Tuesday, August 24, 2010

we're moving!

we've decided to shift! you can now find us at:


see y'all there!


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

just when you thought books were good

... the new zealand book council makes them even better!

enjoy XX

p.s. this short film is also now the proud bearer of two film craft lions awards from the cannes lions international advertising festival. hear hear!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

karine moinaux's quince paste

there is no denying that one of the best things about the winter cold is eating, and karine's homemade quince paste has quickly staked out a spot at the top of our fireside platter essentials list.

and it's little wonder that we should adore it so - there's such a wonderful story and such fond memories attached to it that, as we are rolling the taste of it around in our mouths and throwing our eyes heavenward in rapturous bliss, we can virtually see our own happy quince paste memories materialising. we already know this paste is something we are going to tell our children's children about (it is going to achieve the mythic status of the turkish delight in narnia and the ginger beer and lashings of whipped cream enjoyed by the famous five).

enough dithering: let us tell you the story. karine's quince paste is made according to an old recipe passed through generations of her family and taught her by her very own maman. as a little girl in toulouse, karine can remember snacking on it with petits beurres (french biscuits just made for such things as quince paste) for her afternoon goûter on her way home from school.

karine, who is now all growed up, still loves her quince paste and recommends that adults who are nurturing a snacking inner-child (heh-hem ... that means us) enjoy it with nuts, their preferred cheeses and a warmed red wine. well, we don't need asking twice. pass us that central pinot and point us to the comfiest chair by the fire!

bon appétit! XX

p.s. you can find karine's quince paste on our website (click here to be redirected via the wonders of the internet). it comes wrapped in cellophane and sealed with j herbin wax or a little gold heart and is made from locally grown wanaka quince. miam miam!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

my mistress's sparrow is dead

a collection of love stories edited by jeffrey eugenides. reviewed by kimberley.

don’t be fooled by this book. yes, it is a collection of love stories but not in the sense you might immediately imagine. absent are the happy ever afters, the swooning princesses, and the gallant knights: this is a collection of stories that show love as it is. together they remind us that there is no one kind of love and it is not confined to one kind of relationship. individually, they show us how love is not always tender, is hardly ever perfect, and how, sometimes, you even find yourself pretending to be someone you’re not because of it.

i could go into detail about why i appreciated every single one of the stories in this collection, but i’ll be considerate of your time (and your capacity to listen. i could go on for hours) and only deal with my favourites.

the first, “something that needs nothing” by miranda july, needs no explanation because i’ve already talked about it on this blog and i loved it this time for the same reasons i loved it the last time i read it. it’s the story of one person desperately in love with someone that will never love her back unless she pretends to be someone she’s not. it’s a story that sensitively captures the hopeless devotion love can entail. visit the post on miranda july’s short story collection nobody belongs here more than you to read more.

moving on. the thing i appreciated the most about the next, “jon” by george saunders, was actually the writing style. this is a story of young love and first compromises between a boy and a girl who have grown up in an environment, saturated with labels and logos and advertising, that is isolated from the “real” world. when the girl falls pregnant, she decides to return to the real world for the sake of her baby, and the boy (who narrates the story) is faced with the decision of whether or not to follow her. his is a voice imbued with the products and advertisements he has been absorbing all his life – he describes everything that happens to or around him with reference to a product he has tested or an ad he has seen. there’s a certain roundaboutness to his way of describing things that is both endearing and also feels familiar in a world where we often relate our own experiences, including that of love, to the media imposed upon us. take the following passage, for example:
and though i had many times seen LI 34321 for honey grahams, where the stream of milk and the stream of honey enjoin to make that river of sweet-tasting goodness, i did not know that, upon making love, one person may become like the milk and the other like the honey, and soon they cannot even remember who started out the milk and who the honey, they just become one fluid, this like milk/honey combo. (298)
while there were a number of other stories in this collection that i would really like to talk about here, i won’t. i'd like to leave them for you to discover for yourself. for there’s one thing that this collection of stories emphasised for me and that was that what we think of as the universal experience love is incredibly diverse, not just in terms of who it impacts and how but how each person experiences it differently from anyone else. which is why it's only natural that every reader’s experience of each of these stories will be as diverse as their individual experiences of love.


Friday, June 4, 2010

lita's rustic plum (or whatever takes your fancy) tart

yum yum yum ... thank you for this recipe, lita! no prizes for guessing what we'll be munching on this long weekend. (yes, we know the picture is not of plums. but we were hard-pressed to find one prettier than this, and we did so want to share it with you. isn't it lovely?)


for the crust

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

120g chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons (approx.) ice-cold water

for the topping

700g (approx.) plums, halved, pitted and each half cut into 6 slices
6 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

30g unsalted butter, melted

1 egg, beaten (for glaze)

1/4 cup preserved apricots (or chunky apricot jam)

to make the crust

blend the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. add the butter and cut it into the flour mixture by pulsing the food processor. do this until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. add 2 tablespoons of the ice-cold water. blend until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if the mixture is dry. gather the dough into a ball the flatten it into a circle. wrap the dough in gladwrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

to make the topping

preheat the oven to 200°c. toss the plums with 4 tablespoons of the sugar, the ginger and the cinnamon in bowl.
on a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 32cm round. transfer the rolled-out dough to a rimmed circular baking tray.
mix 1 tablespoon of the sugar with 1 tablespoon of the flour in a small bowl and sprinkle over the dough, leaving a 5cm border.
arrange the plums in concentric circles on the dough, again leaving a 5cm plain border. drizzle the plums with the melted butter.
fold the dough border in toward the centre. brush the border with the beaten egg to glaze and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
bake the tart until the plums are tender and the crust is golden - usually about 45 minutes.

stir the preserved apricots in a saucepan over low heat until gently heated, then brush over the plums. allow the tart to cool for 1 hour on the baking tray. run a long thin knife under the tart to loosen it before transferring it to a plate. serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

sophia and the hippo teach us how to play

when little sophia came to visit us a couple of weeks ago with her grandmother, sandy, she taught us a thing or two about serious playing ...

question one: how do you know when you've had a really good play?

answer: when you've tried out every single toy at your disposal and made a really big mess.

question two: once you've had a good look at all those toys, how do you decide which is the ultimate one to play with?

answer: that's easy, silly. it's the hippo. of course. and then you have to ROAR like he does.

question three: seeing as - what with all that playing and roaring and mess-making - you're going to get pretty tired, you'll need some kind of sustenance. what is the playing fuel of choice of a little blue eyed hippo-imitator?

answer: hot chocolate!

we look forward to seeing sandy and sophia and all their friends again (and the hippo has been asking when his new bff will come for another playdate).


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

an italian escape

if, like us, you are dreaming of an italian escape from the winter, but pesky earthly constraints (like work and money. and time. curses) are hindering you, then let us introduce you to our never-fail winter-greys cure-all: il papiro.

il papiro is a company based in florence which creates hand-decorated paper items, using traditional tuscan techniques. it is also the best way of transporting yourself to florence (or anywhere else in italy you might fancy, actually) without having to suffer from jetlag.

they make a whole range of truly gorgeous paper products from journals, to pens, to highly desirable hatboxes (and who cares if you don’t have a hat to put in them? you can fill them with old socks and they’d still look stunning on the outside).

but our favourites are their papers. each of them is intricately detailed and depicts a scene you really feel you could fall in to. we’ve got them up all around the little brown house and they are doing a marvellous job at keeping the winter greys at bay. hooray!


meet ruby and ben

a couple of days ago we heard the words "cupcake! cupcake" waft through the little brown house door and we knew it could be only one person: ruby, our cupcake queen.

lo and behold, two minutes later, ruby came through the door with her brother ben (who we will dub lord of the thunderbird planes) and her mum debbie. ruby was wearing a truly marvellous knitted coat made especially for her by her grammy. can we just say: ruby's grammy, you are very clever to knit a coat so worthy of cupcakely royalty. can you please make us one?


p.s. please forgive us for the photo which doesn't do justice to ruby's marvellous coat at all. we tried, but the big complicated camera (which was the only one we had on hand) got the better of us. you'll just have to let your imagination fill things in for you. which is always more fun anyway.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

yum yum gingerbread

with the onset of the cold weather, we're experiencing an onset of cravings for soul-warming foods. along with crumble, gingerbread is one of those foods. just the smell of it baking in your home will be enough to scare away the chillies tapping at your window.

eat it warm with lashings of butter or, if you have the patience of mother teresa, let it cool and leave it in the tin for a few days so the flavour intensifies. then, to reward your saintliness, place a hearty slab of blue vein cheese on an equally hearty slice of gingerbread and float away to your happy place.

little brown house gingerbread

250 grams butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup treacle
1 cup milk
3 cups plain flour
a little salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 dessertspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 tablespoon ground ginger

preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius. cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. then add the treacle, followed by the milk. stir in the remaining ingredients (add a little more milk, if you need to). pour the batter into a greased, shallow tin and bake for 45 minutes. leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. when cool, store in an airtight container.

and, if you're feeling adventurous and want to make your gingerbread look pretty, you can ice it with lemon icing (lemon juice, icing sugar and hot water) like we do. yummy!


Monday, April 26, 2010

cookie monster #1

the other afternoon we had ben, one of our well-loved little regulars, in for a chocolate chip cookie with his mom erin and it was as much a pleasure to see them both as it always is (and we love seeing cookie monster #2, a.k.a josh, with them when he's not at preschool). as you can see, the cookie was apparently a good one.

you guys are awesome. you always make us smile (and we love that you love our dinosaur book as much as we do. dinosaurs totally rule).

big love XX

Sunday, April 25, 2010

no one belongs here more than you

one of the most enjoyable things about this touching and very human collection of short stories is the delightfully quirky bent that author miranda july (in true miranda july style) brings to it. if you've seen her film me and you and everyone we know then you'll already be familiar with ms july's heartwarmingly awkward presence and you're bound to love this book (if you haven't seen the film: go. now).

all the stories are pretty cool but there were a couple that really stood out. the first was "something that needs nothing" which tells the tale of a painfully half-realised love – in this story the joy of one character finally fulfilling their desire for another is bitterly balanced out by the pain they feel at only being able to do so partially. it's a tricky sensation to try and describe but i think the closest image i can apply is that of being able to constantly smell your favourite meal cooking (and feeling your mouth water and stomach gurgle) without ever being able to actually eat it.
the other that really struck me was "the boy from lam kien" which describes the situation of a woman so painfully shy she won't even leave her own home. the isolated world she inhabits within her four walls is broken in upon one day by a young boy who, completely unaware (in the way that kids usually are) of what's going on in the woman's head, sees no reason not to invite himself round to his neighbour's house for afternoon tea and a chat. what i liked so much about this story was the contrast between the (totally self-constructed) complexity of the woman and the almost selfish simplicity of the boy. plus my heart broke a little bit for this lady who was so terrified of life she wouldn't live it.
which leads me to add, actually, that my heart broke a little bit for each of the characters in these stories and, each time, it was because i could see a little bit of my own awkwardness or that of someone i love in them.
p.s. if you are completely unfamiliar with miranda july then visiting her website for this book will give you some idea. just go look, i can't explain: http://noonebelongsheremorethanyou.com/ .

Saturday, April 24, 2010

little brown house carrot cake

this yummy scrummy little brown favourite is influenced by the spice mix in our hildegard cookies.
be warned: this cake is darker than wuthering heights and completely irresistible (it has been know to induce intense, moody cravings).

enjoy! xx


250g flour (use wholemeal spelt flour for an extra nutty taste)
1 tsp baking soda
1 generous tsp mixed ground spice
1 generous tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
a pinch of salt
a pinch of ground cloves
4 free range eggs
170g brown or unrefined sugar
250g white sugar

370g light olive, grape or sunflower oil
3-4 biggish carrots, grated (you should have roughly 200g)
150g of walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts (or whatever you're nutty about)


preheat your oven to 150 degrees celcius.

sift all the dry ingredients together and enjoy the spicy aroma.

lightly blend the eggs together and then add these with the two sugars to the sifted dry ingredients. stir gently until just combined and then beat with a cake mixer or (or, if you're an enthusiastic purist, by hand) for around 4 minutes - but be careful not to overbeat or you will toughen your batter.

this makes quite a big carrot cake so find a round 20cm cake tin that is deep enough to allow for some rising. line the base with baking paper and oil the sides. pour the batter in and bake for approximately 90mins to 2hours (check regularly after 90mins until wooden skewer comes out clean)

when done, remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool before icing.

the cream cheese icing (oh! la la! the very best bit!)

125g cream cheese
100g butter, softened
200g icing sugar, sifted
juice and zest of 1 or 2 lemons (depending on how lemony you're feeling).

throw everything in a bowl and beat it until it begons to resemble the lovely, decadent icing it is. after lashing this creamy concoction on the cake with great flourish (this flourish is very important and cannot be overdone), you can garnish with roasted nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, dried apricots, and dark or bittersweet chocolate.


Monday, April 19, 2010

paper cut perfection

for quite some time now we've been big fans of nikki mcclure's paper cut art.
this very clever lady, a self-taught artist from olympia, washington, uses an x-acto knife to carve incredibly intricate images out of paper. the trick is that every single one of her images remains an entire sheet of paper (no mean feat when you see just how much detail she has cut into them).
her work speaks of community, family, sustainability, and the environment. it encourages us to slow down and take time to look at all the simple things around us that we so often miss in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
nikki's art is something that always revitalises us when important (a.k.a boring but stressful)things get us frazzled. we hope it does the same for you too.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

fantastic freeset donation

just a quick note to let you all know that, thanks to the $2 raised on every ticket sold for the little brown house soiree with peta mathias, we are making a whopping $250 donation to freeset bags.
so take a big pat on the back because we literally could not have done it without you. XX p.s. if you haven't heard of the wonderful venture that is freeset, you can read more about it on our website by clicking here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

soiree with peta mathias

as many of you already know, last tuesday we hosted a soiree with peta mathias at the little brown house. there was so much we loved about the evening, not least the fact that you all came out in force supporting us by being there or by sending your love from afar. there were lots of other things we loved too and (so that we can try and keep the memory of them fresh!) we'd like to share them here. everyone loved peta because: her talk was impromptu – totally honest and obviously not rehearsed. she made us laugh. she helped us believe that it is never too late. she made us love red wrap dresses even more than we already did (as did the red wrap dress pip donned for the evening). when she sang one of edith piaf's songs, we cried happy tears and felt instantly teleported to paris. her energy and enthusiasm lifted our spirits, infusing us all with a "well, why not?" attitude we will all value and draw on for a long time/ her talk made us really, really, really want to go on a trip to marrakech with her. and it made us want to go to the south of france even more. but mostly (and here's the best bit), she helped us all to believe in ourselves that little bit more by having the ability not only to laugh at herself but by also putting on a little light in everyone's heart that evening. merci mille fois peta xx we've also got to add:
watching sharyn prepare the scrumptious platters and chatting with her as she did so was the perfect pre-event thing to be doing. her flair and enthusiasm was infectious. what a wonderful lady! many many thanks and big big love to her ... and let us not forget her husband johnny who thought it would be a good idea to have just such a soiree at the little brown house in the first place.
we love you all! XX p.s. we know some of you were disappointed on the evening that some of peta's books sold out. we'd like to let you know that the publishers have now sent more (youpi!) and if you would still like a signed copy we can organise a bookplate to be added easily enough. just email or call us and we'll sort it out for you! (but be aware that limited numbers are available).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

the book of love

cathie recently finished reading this book and loved it so much she's got a few thoughts about it to share with us:
the book of love was recommended to me by two wonderful women – bonnie the artist and sue the writer. this is a woman’s book – like no other except possibly some parallels with the red tent by anita diamante. the book of love is a moving novel with some fascinating historic research woven throughout. if the lands of france and italy speak to you in ways you can’t easily explain then this book will also speak to you. art, architecture, history and intrigue ... you'll enjoy this one! p.s. the book of love is kathleen mcgowan's sequel to her earlier book the expected one. XX cathie

jt on the big screen!

well, that might be somewhat of an overstatement ... but we are nonetheless very, very, very excited about this ad we made with the fantastic people from may e films (kaz and greg are truly amazing, they so got 'it'). it's screening as a preview at wanaka's very own cinema paradiso.
but that's enough talky from us. take a wander up the garden path and let us know what you think!

luella's chilli chocolate mousse

a couple of weeks ago we promised to share the chilli chocolate mousse recipe one of our lovely visitors, luella, so kindly offered to give us.
well, it's here and true to our word here it is for you too! according to luella (who should know) this mousse is best served with lashings of thick double cream and red berries. 'nuff said. i don't want easter eggs this weekend: i want this.
60g unsalted butter
1 large red chilli (or 2 small hot ones), seeds and all
200g best quality chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3 tbspns chocolate or coffee liqueur
3 eggs, separated
3 tbspns caster sugar
slice chillies, seeds and all, and add to melted butter. leave covered in cling wrap for 24-36 hours .... yes, that's right. it's a long time but necessary to give the mousse a 'zing' (so make sure you allow plenty of time if you're making this for a dinner party).
before using the chilli/butter mixture again, melt the butter and strain off all the bits of chilli and the seeds.
break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water. once it's melted, add the very-chilli-infused butter and the liqueur.
remove chocolate mixture from heat and beat in the eggs one at a time, being careful that the mixture doesn't curdle. keep stirring (it's at times like this that 3 hands would be useful).
whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks then slowly add the sugar and keep beating until the mixture is glossy.
fold in the egg whites: try to retain as much of the air in them as possible. place the mixture into glasses, bowls, or whatever takes your fancy. chill for at least 2 hours.
yom yom! thank you luella!!

the little red-headed kid

we all know of (and love) the little red headed girl from charlie brown.
so when toby the little red-headed boy came to visit the little brown house a couple of weeks ago, we were very, very excited. as you can see from the photo he is totally adorable. he was so cute we even let him play with our my little ponies (which is a huge privilege, we can assure you). XX

happy easter bunnies

we're sure you'll love these stoned bunnies from schoc as much as we do. they look like they're having a pretty good easter (the googly eyes are a bit of a giveaway, hmm?) and we hope that you do too!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

introducing hildegard

there's a new arrival at the little brown house. she comes from a varied and far-stretching background although given that she's around 500 years old (and looking damn good for her age too, if we might say so) that isn't really surprising. in her time she's been a saint, a healer, a witch, a philospher, an arguer-with-mighty-fat-know-all-men, and cookie baker extraordinaire (to name but a few of her professions) and she comes to us with a killer eye for fashion and a feisty feminine wisdom we don't know how we ever did without. given all the things she's done and seen, it's hardly surprising she looks a little intimidating. but please, don't be shy! if you're in wanaka pop in and introduce yourself to hildy and if you're lucky she might even share a wry comment and a knowing wink with you. xx

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

well done natalie!

a few weeks ago we sent you all word of the "haiti fundraiser dinner and auction" our friend natalie was organising and held in wanaka on the 17th of february – many of you came along on the night or sent donations even if you couldn't be at the dinner and we, along with natalie, would like to thank you warmly for this. it's thanks to the support of everyone who cares that events like this are such a success, so pat yourself on the back! and what a success the evening was! because we know you'll want to hear, we'll let you know just how fantastic a fundraiser it was: natalie's dinner and auction raised a grand total of $5000 along with a further $2000 raised by a mt aspiring college mufti day ... all $7000 of which went to the new zealand red cross relief effort in haiti. the people at red cross were so impressed with natalie's effort that they've asked her to work on their fundraising committee in dunedin. we're not surprised at all. we'd like to congratulate natalie and thank her for showing us all that (yes, it sounds corny but you have to admit it's true) just one person can make a big difference. xx (p.s. natalie is the one in the middle of the photo, aided by her trusty fundraising sidekicks outside wanaka new world prior to the dinner and auction.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

the best chocolate birthday cake ever!

our family is a chocolate one and if a birthday or special event appears during the year, it is almost always celebrated with chocolate almond cake. although we may branch out once in a while with some other chocolatey alternative, it is the chocolate almond cake that is our unfailing favourite.
which is why it was the birthday cake of choice for niki's birthday tea party here at the little brown house just a couple of days ago. even though niki's birthday cake disappeared almost as soon as it came out of the oven, it's a pretty safe bet that, should you come to the lbh, you'll find a slice of chocolate almond cake waiting for you (we love it so much we pretty much always have one here!).
and it's not just the finished product that is fantastic with this cake - it's the whole process of making it. there's something intensely therapeutic and definitely a little bit magic about heating up and slowly mixing the glossy, dark chocolate. the smell of it fills the kitchen and i challenge any self-respecting chocolate lover to resist this cake.
and don't worry about serving it with anything because it is just perfect by itself (although, if you want it is a stunning match with balsamic strawberries).
chocolate almond cake
180g dark chocolate (only the finest please. at least 70% cacao)
175g butter, softened
125g unrefined sugar
200g ground almonds
4 eggs, separated
for the icing:
100g dark chocolate
50g butter
heat oven to 150 degrees celcius. line a 25cm springform cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides.
break chocolate into pieces and melt in a copper (or other heatproof) bowl over a pot of simmering water. don't boil the water or you'll burn the chocolate.
cream together the butter and sugar until soft and creamy. add the ground almonds, egg yolks and melted chocolate and mix thoroughly.
whisk the egg-whites until stiff, then add them to the cake mixture and fold everything together with a big metal spoon (be careful not to break the air in the egg-whites). pour into the cake tin and bake for 35mins (the middle should be a little squishy). allow to cool a little before removing from the tin.
to make the icing, melt the chocolate and butter together in a big heatproof bowl over simmering water then drizzle over the cake and leave to set.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

the promise of mousse

a few days ago, two gorgeous women all the way from coff's harbour wound their way up the beautiful wildy garden path and stepped into the little brown house. and my, how their visit made our day! beautiful luella and virginia (who had been sent up by the lovely lydia from gallery 33 with strict instructions to try our hot chocolate) came bearing warmth, enthusiasm and a fantastic sense of humour. they totally rocked our socks ... so much so we wanted to share their lovely smiles with you too! we sent them safely home with the recipe for our hildegard intelligence cookies and virginia left us with the promise of her chocolate chilli mousse recipe (ahhh! bliss! watch this space: we too promise to share!). wanna know what really made our day more than anything? well, according to virginia, the little brown house is "heaven on a hill". aw shucks ... we've got to admit that the whole "heavenly" aspect is thanks to lovely people like these two ladies and all of you. xx

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the spirit of pistoulet

as you are all already aware, we're great believers in the creating of strong, creative and supportive communities in the virtual sphere. we know how important a sense of belonging is!so we were super-duper excited to be shown mary tiegreen's "spirit of pistoulet" fanpage on facebook the other day. the spirit of pistoulet is one of our very special favourites because it is all about (among other things) the importance of community – community in the sense of having people around you with whom you can share your thoughts, dreams, troubles and, most importantly, your love of food. it's all about how we can find inspiration and/or help in our surroundings and the amazing good that little things done out of great love can achieve (i admit, that genius little statement is thanks to thanks mamma teresa!). in fact, this book all on its little lonesome is a great source of inspiration for us here at jt (as most of you probably already know. we're a little bit obsessed with this book). all you need to do is read it to find out why – it's all about the experience of things, and about the time and care that is put into them.so check it out ... join if you're a fan ... help us spread the love! xx

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

frida love

we're very excited about the beautiful vintage-style handmade brass jewellery that has just arrived at the little brown house. handmade by my mexican heart, every piece is a celebration of kahlo's distintive and intensely emotional art work ... and, by extension, a celebration of the colour and vibrancy of mexican poplular culture.
we're in love with the rings: they're a bold statement to the world of your appreciation of kahlo's art (and so lovely and solidly big on your fingers. if that makes any sense).
enjoy looking!

Friday, February 5, 2010

thoughts on love letters

with valentines suddenly looming ahead of us (is it really that time of year again? it feels like we only just had last valentines!) we got to thinking about how a holiday that celebrates love should be about letting everyone we love – not just our lovers or secret crushes – know how we feel about them. and, as much as we're huge fans of the internet, we can’t think of a better way of telling someone just how fantastically out-of-this-world we think they are than a good old fashioned love letter. of course, there are a number of factors that will up the success rate of your love letter – you can’t just go scrawling it on refill and shoving it in an old bank statement envelope before thrusting it in front of the recipient muttering “here! this is for you” with a scowl on your face. you need to treat and present it with all the love you want it to express. so (thanks to an extended amount of time walking around thinking about just what kind of a love letter we would like to receive ... and we really would like to receive one. please.) here are some of our ideas on just what will win you the “best person of the year” award in someone you love’s books: - first up, you’re going to need to consider who exactly you’re writing to. as we already mentioned, we’re being very liberal with the meaning of the term “love letter” so go ahead and write one for your best friend, for your grandma or for your little brother. just be sure to adjust everything to suit (we don’t think you need to be giving your granny a love letter telling her how hot you think her ass is. for example). - which brings us to choosing the words you’re going to use. we’d suggest thinking about what it is that you really love about the person and them alone and then writing it down. easy peasy. - finally – and this aspect is NOT to be underestimated – you’re going to have to think about presentation. you’ll have to choose stationery that will be special to the person, find a nice pen to write it in, and anything else you might want to adorn your love letter with. go crazy. use stickers, stamps, wax seals, collage … whatever takes your fancy. what’s important is that it’s personal. and, just like that, you’ll have a love letter that will truly make the day of the person receiving it. the thing to remember in the whole process is that it’s the entire experience of receiving a love letter that counts – the surprise of it, opening the gorgeous envelope, reading the hand-written words telling you why you’re fab and that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing someone cares so much about you. if you stick to the "treat others as you would like to be" rule you can’t really go wrong – just give them something that, in their shoes, you would love to receive. and, hey, who knows, you might just get one back …


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

what to do with plums

we've got a plum tree over our fence that has been producing plums like they're going out of fashion for the past few weeks. and because i couldn't bear to watch them all falling to waste on the ground, i dedicated around an hour this morning to pitting them (they're very small. it was a labour of love. or madness.) and then another couple of hours to slowly stewing them with a small amount of honey. and it was worth the effort, even if they did reduce to a quarter of the volume i began with! we're serving them with a banana and poppyseed cake and indulging in throwbacks to our childhoods every time we get a whiff of them. there's just something about them that takes us right back to bare feet on the grass, eating fruit straight off the tree and feeling the glimmer of sunlight on our backs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

ladies of the hat

two days ago two very elegant women, dressed entirely in black and adorned with magnificent hats (complete with gorgeous handmade hat pins) came to celebrate the birthday one of them shares with edgar allan poe at the little brown house. they arrived in a limosine (what class!), came bearing scrolls, pictures of mr. poe, long-stemmed red roses and pierre the black poodle (he's really a stuffed toy but don't tell him that 'cos you'll hurt his feelings) tucked underarm. the birthday feast was very much in keeping with the mood of the day: french hot chocolate and chocolate almond cake.
what we learnt from these two wonderful "ladies of the hat"? that any day, but especially a birthday (even if it is someone else's) merits - no wait - demands a grand celebration. so follow the example of helen and sue - don your black lace dresses and wide brimmed hats and clinking bangles and toast to whatever-you-want with a hot chocolate and/or a glass of wine!
thank you helen and sue for your wonderful visit. you made our day xx

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

hildegard of bingen's intelligence cookies

hildegard suggests three to five of these be eaten every day and apparently, nerve cookies are particularly helpful for children who find fascination in thought outside of their school curriculum a bit too frequently. it is recommended you don't feed them too many though as it would be embarrassing for teachers worldwide to be outsmarted. on second thought i'd actually be very proud to precipitate a cookie conspiracy...
hildegard's nerve/intelligence cookies
1 3/4 cups butter
3 cups brown sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
6 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.add eggs.combine and sift dry ingredients.add to the creamed mixture.knead in the last of the flour.shape into rolls, wrap in waxed paper and chill thoroughly.when firm, slice thinly and bake at 180C.
this makes a rather large number of cookies, thank goodness. life would be dire were one to bake too little, go into withdrawal and rampage down the main street in a lack-of-cookie induced haze. if feeling feverish and unable to access a kenwood, we always have a jar of intelligence at the ready in little brown house.

the secret summer garden

our garden is looking so beautiful at the moment that i went a bit mad taking photos yesterday afternoon. it's really taking on a life of its own ... i keep waiting (slash hoping) to see a wild thing leap from behind the poppies ...

Friday, January 15, 2010

wanaka challenge warriors

the little brown house won't be open this saturday ... because we've got a team to support in the wanaka challenge half ironperson (heh-hem) triathalon! claire will be swimming 1.9km, tim cycling 90km, and kimberley running 21.1km. aieee ... good luck!

yum yum pig's bum ...

yay! after being swamped by pre-christmas chocoholics we've finally had a chance to restock our schoc chocolate cabinet (it's hilarious how many people come in here pretending they don't like chocolate and then, after tasting schoc, walk out with their hands full of tablets! we hate to say "we told you so" ...). the handmade pralines they've sent us this time are absolutely beautiful, there's everything from raspberry caramel to lime and tequila (that's the one i'm eyeing up).