Friday, December 16, 2011

Xmas crafting

Everyone in Blogland is blogging Xmas craft so here is Aunty jumping on the band wagon. My house is starting to look very Christmassy thanks to some clever handmade felt Xmas tree decor posted to me from Oz with love from my mate over at Happygas blog and my own additions of Xmas bunting.

Spotlight have some very cool calico with Scandinavian prints on them. I managed to nab the green reindeer print for a mere $3m. I have used bias binding in the past to make bunting but once I calculated i needed about 18m of binding to dress up 6 windows at $2 per metre plus the cost of my fabric I was blowing my Xmas Scrooge miser budget big time! So I bought 3m of the $3 green fabric, cut 3m by 10cm strips and whipped up my own bias binding.

I also made what I call "cheats" bunting flags which are one sided cut with pinking shears but were quick & easy. Double sided bunting would look great from both sides above windows but time & money wouldn't allow. I think it all looks super cute and more homely than tinsel. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

10 days to Christmas...........

............and my true love gave to me. A visit to Playcentre from Santa Claus.

Who is that man in the red suit with gumboots on?

Hmmm - maybe if I hide behind the hill Santa will just pass on by with no fuss.
Oh Santa how did ya know I love Thomas! You're not so bad after all.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Local craft

I went to the KINA Design store Xmas shopping night, not just for the free champagne but to check out some local craft & art & do some Xmas browsing. Craft stores are few & far between in New Plymouth but KINA & MANU Design stores are both of a high quality and KINA especially supports local artists.

I did spot my sister in laws latest creations in the window display. She operates Maddy's Store via Facebook and specialises in vintage 50s blanket craft making cushions, hot water bottle covers, wheat bags and I spotted some of her Xmas decorations on the KINA Xmas tree. after a couple of glasses of bubbly I bought my sister a Paua shell brooch which KINA even posted to the UK for me and a red Xmas tree stocking with a Tui bird screen print. And here it is on my tree!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How To Be A Woman

I'm currently reading the hilarious chronicles of womanhood by Caitlin Moran. Many reviews claim this book to be the new feminist manifesto but its more a "lets laugh at the madness of womanhood" instead of this angry victim approach ultra feminists seem to take.

Caitlin Moran is a ballsy Brummy lass who has captured the foibles of adolescence and periods, unrequited love, bras, friendships and pubic hair masterfully. I have yet to read chapters "Pregnancy" & "Abortion" and guess this book can only get more gutsy yet funny. I also love Moran's "Cruella Deville" hair and her openly discussed love of her hairy muff also know as Wookie.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Too Cute Tunic

Hello Blog I'm still here! I've been super busy with muesli. Muesli mania hits when the sun comes out so that's what I've been doing. Sometimes I find rolled oats in my hair, under my shoes & even down my bra. Ooops how did you get down there. Before this madness kicked off I did squeeze in some sewing. I have been aching to make the Too Cute Tunic in the crafty book Sew La Tea Do created by the fabulous Pip Lincolne over at Meet Me At Mikes. But I converted it into a smock top as I had this super cute fabric but not quite enough for a complete dress. I did have enough for some pockies on the front and tidied up the edges by sewing buttons over my not so neat finishes with bias binding. 

Pip's patterns are very simple, easy and great for beginners. I've been sewing (if you call it that) on & off since I was 8 yrs old but the book is quite clear on how to have NEAT finishes which is something I have never REALLY made much effort to do. I ironed, trimmed, used pinking shears & measured twice! So here is my Too Cute Tunic with tidy trim and neat corners. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Prawn World

Just back from a weekend away back to our new favourite holiday spot Omori by Lake Taupo in the middle of the North Island. It was a long weekend here and we hit the road early Friday with only one car sick stop for Oscar on our 3.5 hour journey. NZ roads are SOOOO windy they make me feel sick if I am not focused on the fabulous green valleys & trout filled streams out the window.
 The big focus of this little holiday was a trip to the Huka Prawn Park which we were calling Prawn World until both my neighbour & mother misheard this as PORN WORLD. Hello why would be taking Oscar to PORN WORLD ladies. Made for very interesting conversation if not a confusing one!

The Prawn Park is near the mighty Huka Falls and also on a geothermal site so the water is nice & toasty for the Malaysian prawns to swim in. There were heaps of things to do at the Prawn Park and Nic hooked right into Prawn Fishing with the rods provided, trying to catch a bucket of prawns. 1 hour of baiting & waiting he caught one!

Oscar and I went on the nature walk looking for some brown trout to feed but the sun wasn't shining so the fish weren't biting. The adventure playground was cool with a giant tunnel made from industrial pipe works and giant prawn pots with springs on the bottom like a bouncy trampoline. Oscar loved it. Go little prawns!

We also had a paddle in the mineral water foot bath then checked out the restaurant passing on the $80 prawn platters and grabbed coffees to drink while feeding the ducks. All we needed was a sighting of the world famous Shawn the Prawn but alas it was his day off. WE HEART YOU PRAWN WORLD!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Recent Record Finds

Just got back from the Operatic Societies 24 Hour Book Sale which is a very big book fair here in New Plymouth. Its held annually in the local stadium and - you guessed it - runs for 24 hours only! It kicked off at midday today so off Oscar & I went with some hope there might be a Thomas Tank Engine book left for us. Alas they had been picked clean. We had a really good rummage too but you have to be in first at these fairs to get what you want. The only book we purchased was a book on Vehicles which I can't currently wrestle from Oscars clutches to take a pic of. 

But we had better luck over in the LPs section and I'm really pleased with my haul. Nothing over $4 and the cheapest was the Joan Baez "Portrait of Joan Baez" for a mere $2. I've been listening to Kate Bush's "Kick Inside" recently so was chuffed to pick that up for $3 and the Rod Stewart ""Every Picture Tells a Story" gatefold with Ron Wood & The Faces is a steal at $2. The cover is a bit battered but record perfect. When I paid for my bargains a grey haired lady with "Joy" on her name tag said to me with a twinke in her eye "Ooooh Kris Kristofferson, he's so handsome isn't he". Yes Joy he is!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thinking of Christmas

I know its only September but I have already started thinking about Xmas. Possibly because my in laws will be flying over from Geelong, Australia & also Oscar will be almost 3 years old & will hopefully "get it". AND more than likely because Alicia Paulson over at Posy Gets Cosy has her adorable Xmas felt craft decor kits up for sale. I am VERY tempted to buy the Walk in the Woods kit with its little gingerbread house and woodland fawn. The shipping is very pricey as with most online shipping in the US.

Come on Xmas!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My New Print by Annie Sandano

Today I hung some new art that I received as a collective birthday gift from my folks, my inlaws & my husband Nic. Its a woodcut limited edition print by Annie Sandano who is a Brazilian born New Zealander. She combines Maori design with folk art & favours colours black, red & orange. This print is called "Fantails On Kura Landscape". I am quite obsessed with birdies, folk art & shades of Russian Red & Burnt Orange which can be seen all through our home.

I bought this print from a local crafty gallery Kina NZ and could spend a small fortune there if I had it. The owner Luella is really helpful and friendly and let me have this print on lay by for sometime! She also put me onto a great local picture framer & helped me choose the right colour frame too. 

Loving my new print thank you to my family for a beautiful birthday gift.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stony Oaks Wildlife Park

Our local Playcentre organised a trip to Stony Oaks Wildlife Park as part of our Spring theme so off we went with our gumboots and morning tea out to Inglewood on a cloudy damp typical Spring-in-Taranaki Day. I was excited for Oscar to see some more unusual animals aside from the usual sheep & cows we see on our daily drives and heard there were baby Nubian goats, pheasant chicks & even a Highland Cattle calf. 

But the flavour of the day with Oscar was......................the cow! Yep, the good old brown bovine was loved & adored by all. She looked a bit old & tired but didn''t mind all the hugs & attention.

Somehow Oscar got it in his head he had to RIDE the cow. I'm just glad the cow just lay there because she was massive. The rest of the morning was spent chasing small animals and cuddling bunnies & guinea pigs. Stony Oaks is a fabulous experience and we'll be back there soon for more cow rides.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I am a One Handed Wonder Mum

This may be a short post but it will take me forever to write as a fumble along with one hand all swathed in bandage and the other clumsily typing (hurrah for spell check!). But now have to get used to having only one hand for at least 2 weeks until I get these sutures out and dressings off. This will make my days interesting!

  So I've just had a spot of surgery today on a very bad case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. When I was 1st diagnosed with this I thought "but that's an old ladies ailment" however have since discovered it is very common in women and aggravated during pregnancy. Along with the repetition of yanking trays of muesli out of the oven the last 18 months have meant I can barely pick up a piece of paper and the agony at night has left me with broken sleep. So at long last my number was called and I had the operation at Taranaki Base Hospital. What a bright efficient bunch of staff & the surgeon was super fast (completed in 13 minutes) and APPARENTLY has sewn some very tidy sutures. Although we all questioned his bandaging technique however Dr  assured me my overstuffed dressing would welcome much sympathy my way. More jelly on my ice cream please.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Snow Weekend

I am VERY excited about my birthday tomorrow. Not only because I have some mystery parcels & cards to open but we're off on a weekend away to somewhere we've never been to before. Huzzah an adventure into the wilderness!

We're off to a little village on Lake Taupo called Omori and there are Thermal Pools ($5 entry BARGAIN) and we're right by the sunny shores of New Zealand's largest lake. Wonder if we''ll see a taniwha (Maori water monster)! Its going to be a very chilly (-3 low 13 high) but sunny weekend and we plan to hit the National Park for some sledging too. Theres an epic 2m snow base up on those mountains and I want to plough down them on the toboggan. I might let 2 year old Oscar have a turn. Hmm maybe I better get more toboggans.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Famous Spiegeltent Part II - Electric Boogaloo

What a great night! The town of New Plymouth looks spectacular with lots of cool coloured lighting. The old town clock has had a makeover and looks spectacular. You can just see a glimpse of it from my kitchen window at home so it was great to see all the lighting close up.

I JUST made it into the tent. I was faffing round taking photos and the Security Guard said "Lady get a move on we only have room for 320 people and I just let in no 319". Skates were ON!

The inside was cosier than I imagined which was great as Taranaki was hit by snow today and it was only about 2 degrees outside. Lots of pub like booths and a rich velvet striped canopy. I loved the chandelier. It was very hard to take photos without shoving your head in someones way so some limited pics here. The event was for the Taranaki Sing Songwriters club. My brother plays guitar in The Smiles which took to the stage after a few solo artists played for the 1st hour. Got every ones feet tapping warming us up. Good night!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tonight at the Spiegeltent - The Smiles (-:

So tonight I am ACTUALLY LEAVING THE HOUSE and going to a gig. Yeah! The Taranaki International Arts Festival is on here in New Plymouth which is a Biennial event and there are some fabulous shows on. I'm not a theatre goer so the Cirque de Soleil type show SOAP isn't for me but is world class and getting great reviews. I did check out the NZ Graphic Novel Exhibit & Renegade at Puke Ariki. The Renegade exhibition is showcasing some of Taranaki's top contemporary artists like Michael Smither & John MacLean. There's a huge colourful Smithers cubist sculpture on display. You can buy it for a cool $20k!

But tonight I am off to the world Famous Spiegeltent where the Taranaki Singer Songwriters are putting on a free showcase. While I lived in Melbourne I had many opportunities to check out this cool mobile venue but when its on your doorstep you take it for granter I guess. So its on my doorstep again and this time my brother is playing under its old canvases with The Smiles so off I go. I'll post some pics of the tents inside treasure chest later.

Monday, July 25, 2011

RECIPE - Mushroom & Red Wine Soup

Here it is by special request of RayRay. Enjoy!

CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP ( with liquor yeah!)
45g butter
700g field mushrooms chopped
1 onion chopped
1 garlic clove crushed
2T flour (rice flour is great)
100ml red wine or sherry
700ml chicken or vege stock
175ml of cream (or milk if too rich)
salt n pepper
chopped flat parsley to garnish

Melt butter on LOW heat, then turn up to a MED heat & add onion, garlic, mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes. Remove from heat & stir in flour for 1 min. Return to heat & add wine/sherry. Gradually add stock continuing to stir. Season & bring to boil. Simmer for 20 mins.
Puree the soup in a blender. Cool it off a bit. I have tried doing this while hot and the top blows off the blender and you end up with 3rd degree burns!. Return to pan and heat, add all cream/milk except for 4T. Serve in 4 big bowls garnish with dollop of remaining cream and sprinkle with parsley.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

RECIPE - Raspberry & Orange Upside Down Cake

After being sick with a nasty nasty stomach bug for what seems like half a lifetime, my appetite is back AND with cravings for bad sweet naughty food. And cake. Lots of cake please.

But the bug has left me with even worse food intolerances. So no wheat & no lactose whatsoever for Aunty. Not even lick the spoon after scooping an icecream for Oscar. And I really love doing that. So here is a delish sweet but berry tarty cake I made recently. I don't go in for the pretty looking iced cakes as I don't have the patience or skill. So this upside down cake is just perfect.

In the recipe photo it looked a perfect raspberry red & orange combo but mines more of a muddy purple! But its a super delish muddy purple cake.

Serves 8 (or 3 in my house over a wet weekend)

1 1/2 cup Gluten free flour or plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
150g almond meal
3 large free range eggs
3/4cup caster sugar (1/2 cup of you like a tarty cake)
175g butter cubed & at room temp
2T grated orange rind
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
300g froz raspberries
3 tsp demerara (raw) sugar

Preheat oven to 170C (no fan). Spray a fluted non stick ring pan with oil. Line the base with good baking paper. Beat butter, sugar & orange rind together until light & creamy. Add eggs one at a time until well combined. Fold in combined flour & almond meal & juice.
Arrange half the raspberries at the bottom of the tin (which will be the cake top). Top with half the cake mix. Tap on the benchtop to settle. Repeat with remaining raspberries & cake mix. Tap tin on bench & smooth with a spatula.
Bake for 50-60 mins or until a skewer comes out of the centre clean. Set aside for 10 mins to cool. Take a clean flat knife and run carefully around inside of pan. Turn the cake onto a platter & sprinkle with demerara sugar. Serve with cream or ice cream or in my case eat half the cake neat over the course of 3 days. oops!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cooking with Kids

I am so happy little Oscar loves baking as much as I do. as soon as my big baking box filled with flour, baking powder, cocoa, choccy buttons etc comes out of the cupboard he's off to find his stool to stand on so he can "help" Mum. I try to set up the ingredients in measuring cups before he clocks the baking box otherwise my little helper gets over eager and we end up battling over flour & sugar & milk. We have had one incident when Oscar ended up with a jug of oil on his head which we all thought was pretty funny until someone had to have TWO baths in one day!

By keeping the ingredients nice and simple the whole baking process is fun and kids start to remember what ingredients make scones or simple muffins. I also like baking for kids as I know I am putting in little or no sugar and flavouring my baking with raisins, berries, choc chips or cheese instead. Biscuits have WAY too much sugar in them for tiny growing milk teeth. Baking is a learning process for kids in so many ways too - following instructions, turn taking, taste & texture, nutrition. Its even a science class on chemical reactions especially if your little one tips in a cup of baking powder!

So get baking with the kids. Its messy, fun & delicious.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dunkley's Craft Show Ahoy!

Hoorah for the Dunkley's NZ Craft Show! My stall was a great success at the show and I was pleased with my "budget" set-up with fuzzy felt flowers & calico backdrop. I even stole my husbands favourite orange couch rug for the display! He couldn't figure out what happened to it until he came to my stall. ooops! Here is Aunty's Natural Muesli on display. I had lots of people come & taste my samples and I hope they visit me at the Taranaki Farmers Market soon.

The other stallholders were good fun too and were really helpful when I was setting up.

Here is Ian sellng his preserves. It was his 18th year touring with the Dunkleys Craft Show.

There were so many fabulous stalls. Belgian Truffles, Vintage Vixen Jewellery, the lovely Angie with her jewellry too AND she won Best stall Display with her dazzling Vegas style lights. I also loved the Nana knitting stalls and bought a lovely Merino sleeping bag for my best mate Jane who has no 3 on the way next month. There was also a lady selling "Quake Art". Her studio was battered by the Christchurch Quake and she has created some cool art work from her battered paintings and broken mirrors.

Here is my honey supplier Fiona from Bees R Us. I use her Manuka Blend in my muesli which gives it a rich & sweet flavour.

She also has a Macdamia Bush honey which I am quite a fan of

The show was well advertised, well organised and a big hit. If you are considering having a stall at one of the shows I HIGHLY recommend. Stallholders go to a massive effort to get ready for these shows and sometimes the organisers don't let the public know its out there.

Thanks to the Dunkley family for a great weekend!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Aunty's Does the Dunkley's NZ Craft Show!

Aunty's been a very busy baker making & packing almost 300kg of muesli over the past few weeks. Its really hard work and the packing fiddly but now comes the fun part! I have a stall booked at the Dunkley's NZ Craft Show in New Plymouth this weekend. Its a 4 day event tagging onto Mondays Public Holiday here and held in a big stadium. I think there will be about 80-100 stalls selling everything from handmade cards, knitted booties to Old Busmans Bourbon, leather bags, pottery and of course muesli! Aside from making muesli I need to decorate my stand to attract some customers. I haven't had much time (or money!) to put a display togther but bought 10m of fabric to cover the MDF stall boards, sewed some gingham tablecloths and then will scatter my felt flowers & leaves I whipped up last night. I was going to stuff the flowers too, like the leaves, but my orange thread ran out!

But its worked out for the best as the leaves are quite heavy and might not stay up plus I have twice as many flowers. Funny how disaster turns into a plus like that. Well wish me luck I am really hoping to win a prize or place for Best Dressed stall. I'll post some Show pics next week!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Topshop Duffle Coat

I love this Duffle Coat! I NEED this Duffle Coat! Its cold & dark and I NEED it! Theres a few problems with me actually buying one.

1. Its from Topshop UK
2. They only have summer stock in their on-line store.
3. I have no money!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Auntys Art Deco Holiday

Have you ever been to Napier in NZ? Its an Art Deco mecca. The whole town centre is decked out in 1930s buildings thanks to a devastating earthquake that flattened the town in February 1931 that tragically killed 256 people.

The town council really put a lot of thought and time into the rebuild & employed Louis Hayes and others to redesign Napier in the spirit of Lloyd Frank Wright.

My fav deco part is the beach front gardens, the still in use soundshell & fountains. And I love the way the buildings are in the 1930s classic pastels. Not bright & flashy like Miami but more muted & humble.

There is also a bell-type glockenspiel in the Civic Park that chimes out Split Enz's "Six Months in a Leaky Boat" at 11.30am and Dave Dobbyn's "Loyal" at midday. It was very odd and even irritating the lunchtime crowd!

I also caught up with my Uncle Bill who is a retired Marist Brother. He studied and worked at the old Mission Estate Winery in the 60s and lucky us got our own special guided tour! Well my family did while I played outside with 2 year old Oscar on the Estate lawns. I did get some nice wine to take home with a massive 25% discount. Thanks Uncle Bill you're tops!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Aunty at the Foxton Fair

After a totally TOP holiday in snowy Queenstown Aunty hit the road with a load of muesli to the annual Easter Sunday Foxton Fair. The weather forecast wasn't singing out summer but I'd booked my lot at the fair sometime ago and you just have to take a punt. Plus the lure of being part of a market AND Fun Fair was too much! After a 3 hour drive in stunning autumn countryside I hit Foxton and found my spot & set my stand up & squeezed in time for a few snaps.

It was an odd mix of stalls from jams & pickles to plants to candy - I was over from some bootleg T-shirts and 3D tiger pics with the famous Foxten De Molen Windmill in the background.

But some super cool crafty stalls too! I am a complete sucker for knitted babies booties. They're so cute & fluffy & teeny & fit babies feet in them. I had to physically stop myself from buying a pair reminding myself that Oscar would not wear them. Unless there were some with cars on them which there weren't!

And what makes a fun fair?? Spinning clown heads! I have no idea what this Fun Fair Game is called but the whole concept looks so easy and the colourful clown heads just lure the kids in.

I had such a great day. The muesli stand did well and the rain held off until I was an hour from home so thanks Foxton for an awesome Easter Sunday Fun Fair!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Queestown Adventure!

Aunty is just in the process of packing her bags for a much needed holiday to Queenstown in the very stunning South Island. If you haven't been there before most of the LOTR trilogy especially LOTR II&III were filmed there with the snow capped alps backdrop in many shoots. The house we have rented overlooks Lake Wakatipu which translates to "Place where the Demon Lies" in Maori. Wonder if we'll see any taniwhas while we're there? No plans for bungy jumping but might jump on the Shotover Jetboat which is a complete adrenalin rush and also up to the snow for a muck around with the kids.

We're meeting my husbands whanau there too so no doubt we'll be cooking up some venison on the BBQ and knocking back some wines on arrival. Yeah!

This will be my view this time tomorrow with giant glass of bubbly in hand. Cant wait.

Monday, April 11, 2011

RECIPE - Tomatillo Salsa Verde

I have just discovered the BEST SALSA ever and is really easy and highly addictive. I could sit down with a bowl of this green tomato salsa and polish off a 500g bag of corn chips grinning like a big fat spider. This is made with a Mexican tomato variety called Tomatillos (pronounced "to-mah-tee-oh") which are in season at the moment (and available at the Taranaki Farmers Market in abundance!). they look just like a green cherry tomato but have a "husk" on them which needs to be peeled off.
Here is a quick & easy recipe or you. If you can't get Tomatillos then use green or cherry tomatoes.

Makes 3 cups
1/2 kg tomatillos
1 small red onion peeled
1/2 cup fresh coriander or 2 T of jar coriander concentrate
1 T lime juice
4 slices Jalapeno pepper (optional)

Remove papery husks from tomatillos & rinse well. Chop n half and place cut side down on a baking sheet on oven tray. Grill for 5 minutes and colour the skins.

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor & whizz until all ingredients finely chopped. season to taste with salt. Cool in the fridge.

Serve with corn chips or as a sauce on an Mexican dishes. I used it on fish tacos made on the bbq. Yummo!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Kids Room Decor

Aunty's been having a break from baking & muesli since being flat out with the Field Days. Ive been inspired by my mate over at Happy Gas who has been having some creative room makeovers and posting some top links to other blogs for inspiration. So I've been moving some pictures & furniture round here & which is a super cheap way to redecorate.

I've now moved onto decorating the "bunk room" for my 2 year old who is still in a cot but should move into a big bed soon. Here is the room in all its white blandness. I want to have a Sea Creature theme and not sure how the Thomas the Tank Engine duvet covers fit in with this. Hmmm!

So here are the beginnings of the Sea Cave, I'm making a roman blind with some IKEA crabby fabric kindly shipped over from OZ from my sister-in-law. I've also put in an order for some more crabby fabric from my mother in law who will be over in May to make fringed cushions with inspiration from over at My Poppet and I have some fish posters & chalkboard whale stickers also. And other ideas ticking away.

Watch this space!