Northland and Bay of Islands Road trip day 6 (Part 2): Kerikeri Farmers Market, Ferry to Russell, Pompallier Mission, drive to Whangarei

Northland and Bay of Islands Road trip day 6 (Part 2): Kerikeri Farmers Market, Ferry to Russell, Pompallier Mission, drive to Whangarei

We packed a lot into day 6 of our Bay of Island trip.
In my previous post I wrote about our visit to the Historic Old Stone Store and Kemp House in Kerikeri on the morning of day 6.
From there we drove to the Kerikeri Farmers Market, a large market showcasing local artisan wares and entertainment.  It is definitely well worth the visit.  We enjoyed some snacks before setting off to Russell.

From Kerikeri we drove through Paihia toward Russell around the bays to the car ferry at Opua.  The car ferry is a far cheaper option (for a large group) than the passenger ferry between Paihia and Russell and involves a short drive around the bays with the short ferry trip in between.IMG_5051IMG_5146Walking along the Russell waterfront is simply stunning.  There are restaurants, hotels and galleries all along the waterfront with a road which is more like a boardwalk directly in front of the buildings with the waterfront on the other side.  Many of the buildings are historic and it is such a gorgeous place to visit. The town of Russell, known as Kororareka in Te Reo, was the first European settlement and seaport in New Zealand.  In the early 1800’s it was a busy harbour due to the whaling trade and it gained a reputation as ‘The Hell Hole of the Pacific”, known for it’s drinking, fighting and prostitution.  These days Russell is a quaint tourist destination.IMG_5918IMG_5922IMG_5920We wandered through the small township and had a yummy lunch at Hone’s Garden, an open-air pizza restaurant by the main road.  It’s amazing just how tropical it feels in the Bay of Islands so was lovely to sit outside surrounded by lush gardens at this restaurant.

After  lunch we walked through to the waterfront and down the road to the Pompallier Mission House.

IMG_5924IMG_5928The tour of the Pompallier Mission House was very interesting with very detailed information and demonstrations on printing (40,000 Bibles were published in Te Reo Maori by French Bishop Pompallier and Marist Brothers and distributed throughout NZ) and the tannery (leather used for book binding).
IMG_1783The guide was very knowledgeable on history of the area and specific details on the day to day working of a printer and tanner.  She gave all the children an opportunity to use the old printing press, giving them each their copy of the print they’d made to take home.IMG_1776IMG_1777There’s a lovely garden surrounding the mission with heritage fruit trees and a walk up the hill behind to see the view out over the bay, as well as a cafe and gift shop, complete with lovely outside seating area and petanque court as you leave the Mission.

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Northland Road Trip Day 6 (Part 1): Kerikeri Mission and Stone Store

Northland Road Trip Day 6 (Part 1): Kerikeri Mission and Stone Store

Visiting the Kerikeri Mission house and Stone Store was one of the highlights of our Northland and Bay of Islands road-trip.
I love historical buildings and artifacts and especially love to hear the stories of people who lived and worked in these historic buildings.
SONY DSCWe first visited the Mission Station in the evening of Day 5, when everything was closed.  There is plenty to look at around the buildings with their picture perfect location next to the river.IMG_5782IMG_5859The morning of Day 6 before heading to Russell we decided to pop back to have a quick look inside the Stone Store and we were so glad we did.
I didn’t know there was a museum upstairs in the Stone Store until I overheard others asking about it (cost of $8 per adult, kids under 18 free) then I heard talk of a tour of Kemp House (only $10 per adult, kids under 18 free and it includes access to the Stone Store museum!) so I immediately booked in for the next tour.IMG_5835Our tour guide was excellent.  She was so knowledgeable and shared a great deal of interesting facts and information about the history of the site, relationship between the local Maori and Missionaries and details about how they lived their lives.   IMG_5834IMG_4996IMG_5858IMG_5836IMG_5837Our children found the tour informative and the guide did a great job engaging the kids and letting them try writing on slates which they really enjoyed.  We were able to go upstairs in Kemp House and view all the different rooms.  The kids had fun imagining how a family with 15 children fitted in to the place!IMG_4997IMG_5845IMG_5850IMG_5856IMG_5857IMG_5005IMG_1736IMG_1735IMG_1734

After the tour of Kemp House we were free to explore the museum on the 2nd and attic floors of the Stone Store.

IMG_1740Walking in to the Stone Store was almost like going back in time.  The staff wear period costumes and the store sells a huge variety of authentic frontier goods just as it would have many years ago.  You feel like you’re looking at museum displays but most of it is really cool early pioneer type items for sale!  IMG_5815IMG_5817IMG_5819IMG_5820IMG_5821IMG_5826IMG_4992IMG_4991IMG_5827IMG_5828IMG_5863IMG_5865IMG_5868IMG_5872IMG_5873IMG_E5871I’m so glad we went back.  The tour of Kemp House and entry to the Stone Store Museum was well worth the very low cost.
I’m already dreaming about a future holiday in Kerikeri and going back to spend a whole day at the old Mission Station.

 

 

Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 5: 90 Mile Beach, Mangonui, Rainbow Falls, Kerikeri Stone Store

Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day  5: 90 Mile Beach, Mangonui, Rainbow Falls, Kerikeri Stone Store

Day 5:  90 Mile Beach, Wild Horses, Taipa,  Mangonui, Rainbow Falls, Kerikeri Stone Store

Day 5 we departed Pukenui to head back to Kerikeri planning for lots of stops along the way.  90 Mile Beach was our first destination.  We’d been told horses roam wild in the recently cleared pine forests on the way to 90 Mile Beach so kept a look out for them and saw several groups right along the edge of the gravel road.  There were even foals and the horses didn’t seem afraid so we were able to easily slow down and take photos of them.

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The dusty dirt road leading to 90 Mile Beach.

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At 90 Mile Beach we were able to drive our cars right onto the beach.

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I was so amazed by the low fluffy clouds sitting just inland from the wide sands of 90 Mile Beach and following the coast as far as the eye can see to the North and South.  I’d never before seen clouds over the land like this which were completely different to the clouds in the sky.  I was so blown away by it and could see why it was named Aotearoa – The Land of the Long White Cloud.

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We stopped briefly at Taipa, the place where my Mother-in-law grew up.  We drove to the Peria cemetery (actually we went to the wrong cemetary first and this is where we took the first photo of the cute church below) and were able to find the graves of my husband’s grandparents and great-grandparents as well as the site of the old farmhouse where my Mother-in-law grew up.

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Mangonui was our next stop.  Apparently the Mangonui Fish Shop is famous for it’s Fish and Chips so we planned to go there but the parking lot was completely full and we found a park next to a different Fish and Chip shop by the small town centre so went there instead.  Plus being gluten free I wanted to find a place which offers gluten free food and found a nice cafe next to the smaller fish and chip shop which had nice gf quiche and salads.
The historic buildings were beautiful, it’s a lovely wee place to stop and take a break.

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After Mangonui, we drove down a winding road to another stunning bay, Taupo Bay. Again, the setting was beautiful and the surf was excellent for boogie boarding.
With the dark green hillsides surrounding this bay and the temperature of the day it felt like we were on a tropical island.

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Just on the edge of Kerikeri are the Rainbow Falls.  There is an easy parking lot with toilets and a very short walk to the lookout over the falls.  A further 5 minute walk takes you down to the bottom of the falls where you can swim in the big pool at the bottom of the waterfall.  Kris and our son climbed over the rocks all the way around the edge of the pool and right around in behind the waterfall.  They found a good place to jump in and took turns leaping into the water.  I loved swimming in the pool, close enough to feel the spray from the waterfall on my face.  After a day of travelling and an afternoon swimming in the ocean it was wonderful to swim in a freshwater pool.

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Our final stop of the day was at the Kerikeri Old Stone Store and Mission site.  The location of these buildings is picture perfect, next to the river and in a lovely park.  It was nearly 6pm when we arrived and everything was closed so we wandered around the buildings and explored the gardens.

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We wandered around the old Stone Store and Kemp House and discovered the oldest exotic fruit tree in New Zealand, a Pear tree planted by Samuel Marsden in 1819, which is located in the middle of the carpark of the Pear Tree Restaurant.

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Next to the restaurant buildings at the back of the carpark we spotted an old shed sporting a sign stating ‘Blacksmith’ which looked like it could have been a very early building (although now seems to be used as a shed).
We later discovered it was indeed the original Blacksmith’s Shop which also was home to some of the earliest settlers (excuse my daughter, she is wearing her swimsuit not a top with no pants)!

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Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 4: Cape Reinga, Giant Sand Dunes, Rarawa Beach, Henderson Bay

Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 4: Cape Reinga, Giant Sand Dunes, Rarawa Beach, Henderson Bay

Day 4:  Cape Reinga, Giant Sand Dunes, Rarawa Beach, Henderson Bay

Cape Reinga is about 70km North of Pukenui.  The one hour drive takes you through farmland with only a couple of places you can stop to buy ice-creams and drinks.
We saw several farmers with their stock coming down the road toward us which was a highlight for me.
Unfortunately for us, on the drive to the Cape there was low cloud completely obscuring the view.  The low cloud had settled in quickly as we drove North so for much of the drive we couldn’t see anything to the left or the right which gave an eerie feeling of travelling along a mountain cliff top with sheer drops on either side (which wasn’t the case).

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We left early so we could get to Cape Reinga before the tourist buses began arriving around 11am.  We found a park easily (when we left an hour later the carpark was packed and cars had to wait down the road before they could come and find a park.  There are public toilets at Cape Reinga but nowhere to purchase food, nor are you allowed to eat food there as the parking is at such a minimum they need people to keep moving) and walked the pathway down to the lighthouse.  At this point the cloud was so low and thick we could barely see more than a few metres ahead.

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Eventually we saw the lighthouse up ahead.  We waited at the lighthouse lookout and were rewarded as the cloud began to lift and the stunning views out into the meeting place of the Tasman sea and Pacific ocean and the beautiful coastline came into view.

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From Cape Reinga we drove a short distance south to the Giant Sand Dunes which are simply gargantuan sand dunes!  You can hire boogie boards for $15 and purchase cold drinks from a truck and there is a public toilet here too.
We ate our picnic lunch, hired a board and headed onto the dunes.
The sand dunes are huge and it is quite a trek to get up them.  The heat was oppressive.  It was about 29 degrees and out on the sand it was like being in a desert.  The sand was too hot for bare feet.
You can choose to boogie board down any of the dunes but of course the bigger ones take longer to trek up each time!
Kris and our nephew went up the highest dune and did two runs down each (too much of a hike in the heat to do more than that) and the rest of us found some smaller dunes (still big though!) which were closer and had some rides down them.
Because of the heat we didn’t spend long on the dunes.

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We stopped at Te Kao for an icecream on our drive back to Pukenui.  If you expect to find cafes and eateries along the road to Cape Reinga you will be disappointed so packing your own picnic lunch is a must.

Just before we got back to Pukenui we turned off the main road and drove out to Rarawa Beach.  This is a long wide beach with white sand rich in silica.  The surf was good for boogie boarding and there was a river which had created a lagoon and was warm so the little kids enjoyed lazing about in there.

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The earth way up North is red like you’d expect to see in Australia and unlike anything you see elsewhere in New Zealand.  The river which created the lagoon the kids played in was stained an orange colour due to the red earth.

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Back at Pukenui we enjoyed the pool once more and went to the only restaurant (next to the Four Square supermarket) for dinner where we had a bistro style fish and chips meal, possibly slightly overpriced, before heading to Henderson beach to explore the rock pools which were full of fish and crabs.

 

Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 3: Cable Bay, Karikari Peninsula, Matai Bay, Pukenui

Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 3: Cable Bay, Karikari Peninsula, Matai Bay, Pukenui

Day 3: Cable Bay, Karikari Peninsula, Matai Bay, drive to Pukenui.

See Day 1 of our road trip here and Day 2 here.

We left Kerikeri, stopping at the supermarket for picnic lunch food, heading up to our accommodation in Pukenui.  We stopped briefly at Cable Bay to stretch our legs.  I would have been happy to sit all day at this beach with it’s beautiful golden sand and rockpools to explore.

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We continued on our way turning right onto the Karikari Peninsula, driving all the way to the end of the peninsula arriving at Matai Bay.  This is a lovely calm beach with very gentle waves and beautiful crystal clear water, just perfect for swimming .  There are rock pools to explore too. You will need to bring your own food as there’s nowhere to purchase anything.  We took a picnic lunch.
There are public toilets and showers to rinse off the salt water next to the DoC camping ground.

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We arrived at our motel in Pukenui (Pukenui Lodge Motel) around 5pm and made use of the lovely pool before popping across the road to the well stocked 4 Square supermarket to buy ingredients for dinner (steak and salad making use of the impeccably clean bbq available at the motel).  The motel is basic but had everything we needed and was very clean.  The rates are very reasonable and the hosts are friendly and helpful.  The motel has a fabulous view over the Houhora Harbour.

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Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 2: Matauri Bay, Paihia, Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 2:  Matauri Bay, Paihia, Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Day 2.  Matauri Bay, Paihia, Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Read Day 1 of our Northland and Bay of Islands Roadtrip here.
On Day 2 we drove around 30 minutes through remote farmland from Kerikeri to Matauri Bay for the morning.  The main road up North heads through the middle of the Island and to get to the beaches you need to take winding roads through farmland which finally turn to gravel roads through bush which open out to the most stunning beaches.

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Matauri Bay has great surf for body surfing and boogie boarding and we kept our eyes pealed for dolphins as some had been spotted there the day before but didn’t see any.  Our kids had hours of fun boogie boarding and splashing in the waves.

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The climb to the Rainbow Warrior memorial on top of one of the headland hills by the bay (camping  ground end) is well worth it for stunning views of beautiful bays, beaches and islands in every direction.

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Later in the afternoon we drove the 20 minutes from Kerikeri to Paihia in the Bay of Islands where we visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.  Entry costs $25 per adult and kids under 18 are free.  The entry cost includes a guided tour, entrance to the museum and a cultural performance.
We really enjoyed the guided tour but unfortunately arrived too late in the day to take both the tour and view the cultural performance.  We had just enough time to go through the museum and take the tour before closing time at 6pm.

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On our way back to Kerikeri we stopped in Paihia for Movenpick icecream and sushi.

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Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 1: Drive to Kerikeri

Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 1: Drive to Kerikeri

Drive from Auckland Airport to Kerikeri

Many New Zealanders take their summer vacation (or holiday as we say in New Zealand) over the Christmas and New Year period and start back at work in the second week of January.  This is the peak holiday time in New Zealand so travelling later in January will avoid this peak holiday rush.
School doesn’t go back until the end of January or early February so a lot of families will still be away on holiday throughout the month of January.  The weather remains warm throughout February and into March.

Our family (my husband Kris and I with four of our children aged 7, 10, 13 and 14) decided we’d take a Road Trip around Northland and the Bay of Islands, a region only Kris has been to before (many years ago), together with Kris’s sister and her family in the second week of January.

Day 1: We began our road trip to Northland and the Bay of Islands in Auckland.
We flew into Auckland airport around 3pm and Kris’s sister and her family were there to meet us (with a vehicle for us) so we loaded up the car and set off by 3.30pm.

The drive to Kerikeri from Auckland airport takes around 3 hours.

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There are several small towns you can stop at along the way but as with the rest of Northland I was surprised at how sparsely populated the area is so the majority of time is spent driving through farmland (once you leave Auckland city that is).

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We stopped in Waipu for dinner. The restaurant my sister-in-law wanted to take us to was absolutely packed (on a Monday night!) so we ended up getting Fish and Chips for everyone except me.  I popped across the road and ordered a yummy Indian Biryani since I am gluten free.

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We pulled in for another brief stop in Kawakawa to have a look at the famous Hundertwasser public toilets.  It is hard to see but there is actually a tree growing up through the roof (notice the tree trunk in the photo below?) so you can see the top  of the tree over the roof which is planted in grasses.

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There were some neat mosaic murals and art works along the street including this neat New Zealand native birds couch in Kawakawa.

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In Kerikeri we stayed with my Brother-in-law’s family.  All the kids slept in tents while the adults slept in the house.  It was so hot and humid at night, I think the kids may have slept better outside since it was a bit cooler than inside!

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Kerikeri has a very sub-tropical feel to it, both in temperature, humidity and the variety of plants growing such as banana palms!  Everything was so lush and green.  This was my first time north of Auckland so it was a real eye-opener to see how tropical it is.
Our trip took place during the second week of January so was mid-summer and temperatures were around 29 degrees celcius each day, dropping to around 19 degrees overnight.

 

 

Journals and planners

Journals and planners

Dear Louise

It’s so funny that even though we have talked about so many things, we’ve never talked about our planners. What’s funnier is that we both love Kikki.K and didn’t know that too. Goes to show how you can know a person for a long time but still get to learn something new about them.

Now that I have seen your planner and love it, I thought I’ll go ahead and show you my journal and planner that I got this year as you are enjoying your summer holidays in Gisborne with family, and won’t be back for another couple of weeks.

Every year, a couple of months before the end of the year, my big search for the New Year’s journal starts.

I have always been a journal writer. Not a regular day to day journaling type but simply one to put in writing, of what I’m thinking, feeling , things that interest me, concerns me and special things that need to be safely tucked away in memory.

I also used it as my planner.

In 2015, my husband got me my first Kikki. K planner.

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All my old Kikki .K planners in the back and the new Kikki.K in the front

From then on I’ve had a separate journal and a planner.

This year my journal is from K mart and I love it. Hard bound , without dates , I write when I want to without worrying about empty pages on days I don’t write.

The two things that drew me to this journal, were the colour and the quote on top of it.

The Kikki .K planner I got also has a quote. ‘Today is the day’. Appropriate for the eternal procrastinator in me.img_5567.jpg

With the lilac, pink ,grey and white colour scheme , stripes and polka dots, what’s not to love?

After using  different Kikki.K planners before, I have finally figured out that I prefer the medium leather bound planner, with a stud button closure, elastic pen holder, 6-ring binder with refillable sections

(I’ve added my pouch to hold pens and extra pages  and stickers from my previous planner into it.)img_5691.jpg

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Two card holders 1 open pocket and two note pad slotsimg_5569.jpg

‘Enjoy Today’  quote on the notepad reminds me , to take small steps and not be overly worried about the mile long things to do on my list.

7 tab dividers with 3 customisable blank tabs. Plus 2 pre-labelled and customisable sticker sheets

stickers with cute reminders, my love for stickers and tapes haven’t left me at all!

Other features I love are the flexibility of perpetual calendar with the Monthly vertical  view birthday page,  IMG_5694monthly columns in the front of the pageimg_5696.jpg and weekly horizontal view page with enough space to write down the agenda/thoughts etc for the day. img_5695.jpg

Bullet point todo lis pages with space for top priorities.

The option of customising the planner to suit my lifestyle plus their motto

“inspire and empower people to live their best life everyday. “ has my vote every time.

They do have an option to monogram the planner . I didn’t use it this time. I do miss the personal information page and the extra motivational/inspiration sheets they usually have in this journal. I can’t complain though, as you see, this year I was really lucky to get a great deal in store and paid only $27 for my planner. (With such a wonderful score, I may give into impulse and get a couple of their inspirational sticker sheets. They have some great sale going on in store right now.)

I am aware that I  may not get lucky like this every time and since I’ve now found the size and type I find most practical for me, I’ve already created a little saving account for my planner Next Year! If that is not pre – planning, I don’t know what is . 😀

Happy New Year to you all

X Pearlin.

p.s.: this is not a sponsored post.

Goodbye 2017, Hello new Diary!

Dear Pearlin,

I love the fresh beginning of a new year, making plans for the year to come and reminiscing over the year that has passed.

One of the joys in the new year for me is a new diary. I don’t keep a diary as a journal but as a place to try and keep order in my chaotic life! It’s not easy keeping on top of things when you have a large family so a diary is a must for me.

My gorgeous new Inspiration Diary from Kikki-K, “Every Day is a New Beginning.”

I’m definitely more a Paper than a digital list-maker too. There is something so satisfying in putting pen to paper, creating a list and then crossing items off the list.

By the end of each week my diary is a filled-in scribbled on mess. Everything is jotted down from appointment times, menu plans, phone messages and to-do lists. Each Monday I love turning over to a fresh page for the week.

Two years ago I received a Kikki K diary from my family for Christmas and loved it so much I decided I would purchase from Kikki K the next year. Prior to this I would grab any old cheap diary on sale as long as it had a week over two pages.

Last year I saw a diary I loved and wanted, at Kikki K but I wasn’t willing to pay full price so waited hoping it would go on sale but it sold out before then. I ended up purchasing the cheapest diary on offer and regretted it all year. It wasn’t the style or ‘look’ I was after and I took great pleasure throwing it in the recycling bin before we went away on holiday for Christmas.

This year I saw the diary I wanted in October and my Mum offered to buy it for me for my birthday (23 December). I was thrilled and delighted to open it up once we arrived in Gisborne on my birthday and decided I’ll never again wait for a sale if I see the diary I’d like. It is a book I look at and write in daily, I carry it with me in my bag and plan each week in it. If I take pleasure simply from using it I’d say it’s well worth paying full price (or requesting it as a gift – thank you Mum) and if it’s on sale – even better! Now I just need to get the matching pen!

Yearly reflection including top 10 highlights of last year, 5 things I achieved, 5 good things I did for others, 5 things I’m grateful for and 5 things I learnt last year.

Yearly goals and planning.

Weekly planning pages including priority list, weekly goals, to do list, daily gratitude, dinner plan and habits. I love these weekly lists and especially the reminder to be grateful for something every day.

Monthly reflection page. I appreciate the inspirational quotes on each page. “There is always something to be thankful for.”

This is not a sponsored post, I just love my new diary and want to share the love! I filled in the reflection and yearly goals pages last night and I’m ready for the New Year (and I love that it starts on a Monday)!

Happy New Year and happy planning for 2018!

Louise xxx

Curry rice salad

Curry rice salad

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This salad is so delicious.  The bright colours and flavours of tart and sweet cranberries, crunchy carrots, tangy red onion and spring onion, fresh parsley, nutty roasted almonds and creamy curry dressing marry together to create a salad that is sure to invite compliments whenever it is served.
It can be made the day before and keeps well in the fridge for several days.

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked rice (or couscous or quinoa)
1/2 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup parsley finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or currants)
1/4 cup roasted slivered almonds
2 spring onions finely sliced
1/4 cup finely diced red onion

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup plain yoghurt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper (or to taste)

Method:
1. Cook rice (or couscous or quinoa, I’ve used both successfully) as per instructions.  Let cool and then chill in the fridge.
2.  Combine chilled rice with carrots, parsley, cranberries, almonds, spring onions and red onion.
3.  Combine dressing ingredients and pour over salad.
4.  Stir gently to combine dressing with salad.  Chill before serving.

Cookbook scribbles:
This recipe is easy to double or triple and keeps well in the fridge for several days.
It is also an easy recipe to adjust according to your own taste and preference.
As the recipe states, you can use rice, quinoa or couscous (couscous is not gluten free) and it works well with any of these.  I sometimes like to add extra dressing.

The Mona Vale Pantry : Review

The Mona Vale Pantry : Review

Recently my Mum, daughter, a friend with her daughter and I visited The Mona Vale Pantry for brunch before my daughter went off to a year 12 exam.

The beautiful historic Mona Vale Homestead houses the cafe with views out toward the Avon River.  On a sunny day there is outdoor seating available.

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The Full Breakfast was my choice.  I asked for the gluten free option so was given GF toast in place of the regular toast and was interested to see that the black pudding croquette was simply omitted and not replaced with another item ( I asked for the GF option and was not told which items in the dish would need to be replaced or omitted).  I was looking forward to trying the black pudding croquette as it sounds like something so out of the ordinary but was still very happy with this dish.  The scrambled eggs on toast, bacon, sausage, mushroom and tomato really hit the spot.

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My Mum chose the Brioche Waffle with caramelised banana, bacon and rose yoghurt and said it was absolutely delicious.  The presentation was beautiful and it tasted as good as it looked.

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Confit Duck Omelet was my daughter’s choice and she thought it was absolutely delicious.  She wanted to try something different to the eggs benedict she’d usually choose for breakfast and she was so glad she tried this.  The Confit Duck Omelet came with pickled cucumber, hot and sour salad and XO sauce and is also gluten free and dairy free.

img_3968-1The beautiful fire place in the entrance foyer of the Homestead.

img_3969-1Looking through a door into one section of the dining area.  We loved the archway nook and the rich furnishings and decorating which gave the place a comfortable and homey feel as well as lending an air of luxury.

img_3966Another dining room with access to the outdoor seating area.  You may just be able to see the tiered plates with delectable high tea indulgences on that centre table.  The High Tea looked amazing.

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Looking happy with our brunch.  My friend and her daughter chose the Devonshire Tea (two scones with jam and clotted cream with your choice of hot drink) as they’d already eaten breakfast.  My friend said the scone was the best she’d ever had!

The Mona Vale Pantry has an all day breakfast with caters for breakfast, brunch and lunch, morning and afternoon teas and the boutique high teas.
With lots of gluten free options (including a gluten free high tea) we will definitely be back.

After our brunch we enjoyed meandering around the gardens.  Mona Vale is truly stunning and well worth visiting, either to enjoy the gardens, the cafe or both.
Check out this post on the Mona Vale Homestead and Gardens for more information.

 

Mona Vale Homestead and Gardens

Mona Vale Homestead and Gardens

img_3972The Mona Vale gardens and historic homestead are a beautiful place to visit for tourists visiting Christchurch and local Cantabrians alike.
Accessed by foot from Fendalton Rd, or by car from Mona Vale Avenue (free carparking on site), these stunning gardens are situated on the banks of the Avon River near Hagley Park.

The gardens comprise of Rose Gardens, an historic Fernery dating from 1907, Lily Pond, Iris Gardens and significant plantings of European and English trees with well established woodland style plantings.  The daffodil gardens are a must-see in spring.

The historical Mona Vale Homestead was built in 1899-1900 and has been restored following the Christchurch Earthquakes in 2011.  Other historical buildings on the site include the Gate House and Bath House.

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Prior to the earthquakes the Homestead was a popular wedding venue and cafe.  Following repairs after damage sustained in the earthquakes, the cafe has reopened as The Homestead Pantry and I would highly recommend a visit.  We recently enjoyed a lovely brunch but they also serve breakfast, lunch, morning and afternoon tea and indulgent Boutique High Teas (including gluten free).

We have been visiting Mona Vale Gardens since we moved to Christchurch in 2002 and have many happy memories wandering through the gardens with our children and in fact our eldest daughter who was married this year had her wedding photos taken at Mona Vale!

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COGranger_568_of_784All wedding photos taken at Mona Vale in the gardens and in the Homestead
are by the very talented Agnes, of Agnes Grace Photography

img_3973-1The land on which Mona Vale Homestead stands was once owned by the Deans brothers whose own homestead was Riccarton House.  Frederick and Alice Waymouth purchased 4 acres of land and commissioned architect Joseph Clarkson Maddison to design their homestead now known as Mona Vale which was originally named Karewa by Waymouth.

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In summer there are often Shakespeare plays held on the lawn which forms a perfect outdoor theatre with performers on one gently sloped lawn and the audience reclining on fold-up chairs and picnic blankets on the other side.

Take your time wandering through the gardens, following pathways and exploring this gorgeous historic homestead.  The weir built in the Avon river in the 19th century, which became the Mona Vale Mill Pond still exists today.  This was built by William Derisley Wood and the Riccarton Flour Mill was situation on the site that is now Christchurch Girls’ High School.

Looking through and archway to the Rose Gardens with the Fernery in the background.

img_4009-1Lush green Rose Garden in spring with peonies in the foreground.

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img_3994-1Looking through the open gates to the historic Fernery which was reassembled on this site following it’s display at the New Zealand International Exhibition held in Hagley Park in 1907.  The owner of Mona Vale at that time, Annie Quayle Townend, purchased the Fernery complete with it’s plants and had it reassembled here.  Annie renamed the homestead Mona Vale, after her mother’s house in Tasmania, when she purchased it in 1905.

img_3997A towering fern inside the Fernery which also has a pond with stepping stones.

img_4001Cool and shaded, the Fernery is like a secret garden, begging to be explored.  I love these cast iron window grates through which you can look out into the Rose Garden.

img_4003-1The underside of a silver fern in the Fernery.

If you’ve never been to Mona Vale I would highly recommend you pack a picnic and spend an afternoon relaxing on the lawn and exploring the grounds.  A visit to the cafe The Mona Vale Pantry is also highly recommended (review post coming soon!)

Meat Croquettes aka Meat Cutlets Indian Style: Step by Step Tutorial

Meat Croquettes aka Meat Cutlets Indian Style: Step by Step Tutorial

DSC_0987This is a season of parties. Christmas party, Year End party, New Year party, BBQ party and one dish that will be a hit as a party appetiser, I promise, is the Meat Croquettes (or Meat Cutlets).DSC_0991

Although these are called Croquettes here and the rest of the world, growing up in South India, we have only known these as cutlets. They make a great tea time snack and my early memory of having these croquettes was at a beach. Cool sea breeze, soft swash of the waves and the scent of the sea in the air, chomping away on hot cutlets, playing catch and digging our feet into the grainy sand vividly stands out in my memory. Food always takes me down memory lane.

My kids love these meat croquettes. I make them in a batches and freeze them to use when they ask for it. The meat croquettes are easy like that. It can be made ahead, frozen and fried just before the party. Its just so crunchy to bite into, so lip smacking good, that they will disappear in no time! Ask my family and they will tell you. These are a huge hit every time I’ve made them!!

I had been making  meat croquettes a different way for  a long time. Then, by chance I happened to make croquettes with meat left over from Mutton curry I had made earlier…. and  everything changed!!
I really liked the texture of the meat I got as a result and haven’t gone back to the old one.
I have made this on several occasions . For parties, picnics, travel, camping. I serve it as a snack or as a side dish. I also use it as a burger and make sandwiches too.

 

Method:

Ingredients:

500 gms Lean Meat ( we get stew meat here, which is very handy)
3 medium potatoes
1 large onion (chopped finely)

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2 green chillies ( chopped finely)
1” piece ginger (chopped finely)
a little coriander leaves (optional)

 To Marinate:
1tbsp ginger garlic paste
1tsp pepper*
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder*
1 tsp chilli powder (mild)*
1 tsp Garam Masala powder (you can buy Garam Masala from the Indian store to save time. I prefer Eastern Royal Garam Masala)
2 eggs
Curry leaves, a few (optional)

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1 1/2 -2 cups bread crumbs
Oil to shallow fry, saute

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Preparation:

Marinate the meat with the chilli powder, coriander powder, ginger garlic paste, salt and pepper, keep aside for half an hour.

**Then pressure cook for 20 mins with no water or very little water.
When done and cooled put it in a mixie (food processor) and pulse it , coarsely DSC_0942This is the texture you are going for.DSC_0945.jpgBoil the potatoes, remove the skin and mash it well with a potato masher.DSC_0943Beat the eggs lightly , mix with salt and pepper to taste and keep asideDSC_0967

Method:
Mix the meat and mashed potato well together.Keep aside.DSC_0951.jpg

Pour oil in a skillet and saute the finely chopped onion, when they turn limp add the finely chopped ginger and chopped chilli.DSC_0956Saute for a couple more minutes till the onions turn pink. Switch off stove. Allow to cool for a few minutes.DSC_0957.jpgMix the sauteed onion mixture with the mashed potato meat mixture.DSC_0958Roll into balls.DSC_0965Flatten them to your desired shapeDSC_0971.jpgDip in the Egg mixtureDSC_0978Roll out in bread crumbsDSC_0974Deep fry in  oil. When they turn golden brown, drain and remove on to paper towels.

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Cook Book Scribbles :

  • Make sure the meat/ potato mixture is dry and not too loose.
  • The Oil needs to be almost smoking  hot  to prevent the croquettes from breaking
  • Also make sure the oil covers the croquettes completely, again to prevent the cutlets from breaking.
  • If you want to make it Gluten Free, you can dip the croquettes only in the egg mixture, skip dipping in the bread crumbs. You will not have a crispy outer cover but the taste does not differ much. OR use Gluten Free Bread Crumbs.
  • I use the term Meat Croquette because you can either use beef , mutton, or chicken
  • *The spice levels with the chilli powder, coriander powder and the pepper powder can be reduced to half  (or increased) according to taste
  • ** If you do not have a pressure cooker, use a thick bottomed pan, keep the heat on medium to medium high. Close and let it cook without adding any water for 20- 25 mins. The Meat will cook in its own juices.
  • The croquettes freeze really well,so you can make a big batch  of the bread crumb coated croquettes , days before a party or dinner or just so you have them handy for hungry kids and fry them straight out of the fridge without thawing…. in that case, take care not to burn the croquettes.

The Good Home Wigram: Review

The Good Home Wigram: Review

Having witnessed this restaurant being built from scratch, we have wanted to try this restaurant for a while now. Situated in the Landing area of Wigram Suburb, in Christchurch,the Good Home , Wigram restaurant has a spacious outdoor seating area . img_4110One is greeted by a warm, relaxed atmosphere as one walks in. The large open space with comfortable sofas for seating, dark modern art deco floral wallpaper ceiling, the wooden bead board on the side of the wall,the display cabinets with little knick knacks and books, the large TV above an artificial fireplace, not to mention the white piano ,all create a  homely, relaxed and very pleasing ambiance.The  friendly and attentive staff in their checkered blue, red and white shirt  and jeans uniforms (which was a welcome change from the drab black and white one usually sees in restaurants) added on to the cheery and easy vibe that the restaurant exuded. We ordered the Summer Salad, and requested the Gluten free version for the toasts and Mussels steamed in thai green curry. The service time was good as we had enough time to catch up on all the weekly news,but did not have to wait too long.

The flavours of the salad with Gluten free toast, goat cheese, salad greens, toasted walnuts, pear and beetroot with lemon vinaigrette all worked very well together . It was a fresh and refreshing side to have with the other dish we ordered .img_4318.jpgThe other dish we ordered was the Mussels steamed in Thai green curry. This Mussels dish came with toast and fries. Again we requested Gluten free toast which the staff accommodated for us.Speaking of the Mussels dish, the Thai green curry was so flavourful and yummy, that we wiped the plate clean! The mussels themselves were seasoned just right, juicy , tender and cooked just right. The Good Home Wigram offers great value for money as the portions are quite large. Plus they offer a good selection on the menu to cater to all the ages, with a kids menu and pizza too on their Menu.

The Good Home Wigram is definitely a great place to visit for lunch or dinner with friends or family.

Broccoli Cauliflower salad.

This delicious broccoli cauliflower salad has been a family favourite for years now. This is the only way my boys will eat broccoli and cauliflower . Its so tasty,  so simple,  does not take too much time to make ,  makes my family eat their veggies and is a great potluck/ BBQ side to have. Above all else, this salad can be made ahead of time for fuss free entertaining.

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Ingredients

2 cups each broccoli and cauliflower florets ( blanched)

1 red pepper, cut into strips

1-1/2 cups chopped cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts ( I cooked the chicken with salt and pepper to taste and then chopped them)

1/2 cup  Light Ranch Dressing ( I used fat free ranch)

1 cup  Natural  Colby& light cheddar (grated)

4 slices  Bacon, cooked, crumbled .

Salt and pepper to taste

a pinch of sugar.

Method

Combine vegetables and chicken  in large bowl. Add dressing; toss to coat.

Add cheese and bacon; mix lightly.

Refrigerate  several hours or until chilled.

10 Gift ideas for toddlers and preschoolers

Choosing gifts for toddlers and preschoolers is so much fun but can lead to a full toy box which hardly gets looked at.  My advice is try to stick with classic toys or sets which can be added to over time. Quality toys, designed for little hands, will be returned to again and again so choose timeless classics rather than branded toys which children tend to lose interest in.

  1. Duplo
    Duplo building blocks are a classic toy which will last many years.  I prefer the classic Duplo, simple coloured building blocks, rather than the themed sets.
    Duplo building plates or base plates are a great starting block for a Duplo creation and a great addition to a Duplo set.
  2. Play food, pots and pans
    Little ones can spend hours playing with play cooking sets and wooden play food.  I love the Green Toys brand tea set and cooking set.  They’re chunky, sturdy enough to cope with preschool play and look gorgeous, plus they’re made from 100% recycled plastic and are BPA and phthalate free and dishwasher safe!
  3. Wooden table and chairs
    A child-size wooden table and chair set is a classic item which will get many years use in your home.  Keep it in the living area so small ones can sit at the table and play with playdough or play food and pots as you are cooking dinner.
    As they get older it will make a great art and craft table.
  4. Train set
    A train set is a classic toy set which can be added to each year at birthdays and Christmas and will bring joy to a wide age range.  Take time to set up the tracks with your children.  You will find they love complicated track setups.
    You can choose from wooden or plastic tracks and push-along or battery driven trains.  Accessories like tunnels and bridges are fun additions to a track setup.
  5. Baby doll
    A baby doll or if you already have one, accessories like a doll stroller, sling or wooden doll cot are items little children love to play with.  Blankets and easy to remove clothing and nappies/diapers (fitted cloth nappies/diapers with velcro or snaps) for dolls will also be firm favorites.
  6. Balance bike
    Balance bikes are a fantastic gift for preschoolers as they are usually keen to ride for much longer than they’re happy to walk.  Paired with a quality helmet this would make a great present.  Be aware that kids can take off on their bikes and get a decent way ahead of a walking parent so it is wise to keep young ones close and not be given free rein unless you’re walking along a safe path.  Check out this article on how to choose a balance bike for your child.
  7. Books
    Children love being read to so you can never go wrong with books.
    Board books with sturdy pages are great for little ones.  Some of our favourites have been Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister,  Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox,  Peepo by Janet and Allen Ahlberg,  The Little Yellow Digger by Betty and Allan Gilderdale, I will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child,  Guess How Much I love You by Sam McBratney and Alfie books by Shirley Hughes.
  8. Farm animals
    Farm animals or in fact any set of animal figurines, whether farm or wild animals make a great gift for preschoolers.  Schleich make true-to-life miniature animals which make a great collectible toy set that can be added to each year.
  9. Cars and vehicles
    Tough and chunky toy vehicles are a great choice.  Fisher Price Little People have some fun vehicle sets. Green Toys also have a range of toy vehicles.
    If you prefer wooden vehicles check out the range at Kilmarnock Enterprises.
    Older preschoolers love HotWheels or Matchbox cars as they’re small enough to carry one in each hand when out and about.
  10. A photo book
    Create a photo book online or simply put together a photo album of your family.  Children love to have a book all about themselves and their family members.  This might be as simple as a photo of each member of the family including pets, with their names, or elaborate as a story all about your child’s first day at kindy or a holiday or even a scrapbook of events through the year.

Gift Ideas for Teen boys

Teenage boys are not the easiest people to shop any time of the year. With Christmas just around the corner,I wrote down a few things that although stereotypical , have been  requested  and has been   a hit  with them before when received ,not just for the festive season but also for birthdays

  • Cash money.  (This is a top requested thing. However, I prefer gift cards because I know it will be spent where it is intended to be spent.)
  • Gift cards. (Almost all the major stores have Gift cards available  from $10 and upwards.  )
  • Tickets to a movie or an entertainment park
  • Electric razor
  • Backpack
  • portable chargers
  • wireless ear plugs
  • Travel kit
  • Art for their rooms
  • Comfortable lounge wear
  • T-shirts
  • Belt
  • Wallet
  • Sun glasses
  • Point and Shoot Camera
  • Watch
  • Book ( depending on their area of interest..Guinness book of records for example)
  • I like to shop for men’s line in Body Shop. They have some  unisex products and some yummy smelling body products for Men .

Raw Kale Salad | Recipe

Raw Kale Salad | Recipe

This Kale Salad is so delicious.  My Dad brought the recipe back from friends in Canada and I have tweaked the recipe to make it my own.

If you haven’t tried Kale before, or if you’ve tried Kale but haven’t enjoyed it, I would urge you to give this recipe a try.

The Kale leaves go from being tough and fibrous, to tender and delicious once the olive oil is added. In fact this Salad is better made the day before to allow the flavours to develop and the Kale to soften beautifully. I like to make this Kale Salad the night before, usually late in the evening as the house begins to quieten down but it can be made in the morning or even just several hours before serving. Since we discovered how yummy the leftovers are the day after, I’ve been making this salad the day before.

Remove the leaves from the tough fibrous stems.  Discard the stems.

Chop the leaves in slices.  I like to slice them about 5mm-10mm wide.  It does not need to be finely shredded.

Pour the olive oil over the sliced Kale.  The amount of olive oil you need with depend on the type of Kale used.

Gently mix until all the leaves are coated with all and look shiny and glossy.  If you need to add more oil go ahead.  The leave should be fully coated but there should not be oil pooling at the bottom of the bowl.  Squeeze the lemon over the leaves and mix again.  There is no need to massage the Kale to soften it as it will begin to soften on it’s own.

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In a food processor place the parmesan cheese, roasted almonds, lemon rind, garlic cloves and salt.

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Pulse until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs (or see recipe below for Thermomix instructions).

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Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the salad and toss gently to combine.  Place olives over the salad.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.

I love leftovers for lunch so usually make extra salad to ensure we have lunches sorted for a few days.  It’s delicious served with grilled cajun chicken or any grilled meat.

Ingredients:

1 large bunch of Kale
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 whole lemon
4 cloves garlic
100g Parmesan cheese
100g roasted almonds
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives

Method:

Wash Kale and remove the fibrous stems.

Slice the leaves. I slice mine about 5-10mm wide. You don’t want to slice too finely, it should look rustic.

In a food processor (I use a Thermomix) place the Parmesan cheese (chopped in 1.5cm chunks), the roasted almonds, the 4 cloves of garlic (adjust to taste, sometimes I use more garlic), the lemon zest (I simply peel the rind using a peeler) and the salt.

Pulse until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs.

In the Thermomix I mill for 5 seconds on speed 9, give the bowl a good shake around and then mill for a further 2 seconds on speed 9.

Pour olive oil over the sliced Kale. Gently toss the Kale until each slice is coated with oil. You may need to add more olive oil, it depends on how large your bunch of Kale is. You want the leaves to be coated with oil so they become shiny and glossy. There should not be any oil pooling in the bottom of the bowl.

Squeeze over the lemon juice and mix gently.

Sprinkle the processed mixture over the Kale and gently mix until the Kale is coated.

Place olives over the salad.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  This salad will keep in the fridge for several days.

Nut free: to make this salad nut free simply replace the almonds with toasted breadcrumbs. The original recipe uses toasted breadcrumbs but I swapped these out in favour of toasted almonds to make the recipe gluten free and low carb.
In the nut free version I would simply sprinkle 1/2 cup – 1 cup of toasted almonds over the salad along with grated parmesan, salt, lemon zest and crushed garlic.  Toss gently to combine.  The breadcrumbs will sort of melt into the olive oil.

Especially delicious served with grilled meats and other salads, this Kale Salad is the perfect dish to serve at a BBQ or any shared meal over summer.

I usually buy curly Kale but I couldn’t find any at my local supermarket so we harvested our own Kale which is Russian Red Kale, a variety I haven’t grown or eaten before! It was much softer than the curly Kale.

Baby Kale leaves can also be used, just strip the leaves from the stems and slice or tear into small pieces.

How to make Fresh Coconut Milk at Home

Coconuts are abundant in my hometown , so it is widely used in our cuisine. Making coconut milk at home for using in Stew and some of the traditional dessert is very common, instead of using tinned coconut milk or powder.

Coconut milk is made in three stages. This first one being the thickest, the second one a little thinner and the third one is very light. The third milk  is usually used for cooking the vegetables or meat for the gravy . Personally I prefer to cook them in the third milk as it enhances the taste of the gravy.

(This is a recipe that can be tailored as per need)
Method:
To make one cup of thick coconut milk.
Ingredients:
2 cups of grated fresh coconut
3/4 th + 1 tbsp cup of warm water
First, pulse the freshly grated coconut for a second.Then add the warm water and blend till the coconut is all ground and appears milky.
Squeeze out the milk by wringing or pressing the blended coconut really well with your hands through a sieve or cheese cloth.
The FIRST blend of fresh coconut milk  that is the thickest is the first milk.
Add water again to the the left over  squeezed out coconut pulp and  blend again , the consistency of the coconut milk gets thinner and this is the second milk.
Repeat the process and the third and Last blend is the thinnest coconut milk.
Cook Book Scribbles:
  • The most important thing to keep in mind when using the thick first coconut milk is to never let it boil (in the curry or stew etc)  as it will curdle  and spoil the taste.
  • If fresh coconut is not available, frozen fresh coconut can also be used . It is available at Yogiji Christchurch.
  • Dry desiccated coconut however, has not worked for me and Louise.

 

The Curator’s House |Review

The Curator’s House |Review



Today’s review is of the Curator’s House restaurant, set on the corner of the Botanic Gardens and the Avon River, near the Antigua Boat Sheds and the Hospital.


We wandered through the Botanic Gardens from Riccarton Ave to get to the Curator’s House, however, it is located on the edge of the city centre, on Rolleston Ave at the main entrance to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

The quaint Old English Tudor style building in which the restaurant is housed is surrounded by cottage style fruit and vegetable gardens.  This heritage building was the original 1920’s residence of the curator of the Gardens.
Prior to this there was a Head Gardener’s cottage located within the footprint of the present day building built in 1872 and before this a small Government Gardener’s cottage existed on the same site.

Wandering down the garden path…..

There is plenty of outdoor seating with large sun umbrellas to provide shade.  We chose to sit outside as it was a very warm sunny day and it was just lovely sitting outside enjoying our surroundings.

My eldest daughter and my Mum (whose birthday we were celebrating over lunch).

The staff were friendly but rushed and barely had time to stop and we had to ask for them to explain what tapas are and how to order from the tapas menu.
To start we ordered bread with a selection of dips and a tapas platter so we could taste a variety of tapas dishes.  I was pleased that a lot of these dishes were gluten free so I was able to try most of them.
The calamari was the stand out tapas dish, the patatas bravas with aioli a close second along with the yummy dips with bread.

We could have chosen more from the tapas menu and shared several tapas for lunch but we were so tempted by the a la carte menu we decided to choose a main dish each.
My husband chose the venison with vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, mushroom and potatoes.  He enjoyed this dish, the venison was cooked to perfection and the crunchy vege crisps were delicious, but he didn’t find the meal amazing (and he tells me for this price he expects to be really ‘wowed’).

My Mum and I both ordered the slow cooked lamb shoulder which was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  Falling off the bone, this lamb shoulder was slow-cooked to perfection.  The portion of lamb is huge!  I would have loved a few more spring greens with this dish.
Mum loved the wine she bought to accompany her main so much that she ordered a second glass!

This delicious flavourful and fresh salad was the dish my daughter chose.  I nibbled on her salad and really enjoyed the strong Mediterranean flavours.  The price was reasonable too.



None of us thought we’d be able to fit in dessert but when we looked at the dessert menu we changed our minds and decided to splurge!  We all ordered the Pannacotta de Chocolate – a silky chocolate pannacotta with morello cherries, candied almonds and espresso syrup, this really was the cherry on top!

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our meal but due to the prices it isn’t a restaurant we can visit often.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Christchurch Botanic Gardens


Christchurch Botanic Gardens, located in Hagley Park in the heart of the city, are one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve visited.

This week I took a walk with my Mum and eldest daughter. We started at the West Bridge next to the carpark off Riccarton Ave (free parking) and walked along the river until we reached Rolleston Ave (where we had an amazing lunch at The Curator’s House).

This pathway takes you along the Avon river,

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Past Water Gardens,

Through the New Zealand Gardens,

Beautiful shaded native bush pathways,

With stunning displays of native NZ trees like this Kakabeak in flower,

Tall stands of NZ native trees on the edge of the river,

Gently shaded pathways and gardens,

Opening out to beautiful green spaces.

Arching bridges over the clear Avon River.

Wide pathways with lush green lawns.

Dappled light under tall trees.

At this time of year you will be certain to spot ducklings.  We were delighted to spot several groups of ducklings, especially these silver and brown Paradise ducklings with both their parents nearby.

Their parents marched them across the path and down the the river just before us, their Father in the front and the Mother duck following closely behind, quacking as she walked.

Into the clear water they went and delighted us with their diving antics.  We also spotted several trout in the river.

A very common scene on the Avon river is Punting,

A leisurely boat ride up the river, pushed by a friendly guide’s long pole.

Tiny ducklings!

We paused our walk at the Curator’s House Restaurant where we had lunch before walking back to the car.

There are multiple pathways and directions one can walk throughout the gardens, all of them beautiful and most enjoyable.

After our lunch punting would have been a relaxing way to get back to the car!  We contended ourselves by watching the boats on the river as we strolled back along the path at a leisurely pace.

How to make Soy Candles

How to make Soy Candles

img_3939Making soy candles is simple and does not take long.  Once finished you have gorgeous, professional looking candles to use and give away as gifts.

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If you are a beginner I would recommend purchasing a soy candle making kit to get you started.  I purchased a candle making kit which came with soy wax, wicks, fragrance oils and glass candle jars.

Other equipment you will need:
A clean pot to melt the wax
A jug for pouring
A hot glue gun to glue the wick tabs in to the jars (or you can buy stickers for this purpose or use a drop of wax)
Wick holders (I used a knife to keep the wick centred)
A thermometer
Scales to weigh the wax and fragrance oil

To begin measure your wax into the pot and set to a low heat to melt the wax.Stir wax as it melts to break up clumps.

Using a hot glue gun, apply a drop of glue on wick tab (or use a small piece of double sided tape or wick stickers).Position wick in the centre of the jar and press onto glass.  Be careful not to have any glue (or tape) showing as it may be a fire risk.  If you have tall glass jars you may need to use a knife or screwdriver to press down on the wick tab to stick it down.Pour melted wax into a jug to cool.

Once the wax is 40 degrees or less, the fragrance oil can be added.  I used a ratio of 10-15% fragrance oil, to wax.  Mix well.

Place your jars into a position where you can leave them to set.  Pour melted wax carefully into jars until half full.  Adjust wicks to stand in the centre (I used knives to help position the wicks) then pour in the rest of the wax.

Leave wax to cool.  Ideally candles should not be moved until the wax is completely set (about 3-6 hours).

Excess soy wax can be poured into silicone mounds and made into soy wax melts.
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Once your candles have set (after about 6 hours) it is time to trim the wicks with sharp scissors to 1 – 1.5cm above the level of soy wax.  Leave candles to settle for a day before using (or packaging up to give away).

Label your candles.  I used cute gift tags with gold thread.  I popped the soy melts into a cellophane bag.  When you burn your candle for the first time, allow the entire surface of the candle to melt right out to the edges of the glass.  This will ensure you get an even melt pool.

HOW TO MAKE IDIYAPPAM AKA STRING HOPPERS : the easy way

HOW TO MAKE IDIYAPPAM AKA STRING HOPPERS : the easy way
Idiyappam or string hoppers is a very common and a very traditional breakfast dish in my part of South India. It is a very simple dish to make. Made with roasted rice flour , water and salt,and steamed in pressure cooker or a steamer , it is a dish that is well loved by adults and kids alike. It  is also often prescribed by doctors as part of a soft meal diet for patients.
Idiyappam is one of those dishes that I never tried to make before I got married. Jacob however loved  Idiyappams and that meant I  had to learn how to make it , you know, the way to a man’s heart and all that, so I  called  my mom  straight away to get the recipe . As it turned out, making the dough was  a much easier task compared to coaxing  the dough out of the Idiyappam press.
However hard I tried, I could not manage to  get the dough out through the press. Jacob ever willing to help around the kitchen,offered to help me . But only ended up breaking the  Idiyappam press  one too many and left me flabbergasted  how  someone could break something that I couldn’t even get move an inch !
Then my mom discovered a ‘magic press “as she called it and Idiyappam making has been a breeze ever since.
As much as I enjoy cooking  for my friends and family , if there is a easy way to do something, then thats what I  go for.
So here goes.
Ingredients to serve 4
 1 cup Roasted Rice flour .  white or red ( I used Double Horse Appam/ Idiyappam mix , available at Yogiji Christchurch
3/4 _1 cup Boiling water
1tsp oil
Salt to taste.
Method
Take flour in a mixing bowl, add salt . Pour boiling water slowly

little by little mixing with a wooden spoon to form a soft smooth dough

Pour in the oil

When it cools down enough to touch, form into soft dough .Taking care not to knead too much

Grease the hollow part of the Idiyappam press with oil and fill in the dough inside the press.

Fill upto the brim of the press hollow

In the meantime, grease the Idli mould with oil and keep aside.
Press Idiyappam presser onto greased idli moulds
Repeat until all the dough is pressed on to the moulds.
Steam in the pressure cooker without the pressure ,for 7-9 mins on medium  flame. Once done, let it stay covered in the pressure pan for a minute or two
When the steam stops coming out of the vent,open and transfer the cooked Idiyappam to a hot pack.
I like to serve Idiyappam with sweetened  thin fresh coconut milk or chicken stew. Ofcourse, chicken curry and mutton curry also taste great with idiyappam.
Cook book Scribbles :
  • when  the Idiyappam is cooked through is , it starts to look glossy.
  • Idiyappam tastes good served hot or cold.
  • Scrapped coconut can be sprinkled over the cooked idiyappam

 

Quick trip to Queenstown 

Quick trip to Queenstown 

One can never get enough of the beauty ,South Otago region offers. When my cousin visited New Zealand with his friends, we decided to tag along on their two day trip .

First stop was Lake Tekapo. About three hours drive from Christchurch, the deep turquoise waters against the backdrop of the rugged brown Southern Alps is just breathtaking.lake tekapoOn the banks of the lake adding charm to the scenery ,stands the Church of the Good Shepherd .Apparently a favourite spot for wedding photographers.DSC_0499.JPGEnroute to Queenstown, stopping at various Scenic Outlooks to admire the magnificent beauty of the landscapes meant our supposedly six hour drive from Christchurch to Queenstown ,was stretched by a couple more hours. DSC_0542.JPGHence we reached Queenstown late at night  .

Ready to crash ,The Scenic Suites hotel where we stayed, with its spacious bed and clean self contained utilities ,offered just the cozy comfort we needed. DSC_0570.JPGThe stunning views of the lake and town were an added bonus.DSC_0551.JPGOh ,the breakfast of eggs benedict  with english muffins and bacon we had at the hotel restaurant was large , filling and scrumptious.

Of all the adventure sports that Queenstown offers, DSC_0645

DSC_0681.JPGDSC_0660.JPGmy favourite past time at Queenstown is people watching , canva-photo-editor-6having a juicy burger at Fergburger , IMG_0784

(one  of the best tip we received and found immensely helpful to avoid the serpentine queue ,was to order beforehand on phone and then go get the burger . )

Or grab an ice cream at Patagonia. Not only do they have a wider variety to choose from but you can also create your own cone , add things you like . So fun and so so yummy !IMG_7102

or walk on the side path gawking at all the sights and sounds enjoying the touristy vibe of the town.

Looking at the pictures  just makes me want to go back there.

How to make Ginger Chai aka Indian Ginger Tea 

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Holding a cup of chai, watching the steam come up in curls, inhaling the aroma of ginger and tea leaves, just enjoying the quiet hours of dawn,  is my little morning  ritual. Even my dog Amber, knows to remain still, and let me savour my cup of chai, sip by sip. It does not last  long, but those few moments to myself, help me anchor myself and gear up to face the rest of the day.
In a home  dominated by staunch coffee drinkers, I cannot remember where my love for a good cup of chai came from. I did not fancy the karupatti kappi ( coffee made with palm sugar) that was offered at evening snack  time, so skipped drinking coffee altogether. J is not a coffee or tea drinker either and so I did not have the need to make ritualistic early morning coffee in our home.
It was in Pondichery that I was introduced to masala chai along with a spicy plate of kothu parrota. ( minced flat bread with eggs, meat and a spicy curry) Still there was never the ritualistic chai making in our home until we came to NZ!
A couple of years back, when we were in India, my aunt introduced me to Red Label Nature Care tea powder and it turned out to be my go to drink during the really cold first winter in Christchurch. My comfort for soul drink (as I like to call it) for homesickness and warmth !
When I had finished the tea stash I brought with me from India, my search for Nature Care Tea all over Christchurch came to nothing. I was relieved I found the Red Label tea here in Yogiji Indian Supermarket. I just add ginger or cardamon and I’m good to go!
Whenever I need a pick me up, I just make myself a good cup of ginger chai. And  I love making ginger chai for my friends too.
I thought I will share it on the blog for our  readers  to make at home as its pretty easy and quick.
Ingredients to serve 2
 
Water :  11/2  cup
Milk :    11/2  cup
Fresh Ginger : 2″ piece
Tea  Powder  :2 tsps
Sugar to taste
Method:
Crush the ginger. Add it to the water in a saucepan and allow to boil till you can smell the aroma of the ginger come through.Add the tea  powder and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. Add in the milk .Switch off the flame. Let it sit  for a minute. Strain into a cup with a tea strainer.Add sugar as required. Serve piping hot!
 Cook Book Scribbles :
5 slightly crushed cardamom pods can also be added for a spicy aromatic chai. ( tea)

Thai Orchid |Review

Thai Orchid |Review

We enjoyed a nice family dinner with our family and another family at Thai Orchid recently.  The owner is a very friendly guy who came and explained the menu to us and suggested dishes and drinks to order.

Our younger kids all wanted Chicken Green Curry and Pad Thai but our older ones ordered from the ‘Stir Fried’ section and their dishes looked really yummy!
I ordered Beef Massaman Curry (pictured above) which was nice but could have done with a bit more spice.  The Green curry was also very mild but the kids really enjoyed it.

We didn’t have to wait long for our meals to arrive and the staff were very friendly and attentive despite being short on two staff members that night.

All curries are gluten free and many of their other dishes are able to be made gluten free.  I ordered curry for myself but forgot to ask for the other dishes to be made gluten free so I could try them, as we planned to all share so we could taste a bit of everything, so I was a bit disappointed as the other dishes all looked so delicious!

We found this restaurant to be family friendly.

Pepper Mushroom Masala

Pepper Mushroom Masala
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Growing up in the southern most part of India, I had only heard of edible mushrooms in storybooks and seen them  in picture books. The ones that appeared out of nowhere during rainy season in my hometown were usually very tiny. We were warned not to touch them as they were poisonous and so we never did .
By the time I was in college, my family had moved to a town that was dry for the major part of the year and mushrooms were rarely seen around.
The University Of Agriculture which was situated in a village nearby was conducting an one day training course for growing Oyster Mushroom in homes. They were promoting it as a small business idea for small scale farmers.
My mom’s friend and our neighbor (whom we lovingly called Lawyer aunty because her husband was a Lawyer), is a science teacher and she wanted to go and learn the process of growing mushrooms for profit at home. She wanted company and asked me if I wanted to go, when my mom couldn’t get leave from work. I tagged along with her because I could skip college .
I must confess that although I went there without expecting much, I came away very fascinated by what we learnt there.
Along with the training on how to grow mushrooms at home, each participant was given a little booklet with detailed instructions of all that we learnt there and some recipes plus a bottle of spawn.
I promptly got to work. All the stars aligned. Amma let me use the little shed outside our home. Since it was harvest season, there was plenty of hay from our paddy fields which  I used to sow the sample spawn I got at the University, to grow my very first batch of mushrooms .
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I was so thrilled when those pristine white oyster mushrooms appeared on the little hay bundles I had prepared for the mushrooms to grow! For you see, the green thumb thing completely skipped me even though I was born into a family of agriculturists.
After a bountiful harvest we didn’t know how to cook the mushrooms so we gave some to friends and neighbours and Amma added them to the curries she made.
One day, I decided to try a recipe from the little booklet we got at the University. The recipe was rather simple but quite tasty! And quickly became a regular in our home. DSC_0474Later, I found out that our farm help on my dad’s farm also used this same recipe to cook wild mushrooms. The only spices used here in this recipe are pepper and cumin.
The original recipe used Oyster Mushrooms, but I’ve substituted button mushrooms and the taste does not differ muchDSC_0008



INGREDIENTS:

250 gms Mushroom (chopped )
1 tsp pepper
1 Onion (chopped)
1 small tomato
1 tsp grated coconut (optional)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp mustard
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Curry leaves, salt to taste

METHOD:

Heat oil in a skillet.

Add Cumin, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Let it splutter.

Add Chopped onions, cook till they are pink in color.

Then add the tomato pieces. Saute well till mushy.

Add salt and pepper.

Now add the Mushroom. Saute well.

Sprinkle a little water. Cover and let it cook.

Add chopped corriander leaves.

Cook till the mushrooms are soft and well cooked but still firm .

Sprinkle grated coconut.

Serve as a side dish for rice.

Cook book scribbles: Without the coconut, this masala can also be used as a sandwich filler.















 

 

Costas Greek Taverna |Review 

I had a delicious dinner out with some girlfriends at Costas Greek Taverna Restaurant earlier this week.  Two of us had been before several times but our other friend had never been so was very keen to try it out.

We were not going to have starters but one friend wanted to order the Moussaka for her main and we were told it would take 30 minutes to cook, so we decided to get a starter to nibble on while we waited.
I recommended the Dolmades which are little parcels of rice risotto wrapped in grape leaves and served with salad and the most delicious tzatziki.
It worked out perfectly to share this dish between the three of us, giving us two Dolmades each.  My friends both loved the dish and would order it again in future.

It was relatively quiet that night but every other time I’ve been it’s been absolutely packed!  The atmosphere is fun with music playing, blue lights on one wall and red lights at the bar, with a greek-looking wall with round latticed window at the back of the restaurant.  The staff are very attentive and friendly.

Peeking through the wall to the bar.

This photo does not do the dish justice at all.  Mamma’s Moussaka was served as a tall stack of piping hot moussaka with a gorgeous fresh greek salad and tzatziki on the side.

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The Falafel Souvlaki Platter came with two vegetarian falafel patties, two pita bread, salad, four sauces and chips.  There was an option for a Grande size platter with three falafels for those who are feeling extra hungry.

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The Lamb Shanks with fire roasted vegetables and fragrant rice.  It’s a dish I’ve had before and I keep going back to it!  You can choose one or two shanks (this was two).  I found I kept glancing over at my friends’ salads and tzatziki so next time I might order these on the side (and only one shank).

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After such large main dishes we opted for desserts from the ‘Mini’ range of options.  These little chocolate mousse cups were the perfect end to our delicious dinner at Costas.

Costas has multiple gluten free and vegetarian options and the portion sizes are very generous with options on some dishes to ‘upsize’ to a ‘grande’, while the mini desserts are perfectly bite size after such large mains.  Absolutely delicious, if you haven’t been to Costas before, you definitely should!

Pearlin went to Costas on her birthday as they sent her a free birthday dinner voucher and they gave her a dessert for free too, candle and all!


They also send out free $20 vouchers from time to time so it’s well worth signing up on their website!

You can book online on the Costas Taverna website.

Day trip: Akaroa

Akaroa, which means Long harbour, is an hour and a half  drive from Christchurch. We might have taken a little longer than that as we stopped in a couple of places.IMG_0967

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A little stop at the picnic area on the way at  Lake Ellesmere to admire the Swans glide gracefully on the lake…

 the next stop was at Little River where a for a little dose of history awaits at the railway station now converted into a little craft storeIMG_4031

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with all  the antique memorabilia on display…Lanterns,ticket collecting booth are a sure attraction for adults and children alike
There is also a cafe to get coffee or grab an ice-cream at the diary nearby.

With stunning scenic views to greet you on the hilltop , it is a delightful drive up to Akaroa
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This picturesque town is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll around , stopping by the Museum to get an understanding of the historical heritage of the erstwhile French ColonyDSC_1351The French street names and the antique buildings bear witness to the  bygone eraDSC_1270 A French bakery, Cooking school and loads of souvenir stores  in the town centre are a sure giveaway for the  French flavour that is still very much prevalent in the town.

Other than the idyllic old world charm of the town, a walk down the beachfront IMG_2111IMG_4048DSC_1318IMG_8405IMG_2139IMG_2131IMG_2109 lounging and eating fish and chips  while sitting on the pier, listening to the sound of the water and the sea gulls is extremely relaxing.IMG_8410Then a visit to the spectacular Giant’s House, another heritage house, is a must do.DSC_1236.JPG  The Mosaic art and original art work  vibrant and amazing, are truly a treat to the eyes, that need to be experienced first handIMG_1045IMG_1083IMG_1103The drive to the lighthouse also offers magnificent views of the peninsula and the boats docked in the harbour.DSC_1406

How to host a no fuss birthday party

How to host a no fuss birthday party

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As a mother of 6 children, aged 7-19 years, I have thrown quite a number of birthday parties over the years!  I am not the most creative or organised person and I like to keep things simple so I don’t spend a lot of time preparing for parties in advance but I can throw a party together pretty quickly!

Here are my 10 tips for throwing a very simple kids party:

  • Host at Home
    We nearly always have parties at home because they are cheaper and are more personal.   Invest in some reusable plates, cups and platters suitable for parties.  These can be used time and time again.  I have a range of plastic plates and cups for younger kids and for older ones I use mini glass milk bottles, a drinks dispenser and our regular plates (or paper plates).  These have had years of use!
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    Drinks dispenser and mini milk bottles with paper straws – a great investment
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    Drinks dispenser, mini milk bottles with paper straws and tiered stands (with our regular dinner plates) get used at many of our parties
  • Colour Theme
    There is no need to decorate your whole house with a particular theme but by decorating the table with a colour or theme you will set the theme of the party.  This can be done cheaply by buying paper plates, cups, napkins and straws at the $2 shop.  Additional items like a table cloth, balloons, bunting and streamers further enhance the look.  A photo frame with a photo of the birthday child or a cute poem or verse is another simple way of decorating the table.
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    Blue themed party for teen girl (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) using our regular side plates, a light up star decoration which has been used for all sorts of table displays and tiered stands using our regular dinner plates.  Table cloth is plastic from the $2 shop.

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    Girls’ birthday party – pink and white plates and straws in mini milk bottles with thank you gift (or party favor) on each plate (packaged in $2 shop pillow boxes)

  • Cake Centre Piece
    I don’t do fancy cakes.  I stick with my favourite chocolate cake recipe and decorate simply, many times using lollies as decorations.  Often people bring out the cake just before serving it but I like to put it at the centre of the table as part of the decoration.
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    Black, red and white Minnie Mouse themed party with the cake as the centre piece
  • Party Food
    I serve juice and water to drink and a range of sweet and savoury food to eat.  I generally stick with popcorn, chips, vegetables with dip, sausage rolls, mini pies, fruit, jelly, cupcakes or cake, marshmallows, crackers etc.  These items need little to no preparation, with only the cake, cupcakes and jelly requiring some forward planning and the sausage rolls and pies needing to be warmed in the oven.  I like to platter up the food and let the children choose what they’d like.
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    Healthy party food – veggies and dips, marshmallow and fruit skewers
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    Simply decorated cake, reusable plastic plates and cups and easy party food on the table – popcorn, mandarins, applies, golden kiwifruit, grapes, potato balls and sausage rolls
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    Easy party food for younger children – popcorn, wafter cookies, crackers, marshmallows, fruit (I also served cheerio sausages hot at this party)
  • Games
    It is a good idea to have a brief plan for the party and some games planned for younger childrens parties.  I stick with Pass the Parcel and Treasure Hunt type games (which may be as simple as hiding 20 chocolate coins in the lounge and getting the kids to find and count them all in a pile in the middle of the room).
    A pinata can also be a fun (time consuming game).
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    Pirate Treasure Chest Pinata (The Warehouse) with prizes (Tissue packs, mini chocolates, lollipops).  It took about 15 minutes to break open this pinata so the children got to have multiple turns hitting it and had great fun
  • Prizes
    Depending on the games we play and the take home party bag I have planned, prizes are kept simple like a mini chocolate bar, a lollipop, stickers, pencil and eraser. Sometimes I will purchase quality items which become both prize and take home gift, for example small boxes of lego can be prizes in the pass the parcel, can be played with as a game (who can create the piece the fastest using only one hand) and then become the take home gift.  Although a more expensive item at $7 per box (on sale down from $10) there are no additional costs for little bits and pieces to fill up a party bag.
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    Prizes at a pirate party – pirate hooks and ‘treasure’ candy bracelets
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    Treasure hunt prizes for pirate party containing chocolate coins and stickers
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    Prizes  for a girls’ party – rings, sticker earrings, candy bracelets and mini mentos, ready to wrap in the Pass-the-parcel
  • Crafts or activities
    Including a craft or other activity can help keep the guests occupied.  Crafts need not be intricate.  For younger children a pot of sidewalk chalk to decorate the driveway can capture their attention for quite some time.  For older ones crafts like decorating cards, colouring in sheets, decorating cookies or cupcakes and even decorating their party bags with stickers keep them happily occupied.
    Other activities may include walking to the park, going to a swimming pool, going to a scooter park, playing basketball, playing table tennis, watching a movie, playing playstation and making your own pizzas.

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    Decorating cookies with icing and lollies – I made the cookies the day before
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  • Opening the presents
    Having the birthday child open their presents with their guests watching is something I include in the programme for the party as it takes up a bit of time, plus it is always one of my favourite parts of parties.  I love to watch children opening their presents (and teach mine to always read each card and say thank you).
    April 05 W1 012.jpgReading a card before opening the present
  • Leave some free time at the end of the party
    Although planning a programme for the party is a good idea so you know how much time you have and what you’re doing next, it is often a good idea to leave a period of free time at the end of the party.  Kids love to play and enjoy playing together at parties so let them have some time to run around, jump on the trampoline, play with balloons or toys (if you don’t want kids playing with the presents it’s best to pack these into a bag and pop out of reach).
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    Enjoying running around and playing games outside
  • Simple party bags
    I like to keep party bags very simple but would rather spend slightly more on a quality item, than send kids home with a bag of junk.
    Sometimes if we’ve had several games with prizes at the party, we hand out items as simple as a bag of chippies and piece of cake.  If kids have decorated cupcakes or cookies these are set aside for them to take home.
    Other times we have very simple prizes, or if we’ve done an activity such as swimming and no games/prizes, I like to make up party bags like the ones below with items such a a notebook and pen (50% off at Kikki K), party blower ($2 Shop), hair tie ($2 Shop), mini chocolate bar and lollipop. Bags are also from the $2 Shop.


Adorable party bags

Birthday cake for cheats

If you haven’t had time to bake a cake the easiest option I’ve found is to buy a sponge cake from the supermarket, spread jam and whipped cream on the first layer (as a filling) then top with the second layer of cake.  Spread a thick layer of whipped cream over the top of the cake then decorate with sprinkles.  Voila!

Add candles and you’ve got a great birthday cake everyone will love.

You can also ice the cake as I did with the cake below.  Fun candles and fresh strawberries really make this cake look special.

To whip the cream for a round sponge I use 250ml of cream, 1-2 Tbsp icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla essence.

Roasted Beet Hummus

Beetroot Hummus is one dish that brings with it memories of eating at our favourite Turkish restaurant, giving us a chance to have a taste of the beautiful flavours of middle eastern street food of Kuwait right here at home in Christchurch.
Stored in an airtight container, it stays fresh for several days in the fridge.  Beetroot hummus tastes great with fresh cut cucumbers, carrots or crackers, pita bread or pita chips making it the perfect mid morning to late evening snack. What’s more, its so easy to make. The only timetaking process is the roasting of the beets.
Roasted Beet  Hummus
 
Ingredients to serve 4
3 large cloves of garlic
2 x 400g tins of chickpeas
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 1/2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste , available in supermarkets)
salt to taste
fresh black pepper to taste.
½ tsp  ground cumin powder
1 medium beetroot.
1 small green chilli
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Preparation
Peel the skin of the beetroot, chop into big chunks . Preheat oven to 200 degrees C
Wrap the beetroot chunks in aluminum foil and roast them until soft and tender, takes about half an hour to an hour in my oven. When done, remove and let it cool.

Drain chick peas and rinse well. Keep aside. Peel garlic.

Method.
In a blender, add the cooled down beet, chickpeas, and garlic. Blend into a paste.
Add tahini, cumin powder, lemon juice and salt to taste. Blend till hummus is smooth and creamy like a dip.  Add pepper and drizzle olive oil over it. Serve with pita, or with veggies.
Cookbook Scribbles :
Add water only if necessary.
Taste and adjust the seasonings as you like.
In a pinch I have also used precooked beets.
If its too much work roasting the beets, skip and just blend the other ingredients and you still have a yummy hummus dip😉
MLLA is an ongoing, monthly event since 2008, in which, bloggers from any country or cuisine can take part in this event by presenting their vegetarian legume recipes. This event was created and started by Susan of The well seasoned Cook in 2008 and has been hosted by Lisa of Lisa’s kitchen since February 2013.

Diamond Harbour day trip

The Diamond Harbour is only a 10 minute ferry ride from Lyttelton.  We went on a grey day and it was lovely even without the sun shining so would be absolutely perfect on a sunny day.


As soon as you arrive you notice how peaceful it is.  All you hear are the birds singing.

A short walk up the hill takes you to the Diamond Harbour Village where you will find two cafes, a real estate office, a library, a medical centre and an arts and crafts shop as well as the historic Stoddart Cottage.


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We enjoyed a walk around the village then had a leisurely lunch at Preserved Cafe and Eatery before making our way back to the ferry for the return trip.



The ferry departs Lyttelton approximately every hour.  You will need to find a park somewhere in Lyttelton as there is no parking specifically for the ferry.  We managed to find a park along the main road.
From there you walk over the footbridge and through quite a bit of contruction before you get to the wharf.

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We managed our day trip within school hours so were home in time to pick our children up from school but felt like we’d had a real break away since the location was so peaceful.