December 31, 2010

Christmas at Orewa

What a wonderful day! It wasn't blazing hot but not cold either. We went to the beach and enjoyed a gorgeous dinner compliments of Dad and Bev.  I really can't remember a Christmas dinner that I didn't have to cook in the past 6 years. Most dinners are cooked with others around but this one, I didn't have to do a thing! I brought the baking so I wasn't completely lazy.

The best part was visiting with my cousin, Scott. I haven't seen him in about 5 years so it was a real treat!

December 24, 2010

Home Made Gifts

Handmade Socks, muesli, fudge gift basket
 Mocha Fruit Cake
1Kg mixed dried fruit
2 Cups strong black coffee
150g bar of fruit and nut chocolate
2 cups self rising flour

Soak fruit in black coffee over night.

Heat oven 180 degrees C. Mix ingredients together.  Spray 20x28cm loaf tin with cooking spray or line with baking paper.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Delicious!
Weight Watcher's Mocha Fruit Cake

Sophie Gray's Bailey's Fudge

December 23, 2010

Handel's Messiah

On the 13th of December, I had the pleasure of seeing Handel's Messiah at Town Hall in Auckland. It was amazing and moving! It was such fun to go with my friend, Tarnya.  We had Starbucks and ice creams and had a wonderful time.  I forgot to take a photo of us!

5 Days until Christmas....2 days....

What do you do with the last few days before Christmas?  I'm planning the time so I can finish my gifts in time.  It feels like cramming for an exam!  This is my list.

1) Suri Merino vest for my nephew
2) Gift basket for my dad & his wife
3) Socks for dad
4) Quilt for niece
5) Fudge
6) Christmas sheep quilt
7) Bed slippers
8) Mocha Fruit Cake

That was my list 5 days ago! Haha!

I worked Monday to Wednesday but I did get the socks, fudge, fruit cake, and gift basket done.  I'll have to work on the vest and slippers tomorrow, Christmas Eve Day.

Check out the Chocolate Trifle I made for Fran and Jerome's new baby's Christening on the 12th December.  The recipe is basically from my head. It changes every time.  It's chocolate cake, jelly, frozen berries, chocolate mousse, whip cream and shaved chocolate. If I remember correctly?  Of course you can add sherry too.  I love to sprinkle skor bars on the top but we live in NZ and they don't have them here. Enjoy!

December 20, 2010

A Crochet Scarf on the go...

Crochet has always been a bit of a struggle for me so I've avoided it as much as possible. Recently I borrowed a Rowan book from my friend over at Struan Farm. The book has a gorgeous crochet scarf that I just had to try. So here's the book and the start of my scarf.  I asked a few of my crochet friends what a half treble was and finally settled on one method.  I'm pleased with the results so far.  I wanted to get into the Jane Crowfoot crochet club starting in January 2011 but it's full! Too bad!  (can you hear the sarcasm?) I love her blog; it's so fresh and makes crochet look beautiful!  These are the centres of my beautiful scarf.  I am using leftover alpaca, some possum merino, and Misty Alpaca that I picked up in Canada when I was there. It's going to be beautiful.

December 19, 2010

Clevedon Market at Christmas

It's Christmas at the market!  A very busy market this morning. It rained but it was very busy with last minute shopping. My friend, Karen, and I meet here once in a while for coffee and a catch up.  We love the inspiration and smells of the baking, not to mention the beautiful stands with organic chicken from Kipdale Farms, Running Brook Seeds, nuts, oils, sausage, croissants. It was all there!
Some of my purchases this week were sourdough bread, mince tarts, vanilla beans, olive oil, free range eggs, and organic chicken (in the fridge).

It was hard to get a photo but here's one with Karen, from Struan Farm.

Running Brook Seeds is one of nicest looking stands!  I bought leeks and spring onions this time!

Look at the knitted and felted Advent Calendar that Karen gave me! It's gorgeous and so fitting for my hand made Christmas decor.

December 18, 2010

Christmas Shopping and Baking

Isn't it wonderful getting a day off? I know it's Saturday but I have nothing on the calendar today!  Maybe I should check the calendar again? I'm starting to doubt myself?  The kids and Rick were meant to be camping this week but the weather is very wet and even stormy.  It's not that they aren't tough - they just aren't interested in buying boots and a raincoat and sitting in a tent with a book.  The comforts of home are so much more appealing.  There goes my quiet weekend! Just kidding.  I went to StampClub last night and made these two projects. One is a box which will have fudge in it; It's cooling in the fridge.  The other is a pseudo card; more like a gift card.
The card on the left is from my sister, Susan.

We went to the mall today.  I objected strongly because it's the last Saturday before Christmas and NOT the day to go to any mall.  When we arrived, I remembered that this is Auckland, NZ, not Vancouver, Canada. The mall was busier than usual but not even close to Vancouver busy.  I was out of the mall by about 1:45 with groceries and a few treats to be wrapped and stored under the tree.  I'm not very good at buying gifts. I'm better at making gifts when I have the time.  I have lots of gifts to make before Christmas so I better pick up my knitting and keep at it so I finish those socks for my dad, and the quilt for an undisclosed little person.


I have just made some beautiful muesli for Christmas morning and some scrumptious Bailey's fudge for gifts. Thank you, Anna, for the recipe from Sophie Gray, the Destitute Gourmet. Yummm!

 Sophie Gray's fudge:
2 - 250g Whittaker's chocolate bars (33% Chocolate)
1 Tbsp butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 Tbsp of liqueur (I used Baileys)
toasted hazelnuts
Melt, mix, and cool.  (That's my short hand)

December 17, 2010

Gingerbread House with the Molyneux's

Heidi and Andrew, along with their children, constructing a gingerbread house at our house.

Year 8 Graduation Ball - my son

Life has been so busy of late. But I recently reminded myself that it is what I make it.  So I make it fun! Here is what I've been up to...
Nicholas' graduation from year 8 (left).
Nick's grandparents were at the ball.
Jessica and Nick - school buddies.
The ball was a great success.  Great food and lots of fun. 

December 7, 2010

Prize Giving Day!

It was the last day of school at St. Kentigern College and my son was elated to be finished his first year of high school.  We had a great morning watching Benjamin be awarded the St. Andrews Divinity Award for all round academics and Christian education.  Ben had a great year with camp, music concerts, the Middle School production, and what a finale to be on the stage to win this award in his 9SK class.  We got to see the pipe band play and hear the St. Kentigern song and prayer. It was a great day!
My son, Ben, is on the right. Jacky is his friend on the left. Jacky plays the violin too.

Christmas Update

It's 18 days until Christmas!  I've been crafting up a storm and visiting new babies who have given me great reasons to knit!  Take a look at this knitted hat I made for Anna Hardy who is 3 weeks old.  So adorable!  This family was the first to welcome us to NZ back in the days when we lived in Omokoroa.  It was Fran and Jerome who welcomed us into their home when we were orphans at Christmas, and it was Paul, Maria, and Sam who played on the beach with my boys, had picnics and strolls at Mt. Maunganui, and who ultimately shared in the joy of homeschooling with us.  Thank you, Fran and Jerome, for your friendship and memories. It's good to grow with you and celebrate special times like the births of your new babies. Welcome, Anna! 

November 30, 2010

Cardmaking and Knitting with friends - two of my favorite things!

Mandy and Nicky

Felted Elf Slippers
Sunday was a great day!  I baked a summer berry cheesecake and lemon shortbread cookies and had my friends over for a crafty afternoon of cardmaking and knitting.  We had a great catch up and show and tell included these cute little elf slippers that Mandy made.  The cards are originals by Gemma. Aren't they gorgeous? I love them!

Original designs by Gemma!

November 25, 2010

Romantic, French, Akaroa

Akaroa in the background
I enjoyed the stroll along the strand, the coffee shops, the general store, and the art galleries.
It was a beautiful day in the village of Akaroa. This was our second night on the South Island and a pleasantly quiet place to refresh. I started knitting a sock for my dad. It grew throughout the trip north, and was a perfect fit by the time I arrived home in Auckland. 

November 21, 2010

Christchurch in Spring

I'm not sure where to begin so I'll let my photos do the talking. My husband and I just came back from a lovely week away.  6 days to be exact.  We flew to Christchurch and rented a Britz campervan to do the return trip to Auckland. Since we spent so much time travelling around the North Island over the six years that we've lived here, we decided that we would spend as much time in the South.  It was splendid to see Christchurch despite the closed roads and scaffolding from the recent earthquakes.  We went to Botanical Gardens, a few shops, and then drove to Akaroa for a night.  More about that tomorrow.

On another note, we came across a fabulous antique store that doubled as an interior design consultancy.  It was called Kit & Caboodle.  I found a gorgeous linen remnant for pillows on my couch. I like to change these often.

November 15, 2010

Designer Desserts and Decor

Christine and Karen
Hmmm... needs more decorations...
Susi holding "Christmas Lilies"
It was a fabulous night!  I got a few pictures before and after the event but I forgot to take pictures during the evening!  We had a lot of fun and met some old and new friends. Thanks to Sandee, we made Christmas gift tags and watched a box demonstration.  The desserts were delicious and one person wrote that the handsome young men and women waiting on her were wonderful (the two on the left are my boys).  I will unveil some of the pictures of the crafts as the pictures are sent to me. There was a huge feather wreath, chalk boards with french words, candles and fresh flowers.  It's almost summer here so the snowflakes and snowmen don't work the same for Christmas decorations but one interesting thing I discovered was that New Zealanders call the "Easter" Lily, a "Christmas" Lily.  We had over 80 women there. Five were working very hard in the hot kitchen, serving desserts!   Karen did a wonderful job as MC and did double duty on the Chocolate Fountain table where fruit, cake, marshmallows and chocolate were a plenty. The speakers each shared their recent experiences, two went overseas and one message about "hope" was truly encouraging. Thank you, Suzanne, Jess, and Lorraine for your stories and messages of Love, Hope and Peace.
Thank you to everyone for making such a fun and heartwarming evening. 
Karen decorated these letters.
Ben, Nick, Matthew, Hannah, Genna, Katrina
Before it began