Sun basking


My cousin Katherine arrived last night, with her boyfriend Stevie, all the way from Auckland, New Zealand. And the sun came out to greet them.



Tracey and Josh


Our friends are shifting out of their flat and staged a Chilli-off on Saturday. All of the different Chilli were delicious but I thought Tracey's was the winner- spicy but not mouth-burningly hot. Unlike Josh and Mark's, which was killer. Lauren's corn relish deserves a special mention- yum!
As most good dinner parties do, this one dissolved into silliness about one in the morning with a soft white bread sculpture competition. Can you tell what they are meant to be?

Set in stone

 
 

The project Susi set me was to set a stone, so I promptly went out and bought a ruby. A man-made, facet cut ruby however, so it's not so expensive as you might think. I brought it to class and Susi just laughed and suggested maybe we start with something a little easier. The ruby was a little advanced for my first stone setting.

So here is my first attempt and I have to admit I'm quite proud of it. I wish I took some photos of the process but it came together a little quicker than I expected. Creating the bezel setting was the hardest part, when you are working with such thin, soft, small pieces of silver your hands feel giant. And true to form, I must've dropped it under the bench about a million times. As for the stone, which is malachite, let's just say I'm glad it's set and I can't lose it again.

The ring is finished with glass wool to give it a softer, more textured finish. I also gently hammered the edges of the ring to give it a little more body, which I really like. It feels a little more handmade because of it and gives a more finished look. Next stone: the ruby, that is if I don't lose it.  

I'm not ready yet


A wet, rainy, indoor kind of day. I took a shot the garden to remind myself that everything is still lush and green, and that really, winter is quite far away. But the light is changing and it's been raining for days and somehow wintery thoughts keep creeping their way into my head. At least our lounge looks sunny.

Movies and Mall Chinese


On a rainy Sunday, when Toby and I are hungover, tired and just want to escape, it's all about a long standing ritual- Movie and Mall Chinese. Kinda self-explanatory really, it consists of cheap Chinese food- the kind you normally get at a mall in NZ- you know- all smorgasboardy, and a movie-  preferably something a bit silly.


Well, Mall Chinese isn't too easy to find in Amsterdam but we headed to Chinatown and it was all chickenchowmien-sweetandsourpork-msg goodness. Then we biked down to the Tuschinski theatre, which is the most gorgeous theatre, I was entranced by all the weird art deco style murals over the lobby walls and ceiling. It makes going to the movies that much more special, even if you cheap out on dinner. 

Nieuwendam


If you cross the Ij and head east, you'll eventually find your way to Nieuwendam. It's a little haven made up of water and trees and quaint old houses. I spent a sunny afternoon wandering down it's little paths and sitting at Cafe 't Sluisje. We spent too long drinking wine, eating frites and watching the boats pass through the loch, which is still cranked opened by hand. Time must move a little slower there.

Sail Amsterdam


Once every five years tall ships, naval ships, heritage ships, modern ships and pretty much anything else that floats, sails into the Amsterdam harbour as part of SAIL. The boats moor along the banks of the Ij for about a week and every night there's fireworks and a big party. 


On Saturday night Kurt, Rebecca, Toby and I took Bruce out for the first time in weeks (he's been in the shop) and got amongst the fray. The boats were bumper to bumper and the waves were pretty big. It got a little hairy at points, we all got a bit wet but luckily the wind died down as the moon came up. And fortunately we remembered to bring lights, even if they were just our bike lights!


We were just moored along the side taking a little breather when suddenly out of the dark came a tall ship, all lit up. It was so magestic and ghostly. But the best bit was after the fireworks finished. Every boat sounded it's horn. It was deafening and beautiful. That moment will always be one of my favourite memories of Amsterdam.

Blonde moustache


I love second hand shops that don't allow room for customers. I also love weird old European kitschy vacation stickers with blonde moustaches.

Tiny balls of silver


I think I've mentioned that I've been working at home one day a week. This is my fourth week trying this and it's been difficult at times to get into a groove. Last week I was distracted to hell. The week before I got really frustrated with my lack of tools/supplies. It's challenging when you are your own boss. But today has been good. Really good. I think I've been trying to do too much, I have such high hopes of what I can achieve in one day.

So amongst other bits and pieces, I made these earrings today, start to finish. I started by melting down some silver scraps into tiny balls, which I soldered together and added a post afterwards. It's quite difficult working with such tiny pieces but worth it- I really like this pair.

What happens if you end up bored in Palmerston North...


When I was 21 Filo Jax and I drove up north and spent a night in  Palmerston North on the way up to see my family. Fil and I were hanging in the square, smoking cigarettes and drinking too much coffee and basically bored as hell. We joked about going to get tattoos but that kinda seemed a little extreme (and imagine the kind of random tattoo you could end up with on a whim in Palmy?), so we settled on a piercing. He had a few already, as did I (it was 2001 remember!) so we each just got one more stud in one of our ears. I made this earring to wear in that ear. 

#1 Vondelpark



Maybe there's something between remembering and forgetting,
And that is what you find when you can't go home,
Can't quite remember your old friend's name,
But you follow the winding sigh his heart let in,
The slight banging of those dangerous, gingerbread shutters,
Where the glow within and the form of the appetite matters,
The rumor of those singing trees and the trail you are threading.


Hansel and Gretel - Anthony Lombardy

Poffertjes


Poffertjes, otherwise known as Dutch pancakes are a special treat that you often get at fairs or markets at Christmas, They are super lekker and even better when you get to make them yourself, like we did on Saturday at de Parade. It's a bit messy and you end up covered in icing sugar but it's all worth it. 


When we went back to NZ last we took back poffertje pans and bottles as gifts, which was a big hit. I used this recipe and I think it's perfect- and so easy! A gas stove top is best for these.



Ingredients
500g self-raising flour
2 large eggs
800ml milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
a pinch of salt
butter
icing sugar

Method
Sift flour into a large bowl. Combine milk, eggs and vanilla essence in a bowl and mix lightly. Add the wet mixture to the flour and beat well. Cover and stand batter in the fridge for as long as you can wait for (an hour or so is good).
Pour batter into a squeeze bottle. Place Poffertje pan on the gas ring at low-medium heat. Brush pan with butter and then squeeze the batter into each hole, filling it just below the rim. When bubbles start appearing in the batter, flip over each pancake gently in their holes with wooden tongs (or chopsticks). Cook untill golden.

Serve with butter and icing sugar.

Catsack


I can't remember who I was with when I bought this fabric but I remember thinking- "hmmm what will I do with it?" I love it cause it's weird and there's too many eyes. So I sewed it into a bag, a big roomy tote bag with lots of pockets for stuffing things in. A cat sack. 
I also am experimenting with these silver beads and this great silky ribbony material... I need to play with it a bit more, but I'm loving the little silver crimps I made to hold it all together. I might have to do some more of those. I just need Susie to come back from holiday so I can use her mill! I love her mill. If they didn't cost over 400 euros I would totally buy one for myself!

These are the people in your neighbourhood...


 We lived with Sarah and Simon for most of last year and now they live right around the corner. Hanging at their house always feels a bit like home.

Seize the night


I spent last night wrapped up in blanket, lying in a deckchair under the stars. Pluk de Nacht (Seize the Night) is a film festival held on the banks of the Ij. This is the third year I've been to it and I love it so much. It's such a cool event- it's free, they show great films and the waterfront at night is so beautiful. 
It was Mikey's last night too- he's leaves for Niffleheim (Nijmegen) today with his 3D camera. Good luck Mikey, watch out for those dirty Deutsch dustmen.

Pride


Despite the rain, Amsterdam turned it on for Gay Pride. It was so fun watching these two older guys next to us catching the attention of the cute boys of the boats, they were throwing out candy to their faves. But boy, did they make those boys work for it... 

Holiday in the future


I like the way that you can book a little holiday a bit into the future and it can feel like forever away but then suddenly it arrives and you are on a train thinking "wow, I'm on a train to Paris!" Yesterday I booked train tickets for a weekend in Paris in September. It should be Autumn then and I get all tingly thinking about Paris in Autumn.
These photos are from a trip to Paris that Toby and I took early last year, from my Pentacon TL-6 which I lugged all around Paris. It's a such heavy camera but it takes such weirdly beautiful images. These shots are from the start of the film which got exposed but somehow they capture a little bit of the feel of our trip

Human kindness


If you are falling, I'll put out my hands
If you feel bitter, I will understand

I love you
I am the milkman of human kindness
I will leave an extra pint


The milkman of human kindness - Billy Bragg