Tuesday, December 18, 2012

purple/pink party

Pink and Purple girls party.

Miss Joy turned 9 today. We decided the theme would be her two favourite colours.  Guests were asked to dress in pink or purple.

Purple balloons with Pink Streamers. 


We played one game the chocolate game. Kids sit in a circle and roll a dice. When a player rolls a 6 they get to put on the fluffy pink gown and purple hand gloves and use a knife and fork to try and cut off a piece of chocolate. The kids roll quite quickly so it’s a fast paced game.

The other thing the girls did was create a collage each. I bought a cheap board ($5 each) and found all the purple and pink things I could find at the local emporium. Pink and purple paint and glitter glue, sequins and feathers and a few clip art pictures off the computer. A fun activity for creative girls. 

I packed down and reset the table for afternoon tea.

We had an afternoon tea.  All the pink/purple food I could find in the supermarket aisles. I made the usual chips and dip but added a teaspoon of canned beetroot juice to add the pink colour. Cocktail sausages, pink biscuits and sweets.

I also made this layered Jelly (raspberry and blue berry) in a plastic margarita glass with a scoop of Jelly Tip ice cream, a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a pink wafer

The cake. 
I know layer cakes are all the rage but yesterday I just couldn't be bothered baking several different cakes so I made a purple/pink swirly cake instead.  I made butter cream icing and sprinkled purple and pink “fairy dust” over it. Quick and easy and it looked great. 

In lieu of party bags, lately I have been slicing up the cake and putting some sweets on a plate and sending them home with the kids and families to have at home. By the time kids have eaten all the party food and sweets they are usually too full for cake anyway. 

Happy Birthday To this special little girl

Thursday, December 6, 2012


advent [ˈædvɛnt -vənt]
an arrival or coming, esp one which is awaited

The advent calendar is up an running. And of course pretty much every day so far I have forgotten to fill it the night before. I have been putting three lollies or chocolates in and  a special activity for us to do as a family...minus Zak Zak for some of them.

Day One
Put up the Christmas tree. It was quite cute watching Zak Zak try and put on ornaments for the first time. I have videoed him taking 4 minutes just to put one on...the bauble kept dropping off... and then he would get mad. So funny. 

Day Two: Take a Christmas Photo

Each year I like to do a Christmas photo for my cards and for family etc. This year wanted a beach photo. On Sunday we hopped in the car and drove to a beautiful beach called Matapouri on the Tutukaka Coast. I timed it so that Zak Zak would have his afternoon sleep in the car and then be bright and happy once we arrived for the photo shoot. WRONG. He was grumpy and was not interested in sitting still for my photo at all.  I took a few Christmas props and then found a sea urchin shell in the car park. Score! It went quite well with my baubles. Finding a spot where there wasn't anyone in the water behind was quite hard to do on a busy summers day.
Here are a few of the outtakes. 

Hey Zak Zak can you turn around for the photo. NOOOOO!
I don't wanna photo...

Many Many minutes later.... I bribe Zak zak back with a giant christmas lolly pop.
1st shot with the lolly pop.  What happens when I crack my lolly against yours Joe?

Oh. It cracks your one in half. Joe is now unhappy and ready to cry. 
Okay lets rearrange and put one lolly pop kid in the middle.
When can we go and play on the beach? WHEN MUMMY GETS HER SHOT!!!
 Daddy has now informed me that this is not fun and should stop yelling.
Okay okay....I think I may have one shot. Off you go and enjoy the beach. 


My love and I (in Miss Joys sunnies) 
The End resut

Day 3: We missed accidently while I was at work for the evening shift.
So we used it in Day 4: Play a board game together.

Day 5: Do Christmas Colouring with new felts. 
We all sat at the kitchen table and coloured in pages that I had printed off the internet. It was actually quite fun. When was the last time you coloured in using felts? 

The finished products on the fridge: Clockwise from the top left Miss joys, mine, Joe's and then a very colourful Dadda's. 

Day 6: Choose a new ornament from a shop. 
I have been meaning to do this one for a few years after I heard the idea from John Cowan in the Parenting Magazine. Each child chooses their own ornament each year and it is put in a special box and given to them when they get married. While we were trying to get one of the ornaments off and another one fell off and smashed a little bit. It was the kinda of place that had a "you break it, you bought it rule" Okay...well that one can be Zak Zaks one. 
I like Miss joys choice,  a dove. 

Only 19 more days to go...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

in the mail today

Look what arrived by courier post today. Some very cool stuff from Meghan from the M&Ms blog. I won a "caption this" competition. The photo was a very cool picture of Prince Charlie looking right at her Iphone while he was visiting Wellington recently. Very cool.

Check out her blog for tutorials on making the bath bombs and lip gloss. And the cinnamon stick candle is going to really make our house smell festive this Christmas.
The chocolates were delish and it was my first time trying a "salted caramel"...well anything!
This totally brightened up my day!
Thank you so much Meghan! And yay me for winning such a lovely package.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas is coming!

Christmas is coming...
I've been trying to get myself more organised than usual. Miss Joy's Birthday is the week before Christmas and so usually I feel like I cant get into Christmas until after her birthday. So this year I'm trying to get the majority of it sorted before her big day. Note the finished Advent Calender that I was working on last blog post. The Nativity Scene was an ambitious project I thought I could do...but in the end my Ma in Law came to the rescue. Its good to have the reason for the season right on the mantle piece.
Still so much to do...buy and wrap Christmas presents, attend various social events, finish Christmas cards and craft projects. On top of the usual working/family/cleaning cycle. I love this season! 

It seems I'm on Xmas sweets duty this year. Both sides of the family have delegated desserts for me to do. So many ideas going through my head....
I also like to do a Christmas Eve baking drop off to those nearest and dearest....So I best be getting me a 5kg bag of sugar this year.

While I was at the super market a few weeks ago I couldn't resist getting these cute little mini spring form tins. They are as big as your hand. Too cute! Yesterday was the first time I used them for little mini blue berry cheese cakes. I was making a larger one for a friends birthday party and added just a touch more of the ingredients to have a little extra for two mini tins. My kids love cheese cake (I wonder where they get that from?). I was making a my famous Mocha Cheese cake and scooped out a little batter before adding the coffee flavouring. I added a hand full frozen blue berries on the top. And baked them for 25 minutes. They were just too cute! And quite delicious. I will have to try this flavour combination for a larger cheese cake. The tartness of the berries cut through the richness of the cheese cake part.

Mini blue berry cheese cake on a dinner sized plate
We each had half each for dessert. So good.

Here's the finished mocha cheese cake.  I hope it will taste okay. Unfortunately I cant go to her special party because of work tonight :( But I hope some cheesecake will make up for it.

Listening to...
Katie and Brian  Torwalt  and I just bought the latest Jesus Culture featuring Martin Smith CD. So good. Loving having a cleaning session while cranking up my stereo and singing my lungs out to Jesus.

Excited about...

  • Only two more weeks left of school until the summer holidays start.
  • Spring cleaning.
  • Getting some painting projects done...okay watching hubby doing it ;)
  • Summer
  • Barbeques
  • Beach trips

So much to be thankful for....

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A productive Sunday.

Today I woke up full of beans. Okay...so not quite straight away...After Hubby had picked us up our favourite coffee, from our favourite cafe. Then I woke up full of beans. This morning I had to share a little something about our amazing get away to Sista's conference at church. (Kristy has already done a cool blog about it here.) I was a little nervous. Speaking to a bunch  of  people(200)  is a little daunting...but they are extended family, so hopefully it went well. 

I had a sleep day yesterday after my night shift so a more productive day was in mind for today. After a monster clean up of the house, Joe and I got to work and juiced a whole bag of lemons picked from Grandmas. I have this cool attachment to my Kenwood mixer that juices citrus in no time. 
I put some in an ice cube tray for juice when you need it and  decided to make lemonade out of the rest. Normally I would just add sugar and water to the lemon juice. But this time I made a sugar syrup, using 1 cup of sugar to about 1 cup water heating it in a pot until all the sugar was dissolved. I added it to the jug of lemon juice but it was still a bit tart so I repeated the process until the desired sweetness was achieved. It eliminated that dreaded "sugar sink". Will definitely do this again. 

I thought  the kids might like a lemonade  ice block...but I couldn't find the top bits to my ice block molds ..So used a bit of Kiwi ingenuity and improvised with some plastic forks. Yeah...Nah. I think I will dig a little deeper and try and find the real ones next time!

Christmas Advent calendars 
Tracy from "The Scrap Heap" was advertising these on her FB site.  The Left is what came in the kitset...which by the way was way cheaper at Tracy's shop than at Spotlight...just saying. And the right is what it could look like. COULD being the operative word. I'm a little rusty in the crafting department. There were a few times I felt like a five year old...you know when things stick to places they aren't supposed to. Ahem...

I did enlist in hubby's help. This is not just a one afternoon job! Each little box needed to be put together. Its not finished yet though. I do have twelve (!) more days to go until we start counting down until the big day. Better get cracking!

While we crafted I managed to put together the yummiest dinner in ages. Slow Roasted Pork Belly with crispy skin and roasted trio of root vege (spud, kumara and pumpkin) and fresh garden Asparagus and the yummiest "Jus" ever. The pork belly recipe was from Jamie Oliver. And yes....I followed a recipe...okay... mostly.
While I was dishing this delicious dinner up, I was thinking to myself...My kids probably won't appreciate how yummy this dish is at all, my talents are wasted on them...yadda yadda. Boy was I  wrong. They all loved it. Joe said "this was the best dinner I have cooked him in his whole life". A winner then. Restaurants charge loads for "pork belly".  I found a nice sized one for $12 from the supermarket  that fed all 5 of us and it wasn't too hard to make when I followed Jamie's recipe. Give it a try at your place.  

Yep. That was a productive day...and now I need a nap!

Monkey moo...enjoying his lemonade ice block.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Baklava cigars

As usual it started with a hankering then a craving...And then of course I had to make it. Today's experiment Baklava. A Mediterranean dessert made with nuts and filo pastry and a sugar syrup.

I googled some recipes and then of course...made it my own (take as *still hates following recipes*).

I have a baby shower  to attend tomorrow and need to provide a "plate" for and I know my pregnant dietitian friend is going to love these. I decided to try a "cigar"  instead for the traditional diamond shaped ones because I thought it would be better for a finger food plate. I used the "nice and natural nuts" product range. I LOVE having a bag of these handy on my night shifts. They just hit the spot and  are super healthy too.

First I had to get over my fear of FILO!
Its so paper thin and I'm so clumsy.
I heeded the advice of the recipes and placed a damp tea towel over the filo pastry while I worked with one sheet at a time.

300g of mixed nuts. I used Nice and natural "Energy" and "Balance" Mixes. Use a food processor until crumbly but not yet fine.
1/3 Cup soft brown sugar
1Tblsp melted butter.

1 Packet filo pastry
Melted butter

Carefully work with filo pastry using melted butter as needed using a pastry brush to keep filo moist and workable. Take one rectangle of pastry and fold in half with a light coating of butter. Put a Tablespoon of nut mix on the top end and roll in to a tight cigar (see pictures ).
Place all the rolls on a baking tray and bake until golden on 180C for  approximately 20 minutes.

Sugar syrup
1 and a 1/2 cups water
4 Tblsp Honey
2 Tblsp white sugar
1 tsp orange or lemon rind
1 tsp Masterfoods mixed spice

Place in a small sauce pan reduce down for 10 minutes. Generously brush all of the syrup over the filo cigars once baked. Let the cigars sit in the syrup to absorb for a few hours.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Whats been cooking

As I mentioned a couple of blogs ago, we have been really into My Kitchen Rules this season. It had drama, cattiness, juries oh...and there was some cooking too. I don't know why, but watching Auzzies on this show just cracks me up. It was really cool having some New Zealanders in this season too. And don't get me going on the two judges/hosts.. Gotta love hearing Manu's french accent. 
I was hoping the guys would win, but alas it was the girls in the end. Both were worthy contenders.

Of course watching the show has been inspiring me to try a few new recipes. None of which turned out particularly fantastic...but it was fun none-the-less

The first was  Moussaka. The greek contestants Steve and Helen inspired me to try this one. Its a layered egg plant and mince dish (usually Lamb...but I just used beef). And then covered in a Bechamel Sauce with plenty of cheese. I never used to be a huge fan of egg plant as a kid...but my tastes are evolving and I am starting to enjoy it. And in this dish the mince and cheese flavour masks it a bit. 

The eggplants are sliced length ways into 3cm slices then "salted" for 20 minutes then spread out on a baking tray. Sprinkled with bread crumbs they are then baked until the eggplant is cooked and breadcrumbs are golden (20min). I used Panko crumbs here.

Layers are made with the mince sauce (similar to a bolognaise sauce) and the pre-baked egg plants similar to a lasagne. 
Place the layers so there is a little room on the sides of the dish. Cover in a bechamel sauce with a little more cheese on top. And bake until golden. 

 A nice hearty delicious meal.

Nic and Rocko got my cravings going for macarons. This is my second attempt...and needless to say, I might need some one on one lessons from Rocko for these. They sucked...but they still tasted yum, in their own special way. Maybe I could just invent a completely different cookie because they were nothing like the real thing. I think I know where I'm going wrong...
These were Passion fruit and white chocolate flavoured. 

The finished product looked like a cross between a "Yo-yo" and a macaron!

And lastly I had a go at making my own ravioli. Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with a tomato and basil sauce.  
Wow these little guys were super fiddley.  But I took the advice of contestants Nic and Rocco, dubbed the pasta kings, and used a kitchen whizz to mix up the dough instead of kneading it by hand. It worked a treat. Overall my pasta making skills are improving slowly. The first time we made home made pasta, the whole ordeal took us 2 hours! Now its more like an hour. 
Totally worth the effort though. 

Quite Delicious!

Between browsing on Pintrest and watch cooking shows, theres a million things I wanna try and make, but never get around to doing it so much. Are you a fan of trying new dishes?

Note: I haven't left any recipe here....because I googled them and tweeked them...as per usual :)

I need one of these signs in my kitchen!