Monday, 30 January 2012

My new love (that you've probably been using for ages)

To begin with I didn't really see the attraction of Pinterest... but after using it for only days, I was hooked! If you've been hibernating or something and don't know what it is, Pinterest is "a vision board-styled social photo sharing website where users can create and manage theme-based image collections". It's well designed, easy to use and actually a great tool. I've been using it to keep track of things I want to make, recipes I want to try, great ideas and pretty things.

To put it simply, it's just cool. Let me know if you're not in and want an invite. You can find my pins here.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

What I'd like for Christchurch

As you all know, over the last year or so, Christchurch has changed, a lot. A few months ago I moved into a cottage on the edge of the CBD and since then, I'm starting to care a whole lot more about the rebuild of our once lovely city.

The old Press Building
I'm definitely in two minds about it though. Part of me just wishes they'd hurry up and get all the buildings demolished, so they can get building again. My workplace was once in the CBD but since February (and for periods before that too), we've been working in a cramped temporary location in the middle of nowhere. We have a new building that we were due to move into the week after the February quake, that survived much better than our old one (above), and I'm eager to get back into the CBD. I'll be able to walk to work from my new home, and I'm looking forward to having things to do at lunchtime and just enjoy the vibrancy of a city again.

From the Central City Plan
A larger part of me though, just wants them to do it right; to put time and effort into public consultation and research to make Christchurch even better than it was. Here are the five key changes identified in the Central City Plan to be critical to ensuring the Central City becomes a strong, resilient, vibrant and economically prosperous city again:
  • A greener more attractive city, supported by a wider and upgraded Avon River corridor, a greener Cathedral Square, new street trees throughout the Central City, 500 new green-rated buildings, rain gardens, surface stormwater treatment and a new network of neighbourhood parks.
  • A lower rise city with safe, sustainable buildings that look good and function well, supported by urban design controls, new regulations and incentives, strengthened heritage buildings with adaptive reuse, new lanes and courtyards and precincts of distinct activities, character and culture.
  • A compact Central Business District supported by business incentives, new regulation, well designed streetscapes, a redeveloped Convention Centre, new regional and central government offices, ultra-fast broadband and free WiFi.
  • Making the Central City a great place to live, work, play and learn, supported by high-quality inner city housing options and demonstration projects, residential incentives, improved access to a wide range of schools, new metropolitan sporting facilites, a new Cntral Library, new public art and performing arts venues and playgrounds.
  • A city easy to get to and around, supported by excellent walking and cycling paths, high-quality public transport, short-term free parking, a network of green two-way streets and an efficient and attractive ring road for traffic.
And you know what, I'm actually really impressed with those statements....but I'm still a little sceptical that it's going to be rushed. 

The winning design. Photo from here.
The Council also put together a 48-Hour Challenge where architects and designers were invited to redesign parts of the Central City. The winning design was The New Zealand Wood team's redesign of the Orion Site, displaying adaptive reuse, innovative architecture and civic landscaping. For a 48 hour task, they did a pretty awesome job. I'm loving those strips of trees and the raised buildings, very nice.

Conceptual art of Cathedral Square. Making the city fun - via The Pop-Up City.
I suspect that a lot of businesses that have moved out of the CBD have taken up leases in the suburbs, and won't bother moving back into the city. I guess that means there will be more spaces for parks and non-commercial buildings, which is great, but we need those people for the their vibrancy. So, we need to make the inner city a place where people want to come to - where they can relax and have fun. It used to be a sea of concrete - Cathedral Square was a drab open space with not much going for it... I much prefer this conceptual idea. And to make it fun... check out The Pop-Up City for heaps of cool, fun ideas, like having swings, or a 'transfer accelerator' (slide) instead of stairs. Seriously, who would take the stairs if you had the option of taking a slide?!

An idea for wider Christchurch that I heard at the last Pecha Kucha night we went to was from Kyle Lewis, who did a presentation titled An Urban National Park in Christchurch. His idea is to make a walking track that starts at the airport and does a loop of the city. Christchurch is the perfect place for this - it's super flat and has a diverse range of landscapes including beaches, coastal areas, tussock grasslands, parks and gardens, rivers, wetlands and forests. It would be pretty cool to be able to fly in and experience everything a city has to offer on foot, don't you think? I'd also like more cycle paths around the city, one's which aren't on roads, but tree lined paths connecting different parts of the city, that would be safe (the reason I don't cycle now is because I'm scared of getting hit by cars - so many cyclists do around here). Having a bicycle sharing system, like many European cities would be great too.

Of course, above all else, I want this city to be safe. Making a building cool, sustainable, fun or anything else means nothing if it isn't safe in this shaky place. 

If you're from Christchurch, what do you want for our city?

Saturday, 28 January 2012

It runs in the family

This creative thing, it must be genetic eh? How many crafters/designers/artists do you know who are the only creative one in their family? Not many I bet. And so, here's where I introduce my family members...

My Mum is a contemporary glass artist. She is so very clever and such an inspiration to me. She only studied Glass Design and Production in her early fifties and her work is beautiful. I had a wee go at making a paperweight and a bowl a few years back, it's hot, heavy and hard work. You can see a bit more of her work here and here.

And in a completely different way, my brother is just as talented. He completed a Diploma in 3D Animation a few years back and this video was his end of year project, pretty darn cool eh?! He also wrote, performed, recorded and mixed the music. He must have received all the musical genes from our parents - I definitely didn't!

Of course I can't leave out my wonderful Dad. He is very clever too, but not in a way that I can show you. In a somewhat 'typical New Zealand Dad' kinda way, he can just do everything - from building, to fixing anything without any prior knowledge of what he's doing.

Love ya all, thanks for the good genes!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Please Mr Postman

A few lovely looking books that are on their way to me:

Where Children Sleep
I stumbled upon James Mollison's site last week and was mesmerized by how such a simple idea can be so powerful in its message. Where Children Sleep is a beautifully presented book of "stories of diverse children around the world, told through portraits and pictures of their bedrooms." You can see some of the content on his website, I love the contrast of cultures, wealth and attitudes, and am looking forward to reading more about each child.

Missed Connections
I've been drooling over Sophie Blackall's blog for yonks and when I discovered she'd published a book of her paintings, I knew I had to get it. If you're not sure what she's about, she says it more eloquently than I ever could: Messages in bottles, smoke signals, letters written in the sand; the modern equivalents are the funny, sad, beautiful, hopeful, hopeless, poetic posts on Missed Connections websites. Every day hundreds of strangers reach out to other strangers on the strength of a glance, a smile or a blue hat. Their messages have the lifespan of a butterfly. I'm trying to pin a few of them down.

Oh, she also has an Etsy shop where you can buy her lyrical prints.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Music to warm my soul

I spend at least forty minutes in the car travelling to/from work every day and instead of listening to mindless drivel that's filled with advertising (also known as radio) I plug in my iPod and have a wee party in the car. I have a friend who has very similar music taste to me and we often do a music swap, which means songs pop up on my shuffle that I don't recognise but absolutely love. There's nothing better than discovering a new band, singer or song, and today I'm sharing a few that are tickling my fancy at the moment...

Oh Washington... When I found (Megan) Washington I was very surprised I hadn't come across her before. She's a singer and songwriter from Australia and is the perfect mix of infectious pop, witty lyrics and awesome instruments. How To Tame Lions is definitely my favourite, it's from her debut album I Believe You Liar and One Man Band is also very cool.

Another Australian discovery is Josh Pyke (cute website too). The Summer, from Chimney's Afire (the album has a paper-cut album art - this guys is definitely after my heart!) is gentle and poetic, simply beautiful. You Don't Scare Me is also a nice track.

Then there's Noah & The Whale, five English chaps I'm quite liking. If you like Give It All Back, also check out Five Years Time. It's even sweeter.

And I know I'm too late for Christmas... but A Very Little Christmas is the best Christmas album ever. It's a New Zealand beauty, put together by Little Monster Studio. With lyrics like "I don't want to think about it, Christmas is coming soon" and "Why does Santa ride a sleigh in the summer?", it's not your usual Christmas album and good listening all year round. You can download it here for free!

Oh, and one last one, this song is so sad but beautiful - Memory Lane by Elliott Smith. I found this live video of it, but the studio recording is so much better

Ahhh, so many artists in the world, so little time to discover them all!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The recipes for a great New Year

I got a couple of cookbooks for Christmas and since then my boyfriend and I have been cooking a whole heap more than we used to. We're really loving trying out new recipes and exploring new ingredients. I've eaten things I used to think were disgusting and actually enjoyed nearly all of it. Here's a few of the dishes which have stood out:

The first recipe we tried was Jamie Oliver's pork chops with crispy crackling, crushed potatoes and minty cabbage from Jamie's 30 Minute Meals and it was so good! The recipes are written a little differently - instead of telling you how to make each of the dishes to the meal separately, it shows you what order to do all the things at once - so everything is ready at the correct time (see the left of that pic to see what I mean). It seems more methodical to me, and after some initial hesitation, makes cooking delicious meals a lot easier. As Jamie says: "there's no faffing about - just good, fast cooking".   

One night I was even lucky enough to have tray-baked chicken and squashed potatoes cooked for me (from the same book). Ladies, here's a hint.... Leave your cookbooks laying around your boyfriend's house, and who knows what will happen, tee he he. It was delicious, and so nice to be cooked for, but still didn't quite top those pork chops.

Let me know if you'd like either of these recipes, but you should really just go and buy the whole book - you won't regret it! 

The sweet cherry tomato and sausage bake recipe from Jamie At Home is so simple, and for the time it takes, very very yummy. You simply throw it all in the over for an hour or so and then reduce the sauce. I love the flavour of balsamic vinegar and cherry tomatoes and when served over buttery mashed potatoes it's perfect!

And, the last dinner meal I'll show you today was thyme and orange pork from Donna Hay's Fast, Fresh, Simple. With only a few ingredients for the pork, it is so simple, and tastes amazing served with mashed potato and a simple green salad.. 

And just one awesome dessert to finish off the main meals - Bill Granger's Banana Butterscotch Pudding, oh so gooey and yum! Recipe here.

Oh, I also made some beetroot relish from this recipe (but I used red onion) which is awesome on burgers, and some aioli using this recipe. Yum!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Things you probably didn't know about me

Here's a few wee things you probably didn't know about me...
  • I was a very accident prone kid. During my fifth birthday party I put my foot through my brother's bike wheel (I was on the back), and had to be taken to hospital. My leg healed quite fast but I had to start school with a bandage around my head because my Dad threw a boomerang, which instead of returning nicely, thwacked straight into my forehead (not on purpose of course!). Of course it was while we were camping, in a beautiful spot over an hour away from any civilisation. When my parents were rushing me to the nearest doctor they got pulled over, but luckily the cop was nice enough to let them off a speeding ticket and escort them to the doctor in Lumsden. Weirdly though, I've never broken any bones.
  • I have a 'thing' about toilet paper. It has to be over the top of the roll. It just seems so wrong when it's not...
  • I got an 'A' Bursary. The only subject I got a 'C' in was Design. I'm now a Graphic Designer.
  • I was born with Craniosynostosis and had an operation when I was about six months old to fix it. I now have a kick-ass scar from ear-to-ear across the top of my head.
  • I drink Be Sleepy Tea to help me sleep.
  • I am currently addicted to playing Zuma's Revenge. Please don't play it unless you want to waste hours of your life. 
  • I was born just outside of Wellington, and lived in Nelson before moving to Dunedin. I spent all my school years in Dunedin and moved up to Christchurch to study at The Design and Arts College.
  • When I was younger my Mum started a business selling pressed flower pictures (in glass). She named her business after me - Emma K Pressed Flowers. There will be more on Mum later...
  • I am so incredibly terrified of three things - dentists, growing old and heights.
  • I love playing board/card games. Dominion is really good - if you haven't played it you should.
  • I can rarely remember if I've seen a movie before, or what happens in it even if I have. Most of the time this is a great thing - I can watch movies over and over without getting bored. I also have a habit of falling asleep while watching movies. 
  • I have 25 Scrabble boxes stacked in my room right now.

Monday, 23 January 2012

30 Before 30 - #24 Blog every day for ten days

Starting tomorrow, for the next ten days I'm going to write a blog post every day. I thought it was a good time to do it, while my Felt shop is pretty quiet, so they'll be more personal posts as not much news is coming from Freedom Creative at the moment.

Here's what they'll be about:
  1. Things you probably didn't know about me
  2. The recipes to a great New Year
  3. Music to warm my soul
  4. Please Mr Postman
  5. It runs in the family
  6. What I'd like for Christchurch
  7. My new love (that you've probably been using for ages)
  8. Not often seen - some photos of me
  9. Just for giggles
  10. Summer lovin'
You can see these ten posts by clicking here
    See my original 30 Before 30 post here
    See all 30 Before 30 posts here

      Monday, 16 January 2012

      30 Before 30 - #25 Go to Quail Island

      I've wanted to go adventuring on Quail Island since I moved to Christchurch eleven years ago, so last Saturday I took the ferry across the harbour with some friends. Quail Island is a recreational reserve, named after the now extinct native quail (there's heaps of introduced quail though, which are so cute!). The island was originally used as a quarantine station and as a small leprosy colony by the early European settlers and is now a popular destination for people wanting a short daytrip from Christchurch.

      We walked the track which loops the island and takes you past the old leprosy colony, the grave site of the one man who died on the island and many shipwrecks, and then stopped to have lunch under a tree, on top of a huge cliff overlooking the harbour and Lyttelton. For the rest of the afternoon we sat by the beach; relaxing and playing cards, frisbee and hacky. It was a really nice way to spend the day, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but not very far from home at all.

      See my original 30 Before 30 post here
      See all 30 Before 30 posts here

      Tuesday, 10 January 2012

      30 Before 30 - #2 Make Meringues

      Another quick, easy and yummy 30 Before 30 task done and dusted. There's not much to say really... I followed the recipe from the good old Edmonds Cookery Book, but used delicious sugar my stepmum gave me - a mix of caster sugar and rose petals. I also didn't cook them for as long as the recipe called for so they had a scrummy gooey centre - just the way I like them! Served with icecream and raspberries handpicked by my flatmate, while sitting in our garden reading a book I got for Christmas, complete bliss.

      See my original 30 Before 30 post here
      See all 30 Before 30 posts here

      30 Before 30 - #27 Try Pear Cider

      What do you do when you're out of town and have a few hours to spare between a wedding ceremony and the reception? Pop down to the pub (The General Practitioner in this instance), have a drink and tick off a task on your 30 Before 30 list.

      This one was a Monteith’s Crushed Pear Cider and was quite yummy. It was refreshing and much nicer than apple cider, with a much smoother finish. Still, I think I can find a nicer pear cider... any recommendations?

      See my original 30 Before 30 post here
      See all 30 Before 30 posts here