What does Kōwhai mean?
"Kōwhai (Māori pronunciation: [kɔːɸai] or [kɔːfai]) are small woody legume trees within the genus Sophora that are native to New Zealand. There are eight species, with Sophora microphylla and S. tetraptera being the most recognised as large trees. Their natural habitat is beside streams and on the edges of forest, in lowland or mountain open areas. Kōwhai trees grow throughout the country and are a common feature in New Zealand gardens. Outside of New Zealand, kōwhai tend to be restricted to mild temperate maritime climates.
The blooms of the kōwhai are widely regarded as being New Zealand's national flower, although they have no official status as such.
The word kōwhai is also used in the Māori language for the colour yellow, because of the colour of the flowers."
Chocolate Lemon Slice
So in our family, Chocolate Lemon Slice is an absolute treasure. It's not exactly hard to make, but it's time-consuming - and it gets eaten so fast! So it's a special occasion treat.
When I saw that one of the October Spoonflower teatowel challenges was about family recipes, I was thrilled! While we were at the family bach in 2014, I considered making a teatowel using a drawing of the lemons on the tree and mum's handwritten recipe, but I never got further than a quick ideas board. This challenge was a great chance to revisit the design and make it work, as Tim Gunn would say!
Some time ago, while we were in Geneva, my mother chaired a Cookbook Committee for the American Women's Club of Geneva. Although it was purportedly for American women, in practice, many expats from all over the world were involved - and my Kiwi mum was in charge! For those who know her, this will not come as any kind of a surprise. She's the source of my organisational skills.
Chocolate Lemon Slice - the recipe
1/2 cup (120g) butter
1 cup (120g) powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups (180g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Cream butter and sugar; add egg, then beat again and add flour and baking powder. Press into a greased 10x14” (25x35cm) pan. Bake in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 15 to 20 minutes. When cool, cover with filling.
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup (60g) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
Filling – method:
Combine butter, powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon rind and juice. Heat until smooth and pourable. Cover base and leave until set. When set, cover with icing.
2 cups (240g) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
Icing – method:
Mix powdered sugar, cocoa, and vanilla in a bowl. Bring butter and water to a boil and add to powdered sugar mixture. Beat until smooth.
Drizzle over filling and smooth out as much as possible – don’t worry if it’s a little uneven. Cut into squares to serve. Makes about 30 pieces.
The squares keep well in an airtight container – if they last that long!
I took the original drawing that I did at the bach three years ago, redrew it on a larger scale (with finer lines), drew some extra lemons, and created a background.
Then, I typed up the recipe (another reason to have it on the blog, lol), coloured in my lemons, and tadaaa! Ready to go :)
Family Recipe teatowel - the brief
"Family traditions are especially present during the holidays as everyone gathers in merriment and celebration around the dinner table. For this week’s challenge, share a family recipe that is a yearly staple. Whether it’s Grandma’s famous casserole or the wiggly fruit jelly salad that mysteriously makes an appearance, we want to see what recipe completes your holiday traditions! Entries will be submitted at the Linen Cotton Canvas fat quarter size (27″ x 18”) but previewed during voting as a Spoonflower Special Edition Tea Towel (16″ x 24″). Submissions close October 3, 2017 at 3 p.m. eastern daylight time. Voting begins October 5, 2017. See official rules."
From the Spoonflower blog
I hope that you will vote for my entry when voting begins!
Here it is on Spoonflower now:
I print my fabrics through Spoonflower, an amazing and unique service that allows designers to upload their digital designs and print short runs in a range of fabrics, gift wrap, and even wallpaper. Through their sister companies, Roostery and Sprout, designers can make their designs available as ready-to-sew patterns and homewares.
Spoonflower fosters a great community of creatives, and one of the ways that they do that is through their weekly design challenges. I have set myself the target of entering as many challenges this month as I can.
"Ring in the new year with a favorite Spoonflower design tradition: Tea Towel Calendars. Celebrate 2018 (the year of the dog!) with a tea towel calendar design for the new year ahead. Need a little design kick-start? Find a 2018 calendar template here!* Entries will be submitted at the Linen Cotton Canvas fat quarter size (27″ wide x 18” high, landscape orientation) but previewed during voting as a Spoonflower Special Edition Tea Towel (16″ wide x 24″ high, portrait orientation). Submissions close September 26, 2017 at 3 p.m. eastern daylight time. Voting begins September 28, 2017. See official rules."
From the Spoonflower blog
I've been following the posts of the Island Bay Marine Education Centre for some time now, and I just love all the photographs that they share. One of their star creatures is the magnificent Fabio the octopus.
I mean, seriously. Just LOOK at him. He's amazing. You can visit Fabio and all his friends every Sunday from 10am to 3pm until 17 December 2017. The Centre will re-open on Sunday 21st January 2018.
I had so much fun choosing and sketching portraits of Fabio. This is the final drawing - I love the movement that the tentacles give him - almost like a dramatic, Dracula-cape flourish.
I combined Fabio with some elements from my Rockpool design range to create my colourable teatowel entry to the competition. The drawing's the thing - I don't mind at all where I place. It's more a case of getting it done.
Looking forward to seeing the other entries!
Why Halloween in NZ, though?
So the other day, I noticed that craft shops here in NZ already have Halloween decorations for sale. One part of me rebelled - it's an American tradition, and it's not something that has ever been a big deal in NZ. But then I thought about the fact that I have an international audience, and Halloween is certainly fun. And when Spoonflower's Vintage Halloween Design Challenge came through, I thought, "why not?", and posted an Inspiration Competition on my Facebook page. I do these periodically to stop myself from getting too complacent - it's fun to challenge myself to draw what people suggest, too!
There were a lot of good suggestions, so while I waited for them to percolate through and see if a design came out, I decided to revisit an old drawing style from my secondary school years.
The days of the old school yard
I was lucky enough to attend International schools as a child - and it was a real culture shock to step back into the NZ school system in my second year of secondary school. It really felt like putting on the brakes - and art class was no different, although it seemed promising at first. In my first year back, we had a wonderful art teacher, Mr. Coke, who called me 'My Good Man' as his running dad-joke (my maiden name is 'Goodman'). He was an excellent teacher. Unfortunately, we got another teacher for the next year. I don't know what was going on with her, but several of the other students suggested that she drank. She certainly spent a lot of time in the back room, although I never remember her smelling of alcohol. It was a frustrating time - we weren't allowed to go and get supplied ourselves, we had to ask her - and she would come back, a solid 5 minutes later, with something completely different.
She was also not terribly inspiring. We spent most of our time with the uninspiring choice of glass bottles or gourds as a still life. It was School Certificate year, so we were very driven and busy, and our work was guided by the need to finish the year with a portfolio and workbook - so we had other distractions.
Please - no more gourds...
Sixth form was internally assessed - and didn't have a portfolio requirement. The pressure was off - but the gourds? The gourds were still there. It felt like month after month, we had nothing but them to work from - so I got frustrated, and started adding some surrealist touches to my (bored) painting. I eventually decorated my portfolio cover, and my chest of drawers, with these fairly silly, if somewhat menacing, designs.
Given that, what with the Halloween design I was mulling, there were probably going to be pumpkins in my near future, I decided that it would be fun to revisit the fanciful gourds-with-faces motif.
Halloween inspiration challenge winner
Now that I had taken some time to think and draw, I went back and read through the entries for my competition - and one stood out, both for originality and humour.
Of course, this was a must-draw, even if I couldn't necessarily do the idea justice. I did a bit of research on poses, then got drawing.
I used the colours from my new 'Halloween Stripe' design, and leaves from my 'Autumn Bouquet' range, and the jack-o-lantern pumpkin from the sketch itself.
This design has now been added to my Halloween series, and once our proofs arrive, it will be available for sale in my Spoonflower shop, too!