Category Archives for Archive

Resin panels

resin panels, bathroom design, 3-formWho could not love the look of these panels? These are by a company called 3-Form out of the US, and part of their Varia Ecoresin line. Distributed in New Zealand by Carter Holt Harvey, these are translucent resin panels in a variety of design choices. With a huge range, my personal favorite is the Organics collection, which offers not just a natural look, but is truly natural! They suspend real materials in the resin, things like Bear Grass and twigs with names like Thatch and Ting Ting! The one in the photo above is called “Hydrangea Thatch” and yes, those are real flower petals and twigs suspended in clear resin!

this one is Criss Cross,3-form, bathroom design, door panel

and here’s Green Tea:3-form, resin panel, closet design

There are so many uses for these amazing panels! They add interest while letting the light in. And they can create a look and feel that textured glass cannot. I have used some of the organics as inserts into cabinet doors to create a Japanese style in a couple of bathrooms. For closets and entry doors, there is privacy, but still the light comes through, and these are so much more interesting than frosted glass. For a kitchen, so many different and interesting looks can be achieved with 3-Form inserts in cabinet doors. For a bathroom design, I used Fossil Leaf  as a shower door panel in place of glass. The subtle, clear leaf design echoed the leaf imprint in the floor tiles. One of my favorite San Francisco restaurants uses Bamboo Rings as the back wall for their line up of drinks bottles. Back lit, and a perfect compliment to the bamboo floors and panels used throughout, they look so incredibly cool!

Can you tell that I just love these panels? They are so beautiful, so interesting, so unique! With these, we can create a truly individual accent. Add to that, they are so environmentally friendly! These panels are made from a minimum of 40% pre-consumer recycled resin.



Just an old fashioned girl from San Francisco

I’m an old fashioned girl. My Blackberry is just a phone, my i -Touch is just for music and I hand write appointments in my calendar book. So this blog will be like they were in the beginning. The word “blog” stands for “web log” and the early ones were online journals. The author, usually an anonymous nobody, would spout opinions, observations and feelings, about anything and everything, without regard for the audience. In fact, many never had, or expected, much of an audience.  Then they started to catch on and they changed. Today, blogs have morphed into everything from a full website in blog format to, most commonly, a  “News & Events” section for current topics and product information.

I expect to have some of that. But mostly, I will be musing on a personal level about all things design.  As they relate to my journey, my adventure if you will, getting established as a designer in my new country.  Along the way I’ll be renovating my own home and will document that process here. And I’ll try to refrain, but there may be some ranting and raving along the way. Like, why are New Zealand kitchens so boring?!! And why is there so much white everywhere?!!

Oops, sorry. That just slipped out.  Amongst all the wonderful and glorious things about living here, sometimes a girl from San Francisco can have a tough time in the world of New Zealand design. Perhaps you understand. If so, I hope you will keep me company on my journey. And I would love to hear what you have to say too!





Lighting, Lighting and more Lighting!

Lighting is one of my passions. Okay, I do have a few of them, in design that is. I get weak in the knees over beautiful tiles, can get unseemly over shiny taps, and turn to jelly over fabulous, well built joinery. But lighting! Now there’s a really special world. Well, until I moved to New Zealand that is. One lighting store after another had white pendant lights, white ceiling fixtures, plain sconces, with barely a blown glass shade in sight. Even the really high end stores, with European imports, seemed devoid of anything that didn’t look like it belonged in a Woody Allen fantasy of the future. All stark. All plain. All the same.

Until now! Finally, some of my favorite light fixtures are being imported into New Zealand! Hinkley, with their beautiful outdoor lighting and the glamorous Frederick Ramond Collection. Kichler Lighting, voted #1 in 2011, and including a full line of fans with built in lighting. And my true love, Hubbardton Forge Lighting! Here are just a few examples of sconces used in bathrooms:

lighting, wall sconces, modern sink basin, tile design, white tiles

vanity and lightingJapanese bath with lighting

Hubbardton Forge was one of my go-to companies on so many projects, in rooms throughout the house, because of their versatility. They have collections that allow you to have the same, or very similar, look throughout the house. Perfect for our open plan style homes, as you look from one room through to another, there is a consistent design feel throughout. Since they offer all of their models in multiple finishes and multiple design options, this means that rather than all being the same, they can be unique while still maintaining a cohesive design.

A Dog Shower

For the person who has everything, including dogs! How about an indoor/outdoor shower to wash the bush and the beach off those pooches before they come inside your beautiful clean home?tile design, dog shower, specialty shower design


These clients live at the edge of a large reserve, and have two large flat coat retrievers. The owner takes the dogs for a run daily, either in the bush or off to the beach. Everyone comes back covered in mud and sand. The solution was to convert the former laundry into this clever and useful specialty shower. One wall of this room is shared with the garage, so a door was placed there. Then the whole room, including floor and ceiling, was covered in durable and easy to clean ceramic tile. The other door, the one shown in the photo, opens into the house.tile design, speciality bathroom design, dog shower

The custom built bench lifts out of the way so that there is plenty of room for washing, dogs and yourself if needed, when coming in through the garage door from outside. When the bench is dropped back down, this creates an area for drying off before entering the house.

And with all of these amenities, who says it’s only for the dogs?!


Roast Chicken

Everyone knows how to roast a chicken, right? I have been roasting chickens for as long as I have been cooking. When I was at university, I went on a diet that consisted of eating nothing but roast chicken and tomatoes. Nothing else, breakfast lunch and dinner, just chicken and tomatoes! I would roast chickens three at a time so there was always cold chicken to take with me to work and classes. But this roast chicken recipe is my favorite! The easiest, producing delicious, perfect chicken every time!


whole chicken, size 14 or larger*

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and fresh ground pepper

garlic powder and paprika (optional)

potatoes for roasting

vegetables for roasting

1. Heat oven to 190 degrees centrigrade. Wash and dry the chicken, inside and out. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the cavity and rub around. Place chicken into large roasting dish. With breast side up, rub olive oil all over skin. Sprinkle liberally, in this order, with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika (if using).The paprika adds a beautiful red colour to the roasted skin, besides adding flavour.

2. Flip chicken over so the bottom is facing up, and repeat above process with olive oil and seasoning. Leave chicken in this position, with back up, and place in oven for 35 – 45 minutes, until skin is nicely browned.

3. While the chicken is roasting, scrub the potatoes but do not peel. Washed white or red jacket potatoes work best. Cut potatoes into 4 – 5 cm chunks. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, along with garlic powder and paprika if using.

4. Prepare vegetables for roasting. Carrots and parsnips work really nicely here. Peel and cut into chunks, then toss with potatoes. Other vegetables can be added, such as red onions, quartered, or whole courgettes cut in half. But these should be added to the pan last, not tossed.

5. Remove chicken from oven and carefully flip over so that the breast is facing up. Add potatoes and vegetables all around the chicken, then place back in the oven for a further 35 – 45 minutes, or until done. To tell if the chicken is cooked, pierce the dark meat to see if the juices run clear. Or check the temperature – the breast should be 70 degrees C at it’s thickest point, and the thigh should be 82 degrees C.

6. Remove the chicken from the pan, letting the juices from the inside drain out. Rest for 5 – 10 minutes before carving. The potatoes and vegetables should be done at the same time as the chicken. But if it is a small chicken and has cooked quickly, you may need to put the pan back into the oven while the chicken rests.

7. As for those yummy pan juices – I like to drain off the top layer of fat, getting down to the concentrated flavours that have cooked out, dribbling these over the potatoes and veges and around the chicken. Or use as you like to create your own gravy. (I am not very good at gravy, so you are on your own for this part!)

Serves 4

*Cooking times may need to be adjusted for larger or smaller chickens. For smaller than size 12, or baby chickens, roast for the entire time with breast side up, on a rack placed in the pan if you want a crispy bottom


Garlic and Herb Crusted Lamb

A low cal, low fat lamb recipe from the Cooking Light series. And so yum you won’t even know it’s healthy!

4 whole garlic heads

1 tbls Dijon mustard

1 tbls olive oil

1 tbls thinly sliced fresh chives

1 tbls fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped

3.5 kg leg of lamb

12  fresh garlic slices

1¼  tsp salt, divided

½ tsp freshly ground pepper

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs from French baguette (115 grams)

2 ¼ cups low-salt beef broth

½ cup Merlot or other dry red wine

2 ½  tbls cornstarch

Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

  1.  Preheat oven to 175 degrees celcius
  2. Remove white papery skin from garlic heads (do not peel or separate the cloves) Cut off top portions of garlic heads. Wrap garlic heads in foil. Bake at 175 degrees for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes. Squeeze garlic heads to extract pulp. Discard skins. Place garlic pulp, mustard, and oil in a food processor; process until smooth. Stir in chives and thyme leaves.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 220 degrees (celcius)
  4. Trim fat from lamb. Cut 12  ¾-inch slits in lamb; place a fresh garlic slice in each slit. Sprinkle surface of lamb with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper; rub with roasted garlic paste mixture. Press breadcrumbs over surface of lamb. Place lamb on a broiler pan. Insert meat thermometer into thickest part of lamb, making sure not to touch bone.
  5. Bake at 220 degrees for 10 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 160 degrees. Bake an additional 2 hours and 10 minutes or until thermometer registers 60 degrees (celcius) (medium-rare) to 68 degrees (medium). Remove lamb from rack; place on a shallow serving platter. Lightly cover with aluminium foil; let stand 15 minutes.
  1. Drain fat from bottom of pan (do not scrape pan). Place broiler pan on stovetop over medium-high heat. Add broth, and bring to a boil, scraping to loosen browned bits.
  2. Combine red wine and cornstarch, and stir with a whisk. Add to beef broth, and return to boiling. Cook 1 minute or until mixture is slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in ¾ teaspoon salt, and serve immediately with lamb. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired. Yield: 20 servings (serving size: 3 ounces lamb and 2 tablespoons sauce). (884 kj/ 211 cal per serving, 28% from fat).

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (Cook’s Illustrated)

My go-to favorite cookbook series are the Cook’s Illustrated books. Also known as American’s Test Kitchen, as the name implies, these books are all about finding the very best version of every recipe they tackle and every recipe in their many books, is can’t fail and totally delish! 


For this chocolate chip cookie recipe, we wanted to duplicate, at home, the big, delicious, chewy chocolate chip cookies bought in trendy specialty cookie shops. One key element in developing this chocolate chip cookie recipe was melting the butter, which gave the cookies a chewier texture. After numerous tests varying the type of flour and the proportion of flour to butter, and sifting and not sifting, we decided that the best cookie resulted from unsifted bleached all-purpose flour, which has a lower protein content than unbleached. Also, the problem of the cookies hardening after several hours was eliminated by the addition of a single egg yolk; the added fat acted as a tenderizer. (less)


You can substitute white, milk chocolate, or peanut butter chips for the semi- or bittersweet chips called for in the recipe. In addition to chips, you can flavor the dough with 1 cup of nuts, raisins, or shredded coconut.


2 1/8

cups bleached all-purpose flour (10 1/2 ounces)


teaspoon table salt


teaspoon baking soda


tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly


cup light brown sugar (7 ounces)


cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)


large egg


large egg yolk


teaspoons vanilla extract


cups chocolate chips or chunks (semi or bittersweet)


  1. 1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position. Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. 2. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
  3. 3. Whisk melted butter and sugars in medium large bowl until combined. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. Using rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in chips and turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with spatula.
  4. 4. Bake until top is light golden brown, slightly firm to the touch, and edges start pulling away from sides of pan, 27 to 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove bars from pan by lifting foil overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.



  • 1. Line the baking pan with two sheets of foil placed perpendicular.
    • 2. Use the foil handles to lift the cooked brownies or bar cookies from the pan.



Chicken and Vegetable Stew

A modified Hungarian dish, though not all that modified. This was always one of my favorites, something so comforting about the mild flavours, my favorite veges in that yummy chicken broth. Yes, I actually loved my vegetables as a child and I still do! The only changes I have made to mom’s original recipe are the addition of a little spice to add some bite. And of course, coriander was not a typical Hungarian ingredient, so that too is new. My mother was beside herself at the sacrilege of my changes, but even she had to agree that, though not traditional, my version is quite delicious!

1-2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil

1-2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 yellow capsicum, seeded and chopped

1 large leek, sliced

1 whole chicken, cut in pieces, with skin and bones

1 cauliflower, cut in large florets

2 large carrots, sliced thick

1 medium parsnip, sliced

1 cup frozen peas

fresh coriander for serving

In a large casserole pan, heat oil and lightly fry garlic. Add capsicum and leeks, cook on medium heat until soft. Add chicken, stir all ingredients together and cook until chicken is white on all sides. Add water to almost cover chicken. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a brisk simmer and cook 15 minutes. Add carrots and parsnip and continue cooking on low heat until carrots begin to soften. Add cauliflower, stir, continue cooking. When cauliflower is soft but still crisp, add peas, stir and continue cooking until cauliflower is completely done. Garnish with fresh coriander, serve in bowls with hot, crunchy french bread.

Serves 4

*For a lighter version, this can be made with chicken skin removed. But keep the bones as they add oodles of flavour.

**This will be more soup than stew. It can be thickened by adding a roux. But I find it more soothing as a soup, especially on a cold night. To prepare this as the milder, original Hungarian recipe, delete the garlic, peppers and leeks, saute the carrots and parsnips in the oil, then sauté the chicken and continue as above. Also delete the cilantro garnish

Vegetable Stir Fry with Smoked Salmon & Roasted Potatoes

I’m usually too busy to think about how to cook creatively, too many other things running through my head to make room for recipe inspiration. But every once in awhile, with the right ingredients, something will come to me. This dish was inspired by the most delicious smoked salmon I would buy weekly at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market in San Francisco. Which is one of the most fabulous places in the world, if you are ever in San Francisco, don’t miss it!

This dish is best made with a very firm smoked salmon, or similiar firm textured smoked fish. The softer smoked salmon, such as from a package, will fall apart in this dish and won’t have the same flavour.

2–3 med firm Potatoes, sliced

2-3 tbsp Olive Oil

Black pepper, ground

Paprika and Cayenne (optional)  to taste

1 small brown onion, chopped

6 white mushrooms, sliced

1 medium leek, sliced

1 capsicum, sliced

1 bunch Chinese Broccoli, (gai lan), stems only, cut in 2 cm pieces

1 cup Round Beans, cut in 2 cm pieces

¼ cup (no sodium) chicken broth

1-2 cups Smoked Salmon, cut in chunks

Saute broccoli in oil and garlic until well coated and just beginning to brown slightly. Add chicken broth and simmer until it begins to soften. Add round beans, toss, coat and simmer on very low heat.

Toss sliced potatoes in olive oil and seasonings to taste. Layer in a separate pan and roast in oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit until done.

In another skillet, sauté garlic in olive oil. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add leeks and capsicum, stir and cook on medium heat until they begin to soften. Add mushrooms and continue cooking, stirring frequently. Turn off heat on broccoli and beans, but keep covered. When mushrooms begin to shrink and soften, add broccoli and beans along with all liquid and garlic and stir together. When all vegetables are done, add salmon, toss with all other ingredients and cook for an additional few minutes to blend all flavors. Serve with roasted potatoes.

Serves 2

Hungarian Chicken Paprikas

I was 3 years old when my family immigrated to America from Budapest. While I was growing up my mother cooked all the traditional dishes, making do as best she could with available ingredients. Most dishes were too heavy (with fat) and took too long to prepare so I adapted the classic Hungarian Chicken Paprikas (pronounced pupreekash) to the recipe below. Changes from the traditional recipe include using oil in place of lard, deleting flour and heavy cream, and substituting rice or packaged dumplings for the traditional homemade egg dumplings. 


1 chicken, cut into pieces

2 tbsp oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 large green pepper, chopped

1 large tomato, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp Hungarian red paprika

1 tsp salt

1 cup (8 oz) sour cream

In a large casserole dish or dutch oven, cook the onion in the oil, covered, on low heat, until translucent and soft, but not brown. Add chicken and tomato and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes.  Stir in paprika.  Add green pepper, salt and a small amount of water.  Continue cooking, covered, over low heat, about 30 minutes, adding small amounts of water only as needed to keep from burning. Add sour cream and continue cooking until done, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally as the sauce thickens. Serve over rice or Spaetzle (small dumplings.)

 Serves 4

 (published Sunset Magazine, December 2005)


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