Monday, December 21, 2009

Handmade gifts: keeping the tradition going

Ever since I was a young girl, I have enjoyed giving my grandparents a handmade Christmas gift. Obviously, when I was young, the creativity stopped at nothing. Painted calendars, handtowels edged with fabric, lavender sachets, markers for the vegetable garden - I loved making them and my grandparents always loved receiving them.

As I have gotten older and busier in my very grown-up life I have let the handmade side slide a little in my gift-giving. Last year I made shortbread, which received rave reviews. But it was kind of cheating in the handmade stakes.

Anyway, this year, they have just purchased an outdoor setting for their backyard. So I found a nice melamine tray and some yummy biccies so they can enjoy their tea outside. But something was missing, and today I have had a brainwave of creativity! I am faaaairly confident they won't come spying and read this post, so here is the handmade component of this year's present: some coasters for their mugs.

The back is non-slip so they can sit on the tray without sliding around. I machine embroidered the teacups, and the middle has a little piece of wadding for heat protection.

I am pretty pleased with them! I hope they like them and enjoy an afternoon tea in the backyard.


I just received these delightful tags from Niki at PetitePaperieShoppe. I ordered the santas, and the sweet little birds were an added bonus! Lovely.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

For the love of Pie

This pic borrowed from

When I was in Melbourne recently, I couldn't resist visiting one of my favourite shops: Wilkins and Kent. From the website, it looks just like a furniture shop, and indeed they do sell some gorgeous custom made furniture. But they also sell beautiful handcrafted and thoughtfully chosen things, including some lovely products from fellow Australian Etsy sellers, like Able and Game and The Rabbit and the Duck. Kitchen, garden, decorative and functional, I am in love with most of their stock.

This pic borrowed from Flickr

This time, I walked away with a fantastic pie dish by Riess, a classic Austrian cookware company. I wish I could have afforded the whole range. See how pretty they look on the shelf? And this is the one I chose: I just have to decide what to make in it! Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Living in a van

...on our holiday, our little van was a fun was to live in. A cooker, little fridge, sink, table and chairs and a bed. All you need, really (as long as you stop for a shower and toilet break).

It makes you realise how little you need to be comfortable. Two saucepans and a few plates, a box of dominoes and some fresh fruit and veg, and voila! Gourmet travelling.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Decos from Around the World

One of the nicest things about coming home from our holiday was opening the door and seeing our Christmas tree quietly waiting for us. I love putting it up every year and I thought I would share with you some of the special decorations I have bought on my travels around the place.

This lovely lady is a handcrafted wooden piece from Nuremberg, Germany. When Jon found out about my love of Christmas decorations, he bought me this whilst he was there watching the World Cup in 2006.

Then we have this jolly Santa. He is from a huge Paperchase store on Oxford St in London.

This sweet star is all the way from Xian, China. I think it is the cheapest decoration I have ever bought at approximately 25c.

A little nativity scene from La Paz, Bolivia.

The Virgin of Guadalupe, a painted tin decoration from Oaxaca, Mexico.

As you might guess, my tree is a bit of a mish-mash - but a very loveable one!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I highly recommend Campervanning

A few shots from our 10 day trip driving around the North Island of New Zealand. Such a fantastic trip - fishing, wineries, perfect lakes, fresh local produce, swimming, smelly craters and geysers, and of course fish and chips. It all went far too quickly.

More on living in a van later...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Something to keep you going

So, in about 13 hours I am leaving for New Zealand. Hurrah! I can't wait to get on the plane, and then into the campervan, to drive around the North Island for 9 days.

So, whilst I am soaking up the sights, sounds and smells (yes, Rotorua) of the place, here is a sight and a story for you to keep you going until next Saturday!

It was my breakfast yesterday: a little dish of baked eggs with lots of leftovers. Ham, baby spinach, potato, shallots, mushroom, and mozzarella cheese all mixed together with fresh thyme, nutmeg, and salt and pepper, then baked in the oven for 10 minutes, and finished under the grill for another 5.

The terracotta dish is one of six traditional tapas dishes that I was given for Christmas last year, along with the wonderful 1080 Recipes, a classic Spanish cookbook. The dishes came from the most fabulous Spanish "deli" in Melbourne: Casa Iberica. They have the most amazing and delicious selection of Spanish and South American foods, from the best chorizo ever to the delicious flavoured Jamaica and Tamarindo drinks (a favourite at our house - and don't say Jamaica, say humaika). If you are in the vicinity, it is a must: 25 Johnston St, Fitzroy.

Farewell! See you when I return next Saturday, with many more stories and sights from sunny NZ.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Modcloth strikes again

Well, I knew once I had succumbed to the temptation for the first time, I wouldn't be able to resist going back to shop at Modcloth again. And I was right. I just received these lovely treats in the post:

Climb Every Mountain Skirt

Pretty, no? I couldn't resist a little early Christmas pressie to myself!