Monday, 17 August 2015

Happy Birthday Big Girl!!

On this day, twelve years ago, we welcomed our little girl into the world!
A funny looking thing when born (like most babies I reckon), she has matured into a beautiful young lady (I'm not biased at all, honest!).

Today was a school day, so presents were opened when she got back. I won't bore you with all the gifts, but seeing as I described this as a partly crafty blog, I shall show you some of the things I made for her. 

Homemade bubbles....

I found this idea on Pinterest. My kids love blowing bubbles, but the squirt of washing up liquid in a cup of water I was using just didn't seem to be working. So I thought I'd give this a go. You can even print off a label to tie on your jar too! Ideally it needs making in advance, and needs stirring once a day for at least a few days, ideally a week. 
So then I thought I'd make a bubble blower to go with it. OH wasn't convinced it would work, as it's not completely flat, but it was rather hard to bend the wire as I used an old coat hangar (only metal I had, and it's quite thick). 
Well, when all the presents were opened, we decided to give the bubbles a try. I must admit I was a little disappointed, I was expecting lots of huge awesome bubbles, but they were fairly ordinary. The glycerine did make them a little stronger, and they even lasted for quite a few seconds when they landed on the ground. We had lots of giggles, blowing bubbles then waving our hands around to see how long we could keep them afloat....

She said they were good, so I guess that's all that matters

Knitted bunny.....

Meet Betty bunny (so named by us), she is one of many lovely knitted animal designs you can purchase from the talented lady Julie Williams at Little Cotton Rabbits. Her patterns are fantastic, well written, easy to follow and come with lots of photos to help you along the way (I don't get anything for saying that by the way, I just like to recommend things if I think they deserve it!). I must be honest though, I wasn't as pleased with how she turned as I was with the fox I made for Little Man....

This is Ferdinand, and I just love love love him! I can't wait to make one all for me, but seeing as they take aaaages to make I don't know when that will ever happen. 
But back to bunny, she is cute, and it's not the pattern at fault, it's  probably just me being picky and critical of my work. I think it's the eyes. I'm no good at French knots, so I think if I do get around to making myself one, I will use black plastic safety eyes instead. 

Car travel pillow....

Big Girl gets car sick, so likes to go to sleep in the car if she can. I found this idea online and thought it was just what she needed. I had a stash of spare fabric, and an old pillow inner to cut up as filling, and the making up was easy. 

Excuse the poor image quality above, I got this from online to show how it works. I tried it out, and it's really good!

Even Little Man made the effort....

I made a little heart for him out of Fimo and a heart shaped cookie cutter. Then he put two little finger prints in it. It looked good until it was baked in the oven, when the fingerprints lost their definition. But the thought was there! 

So birthday nearly over, just time to blow out the candles on the cake and make a wish....

Hope her wish comes true (as long as it was a sensible one!)


Eggs and lemons

The girls are in full laying mode at the moment, and six chickens are giving us between four and six eggs a day at the moment.

Also, here in NZ it is citrus season, so we have plenty of oranges, mandarins, limes and lemons. The lime tree is quite big, but as you can see below, the lemon tree is really small and yet has had a huge crop this year for it's size....

So when life gives you lots of eggs and lemons, what to do? Why, make lemon curd of course!
I use Delia Smith's recipe, and it is so easy. 

Lemon curd ingredients

3oz (75g) caster sugar
2oz (50g) unsalted butter
2 large beaten eggs
One large lemon

Put the caster sugar in a bowl, then the unsalted butter chopped in pieces, and 2 large beaten eggs, and the finely grated rind and juice of one large lemon. 
Put the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water....

After twenty minutes of stirring, it should look like this....

Can you believe how yummy yellow it is! I never seem to get that colour with bought eggs, even free range ones. The recipe says stir frequently, but I've made this recipe loads of times and I recommend that you stir it constantly for the full twenty minutes, getting right round the sides and the bottom. If you don't, you can end up with eggy lumps that look like bits of lard. They taste ok, but don't look good. Also, make sure the water is just barely simmering, not boiling. 
After twenty minutes, take it off the heat to cool down for a few minutes, before pouring into a clean jar.  Once it's cooled down, put in the fridge. Don't worry if it looks a bit runny, it will firm up. The recipe says eat within a week, but it should be ok for a few weeks - it never lasts that long in our house though!

I love my curd spread thickly on toast, but it's also nice in tarts. Just make some pastry shells, then fill with the warm curd. Put in the fridge to set. 

Yum yum!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Haruru Falls

We decided against our usual walk down the lane and back again today, and went to see a local waterfall. It was the first time Little Man had seen one, and although he wasn't bothered by the roar of the water, he wasn't too keen on getting too close to the edge. To be honest, that was a good thing as there are no rails or fences, and you can literally stand right on the edge....


I'm glad I have two sensible children, as I wouldn't fancy keeping an eye on lively ones near that!

You have to mind where you stand, as the force of the water has worn holes in the rock....
In summer you can often walk on the rocks above the falls and kayakers approach right up to their base. We had quite a bit of rain last night, so there was no chance of that today! The name 'Haruru' means big noise, and they certainly lived up to that name today....

How scary is this - the kids have put some wooden 'steps' on a tree which overhangs the river. There was a boy climbing down from it when we got there....

The wide basin below the falls was New Zealand's first river port and an important transport junction in the early days of European settlement. Today it is a popular holiday spot with resort hotels and holiday parks around its perimeter.

After we had seen the falls, we went for a walk down the Waitangi Track. 

Like at the falls, there are no fences, and for most of the beginning of the walk there are sheer drops at the edge of the path with around a twenty foot drop down to the water. I was glad Little Man wanted to hold hands, although sometimes the path got quite narrow and it was hard to walk side by side holding hands. Even when we got into the forest areas there were quite steep slopes at the edge of the path so I made sure he was always positioned on the inside....
There were a few obstacles for little legs....
  It says online that the track is suitable for families. Some spots are quite flat and open, but several times there were rocky slopes and quite steep steps, not really suitable for little legs and definitely no good for prams or the elderly....

It's a 6km, 2.5 hour walk to the Treaty grounds at Waitangi, but we didn't get far into the forest before a certain little man decided he'd had enough and wanted to go back. I didn't push it, as I didn't fancy having to carry him back!

On the way back, the water had gone down, so we walked down to the river bank and sat on the branches of a pohutukawa tree....

All in all a pleasant afternoon walking with my little people

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Soup, tart and a roll

Oh dear, I'm a bad blogger - my aim was to post at least once a week, and already I've failed miserably :-(
However I have this one and another one almost ready, so it's a bit like buses - there's none and then two come along at once!

Well weekends mean I have OH on child minding duties, so I usually spend at least one afternoon in the kitchen. 
Before we moved to NZ I was a vegetarian, but having moved and having our own animals to raise and eat, I have lapsed occasionally. But I'm not a real meat lover, and still like to cook a meat free meal

I found a recipe on the BBC Good Food website - Versatile Veg Soup
Do you ever have this problem - I buy ingredients for a certain dish, but only need say half a cauliflower,  and a third of a bag of sprouts, so the remainder grow old in the veg drawer of the fridge until I remember them a week later. By then they look a bit worse for wear. This is the ideal recipe to use these up, as it doesn't matter what goes in, just chop it all up! 

The original recipe used 200g chopped raw veg, and 300g potatoes. I had way more to use up, so put in 1kg chopped veg (swede, carrots, cauliflower, onion and a few Brussels sprouts) and just under 1kg potatoes (just used up what was left in the bag). Basically all you do is chop up all veg quite small, fry in a few tablespoons oil until soft, then add stock (I put in 3 litres for this amount of veg) bring to boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes until soft.  Then blend in processor until smooth. Easy peasy!
It sounded a bit bland, so I also added a few tablespoons tomato purée, and a sprinkle of dried mixed herbs when I added the stock. 
I have to say seeing as it was so quick and easy, it was quite tasty, with just a dash of cream on top, and some olive bread....

I have frozen a load so I don't get bored of having it every day. I might try some with a dash of curry paste stirred in (I have two jars of the stuff to use up, and only me likes curry!) and a drizzle of coconut cream on top. Any other suggestions to spice it up?

The two most time consuming recipes of the day were a Caramelised Onion and Thyme tart and Homemade Yeast Rolls 

So was it worth spending just over three hours in the kitchen?
The tart was OK, I'd give it a 7 out of 10 for taste, but don't think it was worth the time it took to make. Plus although the pastry around the top edge was nice and crisp, the bottom was a bit soggy. I thought it might be, as the pastry wasn't baked blind before adding the filling, it just said roll out pastry into dish, then pop in the freezer. So it was only slightly chilled, before the filling was added. 

The rolls however were a resounding success, getting between 9.5 and 10 out of 10 (The mark down was from OH, who said that you can't give 10/10 - why? I have no idea!). They tasted yummy, looked great, and were deliciously fat and soft - I would definitely make them again. The only downside was that everybody loved them, so they were gone in a few days!