oh, the lure of jewelry

December 29, 2007

I’ve been flirting around with all different kinds of creative pursuits lately… vintage paper collage, writing, cooking, jewelry making. It’s been liberating to just have fun, without the pressure of ‘making a living’ attached. I’ve also been meditating on what it is that I need to be happy. I truly enjoy spending time alone, focussed on creating something beautiful, listening to the quiet natural sounds around me (except this morning when I was trying to sleep in and the birds were scrabbling it out on the metal roof, aack).

So, in Austin, I was able to do this while making flower arrangements, but here it looks like that won’t be my path. I’ve become increasingly drawn to jewelry, specifically very unique, handmade pieces that utilize materials such as shell, bone, glass, twine, wool and found objects (but also silver and rough-cut stones). A positive side effect of moving to a country where you know very few people is the time it frees up to delve deeply into the internet. I have found such a wealth of creative souls – it is exactly the kind of thing that renews my belief in human nature.

The following two images are by kjoo – a woman in Portugal. I have never seen anything like these incredibly unique pieces…

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Her etsy and flickr pages are amazing. I found her work through the blog of another rare talent, Tay MacIntyre, whose pieces are some of my all-time favorites.

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Tay uses vintage buttons and other items in her work, which I think lends an authenticity and unique beauty.

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I couldn’t be more inspired by her display at a recent show in Portland, OR, where she lives and works. A curious thing about blogging, or reading other’s blogs actually, is that you can stay up until 2am reading hundreds of posts, and feel like you know the person at the keyboard. I have followed Tay’s adventures as she became a full-time jeweler, to the Greek Island of Lesbos, seen her new studio, and witnessed her struggle with The Turnip (breast cancer). The fact that she shares all of this with the world is incredible, and experiencing her courageous, unique being is one of the most inspirational parts of my day.

bestest chocolate cookies

December 25, 2007

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What’s the best cure for a rainy afternoon? Moist chocolate cookies of course :). Kyle went out in the kayak, and I took a nap on the couch with the cool air wafting in all the open windows. I’ve been wanting to make a version of an Afghan cookie, which is a traditional NZ treat. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is the only thing that would make these tastier. Merry Christmas, everyone!

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour, 1/2 cup regular flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup sweetened, dessicated coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine the rest of the ingredients; stir into the butter mixture until well blended. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or just until set. Cool slightly on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from here.

elegant phalaenopsis

December 25, 2007

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I created this lovely bouquet for a 1950’s themed wedding- all elegance and glitter. I forgot to get images of the 12 boutonnieres and corsages, but hopefully the wedding photographer did. Almost all of these incredibly fragile blooms are individually wired, no small task. I think next time I would glue the rhinestones into the flower centers instead of leaving them on their pre-wired stalks. Bellisima!

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Something was whispering in my ear today, “Make earrings.” I ended up with about 25 pair. Good thing it’s Christmas, maybe I’ll sell them all this week!

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And a pic of my mezzanine work area.

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A few days ago I made a fennel and apple salad after seeing The Chef at Home do one.

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I never bought fennel before we moved here, cherimoya either. Wow, there are so many amazing delicacies to discover!

For this salad: Whisk together apple cider vinegar, olive oil, good grainy mustard, salt and pepper. Toss with a few apples, fennel bulbs and fennel leaves which have been chopped finely. It’s that easy, and the fennel loses it’s anise flavor when combined with the dressing, which is a plus if you don’t like anise. I ate the whole bowl- so refreshing and crisp.

and when you least expect it

December 10, 2007

Sometimes you cross paths with people, out there in the world, and it reminds you how many talented, awesome individuals are living chock-full lives, documenting the environment from their unique perspectives. We have been lucky enough to host a husband and wife team of photographers from Hood River, Oregon and San Diego. They partook of our couch, and shared so many amazing stories and images with us.

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Above images of Australia by Bethany Franger – you can visit her blog and read more about her ongoing journey.

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Above images by Blaine Franger – visit his blog for startling images of spiders, koalas and more of the Australia outback. They’ll be shooting all over New Zealand and Asia in the upcoming months, I can’t wait to see the results.

If you want to book Bethany and Blaine for your wedding or a portrait check out their website, location is most likely not a problem :).

Good luck, guys! Hope we meet up again!

apricot shortbread cookies

December 9, 2007

Yum! I needed a good recipe for lots of fresh apricots. These turned out great, especially with a tall glass of cold milk.

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1 1/2 c. ground almonds

3/4 c. butter

2 c. chopped fresh or dried apricots

2 large eggs

2 1/2 c. flour

1/2 t. salt

1 c. sugar

2 t. vanilla (or 1 t. plus one vanilla pod, seeds scraped)

Makes 5 dozen 2-inch cookies

Prep 90 minutes

Preheat oven to 375 F.

With an electric mixer or wooden spoon (or your hands), cream butter, sugar, salt and ground almonds together until homogeneous.

Add and beat until well combined, one whole egg plus one egg yolk, and vanilla.

Mix in flour until just combined.

Chop dried apricots in food processor ~30 seconds. Mix into dough.

Divide dough into four equal lumps, cover with plastic, and refrigerate 30-60 minutes.

To bake, remove one lump from refridgerator and form ~1 1/4 inch balls of dough by hand. Place on a well greased cookie sheet and flatten using fingers.

Cook 7-9 minutes, until edges brown slightly.

Note: keep these in an airtight container or they will get soggy the next day (especially if your house is without any kind of climate control like ours)

Recipe from here.

best surf trip ever

December 8, 2007

Kyle went to a secluded beach close to Piha with some friends yesterday. The hike in was amazing, and they had a gobsmacking good time.

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improving the shop area

December 8, 2007

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We hosted some excellent guests this week (more about their amazing journey and talents in the next post) and it made us yearn to improve the huge space we’re lucky to have out in the ‘shop’.

We covered the storage area with curtain panels and cut some iconic items from the bush – ponga fern leaves, flax flower stalks, pohutukawa blooms. Billy approves! After the photo was taken we brought the rug and chair down from the mezzanine and hung out with the huge doors wide open, the violet evening light washing the inside of the barn. The cats got drenched in the light rain, meowing plaintively, lost in the high grass and weeds just off the driveway.

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my tenure at Cream of Matakana, an ‘eclectic design shop’. They just moved into this larger space in an old dairy building. It’s right up my alley to source new artists and products to flesh out the new digs, and I’m so excited to meet all the creative folks up this way. Here’s a few poorly shot images of the interior of the shop.

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I get lunch and coffee across the street at the excellent Black Dog.

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A wonderful perk is all the travelers that pass through this little gem of a town. Just this week I’ve chatted with people from Vancouver, Australia, Oregon and all over the UK. This is exactly the antidote I needed to the blues I recently experienced.

ellerslie flower show

December 3, 2007

Here are some highlights of the little sister to London’s Chelsea Flower Show.

Succulents and cactus in all their glory…

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Some of the best outdoor displays…

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A winning floral art ‘geisha’…

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My favorite display – love the trash strewn around the base of the tornado. Very innovative, but not cheesy. Usually I don’t like man-made materials mixed with cut flowers, but this is really artful…

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On to Thailand. Little Thai ladies were sitting at the booth carving these gourds and melons and making the leis. All this is *real*.

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