Sunday, September 26, 2010

Extra-ordinary Birthday Love

It ages me to think back to Std 3, and the days when new baby's just miraculously appeared .... and telling my childhood friend, 'Guess what - I have a baby sister'. My Mum made this cake for my little sister's 40th Birthday. We all went along to party with her on Saturday at lunchtime. My Mum and Dad are amazing parents - in fact my sister Julie got the best kind of parents in the world! You see she has intellectual challenges so this means life hasn't been that straight forward for her and at times this has impacted hugely on Mum and Dad. However in spite of that they have remained totally dedicated and involved in Julie's life. This has not been an easy road at times.

The preparations for her birthday celebrations came at a time that both Mum & Dad were really unwell with a nasty bout of flu - but 'true to form' they soldiered on and the party went ahead as planned and a good time was had by all. I just love Jul's cake and the sandwiches that Mum made were particularly delicious - there was loads of food of course. Darling man took some of those sammies in his lunch box for night shift last night and reported that they were very tasty - especially the mustard zing! They certainly had loads of love poured into them. We had the last of them toasted with our Leek & Potato soup for lunch today!

Julie is an artist - I love her pictures - I love that they are so free and crazy - bright and colourful - and always seem to include some interesting detailing work. Since no birthday is complete without presents we bought Julie some pastels and colored pencils that you can turn into water colors with water and a brush. I know she will enjoy using them and who knows - she may produce some more 'masterpieces' for us to enjoy. We put them on the fridge where we can see them often. She blesses us with her artistic gift.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Birthday Quake

One of our grown up girls has just had a birthday so today I decided to make her a special cake for tonight's family dinner. The Edmond's recipe - Macaroon Cake - is like an enlarged, slightly more complicated version of a Louise Cake. However as I said last week - things don't always turn out the way we plan.

When it was nearing the end of it's cooking time the topping began to look over-done. So I whipped it out of the oven trying not to burn my fingers on the hot, sticky, dripping jam, most of which had by now landed in the bottom of my oven! AND there was a crack down the middle of the topping akin to a Canterbury Earthquake fault-line. On closer inspection I also discovered that the underneath cake bit had a 'pool' of un-cooked mixture in the centre... so with topping removed and waiting in the wings I returned base cake to oven for more cooking. I then re-constructed the whole affair on a fancy plate and I sincerely hope it tastes better than it looks!

Anyways, at least it is made with Jodi's lovely free-range eggs, Darling Man's homemade/home-grown Strawberry Guava jam and I poured lots of love into it too. I hope these special ingredients suffice to rescue our Darling Girl's 'birthday quake'.

Macaroon Cake

100 gm butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup strawberry jam

Topping -
3 eggs whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups coconut
1 tsp almond essence

Melt butter in saucepan large enough to mix all the ingredients. Stir in sugar and egg yolks. Sift flour and baking powder into the saucepan. Add milk and vanilla and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Spread mixture into a 20cm ring tin lined on the base with baking paper. A spring-form pan or loose-bottom cake tin is best. Spread jam over batter. Spread topping over. Bake at 180 deg C for 45 - 50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin for 10 minutes before quickly inverting onto a wire rack covered with a clean tea-towel, then turning onto another rack so topping does not get broken.

Topping -
Beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until mixture is thick. Mix in coconut and almond essence.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Workbag

My workbag - the one that contains my latest knitting project got an airing this weekend. I decided it was time for me to polish off a few projects and bring them to a close. A ruffled, fluffy scarf got tied off and put away for next winter. I had some rows to knit so that the woolshop ladies can help me with the next stage of my pink cardy - yes the one I mentioned on my blog A G E S ago. However just as I was poised to knit I realised I only had one needle - I must have left the other one at the shop last time I was in there getting some instruction. I think I will take it to work on Monday and head on down there in my lunch break and do the few needed rows so I can leave my cardy there for them to work their magic. They are so committed - almost more so than me - that this cardy is going to work out! The truth is - things don't always turn out the way we want them to.

I do want it finished though so that I can have it ready to wear next winter - mainly so that when the urge to knit hits me next autumn I can start a fresh project and not feel compelled to grind on with something started the year before! That will not do.

My workbag pictured here is made out of two special garments. The black was a skirt that I bought when shopping with a good friend, I wore it heaps but as it began to go into its death throes I found I couldn't part with it. Now it has a new lease of life that could go on for some long time yet. The beautiful pure silk lining was a top that I wore to a family wedding that began happily but ended sadly. The silk top remains - stitched into my bag - to remind me that even sad things bring outpourings of God's grace and goodness as time passes.

I love my workbag - it means that something interesting is in progress - a bit like our lives really - 'a work in progress'.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I am particularly drawn to old things that look like they might have a story. We found this old stool covered with layers of paint at our local 'transfer station'. In reality - 'we found it at the local dump shop'. By design it looks like an 'old school', serviceable piece of everyday, domestic furniture. It has a handle-hole on the seat so that kinda makes it a portable and multi-tasking thing.

Practical. Useful. Sturdy.

The layers of paint interest me - each coat at some stage giving it a new lease of life. I wonder how many different places it has lived and given domestic service. I have now sanded it back a bit here and there, letting the evidence of it's own natural wear and tear be my guide. Then I gave it a thin, wispy coat of varnish and now it sits in my 'special room' with my bits and pieces upon it. I love old things because they have a life and a story.

They are especially precious if they are part of your own story - like a wooden high-chair in our back shed. It needs some restorative work but I have my eye on it for our little grandchildren to sit in when that time comes along. My 3 sisters and I have all sat in that highchair, our own four girls too and who knows how many other dear, little cherubs along the way. It needs a bit of mending but it's still sturdy and capable of another round of Farex and baby veges I'm sure!

What favorite things do you have in your home that are old, but restored to domestic service by a little tender loving care?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Modesty & Humble Pie

I admire modesty. My mother has modeled it to me (without even realising it) and the older I get the more I appreciate it. Recently we spent a night with my parents. For dessert my Mum whipped up an apple pie - from scratch that is - she made her own pastry. I watched as she did the deed - impressed with her skill and the apparent ease with which the whole deal came together. But hey the proof of the pudding is in the eating and I tell you what this 'humble apple pie' was just gorgeous - the pastry so light and 'melt in your mouth' - a delightful end to a family meal shared together!! I think there is something really special about ya Mum's home cooking even long after you have left home and cooked for years for your own little family!

I think the character trait of modesty is a bit like my Mum's apple pie - it takes years of pastry making experience to make beautiful, light pastry like my Mum makes and so it takes time and practice to develop this godly quality of modesty. An apple pie is a humble, ordinary dessert - not flashy - just like modesty - a subtle, unsung character quality rarely celebrated but when you experience it or come across it it is a beautiful thing to behold! A valuable and rare treasure in a world that constantly tells us to 'put ourselves out there' and 'you deserve it' etc.

I am glad my Mum is a modest person and has set a great example for the girls in our family to follow. I also love her apple pie and hope that with time and practice I might be able to make apple pie like her one day too!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mellow Yellow

Yellow is a colour I appreciate but never wear. I doesn't suit me so well. A pale, banana yellow without much warmth is OK like the 'shift frock' that I wore and loved when I was about 10 years old. It was embroidered over it's full length in silky thread. I think I liked it cause it was a bit grown-up.
I really like this yellow bach we saw near Houhora when we were holidaying up north. I like the way they have modernized it and yet at the same time maintained something of it's old-school, classic kiwi-bach look.
There is no other colour quite like yellow - bananas, banana bike lollies, sunshine., sweetcorn... Back in the days when pink was for girls and blue was for boys, yellow was considered a 'safe' colour to knit for an expected baby because you wouldn't know if it was going to be a boy or a girl. Of course these days those things don't matter at all.

Yellow is cheery, heartwarming and bright. I like this yellow tea pot from my Nana's precious, old tea set. I like yellow sunflowers - partly because they always remind me of my special Fiji friend - Keresi.

Today I'm feeling all mellow and appreciating yellow....
What yellow things do you like?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Can't Resist!

If I am in a second hand shop I simply can't resist grabbing any old books I see - you know the 'classics' - titles we all know from 'back in the days'. I do fancy myself reading some of the titles to our grandkids one day and expect that they will be extra special because they are from another time with loads of charm and brilliant with extensive vocabulary. We shall see - however meantime I just like them because they are old and precious and delicately constructed with old style illustrations - and they remind me of books that were sat on our bookshelves when I was a child.

The other thing I like to do is to borrow old books from our local Library - often they have to search for them on the National Library web and bring them in from afar. Like one I am reading at the moment - 'Greenbanks' by Dorothy Whipple. The first edition was published in 1932! I first read of Dorothy Whipple's books on Jane Brocket's website YARNSTORM. One thing's for sure - they are rich with vocabulary and the character development is fabulous! She is an author with a real insight into people and how they think and behave. Last night I laughed out loud as I read her book! People are so interesting - and people who observe people and express that in an amusing way are even MORE interesting!

When we were on holiday up in Northland I did my usual scavenge in local second hand shops and was rewarded with a dear little Oxford illustrated Bible - hardly used which is normally a good thing when you are talking second hand but in this case it made me feel a little sad. A shame that some of the best stuff ever written has not been devoured by the previous owner! Maybe something like this - 'immaculate condition, one careful lady owner, kept on the shelf for special occasions only'.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Feijoas & Faithful Friends

My friend's handwriting is very distinctive. It hasn't changed much since we were at school together. When I see her hand-written recipe for Feijoa Cake it reminds me of a long and faithfully kept friendship. One that has a history (we met when we were 6 years old) and one that has weathered lots of ups and downs and still remains comfortable and solid.

Other friendships are short and sweet - only for a season. Just like Feijoa's - here for a short time, usually in great abundance and then gone again. I like to make the most of them while they're around. They are yum in porridge, in a smoothie or just eaten 'a la naturale' scooped out with a spoon! Since they coincide with Passion-fruit I like to put that in the icing. It's a great combination for a seasonal delight! The wee tea-tray-cloth has been hand embroidered by my Mum!

Bronny's Feijoa Cake

175 gms butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs (size 7)
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 & 1/4 cups coconut
6 large feijoas mashed

Lightly grease 23 cm cake tin. Preheat oven 180 deg C.
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time. Sift flour with baking powder and fold in alternatively with milk. Fold in feijoas and coconut. Pour into prepared tin. Bake 45 - 50 minutes.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fabulous Figs

While away on holiday we had a night with some good friends which was a fabulous finale to our Northland sojourn! One of their boys whipped up a delicious dessert - fried custard - dusted in icing sugar which we ate in a communal fashion as each new batch came off the pan. It's a real blessing to have friends who are food and coffee freaks!
Then they us told about the local figs and gave us one of their recently preserved beauties to sample - VERY tasty!!!! Sweet and rich and textural... mmm. They kindly gave us a jar to take home. We enjoyed sharing it with our kids at family dinner - one fig teetering atop a scoop of French Vanilla ice-cream was a dreamy end to our meal! Some clearly found it more dreamy than others!

While with our friends on the farm we were treated to a trip on the four-wheeler farm bike down the farm to the Fig trees.. the heritage trees are positively ANCIENT, gnarly, old specimens dating back to the days of the early European settlers. Possibly part of the first trades between Maori and the early European's. They are well established at the base of a historical Maori Pa site. We navigated our way around two beefy, beasties grazing nearby and VERY hot electric fences to pick some fresh figs to take home and have a go at preserving our own.

My Darling Man also gently lifted a couple of seedlings hoping to get them to grow in our part of the world... share the heritage fruit tree love! So far they are looking perky enough but we will have to look out for them when the frosts come along!

Annabel Langbein's Preserved Figs.

For 6 kg figs.
In a large pot, heat together - 1 1/2 litres water, 3 kg sugar, 300 mls malt vinegar, 100gms sliced, preserved ginger (crystallized) and three lemons halved and thinly sliced. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add figs and simmer gently for 2 hrs. Bottle in sterilized jars.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Only in Northland...

Kumara and Orange Cake with toffee-ed orange on top for morning tea at Russell.

Kumara Companies - 'Kaipara Kumara' at Ruawai.

Funny fences - some covered in hubcaps, others embedded with old bicycles, or draped with goatskins, many weathered, mossy and windswept. A few fallen over allowing traffic-wise stock to graze the roadside. AND heavenly hibiscus hedges!

Lots of wee churches - evidence of the early mission efforts in NZ.

The biggest and oldest Kauri tree - Tane Mahuta - in a very misty Waipoua Forest. It's said to have been around since the time Jesus walked the earth!

Breath-taking-ly beautiful Hokianga Harbour... drive up over the hill and woh what a view!!!!

Massive Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes....

Watching the sun set at Cape Reinga - the Top of New Zealand!

Meeting some real characters - this beautiful, old, solid Kauri boat was home to an old sea dog and his wife who hand-knits jerseys to sell to save money so she can visit her sisters in England!

A good trade at Houhora - the use of our fishing line for a tray of free-range eggs - great for our cook-in-one-pan-big-breakfasts!

Fancy Toilets - in Kawakawa - the amazing work of the late Frederick Hundertwasser. And immaculately CLEAN to boot!

The winter-less North - one of the few places in NZ where knitting a chunky woolen cardy seemed ridiculous! However now that we are home again from our lovely Northland camping holiday I'm glad I kept at it because I don't think it will be too long before I will need it!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Monkey Nuts

The first time I tasted these biscuits was when we visited Mr & Mrs Coe. Ina is a great home baker from w a y back. Biting into the biscuit, to my delight I discovered it had a surprise inside it - a nice chewy date made an everyday, ordinary looking biccy into something quite delicious! The combination of the crunch, the gingery taste and the chewy date is really yum! I asked for the recipe so I could give it a go myself!

This recipe has been around for a while... Mrs Coe told me she got it off the radio, back in the days of Aunt Daisy. Aunt Daisy was'... Queen of the airwaves, with a career that spanned more than forty years.' She was a '...presence on the airwaves... for all those isolated housewives and mothers especially in the rural areas.' Frank and Ina Coe began their married life on a sheep and beef farm in remote, rural Southland. Just out of Milton on Lovell's Flat. Check out 'The Aunt Daisy Cookbook' HERE

Apparently, the biscuits are also known as Date Surprises. I think Monkey Nuts is way more interesting for a name - especially given that the biscuits date so far back to a time when people were much more prim and proper! Whatever the origin of the recipe - they are worth re-instating as a goodie to fill the home baking tins.

Mr Frank Coe passed away late in 2008 at the ripe old age of 92. A lovely couple who have encouraged us and warmed our hearts many a time over a cuppa and tasty home baking!

Monkey Nuts

125 gms butter
Small 1/2 cup sugar
1 dessert spn Golden Syrup
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
Dates cut in half longways

Cream butter and sugar, add syrup then dry ingredients. Roll into balls and press a date piece into the centre. press a smaller ball onto the top of each biscuit. Bake at 180 deg C for about 10 - 12 minutes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Orange House

Whenever our kids described to their friends where we lived they would say - 'Our house is next to the orange house with the huge-as cactus.' That is quite true and every once in a while the 'huge-as cactus' flowers! Just like it did recently. I popped my head out the window one morning and there they were. Wow! They never stay long but they make quite a show despite the brevity of their appearance!

In that orange house live our lovely neighbors - ordinary, rural townsfolk but thoroughly lovely! He passed away at the end of last year, in his eighties. When he was 19 years old he was a bomber pilot in the 2nd World War. Later he and his wife had a shop that sold curtain's and blinds. His van had a sign that read - 'Blind Man Driving.' He had a great sense of humour and he would often give us cheek over the hedge! He'd say, 'Press on reward-less.' or 'I love hard work - I could watch it all day.' We are so glad to have such nice neighbors!

Monday, April 12, 2010


I knew there would eventually be a near-perfect specimen to bring into our house to float in a bowl! I have watched and waited, checked and inspected these top-heavy, bobbing flower heads over quite some long time... I even rescued the scraggy bush from a certain close shave with the lawn-mower! They have faithfully sprung up, year after year outside My Darling Man's 'Blokes Shed' bringing late summer cheer to my daily visits to the clothesline. They are 'old school' and in our garden relegated to the 'workman's' area in the back-blocks where no-one really sees them!

On my little rescue mission to 'stake' the bug-ridden beauties I discovered that My Darling Man had left the perfect piece of equipment for that exact job. C U T E!
A length of fishing line with a loop and a wee lead sinker that once connected up provided the perfectly balanced, invisible 'tie' to suspend the flowers up and away from the ground!
So there you have it - a stunning, old fashioned beauty brightening up our breakfasts in the stunning, Autumn morning light!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Light Up My Life

I love the early morning light that bursts into our home when I perform the daily ritual of opening the curtains. It's especially lovely at this time of year.

I love the pattern that my retro, cane lampshade makes on the ceiling.

I love the swirly shadows the afternoon sunlight filtering through the net curtains makes on the wooden floor in my 'special room'.

I love the dreamy light that's cast about by these old '70's glass light shades installed with candles.
I picked them up from the local 'transfer station' slash rubbish dump retail store!!!!

In fact I LOVE LIGHT - it's so fantastic - it gives LIFE to so many things!

"No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It's put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they are going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don't get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room."
JESUS' brilliant, true words recorded in Luke 11:33-36
The Message Bible.

Self - explanatory!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Winter Stores

We have happily allowed the pumpkins to completely take over our garden in recent weeks - even at the expense of some of the other plants. We didn't mind at all - partly because it gave a us a little reprieve from the constant-ness of gardening AND we know these big, blue babies are gonna keep us in soup and roast veges well into the winter months.

Easter Weekend Saturday saw us all busy in the garden again. Firstly harvesting the pumpkins.... then we decided to clean out the garden shed so that we had a high, dry shelf to store them. It's amazing how one job leads to another. My Darling Man is quite delighted with his now, nice tidy shed and clear work-bench! The garden now cleared of pumpkins we were able to sort out the rambling tomatoes - staking them for their 'final hurrah' before the frost hits AND lots of weeding and digging to make space to plant some perky new winter veges!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Traffic Light

Who can remember 'Traffic Light' ice-blocks? Watching our son-in-law's capsicum change colour day by day as it sunned itself on our bench reminds me of exactly that! Honestly, for those who don't know WHAT I'm on about, it's an ice-block identical to this capsicum! Our Darling Girl gave it to us green and told us it would change to red and so it has! That's the great thing about having grown up children who do gardening... we get to enjoy some of the fruit of their labour's as well as our own.

Another of our Darling Girls gave us some of their mild chili peppers AND her man's delicious relish. He caramelizes it away until it is a sticky, gorgeous, rich, saucy delight! 'Better than mine'! - I told my Darling Man.

And then when we get together for family dinner on a Sunday night we get to sample their delicious cooking too!

Share the produce, share the culinary exploits and share the family LOVE!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


'Note to self' to plant a passion-fruit vine so that we have our own passion-fruit to eat fresh, put in icings and extra to squirrel away into ice-block trays in the freezer! It is just the tastiest thing - there is nothing else quite like it. It reminds me of pavlova and cheesecake toppings of '70's desserts and this amazing jam that my friend's Mum used to make when I was at High School. Recently I used it in icing on a custard square I made for a Sunday family dinner... we all enjoyed it along with each others company and cooking! My Darling Man has a 'passion' for our family to get together so he has instigated a family gathering around early tea on a Sunday evening at our place.

The Passion is also what they call the Easter Story of Jesus' death and resurrection. This is the time of year we can be reminded of His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins. It was an awful thing that He went through but I sure am glad He did it - it gives us the opportunity to set things to rights between us and God and I am grateful for that. This Sunday we will have some chocolate goodies at our family picnic gathering thanks to my Dad & Mum who still like to buy us all Easter Eggs! Nice!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


My kitchen is small and cosy.... and I'm totally cool with that! But if I'm in the full-swing of baking or cooking and have something hot in my hand I am often in search of a safe spot to dump it in a hurry! While out and about near the sea recently we found something that fits the bill perfectly. We were on the rocks near a boat club and I looked down and saw this flat, weathered piece of a boat complete with old, worn lugs at each end - leaving heaps of room in between to pop a hot thing on a flat surface while it cools a little! I felt a little uncomfortable with the idea of walking back to the car with this old plank of wood tucked under my arm... what if someone saw us and asked us why we were removing it??? I mean how far can one go when beach-combing - what are the ethics of such a thing? Thankfully my Darling Man doesn't suffer any such cautionary thoughts. 'I'll carry it for you.' he said. I like it for it's rustic charm and it's also a little memoir of a lovely day 'out and about scamper and shout' enjoying the beautiful coastline and each others company. Complete with popping in for a cuppa with our lovely friends who share our appreciation of all things earthy and rustic!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Water Colours

I picked these up when I was out on my walk this morning. I pretty much walk the same route around town all year round which gives me the opportunity to notice how things in the same gardens change as the seasons come and go.
Today I noticed that the Hydrangea's are 'autumn-ing' if there is such a word. But I love how they look - like a water-colour painting. So soft and fading and less intense - a bit whimsical. I guess it reflects the mood of us leaving the summer behind and embracing the cooler days of autumn, knowing that the cold days of winter are coming soon. The Hydrangeas are going to seed. "All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today".
I just LOVE Hydrangeas - always have - I like the way they are ever changing and a bit unpredictable. You can get a huge range of gorgeous pinks and blues all within one bush, depending on the aluminum content in the soil. Then the colours change all over again as they go into autumn. Despite my love of these flowers, until recently I thought we didn't have any in our garden. I was eying up our neighbors Hydrangeas, just over our fence when my Darling Man informed me that he had actually planted them years ago as cuttings and that it was part of our section! If only I'd known!!! Oh the beautiful deeds that are done during the busy, child-rearing years that go un-noticed - I thought to myself! So in earlier more summery days, I promptly cut some fresh and shoved them in a vase to enjoy in the house!
And now we have a rustic style of thing going on which gives us a whole new range of colours to appreciate. These flowers dry out quite happily in a vase - the later in the season the better the result and the longer the vase life.
I think this hat from an Art Deco store in Napier looks Hydrangea-ish... at least Hydrangea-inspired! The store is called 'Decorum' - it's on the corner of Tennyson & Herschell Sts. They have a huge range of Deco costume for hire, vintage clothing & jewelery for sale, millinery made to order and antique china and furniture. The place is absolutely packed... I really enjoyed a snoop but there was so much stuff even I, who loves old things got browsers fatigue before I had seen everything! Now that's saying something....

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Made a Start

Eeeeeek! I've finally made a start on my pink cardy after knitting up some sample squares to check my tension and lots of consultation with our local wool shop ladies. They have been amazing and honestly they seem as determined for me to succeed as I am. They are totally 'on my team' which is lovely - especially since they have so much more skill and experience than I do. I am really thrilled with their help and feel quite confident as I set out on this new knitting adventure!

Knitting is so therapeutic and just down right enjoyable. It's kind of cosy too working with wool. This yarn I am knitting right now is a wool alpaca blend and using big needles means it's growing pretty fast which is encouraging. I've noticed that any woman who has ever knitted at some time in her life, spots my knitting - is drawn to it like a magnet, she swoons a little and wistfully declares her desire to 'knit something' again! I wonder what it is about knitting that keeps us going back to this 'old school' domestic art???

I read this quote in a great book - 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Our Year of Seasonal Eating' written by Barbara Kingsolver and I think it's part of the answer...
'A lot of human hobbies, from knitting sweaters to building model airplanes, are probably rooted in the same human desire to control an entire process of manufacture.'

The 'I made it myself' factor! What do you think? Which of the domestic arts are you drawn to and what keeps you going back for more?

As a PS - I was alerted to this fabulous, young Scottish woman's works of knitted art this last week Ysolda S. Teague
Talk about C O O L patterns!!! She invented them herself... what started off as a hobby at Uni is now a booming business. If you go to the link that cardy pattern is free.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Julie and Julia

Me and one of our Darling girls finally got to watch Julie and Julia as we had been planning for ages - way back when it was still showing on the big screen. A little behind the times I know but it didn't take anything away from my enjoyment of it. In fact the wait only heightened my anticipation! I loved it! It had all the essential ingredients for an excellent movie experience from my point of view. Exotic places, charming domestic life and love, love, love - the couples were so sweet but real as well AND to top it all off it was based on two true stories of real live people. That always goes down well with me. AND they were writers - kindred spirits both of them! Women after my own heart!

Before we pushed PLAY we made Frozen Lemon Crunch Dessert together. I'm sure she could have managed it beautifully without my demonstration but she did me the honour of allowing herself to be instructed! We both decided we needed a proper Lemon Zester for such times but agreed that we never remembered to buy one. Then as we were viewing, she, who is a skilled multi-tasker was making this gorgeous Roast Vege Salad. Consequently gorgeous smells were wafting on through to where we were sat... The culinary exploits both on and off screen made for a really pleasant arvo!

We had a family meal together on Sunday - another of our Darling Girls had by this time, watched the movie too and her man told me he feels pretty sure he can remember his Grandma watching Julia Child's cooking show on television YEARS ago! Anyone else out there remember her show from way back?

The little PS to it all is this - yesterday our Darling Girl called in to see us. She had a gift for me in hand - a Lemon Yester! I feel thoroughly spoilt, specially thought of and all loved up! AND absolutely busting to dash down to CIVIC VIDEO to hire the movie all over again and watch it with my Darling Man! He'll love it too... I think??? Well he'll tolerate it on account of moi anyway!

Monday, March 22, 2010


Painting my toenails a bright red seemed to symbolize to me a growing optimism after an extended time of recovery from grief and disappointment. 'Bogota Blackberry' seemed to be such a radical departure from my usual 'Nude Pink'. It was so 'out there' and stand-out-ish. Our life that had once been so 'public' has been replaced with seeking a private, simple, peaceful life - all we had wanted was to withdraw and lick our wounds.
We wanted healing.

Something rather lovely happened recently. We had a brief - 'short but sweet' holiday at Fletcher Bay. A place where many family holidays have been enjoyed. My Darling Man and I had a delightful afternoon at Malony's beach - a short walk from Fletcher Bay over a large hill. We had the beach to ourselves apart from a small fishing party in the distance. He lay in the sun and I swam in the sea. I ducked and dived and floated on waves to my hearts content for a full hour. I beckoned to him to join me - he tried really hard by entering the water gradually, splashing himself a little - venturing out a little deeper then dashing back when the waves rolled in. As he 'dipped' and splashed we laughed and laughed together. I felt really free and joyful and happy and that all was well with my soul. It was a special moment in time that God gave me. It restored and sealed something that in times past I wondered if I could ever get back.

2 yrs ago we had been at Fletcher Bay on holiday. It was about the time that we were embarking on a 'sabbatical' - a time of rest and recovery after being overwhelmed by life and 'people work' pressures and lots of personal stresses. I had swum in the sea then as well, my Darling Man had sat on the beach. I had felt so happy. I was feeling optimistic about the trip to France up ahead and the opportunity to rest and restore. I had back then tried to encourage him to come into the water with me. He had declined because he really does hate cold water with a passion! He had said, "I am just enjoying watching you enjoy yourself." I guess it was a rare thing for him to see me so unashamedly happy in those days of high stress and huge pressures. It was a special moment soon to be shattered by the some really bad news.

The last poem to be reproduced in San Hunt's book 'Backroads: Charting a Poet's Life' has the lines "I like being this little bit older" and "I like being this little bit sadder." Craig Potton Publishing.

Is optimism only for the young? If you observe them they are often full of hope and confidence and energy - I guess it has something to do with the fact that they haven't suffered a lot of 'knocks' yet. 'Ah, let them have their day in the sun', my friend will say 'Soon enough they will have to face up to the harsh realities of life'

One of the secrets to maintaining optimism is to move from 'expectation' to 'expectancy'. With 'expectation' we expect certain things (usually only good things) to happen and when they don't our hopes are dashed and we are disappointed. With 'expectancy' we live a life of faith, our hope is centred on God, believing that whatever happens in life - both good and bad - God is able to bring something 'good' out of it.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Cut up an apple into quarters and eat it with an afternoon cup of tea! Despite the weirdness it turns out to be a delicious combination I really enjoy! Especially at this 'apple' time of year. Autumn is for apples... shortcakes and crumbles - my Aunty Shirley's Chocolate Apple Cake - stewed apples with porridge and yogurt - now there's a really tasty combo!

As a child I can remember apples from the Hawkes Bay carefully laid in a wooden box - each one wrapped in pink tissue paper. Oh that fantastically memorable crunch factor and the crisp texture! Now's the time to begin to enjoy this seasonal delight all over again.

It's amazing to get an actual letter in the mail these days. I know!!!!!! I love it when people sit down and write us a letter! This one from my Darling Man's lovely sister who lives in Aussie was practically bulging with goodies. A nice letter, her memoirs of family life at a time when my Darling Man was too young to remember for himself - a precious insight into the family way back then AND some recipes. One of which I tried.... the mixture is super-chunky and over-loaded with apples but it cooks up a treat. We waited 'til ours cooled and we're eating it as a cake but I feel sure it would be equally as delicious hot, as a dessert with custard, cream or ice-cream OR all three!!!

Kerry's Apple Cake.

Melt 125 gms butter and set aside to cool a bit.

Mix together the following -

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
3/4 cup raw sugar
3 - 4 apples chopped

Add to that 2 eggs lightly beaten and the cooled, melted butter. Don't mix in hot butter!

Bake at 180 deg C for 35 - 40 minutes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

History in the Making

I have some extra special new art work for our wall. It is a photo of my mother - which was black and white before she artfully painted the colour into it. That's what she used to do for a job when she was a single, working girl in the 1950's. It mostly involved painting colour into aerial shots of farms. However she did a couple of pieces for herself. This portrait taken when she was on holiday with a friend in the South Island, one of herself as a bride and one of me as a baby. The friend that she holidayed with, later became her sister-in-law because she fell in love with her friend's brother! They married nearly 50 years ago and that man is also my Dad!

So I have had my mother's fabulous photos put onto canvas. 'The Mirrorbox' photo shop in Te Awamutu did a great job of replicating the originals with just a little sharpening up. They loved doing them and asked if we had any more! They are beautiful! I am really thrilled with them and I will hang them as a grouping on the wall. The colours are quite retro. I especially love my extra rosy, pink cheeks! I took them to Mum and Dad's at the weekend to show them and they really loved them too. I am happy that Mum's beautiful art work will be on display where it can be fully appreciated.

My other new artwork is a photo collage which is a teeny 'snapshot' representation of our time in Fiji. Our family lived there for four years so I wanted something visual in our house as a memoir of that. I cut and pasted and molded and polyurethaned these wooden block letters. They can either be hung on the wall or sat on a shelf. It was a fun project. Family history is precious and yet so many of our special, family bits and pieces lay hidden in boxes in a cupboard. So I have simply brought some of that stuff out for an 'airing' where it can be enjoyed!
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