drop cloths, I had the brilliant answer to my "too much fabric" dilemma.  Now these pieces of fabric are drifting amongst my friends, adorning gifts and being passed on.  Who knows, I might even get one back one day.

*linking up with other op shopping adventures over at Black Bird has Spoken.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Trout Hatchery

The Trout Hatchery was one of our favorite stops on our holiday. Just south of Turangi, it makes for a great break after the long desert road. Right from the start, with circling trout greeting us at the entranceway bridge, the kids were transfixed.  After walking through the static displays of photos and fly fishing paraphernalia, it was on to the model river system.

We were able to walk down the ramped river system from the mountain rapids to river pools, with native fish in each to suit it's habitat.  There were some of the biggest Kokopu* I have ever seen.  The last time I had been there was well over 20 years ago.  It was nice to see the focus had shifted from just fishing, to looking at the health of the whole ecosystem.  Smaller tanks held some of the common pests like catfish and hornwort so we could see what the rivers are up against.

It was the wrong time of year to see the breeding area, but there were lots of opportunities to feed the fish**, both in the river system and in the brilliant children's pool.  The pool was filled with rainbow trout waiting to be released into the wild.  The water would bubble up as they snatched and turned at the food.  It really  felt like they were following us around the pool.  Perhaps next time, we will try to book for one of the kid's fishing days too.

* a group of native fish types.  The name was often anglicized to commonly known cock-a-bully.
** Note to thumb sucking kids - fish food does leave a funny taste on your thumb.  This little detail did not impress either if my kids.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rainy Day at the Batch

We have returned  home from a well earned holiday.  We stayed in the sweetest batch on the shores of Lake Taupo.  From the minute I saw the rack of mint green crockery in the kitchen, I knew I would love the place.  The batch bore the patina of years of getting away from it all - a TV that gets "both" channels, radios with no working aerial to speak of a wall decorated with traveller's maps from 1958 and the motherload of board games.

Little did we know the days we arrived and left would have the best weather.  In between times we played numerous games, and made the most of the hot pools.  Grandma turned up with her childhood box of card games, relatives visited from the other end of the island and we worked our way through boxes of Christmas sampler biscuits.  We discovered Ludo can be the longest game in the world and that Donkey requires no strategy at all.  Sometimes we just sat and watched the rain come in from one side of the lake and drift off again.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Plum Jam Redemption

There is a spiky, self sown plum tree stretching over our herb garden.  As I weed underneath it and cursing at the spikes, I wonder if this is the year that we cut it down or replace it with something a little less ferocious.  Then over the period of two weeks, each January, the green plums turn a glowing yellow and the tree redeems itself.  The plums make the most wonderful jam and for another year the tree is off the hook.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Twelth Day of Christmas

 It's the Twelfth Night.  Does anyone else get excited about this?  Other than Utah School Boards*?Our decorations stay up until  the last possible day.  Today we packed them up,and tucked them away until next December.  The Christmas CD's get a last little work out and we take a moment to celebrate yet again.

This afternoon we had a Galette du Rois (King Cake) to celebrate the arrival of the three kings.  E hand crafted a crown for the occasion, complete with stickers.  I had been aspiring to try the recipe for years.  In the absence of a silver charm, a plum stone was hidden in the pie, waiting for the day's king to find it.  While the kid's weren't too fussed about the almond filling, they were delighted when Granddad found the stone and was presented with the crown.

*  For a little giggle, check out the story about a Utah school and a "controversial" Elvis version of The Twelfth Night.
* I've used the Nigella Lawson recipe from "How to be a Domestic Goddess".  Of course it was a little over the top in the sweetness department and with the filling bubbling over the tin.  Next time I will halve the filling.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Vintage Tapestry, Pierrot and Me

From the moment I saw this tapestry in a local antique shop I knew it was asking to be a cushion. Just over two years ago, I started stitching, wresting and getting it so very wrong that I had to put the project away until I had the courage to pick it up again.  Sometimes, the best design decision is to start again. 

Starting again consisted of completely unpicking the boarders and replacing the washed out linen boarder with black velveteen.  I am sure the dear Pierrot is much more at home in the lush velvet tones.  While it matches nothing in my house, the musky pink piping was well worth wrestling with.

I have a series of vintage tapestries lining up for attention now.  An overly fitting tapestry has been converted for my parents' Christmas present.  I promise I will share as soon as I can catch up with it.

In the mean time I have learnt:
  • Tapestries are fragile, this one needed to be basted to a duck cloth backing to avoid any seams stressing the embroidery
  • Do not try to straighten the tapestry
  • Dampen the tapestry and then gently iron to find it's true shape
  • Draw lines over to square up - do not cut
  • Then finally - start sewing on the boarders
  • The sewing shop may tell you that piping doesn't need to  be on the bias, but it is better
  • A zip provides a more even finish compared with my carefully chosen buttons

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Family Walk - From Here You Can See Forever

Some times the large hill behind my parents' house just demands climbing.  With sturdy shoes, sunblock and cameras, in hand we took off.  The view from the top is just breathtaking with Palliser Bay streatching out below us.  On a clear day you see all the way to Mt Tapuaenuku, in the South Island's Kaikoura range.

Rocks and hills dominate the landscape here.  The rock formations to the north are the beginnings of a sedimentary pinnacle formation.  We can sometimes spot goats scrambling amongst them.

The girls did a fantastic job, climbing to the top with only minimal carrying.  While it looks as if we are about to walk into nothing, the farm track in fact takes a few steep curves before delivering us back home.