Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lavender hearts

This was Sweet Mary HQ one night earlier this week. I had an order for twenty lavender hearts to be made for Redcurrent Wellington and a new order for ten to a beautiful shop on Auckland's north shore called Primrose Cottage.
I love to spend time in my workroom - the radio on, heater on also at this time of year, surrounded by fabric, mum's beautiful paintings and sometimes even my cat curled up in a corner basket.
My order for ten all completed and ready for wrapping and posting.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Beautiful surroundings

Yesterday, I drove into town to run a few errands and on the way home I just had to pull over and take a few photos. Yes, I did have the camera in the car - something my dear hubby has insisted I do. He says you never know when a photo opportunity will present itself and how right he was. It was a mild autumn day, a bit cloudy and a bit sunny. We have so much space around here, its one of the many things I love about the New Zealand countryside. If you drive to the end of this road and turn left, drive a few kilometres you will come to our house. The views there are still similar to this one - overhead powerlines, vineyards and trees currently in their autumn colours, background hills and very little road traffic. I even like the rickety fencing.
More beauty - actually a close up shot from the same position as the above one. I think these vineyards belong to the Te Mata Estate which makes very delicious wine.

Only a few hundred metres from home and I had to pull over again. When I turn out of the driveway in the morning to drive to work this is the view I have. It never fails to lift my spirits and make me smile. The craggy hill in the distance is called Te Mata Peak, the sleeping giant. Wherever you go around here this centre point draws you back and guides you home.

After unpacking the car, I went for a walk around the garden to check on a few things - the cats always appear to accompany me on these walks, vying for my attention. This little border under the still green wisteria catches a lot of sun which accounts for the flowering lavender (grown from a stalk plonked in the earth) and what looks like a spring bulb (snow drops?), but it must be an autumn bulb. I like to garden but I would be the first to admit that my knowledge is limited.

Last but not least. I walked towards the back of the garden, down near the smaller walnut tree to pick up a few feijoas from underneath the trees - you can see them in the background. These fragrant little fruits are full of Vitamin C and I can easily eat 6 or 7 at a time, like scooping out an egg. The leaves under this cherry tree are an absolute picture and a fitting end to this blog.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Linnea left a comment on my Autumn in the Garden post wondering if she could have the Lemon-Raspberry muffin recipe. Its a Nigella Lawson recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess.


60g butter
approx. 120ml milk
1 large egg
200g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarb of soda
150g caster sugar,
1/4 teaspoon salt
150g raspberries
juice and finely chopped zest of 1

12-bun muffin tray lined with paper cases
Pre-heat oven to 200c/gas mark 6

Melt butter and set aside to cool.
Stir together, in a largish bowl, the flour, baking powder, bicarb, sugar, salt and zest.
In measuring jug, pour in lemon juice then enough milk to come up to the 200ml mark (and it will curdle, that is fine), then beat in the egg and melted butter.Pour into the dry ingredients and stir briefly, the batter should be just combined.
Fold in the raspberries, spoon this lumpy mixture into muffin cases and bake 20-25 minutes.
When cooked, tops should spring back to your touch.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fabric Love

Fabric brings out the best in people, well it definitely does good things for me. In the past two weeks five lots of fabric have arrived to live in Sweet Mary HQ for a while. The first to arrive was the gorgeous piece hanging from the rail, the one with blue spots and red roses. It was a birthday present from my friend Nicola who had gone to the trouble of importing it in from the US. The piece beside that was also a birthday gift from my sister who bought it on a recent trip to Rajasthan. Its hand blocked in green, red and brown and very beautiful - and also very reminiscent of her. I would like to make a summer skirt out of it but think the pattern would have to be just right to avoid the wrong look - it could be my Christmas skirt!
Last weekend my friend Jane, dropped off an unwanted bag of Laura Ashley fabric scraps. By looking back in my old LA catalogues I have discovered the fabric names. That was so much fun and brought back fond memories of my years in the UK and the many hours spent in that shop . I now have probably a metre each of Stocks and Polly and a smaller piece of Poppy Meadow. Bloggers often write about the kindness of strangers and now I feel very much part of that group except no strangers involved - all friends and family.
Arriving back from work last week I found an awaited parcel from Cath Kidston via my in-laws in the UK on the back porch. I had pre-warned our friendly postie so she could store it out of the rain. Oh what joy, each piece is perfect and even though most of it is to be used to make my Sweet Mary fabric hearts, I will enjoy the process and hope the recipients love this fabric as much as I do. I picked up the little piece of orange gingham and a large piece of green floral at a stiching group yesterday. A gift to me from me and I know I don't need any more fabric but these things do seem to come in batches and will keep me occupied over the winter months to come.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Autumn in the garden

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day in the Hawkes Bay. We were up early as part of our "autumn/winter project" to get the house and garage sorted and de-cluttered. It will take us all this time because there is so much to do! We spent most of the morning in the garage and after the third and last load was hauled off to the tip - recycling where we could, it was all looking pretty good. Coffee with raspberry and lemon muffins while looking out over the garden was our reward.

Holly tree in a pot in the foreground still decorated with fake red holly berries from Christmas time. It even fools the birds! Its actually a holly that has yellow berries and only in winter which is nowhere near our Christmas time in New Zealand. I spent many years living in the UK and still miss the "specialness" of the celebrations there. Thats not to say I don't enjoy myself here, there is just something about Christmas in a cold climate that is magical.

This is the tree that Annie loves to climb and the view we have from our kitchen window. In spring the tree is covered with lilac blooms similar to wisteria flowers. I suspect that its her favourite because she knows that I have a good view of her antics from the kitchen. I imagine that she is capable of thinking these things of course - I think cat owners do this. In the background is a line of 7 feijoa trees, a fragrant little fruit that most kiwis love.

Check out the fantastic shadows, this is why I love autumn so much - and below...

Our fabulous native kowhai tree - its huge and graces one side of the driveway. When the afternoon sun catches it the leaves seem to glow golden and the leaves underneath light up and glisten. If I swivel around on my computer chair, I can see this exact picture out of the window.

Today has been cold and grey and I have hardly ventured outside. First thing was our weekly visit to the farmers market and that was quick due to the cold, no hanging about chatting today. Followed by a day holed up in Sweet Mary HQ (refer to 4th post), finishing off a few lavender hearts and working on a baby quilt order . Late afternoon, my friend Jane came around for a a cuppa, bringing with her a bag full of Laura Ashley fabric scraps! A bag full of beauties. Thank you so much Jane - a truly generous donation.