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wreath-making |south by north

Last weekend I got together with a few friends to make festive wreaths. This meant an early start (which always seems worse on a Saturday somehow!) to head down to the flower markets to get supplies.

To say we went overboard would be an understatement. The words ‘kid’ and ‘candy shop’ spring to mind, except imagine four definitely grown-up women losing their marbles over three bunches for $10. Yep. We literally had to wedge ourselves in the car with flowers and greens stuffed around our legs and on our laps.

wreath-making | south by north

Flower-geddon, as it shall now be known, was followed by a very necessary breakfast and coffee break.
One of the girls has a lovely garden so we laid out a few beach towels, threw all the flowers in the middle and got to work. Now there are are already approximately 7,434,613,059 wreath tutorials online so I thought I would share a few tips instead.

wreath-making | south by north

- Try to get to a flower market for supplies. This will keep costs down considerably, and you will have a lot more choice. Look for a market that supplies to florists, they are usually open to the public on weekends.

- Choose a nice-looking wreath base. We had some natural grapevine wreath bases – these are pretty anyway, so you don’t have to cover every inch. The base could be worked into the design of the wreath, making it more versatile.

- Have some floral wire ready to secure larger stems. The grapevine bases are very dense, so you can poke stems straight into them and they stay put – the wire is handy for anything that is too heavy or feels a bit loose.

- Flowers that will dry nicely, or are already dried will prolong the life of your wreath. Native Australian flowers and leaves (eucalyptus, kangaroo paw, flannel flower etc) are perfect for this. Californian natives would also work really well. As well as natives we used holly, evergreen branches, lavender and dried seed pods.

- If you want to include fresh flowers, use them sparingly so that you can remove them when they die and still be left with a gorgeous dried wreath.

- Make a small half-wreath by wrapping a length of wire with floral tape, and securing the flowers with more floral tape. Make a tiny loop with the wire at each end and thread ribbon through. Bend the wire into an arc.

wreath-making | south by north

wreath-making | south by northwreath-making | south by northwreath-making | south by north

See more from the day on my, Jo or Olivia‘s instagram.



california: hiking in mount tamalpais

mount tamalpais | south by northDave arrived in San Francisco after I had been there for about ten weeks, and one of the things he was most keen to do was hike at Mount Tamalpais. We drove there across the Golden Gate Bridge (which was exciting enough as it is!) and wound our way up to the visitor centre. It was such an amazing drive, we couldn’t believe how high it was. San Francisco looked tiny from right at the top.

Map in hand, we decided to do a four mile round trip, the Steep Ravine trail down the mountain, and the Dipsea trail back up. Steep Ravine was a steep (doh) trail through a magical redwood forest, with babbling brooks and waterfalls along the way. It felt like fern gully come to life.

To come back up, the Dipsea trail starts with Cardiac Hill – this is exactly as you would imagine it to be, and I was rubbish at it. I had to pull it together when a 70 year old man went skipping past me as I was leaning against a tree trying not to get a cramp. Then is a gentle upward wind through a pine forest and along the coastal bluffs, with pretty ridiculous views of the ocean.

If you are in San Francisco it is definitely worth spending a day exploring round Mount Tamalpais – have you ever been?

mount tamalpais | south by northmount tamalpais | south by northmount tamalpais | south by northmount tamalpais | south by northmount tamalpais | south by north

diy: festive hanging paper votives

paper votive decorations | south by north

It’s Chriiiiiiiiistmaaaaaaaaaaas! Ok, well it’s not really (but it almost is). And that means it’s time to get the decorations out. My Scroogey rule is ‘no decorations/Mariah Carey before 1st December’, but I’ve made a little exception for these.

We already have a load of tree decorations inherited from family, but it’s always nice to make a couple of extra bits to go around the house. Last year I made these paper votives, so I decided to reuse the LED tealights and make a new, hanging version this year.

Instructions are below.

paper votive decorations | south by north

You will need:

- a few sheets of paper
– clear sticky tape
– ink and a stamp
– copper wire
– scissors

Cut a piece of plain paper to roughly 20cm by 10cm. You can tear one of the long edges for a less precise finish. Fold the two sides inwards so they overlap by a centimetre or so, and tape in place. Fold the top layer (taped side) upwards, creating a triangle on either side (see pic for clarity). Fold the top and bottom edges inwards to create the base of the bag, and tape in place.

paper votives | south by north

Flip the bag over, and stamp a design on the front. When the ink is dry, puff the bag out so that it stands up. Make a hole in each side on the creases, insert the wire and twist to seal in place. If you are worried about the paper tearing, put a small piece of tape on the inside to reinforce it before you make the hole. You can give the bag a little scrunch to get it in the exact shape you want.

Pop an LED tealight in the bag, and hang it somewhere festive.

I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but obviously real flame candles should not be used with these as they are made of paper.

Merry almost Christmas!

paper votive decorations | south by north

ice cream series: cherry ice cream

cherry ice cream| south by north

It’s starting to look a lot like summer down here in the Southern Hemisphere, and that can only mean one thing – IT’S ICE CREAM TIME. The ice cream series is back (bitches) and I could not be happier about it.

This is my first batch this season, and it is scrummy. I chose cherries because they are one of the ultimate summer fruits. They produce an amazing sweetness and colour, and excellent drippy juice that stains your mouth and hands. Fake cherry flavour is one of my least favourite, real cherries however… I could eat them for days.

Also, look at that sweet reusable ice cream tub that my friend bought for me! It has a rather fetching pink lid and makes sneaking a spoon of this seventeen a couple of times a day so much more fun.

Scroll down for the recipe.

cherry ice cream | south by northcherry ice cream | south by north


You will need:
1 cup of pitted cherries
3/4 cup of sugar
small squeeze of lemon
3 tablespoons of skimmed milk powder
2 cups of cream

Heat the pitted cherries and sugar in a small pan. Keep stirring to make sure the sugar doesn’t burn. Once all the sugar has dissolved and the fruit is soft, remove from the heat and add a small squeeze of lemon. Make sure not to skip the lemon! Adding a small amount of acid to your dissolved sugars will help ensure that they stay soft in the freezer and don’t turn icy. Let the syrup mixture cool and in a fresh container blitz with a hand blender, then strain.
Put the cream and skimmed milk powder in a large bowl, and whisk until the powder is well combined and not lumpy. Add the cherry syrup and mix thoroughly. This is when any leftover skimmed milk powder lumps will really show, you can just whisk these out.
The skimmed milk powder is important, as it gives your ice cream that soft, almost chewy quality. Whole milk powder will not work in the same way.
Thoroughly chill your mixture, then churn according to the instructions on your ice cream machine. This would probably work without an ice cream maker too, but will be a lot more dense and hard once frozen.

cherry ice cream | south by north

look! it’s all different!

south by north blog

Things have been given a bit of razzle dazzle around here, and the blog has a brand new look. It hadn’t been updated for two years, so it seemed about time.

A few things have changed:

- Firstly, it will just be me, Claire, posting on on here from now on. Don’t worry – there are no dramas, David has his own design blog that he posts on more regularly and this space had just evolved to be more my thing. Unless I grow a third arm any time soon he’ll still be here in spirit, helping me to photograph some of the tutorials.

- Secondly, there are re-jazzed category pages for easy browsing of my photography, diy, travel and food posts. Fancy.

- Thirdly, I wrote ‘South by North’ in nice ink and David kindly made it into a logo of sorts (see, I told you he wasn’t going far). So booya, I have a logo-type-thing.

Hope you like the new look, any feedback will be received with open ears.

happy monday links | three

south by north

Now that the seasons are changing I am fully starting to understand America’s love affair with ‘fall’ – you literally can’t move for pumpkins. America loves a pumpkin. And who am I kidding, when they are this teensy and cute, so do I.

Even though it is still pretty warm in San Francisco you can definitely sense the seasonal change. I’m so ready for tights and boots, I’ve pretty much been chasing the sun round the world this year. Between the summer in the UK and then arriving here I really only had three weeks of winter in Australia. My body clock is going to be all over the show when I get back to summery Sydney in a few weeks.

It’s a bumper pack this week! There is so much internet goodness happening at the moment – here are a few links to enjoy.

Please give me this entire outfit immediately and I will wear it every day. Thanks.

Let’s all go to Croatia, it looks like a dream.

I love this sweet and simple outdoor styling.

This series is so gorgeous and inspiring.

Feed this to me now. And I’ll wash it down with this.

Beautiful tones on this grid.

Woofstock is a thing.

san francisco | two

san francisco | south by north

My time in San Francisco is just flying by! Can someone please put a pause button on 2014?! I’m pretty sure it was January about five minutes ago. Anyway – I’ve only got a few weeks left, eep. Here are some snippets of my second month.

Dream princess barbie houses on Alamo Square | Can’t get enough of the sunsets round here | Spending a lot of time in the Mission | Art in progress | Walks on the Embarcadero

Taken on my iPhone, edited with VSCO Cam. To see more, hop over to my instagram and grid.

san francisco | south by north

san francisco | south by north

san francisco | south by north

san francisco | south by north

rose geranium lemonade

rose geranium lemonade | south by north

I’ve been visiting the San Francisco Farmers’ Market in the Ferry Building most Saturdays. It is pretty close to where I am staying, and is just a really lovely place to potter round. It also helps that most of the produce stalls are giving out free samples, and you can pretty much eat your body weight in peaches.

Last time I was there I found a herb stall selling bunches of rose geranium. I had never actually come across this before, and incase you haven’t either let me tell you that it smells di-vine. You can definitely pick out the distinctive rosy scent, but it is less flowery and much fresher than a pure rose smell. The lady running the stall suggested that I add it to lemonade, and that’s exactly what I did. It adds a delicious and fragrant little something to classic lemonade, and my only regret is that I didn’t have some ice cold gin to add to the glass.

Scroll down for the recipe.

rose geranium lemonade | south by north

rose geranium lemonade | south by north

rose geranium lemonade | south by north

To make six servings, you will need:
– handful of rose geranium leaves
– half a cup of sugar
– four lemons
– water
– edible flowers for garnish

To make the rose geranium syrup, put the sugar in a saucepan and add half a cup of water and heat. Once the sugar starts to dissolve throw in the rose geranium leaves and keep on a medium heat. The leaves will go brown pretty quickly, that’s ok! Once the sugar is completely dissolved, put a lid on the pan and leave to cool thoroughly. When it has cooled completely strain out the leaves and keep the syrup in a jar in the fridge. It should last for a couple of weeks.

Squeeze the juice out of all of the lemons and into a small jug. To assemble the drink, pop a few ice cubes in a glass and fill two thirds of the way with water (you could use still or fizzy). Top up with the freshly squeezed lemon juice, and add a few spoons of syrup to taste. Oh and if you feel like making these more fun, leave a bit of space for the gin.