Friday 31 May 2013


It is Queen's Birthday weekend in New Zealand, so that means a three day weekend.  The Scout and Miss B will be away at a scout camp - tenting too, so Mr J and I will be at home.  In preparation for the weekend I have got a pot of  vegetable soup bubbling on the stove, for easy meals.

I have started knitting some fingerless gloves for me, after Miss B appropriated my other pair for school.
The wool I am using is Shepherd 8ply Possum wool, a mix of merino and possum. The pattern comes from Knitting Little Luxuries, and knits up quite quickly.

Hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday 30 May 2013

A Life with Books

I am an avid reader, historical, romance, thrillers, cookbooks, biographies, magazines, craft and garden books - all are read and enjoyed. Yesterday I read Brenda's post on books, and the importance they have in her life.  Many of her thoughts resonated with me.


Books have always been an important part of my life and my family's when I was growing up, and they are now with my own family.  There are always piles of books on all our bedside tables, and on shelves throughout the house.

We don't buy very many new books, we all enjoy fossicking through secondhand bookstores, and weekly trips to the library are essential.  There is something exciting about collecting a long awaited reserved book or discovering a new author or series.

There are times in school holidays when I have a "bad mother" day, due to being engrossed in a great book.  I am pleased to see that my children get lost in books too, and think nothing of curling up on their beds or the sofa with their latest read.

With all the technological advances in e-books and kindles, I can only hope that the pleasure of sitting in a comfy spot, getting lost in the pages of an enjoyable book will not be a thing of the past.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Wednesday WIP

In my sewing room today:

Hottie covers cut out  and ready to sew for the Hottie Project.  Especially needed now after the extremely cold wintery conditions making their presence felt throughout New Zealand.  These are very quick and easy to make. Lisa from Big Little will email the pattern to you, if you wish to make one or two for the project.

Just a little handstitching to do while sitting in a warm spot tonight. 

Tuesday 28 May 2013

The Hottie Project 2013

Today I read about the The Hottie Project.  Lisa at Big Little has set up an awesome winter project, to help children in Christchurch keep warm this winter.  Many are still traumatised by the major earthquake and  continuing after shocks that took place.  Many are still living in houses that have not been properly repaired yet, so subsequently it is hard to keep warm in the cold winters that Christchurch can experience.

photo from

Lisa is wanting us to make hottie covers that will be sent to these children, to give them warmth,  hope and comfort during these winter months.

Please support this great project. Details for this can be found here.

Monday 27 May 2013

Bad Weather = Sewing Day

What a shame - I have had to spend most of the day inside sewing.  We have had thunder, lightening, rain and hail, so of course the sewing room beckoned.

I have finished the Salt Air place mats, well everything except binding them. I just have to choose a colour, so any suggestions will be taken into consideration.  I am thinking a deep yellow  (which is very unusual for me) or either an aqua or denim blue shade.

Also, almost completed is the mug rug for my swap partner. Again just the binding to put on now.  I don't think I have ever sewn so many small pieces of fabric into one block before.  I am pretty pleased with how it has turned out and I hope she will like it.

Then when this is finished I can start making some hot water bottle covers for The Hottie Project.

Sunday 26 May 2013


Saturday was another wet cold day, so we were all inside with the fire going.  Both Miss B and Mr J did a lot of this, making little coasters and frames for friends and cousins.

I feel like I spent most of the weekend in the kitchen, making muffins for school lunches, icing more cupcakes for Mr J's shared lunch at school on Monday, and making soup and bread rolls for dinner tonight.  On the plus side, this pile of fruity goodness did get turned into individual apple and rhubarb crumbles, which we had for dessert after a lovely Lamb Tagine, that had been simmering away in the crockpot all day. (What would we do without crockpots?)

No crafting or sewing got done unfortunately, however I have pulled some fabric together for a mug rug I will be making my partner in this swap.


The weather has been fine today, so The Scout has been chopping wood, Mr J has washed my car and the washing has been dried in the sun and breeze, so I'm all set for the new week.

What did you do this weekend?

Friday 24 May 2013


I am enjoying :

seeing shadows and the washing outside -  cos that means it's not raining.

eating my favourite bread, a slice of chocolate beetroot cake and a fresh apple for lunch, with a new library book to drool over.

how healthy my rhubarb plant is looking,  there maybe apple and rhubarb crumble on the menu this weekend.

Today I am sick of using these, hopefully my cold goes soon.

Have a fabulous weekend.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Rainy Day Cooking

The weather deteriorated after my walk yesterday morning, it was grey, wet and miserable.  After lighting the fire to try and get some washing dry on the clothes rack, and to keep the cat warm, I decided it was a day for being in the kitchen.

First up I made a Chocolate Beetroot Cake.  A great way of using up the last of the beetroot from the garden, the only thing I do differently from the recipe is omit the walnuts (cos I never have them in the house) and make a basic chocolate icing.  It's always a moist flavoursome cake, and my children like it too.

I  also made Smoky Jo Bean and Chorizo Soup.  I couldn't get a ham hock, so used a bacon hock.
I served herbed garlic bread with it for dinner - it was a really tasty warming meal, and I have enough left over for lunch today.

Well, off to the kitchen again, Miss B informed me last night they need to take a plate to school for a shared lunch on Friday, so I think it will be basic vanilla cupcakes getting made today.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Little Luxuries

I have been rereading Jane Brocket's book,  The Gentle Art of Domesticity.  It is a beautful book, full of lovely photos and writing.  One of her topics is luxury or to be more precise, spoiling yourself with little luxuries every now and then, whether it be visiting a cafe, a couple of skeins of lovely wool, or a bunch of flowers.  It made me think about what I consider to be my little luxuries, or small pleasures, that I buy to treat myself.

So here are a few of my little luxuries, a nice magazine, usually a lifestyle one,  new  fabric or ribbon, fresh flowers, whether they are from my garden or the supermarket, a special bar of soap just for me, a container of drinking chocolate in my pantry for hot chocolates on demand.

Other small pleasures include new library books, a small bar of chocolate, new hand-cream, fresh sheets on a beautifully made bed, a glass of wine.

What are your little luxuries or small pleasures, and when do you treat yourself?

Tuesday 21 May 2013


 I am busy being a "school mum" today, doing parent help at swimming lessons and then transporting children to our local primary interschool cross country champs,  which Mr J is competing in.  Fingers crossed the predicted heavy rain and thunderstorms hold off until after school today.

I did manage to make a start on my project mentioned in the previous post.


Hopefully I will be able to make some progress on it tomorrow. I have also posted off my parcel for the Fabric Basket Swap, and all going well my partner should receive it next week, hopefully I won't have to wait too long for mine.  It is always rather exciting looking at the group page and trying to guess which one may be yours.

Monday 20 May 2013


We had  rain on and off this weekend.  So after Saturday morning music lessons for Miss B and Mr J we went to Scholastic Books for a weekend sale.  Fill a box for $20.  It was a great deal,  however I think that half of Auckland had the same idea.  We queued for a while, fought the crowds and eventually came out with a box of books and two happy children.

The unpredictable weather meant that quite a lot of time was spent inside, so I did some of this:

Yes, I finished my Ruby Star Cushion.  I'm quite pleased with how it has turned out.  It is backed in some aqua Vintage Modern fabric with an envelope enclosure.  Now hopefully this will motivate me to finish my Ruby quilt - sooner rather than later.

Tried out a new recipe and made an apple slice and some spiced pear muffins.

Fossicked through my fabric stash and pulled some together for a little project.  The striped fabric is vintage linen from Czechoslovakia, I think they were tea towels, but they have never been used. I am not sure how old they are, they were found in my Gran's linen collection.  The charm squares are Salt Air from Moda.


Started the above-mentioned project.

Refereed a couple of fights between my children, stepped over  Lego constructions and creations, paged through recipe and garden books for inspiration while drinking numerous hot drinks.

 Overall a  pretty relaxing weekend.  How did you spend yours?

Friday 17 May 2013

Playing with Scraps

Some time last year I made a quilt top from Bonnie & Camille's Ruby fabric - hopefully  I will get the quilt finished before winter this year.  Anyway  now that my swaps and string quilt are completed, I have been wanting a small sewing project, so I started playing with the square offcuts left over from the quilt top.  This is what I came up with.  Star from this tutorial, only I downsized it to fit the squares I had.

By adding a strip of  linen  to each edge and I think I have a cushion cover in the making.

 So fingers crossed that this weekend I get to finish it and all going well I will have something to show on Monday.

What are you hoping to start or finish this weekend?

Thursday 16 May 2013

Making and Baking

Last night I tried out a new recipe for dinner.  Toad in the Hole  - basically sausages baked in batter,using this recipe. It looked good and tasted good, however my only advice to anyone wanting to make it would be to use a longer baking dish, like a lasagne dish so that the batter will spread out and not cook up to be too thick and doughy  in the middle.

While I was enjoying my domestic goddess moment, I also made some Rocky Melon Slice for lunchbox treats. This is a crushed weetbix base cooked, and then topped with marshmallow.  This time I added a few drops of peppermint essence and green food colouring for a change.  I sometimes make this without the cocoa in the base and it still tastes good.

Rocky Melon Slice

2 1/2 weetbix - crushed finely
3/4 cup sugar
1 c flour
2T cocoa
1t baking powder
1 c coconut
175g melted butter


2 dsp gelatine
1 cup boiling water
2 c sugar
Colouring  and vanilla essence if desired

Mix dry ingredients, add melted butter and mix well.  Press firmly into lined sponge roll tin about 18cm x 27 cm. Bake 180C for 15 mins.

Cool base then top with marshmallow topping:

 In a bowl dissolve the gelatine in the boiling water.  Add sugar and beat until thick and fluffy (about 10-15 minutes with a handheld electric beater), add essence and colouring if required.  Pour over base and sprinkle with a little extra coconut.  Leave until set, then cut and store in  an airtight container.

During hotter weather you may need to store this in the fridge.


Wednesday 15 May 2013

Early Morning

I had an early start today, Miss B had to be at school by 7.30 am for a school trip into the city, where she will be attending the Auckland Readers and Writers Festival.  Once I got back home and saw Mr J off to school and hung out the washing, I went for my morning walk. I took my camera today.  Having a blog makes you look at things differently and want to share them, so here are a few autumnal images from my walk around the area I live in.

What do you see on your neighbourhood walks?

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Swap Sneak Peek

Last night I wrapped up the goodies I am sending to my partner in the Fabric Basket Swap I am doing via Flickr. Here's a sneak peek of what my partner will be receiving.

I am really pleased with how the basket has turned out, and how all the different fabrics have worked together. I don't really want to send this away, so I may just have to make myself  a similar one.

Now the fog has burnt off, we have a beautiful autumn day, so I'm going to make the most of it and weed my gardens.

What are you doing today that you enjoy?

Monday 13 May 2013


 I have just been for my morning walk, it's an absolutely glorious day, although a little cold, so it will be nice to sit down and have a hot chocolate, a piece of chocolate cake and a quick read of my new magazine, before I do the dreaded weekly grocery shop and some housework.

Hopefully later this week there will be some sewing to show,  that is if I don't spend all my time in the garden.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Mother's Day

I had a nice weekend with my mum staying, and yes I did get a cup of tea in bed for Mother's Day, as well as these gifts.  Flowering Cyclamen from mum, Spotlight voucher from Miss B (guess there is a shopping trip in my plans this week) and this funky candle was made by Mr J at cubs.

Now to do some baking for school lunches and a lasagne for dinner.  See a mother's work is never done.

Friday 10 May 2013

Winter Vegetable Garden

In winter the sun disappears off most of  my backyard, except for a small corner, where my lemon tree grows and where I can plant a few vegetables for winter harvesting.

This year I am trying broad beans for the first time, now I know to take the grey skin off the beans before cooking them, hopefully they will be a new winter staple and not bring back childhood memories of the bitter ones I used to eat.  I am also growing celery, perennial spinach, parsley and my old reliable rhubarb.

My mum has come to stay for the weekend, which is really nice cos it's Mother's Day on Sunday, so I can spoil her with breakfast in bed, hopefully my children remember to bring me a cuppa in bed before I get up to make it for her.

Happy Mother's Day to all Mums on Sunday.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Colour on a Wet Day

It is a wet grey day in Auckland today, so between showers I decided to have a wander around my garden and see what was flowering.  Not much but we have a few splashes of colour from the Vireyas, Begonias and Iresine that are now thriving in the rain after the long dry summer, and the Swiss Chard in the vegetable garden

Lots of weeds enjoying the rain too - guess that will be my next job when it drys out a bit.

Friendship Bag Swap

I recently participated in my first online swap through Flickr, where we made Friendship bags from this tutorial, filled them with a few treats for our partners and sent them off.

This is the bag I sent Claire in the UK, however I forgot to take photos of the little treats accompanying it.

This is what I received from Maria in New York - thank you - it is always nice to get surprise parcels in the post.