Home, garden and DIY – picks from our January newsletter

Some picks from our latest Home,garden and DIY newsletter:

cover for The can't cook bookcover for Colour recipescover for Essential oils for beginnerscover for Feeding Tommycover for Food bitescover for The home apothecarycover for Knit-and-crochet gardencover for Street fashion photography

Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight from your inbox.

The first cappuccino of the year

Book coverThere is nothing quite like the first cappuccino of the year. It holds in its bowl all the memories of  coffees past, the enjoyment of the present cup and the promise of all the good caffeine still to come. In that spirit, I believe I can face whatever twentytwelve throws at me.

I love my coffees in cafés. I like to savour my brew surrounded by the soothing murmur of conversation. I’ve watched the awkwardness of first time internet daters as they plot their way over the minefield of  their disparate lives; I’ve overheard job interviews go catastrophically wrong; and, to my horror, I now know that there is at least one man in Christchurch who showers with his socks on.

My fingers immediately itched to blog.

And in twentytwelve I hope to blog in a café – on the iPad that Father Christmas omitted to bring. In fact, I love cafés so much, I fantasize about owning one of my own some day. It will be book-lined and with free WiFi. I will name it “Café Paisley”. People will come for the decor alone. My customers will sit in comfy chairs, sip delicious coffees and nibble on tasty morsels. And as it’s my fantasy, therell be no decaf at Paisley and… There Will Be No Muffins.

I am certainly not the first person to link coffee, cafés and writing, take J.K. Rowling for starters – and the library has several items in the catalogue that feature coffee and coffee shops in the titles, such as:

Let’s raise our lattes to twentytwelve and resolve to indulge in at least one fantasy each. Happy New Year!

Reading books earns you prizes

Yeah right! No, it’s true. I’ll tell you how.

In my team meeting the other day we were examining the Christchurch City Council blue, that will soon be incorporated in library branding. It’s such a pretty blue. In fact, it’s cobalt blue. I learned this the next day when I was reading Choosing Colours by Kevin McCloud. It is the most fascinating book, because it explains the history of colours, how to use particular palettes to create a certain look for your home and lots of other fascinating arcane colour trivia. Did you know cobalt blue is in fact a black-based colour? That it has been used since the eighth century in China for their famous blue and white china …

So what does this have to do with earning prizes? Well, there I was in Elevate restaurant with our family quiz team, the Ratpack, on Tuesday night and the quizzler was … You guessed it! I am a colour.

Three clues later – I triumphed with … cobalt blue. 100 points on my Elevate card later, I am a very happy bunny.  You never know where reading books is going to take you.

Anarchy in the living room

I’m not really one for housework, so Punk house : interiors in anarchy was destined to be a winner with me.  Sure, a nice looking coffee table book edited by Thurston Moore (from Sonic Youth) might not be very punk, but these places deserve some kind of treatment.  Be it warehouse, treehouse, basement or farm, these low-cost dwellings provide shelter for touring bands, gig venues and the creative hub where many zines are published. I guess the houses could be viewed as a continuation of the 60s commune. 

The author and photographer Abby Banks was once in a band with the great name Vomit Dichotomy (is that when your liquids and your solids come out separately?).  Her idea for the photos came when she went to see some bands play at a punk house.  The house was for sale and its distinctive decoration was about to be dismantled.  Banks wanted to document it before it went away.  Quoted in the New York Times, she said  “I just think they’re really important and beautiful. For some people it will be their lifestyle forever, but for others it’s just a phase.”  The ephemeral nature of the houses is demonstrated by the fact that many of the places no longer existed by the time  the book had been published.  This got me reminiscing about some of the house set-ups I’ve visited that aren’t around now.  Christchurch must have had many similar establishments over time.  I’d love to hear about them.