Thursday, December 30, 2010

Part of the Cycle of Life?

When I watched the movie, The Lion King, I really liked the opening song, The Cycle of Life. Always thought it to be very pertinent.

What that has to do with a kettle you may well wonder.

The first time I went to visit with David and Lisa in Dallas they had a kettle on their cook top for heating water for cups of tea.

It always seemed to take ages to heat up the water and so I recommended to Lisa that they get an electric kettle as I felt it would do the job more efficiently.

Lisa bought the kettle and to this day they still use an electric jug.

However, Linda and I recently acquired an induction cooker for our kitchen and discovered that water could be heated faster on the cook top than in the electric kettle, so guess what we bought? A kettle for the cook top.

It clears some bench space and works efficiently for us - so it would appear that we have gone around one cycle of life.

One of our brothers came to visit recently and was coming to terms with the workings of an induction cook top. He wanted to know if he could use a 'real kettle' (meaning the electric one) but too late, we have entered the new cycle of life and there is no going back.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Our very own river

There is always something of interest to be observed overlooking the beginnings of the Waikato River from our living area.

The water coming into the river from Lake Taupo is managed, not far away, by a control gate.

In these photos, firstly of a lone fisherman and then of some prospective swimmers, the water is low but when the water is released the beach and the rocks where the fisherman is standing, disappear under the water.

The colour of the water in the image with the swimmers is more true to type. Most of the time it is more aqua in colour than rich blue.

In addition to would be fisherman and swimmers there is the constant flow of kayakers as well as people stopping off for a picnic or, sometimes, a bit of freedom camping.

We are in the middle of the Christmas/New Year holiday season and this spot is a frequent stop off point for visitors.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Vegie Gardens and Christmas

One of the lovely things about moving to our home was the established raised beds for a vegetable garden.

We still have a lot to learn to make the most of this asset but we have already had some lovely results.

I planted peas and beans on each side of the trellis to the right of the garden. The peas took off but the beans had to have a second planting to get some results.

The peas have grown sufficiently to give us fresh peas for Christmas dinner - the beans have a way to go yet.

Our brother planted Cliff Kidney potatoes for us and again, there was sufficient for us to be able to dig and get fresh potatoes on Christmas morning.

The result - Beef Wellington, served with crushed new potatoes and fresh peas with carrots. Linda says it is one of the easiest Christmas dinners she has ever had to prepare and it was just lovely.

The white with gold trim Christmas table linen was enhanced by an arrangement by Linda, of red and white petunias, also from our garden.

Christmas would not be complete without dessert and it certainly looked as good as it tasted - pavlova roulade with fresh strawberries soaked in a little cointreau.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pike River Miners

The Pike River mining disaster in November of this year will have a huge impact on the West Coast community of the South Island of New Zealand for some time to come.

As is often the way in times of tragedy many people rally to help and we have heard many stories of those helping the families of the miners in whatever way they can.

Shirley Goodwin of Rangiora, Christchurch offered to make quilts for each of the members of the miners families and has been inundated with heart blocks and quilts.

You can read more about the responses and see some of the lovely quilts and heart blocks Shirley has received in her blog:-

Linda offered to quilt a quilt top for Shirley and this has now been completed as pictured.

The challenge for Shirley to complete remains huge and if you know of anyone who can help in any way I am sure she would love to hear from you via her blog.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What would I like for my birthday dinner was the question.

Pasta with meat sauce was my choice and very nice it was too.

A local shop, The Merchant of Taupo, stocks a most delicious Pavlova Roulade and this with brandied strawberries topped off the meal very nicely.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cactus Flower

The winter just gone was extremely cold and we have had some very hot late spring weather and as a result our cactus plant has been flowering like it never has before.

Our Mother has had this plant for a number of years but we have never seen it flower like it has for us this time around.

Until the flowers have gone it can take pride of place at the front door and then it can hide in the garden until it decides to give us more of its beauty.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Breakfast for One - or was it Brunch?

We went out looking for some garage sale bargains and in the process I neglected to have breakfast.

By the time we got home I was very hungry but it seemed too late to be having breakfast.

Instead I made pikelets (small pancakes) for morning tea but when I came to the end of the mixture I made one large pikelet, topped it with sliced banana, muesli and golden syrup.

I guess my breakfast became brunch and it was very nice.

Pikelet recipe:-

Heat fry pan to moderately hot and, using paper towel, wipe with small amount of melted butter

Melt 30 grams butter and hold

1 cup self raising flour
1 dessertspoon sugar
1 pinch salt

Place ingredients in bowl and add -
1 egg
1 cup milk

Mix thoroughly with wire whisk and add the melted butter.

Put dessertspoons of batter into moderately hot pan (6 to 7 for each lot) and when bubbles rise to the surface of the batter they are ready for turning.

When nicely browned on both sides put aside on to a plate that had a tea towel folded in half. Place the pikelets between the layers of the tea towel while you continue cooking.

Keeping the pikelets like this in the tea towel ensures a little bit of steaming and keeps the pikelets nice and soft.

Serve with butter or butter and jam of your choice and enjoy.

These have been a family favourite for years and years.

Best eaten fresh but can be frozen and eaten later.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Getting Ready for Christmas

Christmas will probably be a low key affair at our place this year.

We are not anticipating having and visitors so it will be just the four of us.

Nice to have some Christmas decorations around the place and this week we put up Christmas quilts and accessories.

The angel wall hanging is in the sun room where Mum and I spend most of our time.

A variety of Christmas ornaments adorn the bookcase on top of a Christmas runner.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stepping Back in Time

Staying with my Aunt Grace this last week was almost like taking a step back in time.

When Linda and I were children, we used to go and stay with her and the cutlery and crockery in this image where what was used then so it all must be at least 60 years old.

The bedrooms reflected times gone by as well with old fashioned white cotton sheets, white candlewick bedspreads, wire wove mattress base on the bed,white cotton pillow cases tied with cotton tape, rather than the envelope style pillows we have today and wool blankets.

The washing machine broke down just as I arrived and there was a suggestion that we revert to the wringer washing machine that Aunt Grace is so proud of because it still works, but fortunately a modern automatic was bought to replace it.

I did miss not having a dish washer and microwave but all was well.

All in all a very interesting trip down memory lane.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Reunited With Treasured Gifts

For the last week I stayed with my Aunt Grace, 101 years old, so that her care giving daughter could have a few days of respite from 24 hour care.

Aunt Grace is our Mother's oldest surviving sister and a special member of our family.

It always give me a special feeling when I go to her home and there, on her bed, is the handmade quilt that my sister, Linda, made for her in 1997 and a hand appliqued cushion that I made for her for her 90th birthday.

Aunt Grace has children and grandchildren of her own and so it is rather nice for us, as her nieces, that she would give these gifts pride of place in her home.

Linda's quilt was made in the days before she ever dreamt she would do machine quilting and is machine pieced and hand quilted. It is standing the test of time well.

I have not done too much in the way of hand applique so this cushion always surprises me when I see it again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quilting Group

Our quilting group was depleted in numbers this week, but it did not seem to matter. There was still plenty of chatter, lots of home cooked baking to share and quilting problems shared and solved.

Show and tell was part of the day as well:-

Debbie had made a quilt for her son's girl friend's 21st birthday.

She brought it along to show us but also because she wanted a heart quilting in the centre of the quilt and needed help from Linda.

Debbie also brought her clown quilt which is still a work in progress. She still have another 5 blocks to include so it will be huge, not to mention, magnificent, when it is finished:-

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Some Girls Might Prefer Diamonds.................

Some girls might prefer diamonds but when you get given an induction cooker for your birthday it can be a pretty good alternative.

Linda and I have been using our induction cooker since August and we are very impressed.

Smooth glass top, no knobs, touch sensitive heating controls, fast reaction to changes in heating/cooling.

We find our cooking to be faster and cleaning much easier. Pots and pans seem easier to clean and the cook top itself is very easy to keep clean.

We did have to go and buy new pots and pans but that seems a worthwhile expense with such good results.

Linda cooked a Quick and Easy Sausage Carbonara in these pictures.

New Zealand cook, Sophie Gray, is known as the Destitute Gourmet - making good quality meals on a limited budget.

This recipe is a recent discovery for us and we really enjoy it. You can find it at:-

if you would like to try it too.


Friday, November 12, 2010

10th Wedding Anniversary

Trish, from our quilting group, has gone to Australia to visit with her daughter who is celebrating her 10th wedding anniversary.

She had seen samples of some of my crazy quilting and asked me if I could print her daughter's wedding photo on to silk and embellish it crazy quilt style.

I only had a week to complete the project but I got there and she was very happy with the outcome.

She feels sure her daughter will be happy with the result.

I includes wedding gown lace, silk and a silk covered button in keeping with the theme.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Friendliest Cat in the World

I sometimes think that Kaiser would have to be considered the friendliest cat in the world even if it means he can be a bit 'in your face'.

Often when he hears the voice of visitors in the house he will present himself right in front of them and roll over on his back for a tummy rub. It would never occur to him that anyone would not want to befriend him.

Rewa came to our quilting group and had a quilting 'challenge' she wanted to discuss with Linda.

Kaiser thought he would be more than helpful by putting himself right in the middle of her project - attention seeking?

Sorry about the quality of the image but it does capture the thought.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Bird Feeder

We have a silk tree just outside our sun room.

Recently we bought a bird feeder and hung it from the tree.

We fill it every morning and it is not long before the birds come calling. Sometimes they are already waiting in the upper branches.

It is quite entertaining to watch the comings and goings during the day.

Often we see two or more birds hovering in the branches above until the feeder becomes vacant.

Sometimes we see two birds feeding together but that is about as many as will fit and sometimes they will have a tussle - some of them don't want to share with anyone.

Mostly we get sparrows but there are others that visit as well.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

At the front of our property we have been enjoying different plants and shrubs come into bloom during the later spring.

The dogwood tree in the foreground has lovely large cream blooms and is nicely complemented by the lilac bush in the background.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Perfection in Miniature

The other day I was out in the garden and I spotted a beautiful blue bird's egg lying on our front lawn.

It seemed perfect in shape and colour and sad to think it will not bring forth the life within.

We have all sorts of flowers blossoming in the garden at the moment including lots of banksia roses. They are about an inch or less in size so I took a photo of cluster of the roses with the egg so that others can share in this little piece of perfection as well.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Teddy Bear Quilt

We are not sure how she does it, but Debbie from our quilting group, now known as 'Sweet Peas' has been producing an amazing amount of quilts.

Not only that, but she has discovered that she can do her own machine quilting and so she is able to bring them to a lovely finish.

She shared this lovely Teddy Bear quilt with us this week. Kaiser gave it his tick of approval by giving the quilt a 'cat scan'.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Napkin Ring

My sister and I can't resist buying old linen and giving it a new life.

We enjoy using embroidered tablecloths and cloth napkins in our everyday life at meal times.

I decided I would like to make my own napkin ring but it has been a long time in the making. Today I used it for the first time.

I took a piece of pale pink 100% cotton, backed it with pellon and quilters muslin and then did some free motion embroidery along the length of fabric.

I did 2 x stem stitch irregular lines, then I added silk ribbon leaf stitch using 4mm green silk ribbon.

Finally I added french knot flowers using variegated rayon thread.
When embellishing was done I made a
tube by adding another piece of quilters muslin and stitching down both sides of the block and then turning the item out to hide the raw edges.

I cut a piece of timtex slightly smaller than the block and slid this in behind the embroidered block.

The timtex was to give the napkin ring some firmness.

I turned under the edges at one end and then bent the whole piece around, slipped the raw edges of the other end inside the folded end and slip stitched the ends together to make the ring.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Spring one day, winter the next

Yesterday, at our place was picture perfect. Clear skies and mountains on view. Temperatures were summer like.

Today, clouds, cold and rain - what a contrast.

Still, the garden gives us joy, proving, in spite of the contrasts in the weather, that spring is truly with us.

We have pansies and violas planted in the garden near our front door. They have rewarded us over the past few weeks with their abundance of blooms and happy faces.

The shrubs have been flowering as well and the waratah's bloom is quite majestic and a pleasure to observe. Their season will soon be over so we are enjoying while we can.

Adopted Great Great Grandmother?

Our friend, Debbie, has just recently become a grandmother for the first time and yesterday she brought her three week old grandson to visit with us.

Long time since any of us had seen a three week old baby and with this picture of our 91 year old Mum holding him, I thought she could almost be his 'adopted' great-great grandmother.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

More Food - Yum!

One of the lovely things that has been established in our vegetable garden is rhubarb.

Linda has been making a lovely rhubarb pie for years from the Alison Holst Kitchen Diary Volume 2.

It is a real treat - orange juice is part of the secret of the delicious taste in the filling.

The latticing of the pie crust is all part of the taste treat and once again we were not disappointed.

Served with custard, we could not have asked for better.

Alison Holst is a household name in New Zealand. You can find out more about her on her website and one of her best all time recipes for lazy lasagne can be found there:-

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Our Quilting Group

Yesterday our quilting group met again and it was a very pleasant time.

Again there was show and tell so we have some images to share from the creativity of the ladies in our group:-

Debbie had another lovely nursery quilt to show us.

Not only that, she had also progressed to free motion quilting and had done a great job of this.

Linda showed the group a scrappy quilt she had made so that she could experiment with a new machine quilting technique.

After she completed it she realised it was quite 'conversational' with all the different prints that were included and so it is destined to become an 'I Spy' quilt for some nephews of ours.

Andreena loves all things Christmassy and brought some completed Christmas projects - a Santa Bag and a Christmas Tree Skirt:-

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Little Bit of Real Gardening

Today was more about real gardening and not the fabric creations of yesterday.

With spring in the air, beans, peas, tomatoes and lettuces have been planted.

Linda and I noticed some pretty pink flowers in the garden and on closer inspection we discovered it was clematis.

It was trailing along the ground, so with a little bit of attention it has now been tied to retaining wall and as it has lots of buds we expect to see a lovely display in the coming weeks.

The soft pink petals and fine yellow stamens are almost enough to inspire one to a little bit of silk ribbon embroidery, but not yet.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Where we live we are having the most beautiful burst of spring weather.

After a month or so of wet, wet and more wet it is so nice to have the warmth of the sun and evidence of spring in all that is growing in our garden.

There was a time when the only gardening I did was on fabric and one of the advantages of that is that no weeds grow there.

Nothing quite like real flowers though, but I did enjoy browsing through some of my crazy quilting items today and this image is one of my favourite fabric gardens.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Nothing Quite Like Homemade

Linda and I do a fortnightly menu planner to coincide with our supermarket shopping and every second fortnight pizza is on the menu.

Today was the day - it was excellent - and there was not a crumb left by the time the three of us had finished.

A glass or two of red wine finished it off nicely.

Already looking forward to the next one.