Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas 2010 Part two

Part Two.........
begins in Matakana, at our friend's parents beautiful home. Not far from the famous Morris and James pottery factory.

Our new Auckland friends also have three children, so a perfect match for paydates.

The kids spent much of the time riding around and around on their bikes, water games, while the toddlers settled into the sandpit. This made it very relaxing for the adults, with our biggest challenge of the day only being what we might prepare for dinner and how many wickets had been taken in the cricket.

As promised to family and friends. Here are some happy play pics of the kids and the view which I couldn't not share with you.
A few hits of golf.

What's summer without a
paddling pool?

We must have been on holiday.....even the beds were leapt from and left unmade!

So nice to just leave toys and children scattered on the lawn.

The view, the vines, the pond on which we could look for a evening's supper........ sipping the most beautiful wine I'd had in a long time.

Beautiful roses. Scarlet by day, at night the colour of a good merlot.

Our own suite off the side of the house.

......and those kids are still in that pool!!!!
The sunset with lovely Barney, the resident dog watching guard.

One thing I love about living up here are the views. The flat countryside of Canterbury is gorgeous, but this Northland part of NZ is also offering some spectacular scenes.........
........and did I mention the wine??!!

We must make the most of it this summer. (The views, more than the wine ;-)

I can't wait to blog about all our day trips.

A VERY happy new year to all of you.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Treacy Christmas 2010

Part one

This was like the first Christmas for Phoebe. When you are two, the Stocking on the end of the bed is a wonderful surprise!

Gift giving begins. Trainer chopsticks for Phoebe......

Despite a cool Christmas morning, new togs and goggles must be tried out.

While the children dress, the table was laid.

Soon appearing in their Christmas best.

Our normal South Island fare is hot meats and veges. As we now have a Northland Christmas it was the perfect opportunity to sample local seafood with dollaps of aoli. Yum!

Another South Island, extended family tradition just couldn't be forgotten. It seems that over- sized ears and crazy glasses work well at breaking the ice (even at small family parties).

After a lovely morning and sleepy afternoon we ventured North to stay with friends for three nights.
Part two; 'fun in the sun' to follow soon.

Happy holidays to you all.

Friday, December 24, 2010

We're ready!

You know what. I think we're ready!

Santa key is tinkling....

Trifle is a waiting...

The stockings have been hung.

Children's ornaments snuck into stockings.

Deers are gayly prancing....

Mirror balls are swinging.

The local store is open late ;-)

Garlands are a hanging.

Lights are a twinkling.....

The countdown is nearly over..........

Children gently snoozing.

Merry Christmas blogging buddies

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa key

I mentioned a "Santa Key" we make on Christmas eve in our house on a previous post here.

Before my girls' nana died in 2006, she helped ease my first born daughter's Christmas anxiety.

Caitlin realised one day that we certainly had a chimney for Santa to use, but it led down to a built-in log fire.
My poor little girl was terribly worried that Santa just wouldn't be able to get in to eat his snack, read our note and of course leave some pressies under the tree!!

Nana Anne suggested that Caitlin make a "magic santa key". A key that could be hung on the font door, allowing Santa careful entry to our house.
(Good grief..........rereading this to myself I'm now wondering why we encourage permission for a funny dressed stranger into our home, in the middle of the night!!!!!!!)

Anyway, Santa being the fun and loving chap he is...............he is permitted, with the help of a Santa key.

The very first Santa key was made of paper and ribbon, coloured in with children's felts. I still have it, tucked away in a cupboard. A wonderful story for my children to tell again one day.

Over the next few years it has transformed in appearance, as a new one is always made.
I wonder what my girls will create this Christmas eve.

The Cake

I baked my christmas cake yesterday and have just spent at least two hours icing and decorating it today.

I am very pleased.

Now, I am no cake decorator, would never claim to be. So my cake has a few wee splits and dents, character you could say. I don't know all the tricks of the trade, but I do know how to have fun. Icing a festive fruit cake is a bit like playing with play-dough.
That I can do!! :-)

I've been a little naughty this year (don't tell Santa). I usually make a delicious, moist gluten free Christmas cake. Yip, it actually tastes like the real thing too. We don't have Celiac disease but generally feel more well with a low gluten diet. (Maybe I should post the gluten free recipe, I'm sure there are a few people out there who would love and appreciate it).
But this year I craved to make a traditional recipe. I guess it will stop me from over indulging. Maybe one piece per day instead of the desired FIVE ;-)

So here goes. This is how our Cake was born:
The fruit which sat drinking brandy all night.

Creaming: which I now know is the most important part of most good cake recipes. I wish I had known this a few years ago and a few many cakes later!

Wooden spoons really struggle with this part. Miss 10's fingers complete the task perfectly.

Grandma Ivy's tin. The perfect size and weight. Thanks Grandma x

The wrapping of many layers. Baking paper and damp newspaper stops your cake drying out, overcooking and burning on corners and edges.

The ultimate well wrapped gift!

Two and half hours later. Beautifully cooked and cooling.

Breaking from the usual tradition of pre-made, roll your own almond icing. Looks a bit odd but I used my Nana Mckendry's recipe and made it from scratch. Use warm jam or sugar syrup brushed over the cake first, then spread over the almond paste.

A layer of white fondant and here it is! A little fun with green royal icing ( I have always wanted to make that!!!)

Our new home here in Northland is surrounded by beaches and Pohutukawa trees, our native Christmas tree. It seemed only fitting.

And of course the back-up ribbon as the flowers will only last a few hours.

I believe I may sneak the first piece for supper this evening.

Happy preparations lovely people!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Men who cook

I sometimes pat myself on the back for marrying a man who loves to cook.

As he is currently the breadwinner, cooking comes under my job description. But the weekends and holiday seasons bring hubby back into the kitchen. Fabulous.....for all of us!!

Look what he whipped up the other night after spying a recipe in a copy of 2009 Foodtown mag.
The most beautiful little Christmas mince pies.

I married well

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Buttons Buttons everywhere!

Look what I've been playing with!

When I was little, very little, I have fabulous memories of playing in my Grandma's button drawer.
I wondered if this was a generational thing (is that actually a word?). So I asked my husband, did his Grannie have a button drawer?
His response; she had a button SUITCASE!!!!!! How much blimin', fabulous fun would that have been!?!?

We both remember........many moons before meeting each other playing with our Grandma's impressive button collections.

I don't have a button collection....yet.

But then, I'm not a Grandma........yet :-)

I do have a few delicious buttony morsels in yummy colours that really look good enough to eat. (Although two year old, after trying, reports they are most certainly not edible lol).

It's Christmas time. I don't really sew generally, but love to "make", so I got out the sewing box and had some fun.
I found felt pieces the colour of candy, yum!!

Somebody else likes playing with them too.



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