27 February, 2014

We should have bought more ladybirds though

Baking is really not my thing. If I really have nothing to offer prior to someone coming over, I might throw together some Anzac biscuits, but that's one of about two things in my baking repertoire. So I find the thought of baking a fancy birthday cake more nerve wracking than the birthday party itself.

Last year I got sucked into the idea of making a cake from the Woman's Weekly Birthday book. Luckily, my favourite 5 yr old chose what looked like the easiest cake in the book. A ghost cake, with some white icing, smarties for the mouth and egg shells with blood red veins drawn in them. Even the recipe called for a packet mix cake. Sweet.

I have a cunning new plan. No cakes from books. From now on, the kids can help me shop for cake decorations and they can decorate/help decorate it themselves. This is our first attempt.

26 February, 2014

Herman the German Friendship Cake

Herman, the German Friendship Cake is currently not that photogenic. He is a sourdough cake, so, in his current form, he is a bubbling mass in a plastic container. Maybe he will be more photogenic as a cake, in 10 days or thereabouts. I am very excited to have been gifted this sourdough mix from a new friend. I have tried making sourdough mixes before, but the couple of times I have tried it, I haven't got any further than day 4 or 5. The last time I used spelt flour, but it fizzled out (no pun intended) after a few days and went a bit greenish. So this is a living, breathing sourdough mix that has been going for who knows how long!

The idea for Herman is that you keep the sourdough stirred and fed until day 9, when you divide it into four, give three portions away to friends, with the instruction sheet (for feeding the sourdough and then making the cake) and make the cake with the fourth portion. I might be greedy, give two portions away, make the cake and then see if I can make sourdough bread with the fourth part. I am wondering who might be a willing recipient of Herman. I'm thinking, maybe Heleen and Angela? I'm also wondering, since we're going camping this weekend, if I have to get a babysitter for Herman? I'd hate for him to die on my watch.

On the home grown front, the tomato plants have suddenly realised it's summer and are ripening with wild abandon. I was diligent about getting the little seedlings planted and watered, but promptly forgot about them and went out one day to find them all about four foot high and growing horizontally. By that point it was too late to stake them, so they are happily lying all over the top of each other, on the ground and ripening. It doesn't seem to have slowed production at all. Harvesting is a bit complicated by the fact that I put bird netting over them at one point to keep the cat out so half the tomatoes are under the netting and half are on top (since the plants grew right through the mesh). It seems to have kept all pesky critters out though.

Last night I made this deliciousness, Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes and Pea and Goats Cheese Pesto. Pip Lincolne's Same Old Crap from over at hellokateberry. I was rather taken with the "Same Old Crap" description, because if my 'same old crap' meals were this good, I'd be doing pretty well. Unfortunately I had to take the best part out of the recipe, ie, the pea and goats cheese pesto, due to fussy little eaters. But I was inspired. And the roasted tomatoes were a hit. For me, at least.

23 February, 2014

A Day Out

The Auckland Botanical Gardens is one of those places that we don't often visit, as it's quite a trek from our house. But when the annual sculpture exhibition is on, it's well worth loading everyone up, snacks and sunscreen, to make the hike.

It was the last day of the exhibition and I'm so glad we went. There were some fabulous sculptures, and some pretty cool crafty activities for kids, including making some sculptures of their own with flowers, sticks, ribbon and leaves, which were hung from the trees as part of a community sculpture. Plus there was the opportunity to try mono-printing. The kids got to ink up a plastic plate, create a little sketch in the ink with a paddle pop stick and then run it through the press. Pretty impressed that they had a full printing press on site! Plus it was a great starting point for getting kids interested in trying printmaking. It gave me some ideas about things we might be able to try at home too.

Mia Hamilton - In fill housing

Jamie Pickernell
Oh Crabby, I do believe we're rather lost

Todd and Karuna Douglas
Alien Invaders

Jane Downes
Rusted Mild Steel

21 February, 2014

Taking Stock

Taking stock with Pip, again.

Making: or rather, thinking about making raw lasagne from Little Bird
Cooking: pizzas
Drinking: calendula tea.
Reading: about the health benefits of calendula tea and feeling virtuous
Wanting: a few uninterrupted hours of craftiness
Looking: for obits for Blossom Dearie, New York jazz singer
Playing: Blossom Dearie and reminiscing about a quiet caberet performance in New York at Danny's Skylight Room in 2006
Realising: that we must have seen one of her last performances, aged 79
Deciding: to say yes more often
Wishing: I could get the balance right between online reading and creative action
Enjoying: the Goldfinch. Page 768!
Waiting: for another little nip on the arm from Sammy the cat
Liking: the slow ambles to and from school, hunting for cicada shells
Wondering: if I can find an outdoorsy activity to inspire us all this weekend
Loving: cuddles from Sammy
Pondering: my next read
Considering: making some things to sell
Watching: Manor Houses
Hoping: to make time to catch up with an old friend
Marvelling: the wealth, opulence and history in the walls of those English manor houses
Needing: an early night
Smelling: cups of tea
Wearing: my fave t-shirt with a vintage style crochet on the front. Looks better than it sounds.
Following: the progress of my fellow bloggy friends
Noticing: how the kids fight less when I play with them more
Knowing: that I need to appreciate these pre-school years
Thinking: about teaching some stuff
Feeling: worried that I won't pursue it
Admiring: people who take daily, active steps to shape their reality
Sorting: UFO's and op shop purchases
Buying: Chinese checkers and kitchen gadgets
Getting: organised
Bookmarking: recipes, as always
Disliking: tantrums and moodiness. And opinionated radio hosts.
Opening: a box of patchwork from the op shop and discovering a whole bunch of completed squares
Giggling: Remembering what my 5yo said recently, when presented with tofu and veg. "You are not the mum I know and love".
Feeling: like I need a long, uninterrupted sleep.
Snacking: on medjool dates. delish.
Coveting: vintage combies on George Clarke's Amazing Spaces.
Wishing: I would remember to pause and relax.
Helping: little people get to sleep
Hearing: possums on the roof. I think. And moreporks.

07 February, 2014


Last year I was lucky enough to experience the awesomeness that is Little Bird, the eatery in Kingsland, Auckland, also known as "the Unbakery". This amazing cafe serves up all raw, organic food and has gained quite a reputation in Auckland for its delicious healthy fare. The thing really stuck in my mind was the blueberry cheesecake. So rich, but so good. When I discovered that Taste magazine published a recipe for the cheesecake, I was keen to give it a go.

As far as cheesecakes go, it's a pretty pricey thing to make. But due to the rich ingredients, the portion sizes are small and it freezes well. Icecream cake! And it's pretty healthy too... cashews and brazil nuts for the base, and coconut oil, cacao butter, strawberries, almond milk and lemon for the top. I made it for Christmas lunch. It was a hit!