Tuesday, January 29, 2013

lemon and blueberry cake

I have a thing about lemon and blueberries together. You might remember the Lemon and Blueberry tart recipe i posted back HERE. That was the favourite dessert back in 2011. 
This little beauty is my favourite cake at the moment. Blueberry and Lemon cake. Light, kinda refreshing, moist and utterly delectable. I thought i would share.
Blueberry and Lemon cake

225g butter
225g sugar
3 eggs
225g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 tablespoons of plain yoghurt
a large handful of blueberries (fresh is better, frozen will do)
zest from two lemons
Topping: juice from two lemons, 55g sugar

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add vanilla essence, yoghurt and zest of lemons. Mix.
Fold in the flour and baking powder.
Mix in the blueberries gently.
Put into greased cake tin and bake at 180 C/gas mark 4/350 F for about 45 minutes.

While cake is cooling, put lemon juice and sugar in pan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves.
Turn the cake out of tin onto a plate. Prick cake all over with a fork and spoon the lemon/sugar mixture evenly over the top of the cake. 
Serve when cool, with sieved icing sugar on top.

Optional: using cutting the cake as examples of half, quarters, etc.
Be warned: it's really good! 

(recipe adapted from Cordon Rouge: Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes from the Red Herring. The Red Herring was a long running cooperative cafe and bakery in Northern England back in the day.) 

Monday, January 28, 2013

a simple life

                                                manifesto for a simple life
                                  a free download from the Smile Collective

  I love this. It sums it up for me nicely. And i so need to work on that last one!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Local Goodness...strawberries = summer

Summer has kicked in.
Salads, tomatoes, cucumbers and basil are the flavours of the day.
The water tank is super low.
The whole national park where i live is on high alert for fires.
I had the best swim today.
It's been so hot, it's kinda hard to think clearly.
We're a temperate sort of a place, so this hot, is, well, HOT!
One of the things that mean summer to me are strawberries. I like to go pick every summer and make strawberry jam. I love opening a jar of homemade strawberry jam in the middle of winter and getting a taste of summer. 
Jed and I met dear friends just north of Auckland, at Phil Greig's strawberry farm in Kumeu and had a lovely few hours picking together. They're spray-free (though not organic certified) and damn fine delicious.
They plant the old varieties for the pick-your-own fields...the ones that don't store brilliantly, might be funny shapes and are smaller than the store bought ones...but oh my...the taste! There is nothing like a good strawberry! Those huge, hard strawberries you buy in the punnets here in NZ are often good for nothing but coating with chocolate or whizzing up into smoothies...hardly sweet enough on their own. But these old varieties are just divine. And these folks donated 1500 punnets of strawberries to the Hospice charity strawberry festival fundraiser last year. Good folks.
Plus, they make beautiful icecream, frozen yoghurt and smoothies from fresh strawberries on-site. Perfect for hot little people after a hard mornings strawberry picking (and eating!). I tried super hard not to laugh when we went to weigh in and pay for our bucketfull and Jed was all chatty telling the lady about how many strawberries he'd eaten. An honest fella!

And look, here i am...over HERE. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Local Goodness: Go Jo's

Local Goodness. It's a new series here at GrowMama.
I'll be profiling or taking a peek into various cool businesses, products and places aroundabout here. 
We're talking eco-minded, progressive smaller endeavours, with a definite more'ish quality.
How to define the boundaries of what is local to me? I'm going to take liberties there.
Even if you don't live around here, we can all do with a dollop of inspiration and a dose of voyeurism into someone else's heartfelt worklife, no?! 
If you need to buy something, shop local and give your money where it'll count...give it to the good people! Support local goodness.

To start off, I bring you Go Jo's Recycled Clothing in Auckland's New Lynn. 
A fun place to visit. Jo, the owner, is bubbly delicious and if you ask her if something looks good...you can trust her answer. I always appreciate that in a store owner. 
Vintage mingles with designer here. 
She seeks out beautiful clothes and accessories to pass onto you. You know how some people have an eye for the good stuff? Yup, Jo has it.
There's a $5 rack, and most things are between $10 and $14. Though the pristine vintage can go up to $40.
It's your one-stop-shop for all your clothing needs and vintage finds. Jo is handy with the sewing machine, and does beautiful work upcycling vintage clothes to modern standards and making sure everything on the racks is in good order. It's a pearl of a place to explore. Say hi from me.

Email me any suggestions for future Local Goodness posts. Or leave a comment. xxx

Saturday, January 19, 2013

sunday reading

It's ten on Sunday morning. It's raining. My view of the sea is a blur of grey. I am still in my pyjama's and beginning to think about Mexican Eggs for brunch. It's the perfect morning. Just what i needed. Nowhere to rush off to. The little guy is busy inventing an air filter in his room. All is peaceful.

I worked for a friend yesterday, catering a wedding. Long hours, hot, hard and fast work. Fabulous team and delicious food. I loved it. It had been awhile since I did this work (I used to cook, with Sky, for 100+ at Twin Oaks Community every Friday, and various other large gatherings and conferences) and i had forgotten how much i enjoyed it. Plus, working for a beautiful, uber-talented and calm-in-the-face-of-the-creative-catering-adrenalin-rush friend....oof, that lady is nothing short of brilliant. Get in touch Aucklander's, if you have an event coming up! I'll hook you up.

And today. The opposite. Home. Quiet. Rain.  Soggy cat and pottering child. And a reading mama.
I have stumbled across some lovely blogs lately and wanted to share them with you.
I am enjoying:

Enjoying the Small things
Grow.cook.sew - this beautiful woman spent over half of her pregnancy on bedrest to be able to keep growing her babe...how committed and incredible is that?! Her story reads a bit like mine, i am wondering how that would work for me...bed rest for months. Hmm.
And Stella's post 'Comparison is the thief of a really good parent' has stayed with me...well said Sister!

A little Sunday reading for you. (Or Saturday, my readers in the north!)
A happy weekend to you.

(Okay, so it is not January the 8th. Sorry for any confusion, we were playing with our new vintage calendar - a great way to learn dates- and the photo with the 20th on it turned out all blurry. Rest assured, it really is the 20 of January.)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

change of plan

Big plans for visiting, adventures further afield and general fun abroad have been curtailed by one very old and tired car. We broke down on the hottest day of summer yet. Luckily I managed to get the car off the steep windy road and only half block a side road. (Thank you, o understanding residents of aforementioned road!). We made a potential bummer of a thing into an adventure. Jed found us a shady spot on the edge of the bush, we had just come from the library and the orchard.(I decided being adventurers was the only way to go. It was one of those laugh or cry choices)
And so, while we work out the next car, and the finance to manifest it, home is where it is at. Local adventures only. And, once I let go of my plans...it's been a beautiful week. 

We have eaten good food, baked, gardened, and have been fully immersed in the world of the Hobbit as told by David Wenzl. The small one picked up a copy of a children's graphic novel (check these images out!...HERE). Yesterday found us eeling (we always put them back), picnicing and snuggled up reading the hobbit in a secret and very Shire-like glade. I would have passed it over as being too 'old' for him, but, with a teeny tiny bit of editing (i can still get away with that, just) and all those amazing pictures, his eyes were wide, body tensing with every suspenseful page and laughing at Bilbo's antics. So much happens way before i thought in this parenting journey.

And, on an up note, since i haven't been distracted with all these summer happenings and gatherings i have gotten a surprising amount of work done. Job applications, consulting, contract pitches and writing all happening at top speed over here. Which is good, because i never want to be this low on funds again. Sigh. 
This year...it's going to be an awesome one....you just wait and see!

Monday, January 14, 2013

opening flowers: a holiday activity

A little craftiness for you (especially those of you in the Southern Hemisphere still in the depths of the summer holidays)...
...the magic of the opening flower.
Step one: Hand draw or down load a template from HERE (i googled 'opening flower template)
Step two: Have your little people colour in their flower/s. (Be sure to have fun yourself)
Step three: Cut out your flowers.
Step four: Fold each of the petals into the centre.
Step five: Place your folded flower into a bowl of warm water....
Step back and watch the magic unfold....
Petal by petal your beautiful flower is revealed, until...
....it is at full blossom in the bowl. Magic. 

Extension: do an experiment with opening the different flowers in bowls of cold and warm water at the same time. Ask your kids why they think one opened faster than the other.

You can re-use your flowers, just leave them to dry and come back to them. Or make loads and when they're dry make a delicate bunting out of them.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Plant Medicine Workshop February 2013

I thought i had better post about the upcoming Plant MedicineWorkshop before all the places go. I just started promoting it a few days ago and folks are excited. Me too, i love this work. It brings together plants and beautiful people. Good times.
Send the link onto folks in the Auckland area who might be interested.
Thanking ye kindly, and very much looking forward to meeting those of you who have already registered.

     Plant medicine workshop
                    Saturday 23rd of February 2013 from 10am -1pm

A close look at three medicinal plants – how to heal common complaints with the plants that grow around us – gathering and storing medicinal plants – making medicines: teas, decoctions, poultices and tinctures.

     Beautiful Titirangi venue – confirmed on booking- limited space

                                        Sliding scale $30 – $45
Homemade morning tea and a copy of my Plant Medicine Handbook included.

Super experienced workshop facilitator and glowing references available
                   Email for more info: anissaljanta@gmail.com

Thursday, January 10, 2013

the rainbow warrior is here

                    The RW III arriving in Northland. Photo credit: Greenpeace/Nigel Marple. 2013.

I have vivid memories of the original Rainbow Warrior being bombed in our harbour. That act and it's aftermath was key in introducing me to social justice, environmental work and well...sent me down a pretty amazing life path. I returned to New Zealand to work for Greenpeace NZ after 16 years working internationally and ended up being one of the main organisers of the memorial events of the 20th anniversary of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior I. With a concert at the St James here in Auckland, the recording of 'Anchor Me' in commemoration, service up in Matauri Bay where she lies in her watery grave, speech's, inspiring open boats, and incredible volunteers giving their all to make it all happen...it was an amazing time. I even got to cook on board for a few days and get to know the crew. I will never forget sailing under the Auckland Harbour Bridge at sunset.
It is totally understandable that the Rainbow Warrior is Greenpeace's flagship. They are onto number three.
The Rainbow Warrior stands for justice in the face of all odds. It stands for hope. We need that.

The Greenpeace version of Anchor Me, with some of NZ's finest musicians is HERE. Sheesh, i heard that song SO many times in it's making! Brings shivers hearing again now years later.

The Rainbow Warrior III is in New Zealand for the first time and you can get on board. Open Boats are running all this weekend in Auckland. Dates are listed for Bluff, Dunedin, Wellington and Stewart Island...
Visit the Warrior's website, The Future is Here: Click HERE.

And, today, after the powhiri to welcome the Rainbow Warrior into Auckland harbour, a wreath was laid in the water for Raechel Arles, who passed away unexpectedly on the 7th of January. Damn the broken down old car and surprise writing deadline that stopped me from being there. I know she would understand. Raych was a ray of light in the world, so passionate and caring. I have run out of words, and cannot decide on a photo to post..i want to post ten and that still wouldn't sum this beautiful woman up. The world was so very much richer for you walking it Raych.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

flowers in the vegetable patch

The vegetable garden is a joint project. This year Jed insisted on planting some flowers as well as vegetables. I grow herbs for medicinal and culinary use but haven't grown any flowers for the pure joy of it since I left France.
He chose the seedlings at the plant nursery and has been carefully tending them. Great excitement when they started flowering.
We got home from our second roadtrip of the season to a truly wild garden and in between the weeds, those flowers were looking magnificent. I don't think i will go back to a pure vegetable garden again, it brings me such pleasure to find Jed's wild flowers peeking out from between the vegetables.
I am slowly reclaiming the garden...everything has bolted with the sudden heat and we always have to keep the ever encroaching bush back. Even though i weeded, there is still one monster towering above everything else....
Jed's sunflower he grew from seed (blogpost about our nifty seedling pots HERE) is enormous! It withstood the tail end of the cyclone that blew through here, it's stalk is like a young tree at the base. It's truly a wonder. It's three or four times the size of all the other sunflowers. I'm looking forward to watching the birds harvest the seeds on this one. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

three things

    Photo credit: the very talented James Edward Bourne. JamesBournePhotography.com

I met an inspiring mama lately. We started chatting at a playground in town, we two amongst the many parents...and it turned out we are both homeschooling. Gabrielle is way further down the learning track than us and it has been a joy to find the forthnightly homeschooling play session she founded. The last time i saw her, she shared with me something she and her husband ask each other every night.

What were three things that worked today?

I love it. I do it alone, but it gives you a chance to reflect on the day in a positive way. But after time, i have a kind of brief running nightly commentary about what is working for me, what to keep up, it becomes super clear what is important and easier to prioritise that which works. I imagine if you did it as a couple, you would have precious insight into the others day, without hours of process to wade through first.
A beautiful practice, and one i will keep up this year.
2013...i have high hopes for you...i am dreaming up me some plans!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

boxing corners - a tutorial

Okay, as this riveting first photograph intimates, there is no way to jazz this up. This is pure sewing geekery of the educational variety. For those of you not that way inclined, come back tomorrow for GrowMama business as usual.
In the meantime, i give you: the promised tutorial on how to box corners. A bunch of you have been asking since i included boxing corners on my tutorial for how to transform a vintage pillowcase into a bag.
Here is how:
The photo above is what you start with...1) the pillowcase turned insideout with the existing seam.
2) Fold the corner like so and pin securely.
3) This is a side view.
4) Sew your boxed corner. Don't forget to reverse at beginning and end of the seam to secure it.
5) This is what it will look like.
6) You don't clip the seam, or trim it. Just turn it right side out and it gives a lovely rounded finish to your bag.
Like this! Go forth and box.

To go to my tutorial on how to make a bag from a vintage pillowcase click HERE.
For the post on my creation of the pillowcase bag ... click HERE. (Made famous by viral posting on Pinterest -i just peeked and over 120,000 folks have seen that post - eek and wow... i am off for a calming cup of tea!)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

summer roadie

We are back home after a summer roadtrip to see friends and family. The little guy totally had us fooled that he was feeling a whole lot better after a few days not being well over Christmas. He didn't want to miss out on the trip. We ended up in Whanganui Hospital waiting rooms the next afternoon. Note to self: follow that instinct. Bother. But no dull moments in the waiting room... DIY jobs gone very wrong, kids out of control on stolen hospital wheelchairs, police officers handcuffed to some unfortunate dude, screaming children and one very sick Jed. Stink. Poor kid, many sleepless nights and the quietest Christmas and New Year ever. Still, it wasn't contagious, and he got to see his cousins and his people. And would like to do it all again next week. A big lot of love and thanks to our people for the gentle places of refuge along the way.
 Meanwhile, all the world is in bloom here in the Southern Hemisphere.
 Summer is in full swing.
 The pohutakawa's are on the wane as we leave Christmas in our wake.
And there is plenty of time for dreaming up trees ahead.
Summer. Ahhhh...
And Happy New Year everyone. I have a good feeling about this one. xx