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.

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


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

Summer Holidays Blog Update

Summer Holidays Blog Update

Hi everyone,

We do hope you’ve been enjoying our blog. We’ve both enjoyed writing for the blog (and ‘researching’ aka trying out various cafes). Perhaps we should have named it ‘NOT Just Tea For Two’ as we never order just tea!

Pearlin and I have been friends for about 3 years now. We enjoy getting together regularly to drink chai tea, knit and sew, teach each other recipes (although I’m always far more interested in learning from Pearlin and eating her amazing Indian food than I am to teach her my recipes), visit cafes and attractions around Christchurch and we also do a bit of regular old home-stuff together like grocery shopping, taking pets to the vet, hanging out with each other’s families and buying vacuum cleaners!

When we’re together our conversations centre around our children mainly. Pearlin’s eldest has just finished high school and her youngest has just finished year 8 (oh and her Labrador turned 1 year old)!

My eldest completed her second year of Uni, my 16 year old completed year 12 and is now in Switzerland on a French language exchange for two months, and my four younger kids have finished school years 2, 5, 8 and 9. Life is busy and not without dramas so we tend to do a debrief on what’s going on in our families when we get together.

When we started Just Tea For Two our aim was for it to be a lifestyle blog, covering topics to do with our lifestyles, primarily based in Christchurch. We’ve written posts on local Christchurch attractions, restaurant and cafe reviews, recipes and other lifestyle posts such as candle making, product reviews, travel within NZ, gift buying guides and local small business interview.

It’s now the end of the school year for our kids and the New Zealand Summer School Holidays have begun so we’ve decided we’ll take a bit of a break from blogging.
We’ll still be posting, just not as often, but we will be posting on Instagram more often so do follow us if you’re not already. Both of our families will be holidaying out of Christchurch at some point this summer so follow us on Instagram to see what each of our families get up to!

What posts have you enjoyed the most? Is there anything you’d like to see more of in 2018?

As we head in to 2018 we plan to continue with the lifestyle theme of our posts.
Pearlin and I have many things in common but also come from very different backgrounds and lifestyles. It’s been fun writing together and individually on posts.

Thank you for reading this far!

We wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Louise & Pearlin

Curry rice salad

Curry rice salad

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.

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)

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!





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.


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.


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.




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

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)


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

Salt and Pepper to taste.


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

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.

DSC_0982Serve HotDSC_0989.jpg

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.