The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday 31 December 2013

A Beautiful New Year!

A couple of years ago I wrote on a web site a beauty thread and I have had quite a few letters about it! One particular letter said "do not follow Annabel's beauty advice!" yet turned out to be a wonderful endorsement, of sorts! I am trying to work out a way to share it here...

I hope no one is feeling too seedy today being New Years Day! Oooh a fresh new year!

This is a lovely recipe and makes up into a gorgeous gift as well.

These bath bags turn your bath into a scented softening milky bath. As they dissolve you use the muslin bag to wash yourself and the muslin has a soft exfoliating effect on your skin. It feels divine. 

As a gift a little packaging makes it beautiful. My friend Sue gave me gorgeous blue lace and I have used some to line this little box. It looks lovely!

To make these you need muslin which is very inexpensive. Cut it up into squares about 25 cm in width. You need some string or ribbon or even lace to tie the bags up. Even yarn would do.

Into each square put a spoon of powdered milk. You can use any. Goats milk would be nice also. Then two spoons of fine oatmeal. This could be instant oatmeal as that is fine... just as long as it is fine and soft... not full oats as they would be scratchy. 

Now you choose your scent. You want good essential oils. Lavender is good for relaxation and headaches and sleep. I have made mine with rose essential oil which I find relaxing and nurturing. You can buy special pre made blends or make your own. So think what qualities do you want them to have and what do you love? I want relaxation, calming, helps me to settle to sleep. I like geranium, rose, ylang ylang. A visit to the health food store would help you with this if you are not sure.

Ok you want about a golf ball size of filling then tie each one up with your ribbon. Add to each one 3 or 4 drops of your essential oil. 

Once done keep them in a jar or box to keep in your scents. For a gift add a name and instructions ie "sleep inducing bath soak" or " stress relief soak" ...

I am addicted to the feel of these on my skin and they really do me good. If you have a bath do have a soak often. Every health spa in the world probably has bathing as a feature for very good reasons. Adding epsom salts to a plain bath is one of the greatest things you can do for your health. Your skin releases toxins from your body. It relaxes you. It is so good for you. The heat soaks away the aches and pains. The steam clears your head, opens your pores. Just beautiful in s many ways. Regularly indulge in your favourite scents. Enjoy!

Here is some of Michelle's lovely (and funny) letter:
I was only going to email this to Annabel (you'll soon see why), but I 
thought you might all enjoy a bit of a laugh.

Since hurting my back, I have had more time to do things for myself. So 
I have been taking Annabel's advice that she has kindly given over the 
years via the beauty threads on SS, as well as tid bits that have come 
up through writings, email, etc. I have a simple routine in place, where 
I moisturise after every shower. I have a hydrating eye gel, & a face 
moisturiser. Nothing fancy - both I get through Avon. Just this past 
week, I have coloured my hair a red colour. Having red undertones in my 
naturally brunette hair, I apparently wear red hair very well, so 
everyone tells me. I have been wearing make up every day - just eye make 
up, & paw paw ointment on my lips (really good for lips, & Aldi sells a 
small tube of it for $1.99). My colour palette has been browns (to match 
my eyes) & light shades of purple from the NP SET range. Annabel gifted 
me some loose dust duos a while ago, & I am making good use of them. I 
have been changing my handbag to suit each outfit, & each outfit has 
been thought about the night before, & chosen if possible.
Examples of outfits I have been wearing are;
~ light purple button through top with black knee length shorts, paired 
with red heels & a deep red handbag, a red watch & huggie earrings
~ pale purple printed tee with bright blue capri jeans, paired with 
white a purple/pink/white print handbag, pink watch, hot pink bangle, & 
white shoes, & blue pearl studs
~ mint green top with brown pants, paired with white shoes & a green & 
white hand bag, & the jewellery set Fiona kindly made me
~ today's effort it is a light purple top with grey pants, white 
sandals, pink watch, & my purple/pink/white hand bag, along with silver 
& diamante hoops & a hair clip with crystals & feathers
All of these items are things I already own & I already wear. Nothing 
special really. The make up - I've worn it before too. But now I'm 
thinking about it, & putting myself together each morning. It's not just 
throw on some clothes & get Lauchy to school. Everything co-ordinates, & 
I look ready for the day, instead of looking like I only made a half 

Now, for the warning - DO NOT FOLLOW ANNABEL'S ADVICE!!!! Why? You ask, 
no doubt shocked that I would say such a thing. Well the answer is 
simple... It means all the crazy folk come out of the wood works!! They 
want to comment on your look; they want to touch your hair, & other 
places (!!!); & they make passes at you!
Annabel, you did not tell me about these issues!! Lol :-D
Now, most of you know what I look like, & I firmly believe that I am in 
no way pretty. I am just a plain Jane when it comes to looks. To add to 
that, I'm short & fat, so there is nothing about me that jumps out at 
you, & I'm ok with that.

Monday, a lady stops to ask me what my skin routine is, because my skin 
is beautiful. She asks my age - I say 32. She argued I could not 
possibly be that old, that I must be 26 tops. I had to show her my 
driver's licence before she believed me. She calls over her hubby & is 
all gushy at him about me (so embarrassing), & he comments that I look 
beautiful. I say thanks, & tell her my simple skin cleaning routine. 
Then! They start commenting on my hair as well, & next thing I know they 
both start touching my face & hair - weirdos! Her hubby then comments I 
smell good - so I excused myself for a fake phone call & left in a big 

Tuesday, I help an elderly lady who was struggling with her bags. Hayden 
helps by carrying a loaf of bread. She thanks me, & tells me I am a 
vision of beauty (dear sweet thing she was). I thank her & wish a merry 
Christmas, & away we go. Then, I buy a coffee at a coffee shop - the 
girl there is smitten with my eyes, & won't stop talking about them. One 
compliment is fine, but going on about it is just plain weird. She hands 
me my coffee & tells me how sparkly my eyes are (really?!), I say 
thanks, & leave. I get back to the car - she has written her number on 
my flippin' cup & the words 'call me!' ARE YOU SERIOUS?!
That afternoon, I walk past a busker, who was singing something, but 
changed his words as I walked past & sings "ladies with red hair will 
only break your heart..." I kept walking. Also, he was out of tune.

Wednesday, the day was going well. I had finished delivering my gifts & 
cards to various businesses to say thankyou for the lovely service & 
Merry Christmas. I had my list of things to do & buy - I was on a 
mission! I had to walk up an alley type walkway to get to the main 
street, where an old man tries the old boob grab trick with the words 
"Want to be my Christmas miracle?" OMG!!!
Finally, it's pick up time - last day of school! I am talking to the 
teacher, who loved the thankyou gift Lauchy & I had just presented her 
with. She commented on my hair, & that it was a lovely colour. I say 
thanks. She also comments that I am very good with the beauty stuff, 
because every time she sees me I look lovely. I thank her again, & tell 
her I have a lovely friend (that's you Annabel!) who is my adviser for 
all things girly. We chat a few minutes more, then say our goodbyes.
As we are heading to the gate, a little girl from Lauchy's class comes 
up to me (for this to make sense, I need to tell you that when we had 
Lauchy's party, she showed up with her dad. And her dad didn't leave - 
he just followed me around the whole time. I thought he & Pete had gone 
to school together, so I didn't say anything. After they left, it turns 
out neither of us knew him from a bar of soap lol). And this little girl 
says to me "my dad really likes you & wants to know if you'll be his 
girlfriend?" WHO MAKES THEIR KIDS SAY THIS CRAP?! I reminded her I was 
married & walked off - I am not arguing with an 8yr old girl! And, I 
seen dad walking towards us with a weird grin on his face.

Now, I just don't get it. At all. What's with all the weird people?! Why 
the sudden interest in the little fat chick? Annabel, you did not tell 
me that if I take extra care in my appearance, & use Napoleon make up, 
that it would attract every odd ball in a 50 mile radius! :-D :-D 
Seriously, is this not the strangest thing to happen to one person in 3 
days? One incident, yeah maybe, but this is just beyond belief.
So, in light of this, I am singing "My NP SET brings all the freaks to 
the yard, & they're like, it's better than yours..." lol. That Milkshake 
song comes in handy for something.

Now, I'm pretty busy in the lead up to Christmas, & I have no doubt you 
all are too, so I shall wish you all a happy, safe & wonderful Christmas 
now, in case I don't get another chance.
And I hope you've all had at least a little chuckle - thank the lord I'm 
not tall, thin & pretty I say! Sheesh!!
I'm off to wash the make up off, & put on my daggy house slippers lol

Thank you Shell! 

Monday 30 December 2013

So many possibilities!

The last day of 2013. These days between Christmas Day and New Years Day are my favourite. Looking back over the year, remembering so many things... last January seems a long time ago!

And then planning the new year, where do we want to go from here?

Well there's nothing like a new planner to inspire! My friend told me about Erin Condren planners and I splurged! Mostly I have made my own planners but this was worth it I decided. And it is! When it arrived it has my name printed in gold on the front and it's gorgeous! It makes you want ot get planning!

It is everything in one, addresses, birthdays, appointments, goals, dreams, to do lists, the lot. Plus stickers and labels to slap on gifts and a place to store cards for the birthdays coming along. Then when you are waiting in the doctors surgery or where ever you have cards to write in, letters to write and planning to do! Joy.

Many people feel that an hour planning will save you several hours in real time. I think this is true. Every Sunday I usually plan my week and review the last one. From all the things I have to do, that planning often makes me realise if I group several things together I will save time and petrol. Just sitting down to do that is a big saving. Another is reviewing what is in the fridge and on hand and then planning to use those things in your menu planning. This stops you from wasting anything and so saves you money. It is very easy for things to be forgotten and found lurking in the fridge too late! You also save a fortune planning ahead for up coming birthdays etc. Last minute shopping is always a disaster and you spend much more in desperation!

Just now before starting a new year I love to look back at all we did in 2013. It's quite a list! It was a good year. Reading back over my resolutions for 2013 I can see I actually did follow through with them! I had a list of things... to lose weight.... and I did lose 7 kilos and 50 cm! To sleep well... and I did pretty well there by implementing some new habits. Next was to survive winter which often gives me depression... and I did and was fine AND even loved it. I did that by having heaps of projects I loved to work on and also exercising and getting out into every bit of sun that came out! Next was exercising and improving my overall health... and I did! I joined my old gym, worked out all year and we swim every warm day. So success! Seriously and amazingly no fails.

So now what to plan for 2014? Literally the minute you WRITE something down you take it out of your head and bring it into reality. It's like "there you said it, now do it".
The other night after a swim I said to Andy "that's it, I am committing to swim 40 laps by the end of this season" He looked at me.... mmm that is WAY over my best effort. EVER. But as soon as it was said something happened. Next swim I thought I had better be upping the anti... and I swam 30 laps. (40 laps is 2 kilometres) I am a very ordinary swimmer. I like the water and in the hot weather it is more fun than exercise and you sleep like a baby. I wear sun glasses the entire time. I apply conditioner to my hair and pile it up. And away I go. Then I sleep like a baby and it's such a cool down after a hot day. It is so good for me and I know it. Water is very relaxing. 

I think it is good to have goals in several areas... ie health and fitness as these are vital.
Then spiritual. And financial. And something creative or fun...

There are a few things I know... it is good to read up on things known to help you find success. One is if you are giving something up you must replace it with something else. A void just never works. Another is whatever the goal, break it down into monthly, weekly then daily. Even if you do one tiny thing per day toward the goal you will get there. Write it in your planner as "to do" items. And say it out loud, write it down, find support, and report in. That can take different forms. Finally spot sabotage. I worked in the weight loss/health industry and boy did I see a lot of sabotage. Once you spot someone is sabotaging your dreams then you can mount your own defence. (interesting stuff!) 
A huge tip is to make a bad habit hard to do. Willpower is so over rated. I have none. So I know not to try to use will power to not each chocolate. My willpower leaves the house at around 6 pm. I just don't have chocolate in the house. Simple. We all know the things we cannot resist. To have them in the house is self sabotage. Just don't. Ask and expect support. It is your life, your health ... it is important. You are important.

So the new year is a new chapter or even a whole new book! A big chance to do things differently or look at things differently and I just love that. I hope 2014 is a wonderful year for us all! xxx

Sunday 29 December 2013


Before the next lot of heat hits I thought to harvest some herbs to dry. I'm often bad at this. I love to use fresh herbs most days and just run out and pick some and I love to give away fresh bunches. Now and then in the supermarket I look at the fresh bunches, the size and prices of them and realise what an asset I have and that doing this is worth a lot of money!

But I don't keep up and the garden grows huge and lots of herbs are wasted... the chooks get bunches to eat which is really good for them. Also I know much of it will grow back and better if I cut it back so I have had a harvest of herbs to dry and am planning to make bouquet garni and fill jars with these for the winter months and for gifts.

Just cutting into the herb garden with scissors is amazing, the smell of oregano, thyme, rosemary is beautiful. Yum. I have tied up bunches of bay leaves, rosemary, oregano, thyme and parsley and have them drying. 

After all this I still have plenty of fresh herbs to cut daily and also I did not cut basil as to me that should be fresh and we are keeping up with it that way.

The parsley, thyme and bay leaves are the ingredients for a basic bouquet garni and I have muslin so I can make lots of these for free. A really lovely gift for a cook. All home grown, no pesticides, sprays, just natural herbs. How healthy and good!

I had a lot of parsley going to seed, I left some so I get baby plants coming up everywhere which I just love and I gave some of the seed heads to the chickens which they love!

Some of the herbs are hanging inside and some are outside in the sun, kind of an experiment.  They dry so quickly this time of year, in 24 hours they had shrunk by about a third.

I find here the things I plant in January do the best so in a week I will buy some seedlings of basil and more tomatoes and a few things and plant a second round. Each year these do much better than the spring planted things, I don't know why, but doing it means I have herbs and tomatoes for months to come.

Another thing I know... having herbs and vegies growing is very good for me. Seedlings mean you have to go out and BE in the garden. They need watering three times a day when it's hot... I know the outside, the sun, the birds, the scents all being me health and joy. It's extra fresh and healthy amazing nutrients and flavour but also the joy and beauty of nature and the happiness of growing things.... It is good for us. I know I even sleep better if I have spent plenty of time outside during the day. It's also accidental exercise, gardening...

Many places the prices of fresh produce are high, especially in remote places in Australia. Growing things and also sprouting things inside can add a huge amount of fresh flavour and goodness cheaply in those circumstances. You always have something fresh to garnish and sprinkle over meals. They look extra lovely and fresh and fragrant as well.

                                   Fresh herbs drying in the sun from my little harvest!

Saturday 28 December 2013

The Pillowcase Project.

New Year approaches and Christmas being over I start to think and dream of plans for 2014!

I feel I have made a new friend, Kelley. When I first read about her project and looked at her blog I thought it was wonderful. Then I read this on her blog:

She... works willingly
with her hands...

S h e   e x t e n d s   h e r   h a n d
t o   t h e   p o o r...

She... does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise up,
and call her blessed...
Let her own works
praise her in the gates.
Proverbs 31:13, 20, 27, 28 and 31

I knew I am going to get along with this girl! Yep, no doubt about it.

And just like that we got on so well and she has been a gem to discover.

I will let you read about the project yourself but it is essentially a plan to sew pillowcases for a hospital in Manilla. Many of us have fabric stashes from all kinds of projects! Her web site is Kelly Highway and there is a link to it in my side bar. 

So yesterday I had a little dig in my fabric stash then my trims and came up with three combinations....

So these cost me not a cent but turned out pretty well. And I have plenty more fabric!

The white ruffle was already there as this was once a doona cover, so I just kept the ruffle along the edge....

Whether it is this project or another thinking about what to do is part of planning for a  new year. When one year rolls into another without thought and planning we can tend to just do the same old thing over and over. This lovely time is my time to really think about how 2013 went and what I want to change, plans to put in place and how to make them happen. A dream without a plan is just a wish! Maybe support Kelleys Project or plan one of your own or both... so many possibilities as there is so much need. 

It is a glorious Sunday, perfect weather. I am attacking the mess and enjoying the day! xxx

Other blogs supporting this project include:

Sherry at Creatology
Carol at The Polka Dot Close
Laura at Decor to Adore
Susan at My Place to Yours
Lana at Miss Lana
Frances at Notions from Nonny

So far! 

Friday 27 December 2013


Every year while at the farm I gather my years supply of bay leaves. They are used in so many recipes and have other uses and our tree of them has no pesticides or anything bad so it is a great opportunity! 

Mum planted this tree years ago. They are very slow growing but now it is huge, an actual tree....

Bay leaves go into many soups (my chicken soup which cures anything) and stews/casseroles. They are a key ingredient. And now they know an important part of why the mediterranean diet is so healthy and keeps cancer rates low. It contains all kinds of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are known cancer fighters and is thought to be unique in some of its properties. Use a few in everything you can! 

Bay leaves are also a key component to your bouquet garni, I'll show you how to make them and use them in another post! They are so useful and easy to use.

Jamie Oliver places 10 fresh bay leaves under his pork roast with 4 apples. Now I use quite a few with my pork roasts through winter. Yum.

So ... my farm visit is time to collect and then dry my Bay Leaves. Last year my aunt and I sat and made wreaths with them for our kitchens and gifts for our cook friends. They dried very well and I used several as kitchen themed gifts.

I had already made a wreath base from the vines my neighbour had trimmed and was throwing away the long cut off bits (horror of horrors!) She let me have all this and it made a dozen grape vine wreaths... most of these became the base for these wreaths. So the entire thing was 100% free.

The other thing is to make bunches of bay leaves and place them in your pantry cupboards. Then you will not have pantry moths. I had tiny irritating and creepy pantry moths once. I emptied the pantry, cleaned everything, put it all back and ever since have kept a generous bunch of bay leaves in each cupboard and have never had them since. Well worth it.

Once dried they keep for years. What a gift to be able to pick free herbs and spices, use them all year and benefit from the flavour and amazing health boost! 

There are so many herbs we can gather free. Most people with a bay leaf tree will gladly let you have a bunch, same with rosemary and many other herbs. At the supermarket I see people pay several dollars for a few sprigs of rosemary. It grows in the car park! It's in every park and garden around here! 

Take every opportunity to gather and use herbs. If you have something growing or available to you google all the uses for it... you might have a years worth of kitchen gifts and a healthy addition to your meals right there waiting to be picked! Bunches given to friends who cook are very welcome gifts.

Once I had so much parsley I took bunches into my local organic cafe and he was so happy he gave me free coffees for a year! 


Thursday 26 December 2013


I hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas. I am in recovery mode today! Possibly too much food over two days! But it was a beautiful Christmas in so many ways. A wonderful family gathering and so special. I feel very blessed.

We had the most stunning Christmas evening as the sun set we fed the deer carrots from the back of my brothers ute. It seemed so fitting as a Christmas Day activity and was so stunning and seemed romantic to me. It was dusk and we stayed until the sun set. Everyone of us was stuck by the beauty of it. I was slightly scared, they are HUGE and can be quite dangerous... so even with tame ones like these you exercise a fair bit of caution. But they were lovely and so close you could touch them... its hard to choose photos but I am fascinated by the antlers so in some I will try to show those... at the moment they LOOK soft... they have fuzz on them like velvet (it is actually called velvet) and looks like flocking! It is gorgeous!

What a stunning end to a big Christmas Day!

Chloe feeding a carrot... both the girls patted some noses....

Kato was braver than me and walked around ... I stayed in the ute!

What a lovely day. I feel very blessed. My nieces and nephew are so good and the Christmas table of eleven of us was stunning, turkey and ham and Christmas pudding and every side dish you can think of and cold meats for the evening meal and a huge pavlova... it just went on and on. The atmosphere of a very loving family. I am lucky. 

Funny little things bless your heart too. The trouble my husband had gone to over my gift and the way a man will wrap a present so carefully when wrapping is not his forte but he wants it to look good... this blessed my heart... and a card of with sweet messages. These things just mean a lot. Even the effort the girls go to for each other and everyone, it just makes me feel very grateful.

I hope everyone had a beautiful day. Now we are in my very favourite time of the whole year. To me it's a time to reflect on the whole year and to plan some things for next year. A new diary and lots of writing! I love it! Now to enjoy and soak up this lovely time...

Monday 23 December 2013

Add a little bit.

So many things can be purchased fairly inexpensively as a basic item and in lots of cases this is cheaper than making the item yourself. If you "add a little bit" to them you have something luxurious or  a gift to give.

These kitchen towels from IKEA were really pretty and a good price...

I grabbed them last time I was in IKEA (along with the cushion covers) as I could see their potential!

Like many things adding a little bit will make a big difference! This kind of thing works well on sheets, pillowcases, towels... some crochet or embroidery (or both) making a world of difference and being fun to do!

In the evenings if we watch something on tv I will do something like this. Also if we are travelling and Andy is driving I will crochet. I love having something to do if I'm sitting down and I think the amount you can achieve in those times is just huge. In winter we watch footie and over a weekend that will amount to a few hours of tv! I get so many things made in those winter months, where as in summer months I will tend to be in the garden or we will go to the beach in the evening etc. But still we watched a movie on the weekend and I will still get some crochet finished.

Anyway this is the difference it made to these kitchen towels...

I love them now and would give these as a gift happily! Or keep them...

Imagine this along the upper edge of a top sheet or around your towels. It is very easy to do. 
I use a fine steel crochet hook to work the first round and get the needle through the cotton. You could also go around and poke the holes for the crochet hook with a large needle. I do these about 7mm apart and 9 mm deep. Or you could do a blanket stitch with a large needle and your yarn around first to form a base to crochet into then convert to crochet. 
My pattern is just work along your base round with three single crochets then four double crochets into one hole, three singles in a row and repeat. This gives a scallop. It works very quickly. You can do a fine version of this around hankies. 

As I do it I dream of all the colour schemes I could be doing. Imagine these pink patterns with pink crochet edges for sheets for a little girl or around the hem of a dress....

In the same way a little embroidery can transform a ready made item or stencilling or adding some lace... I'll try and show all of these over time as you can save such a fortune on gifts and enjoy gorgeous things that are hugely expensive in the shops. 

I can't believe its Christmas Eve! I will be taking a couple of days off with my family so I will see you on Friday! Have a wonderful Christmas! xxx

Sunday 22 December 2013

Crowning Glory.

A little while ago I mentioned a lovely home wares store I visited. I didn't buy anything because of the prices but I did get heaps of good ideas! There were crown cushions and crown napkin rings... all the cushions were over $100 and the napkin rings were $50 each! Not $50 the set.... EACH. They were stunning but still I wondered if I might be on candid camera?

I really like crowns but the thing is use a motif you really love or if making things for a gift a motif you know the other person really loves! Stencils come in every design and size imaginable. I tried locally and the stencils were horrible and basic. Then I typed "crown stencils" in on Etsy and I had a choice of many perfect designs and had it in less than a week. Be specific when searching... ie you could search for stencils and you would get lots of ideas but if you know you want a crown or a bird or whatever search for Crown stencils and it will save so much searching! I have learned this on ebay as well.

The added bonus of a stencil is being able to use it over and over... I would like to make place mats and door mats using this. Plus I can let friends use it for their projects during the year.

So I am working on how to do the crown napkin rings which I now realise I should have photographed... but I have made the cushions. Totally cheating I purchased two IKEA cushion covers as they were only $5 something each! I inserted cardboard in to the middle so no colour could go through and mixed a fabric medium into my paint. Ask at any craft store or Spotlight for that. One bottle will allow so many projects and then you are able to wash the item. 

I have a friend who loves angles... so I am already thinking of making angel themed cushions as a gift for her. Really easy and quick to make!

After I finished I embellished with a little glitter paint... (of course)

Stencils are also great to use in blackboard projects or on things like wooden crates for a rustic effect, so they are future plans too.

I woke up this morning to find I had a surprise gift at my front door! And it is cool which is such a relief so the house is opened up with a breeze flowing through. Today I go to the supermarket for a final trip before Christmas and so I can be home all day tomorrow and avoid (hopefully) he worst of the pre Christmas Day rush. Can you believe tomorrow is Christmas Eve!?? Lots of little things to do but overall I am ready. It's quite exciting really! My husband has no idea what he is getting either and I know he will LOVE his gift! 

Saturday 21 December 2013


Every year I make gingerbread. This recipe is beautiful as it uses honey. So far everybody loves this. I used to make it for school lunch boxes too. I would cut it into gingerbread men shapes and the girls would turn them into gingerbread girls by decorating them with dresses and making smartie bikini tops! While we were at it, they would make some for friends to take to school as well. This was usually the day before school went back from the holidays. We would have a day of baking cup cakes, biscuits and savoury lunch box things. It was a great fun day!

This year I have made some little packets to give away and used left over sewing trims (to use them up) to tie up my parcels.

Like all my recipes it started out years ago with a recipe that I tried which I found way too dry and fixed it. Once moist enough it was a great recipe. And with all recipes they tend to start out complicated. I don't understand it. Like the fruit cake recipe... it's so easy and good but when I first read it there were over 20 ingredients on the list. Enough to daunt anyone! It kind of went 200 grams sultanas, 200 grams cherries ... I added it all up and put 1 kilo of fruit you like! Isn't that simpler! 

Anyway the same applied here! 

So here is the recipe....

250 grams butter melted. This is about  2 sticks of butter US or just over 1 cup. 
1 cup runny honey. If not runny microwave it until it is.
I cup, packed. dark brown sugar, 
2 eggs.
1 cup SR flour,
4 cups of plain flour,
1 teaspoon ground ginger,
Half a teaspoon ground nutmeg. 
(if you dont have either spice you could use mixed spice, it will do)
A little extra flour on hand for rolling or if the dough is too sticky.

In a big bowl mix the lot together. It will start out crumbly and then squeeze it together and knead it in a few batches until you have a dough. Roll your dough nice and smooth, the more you work it the smoother it will be. Use flour if its sticky and roll it out in batches and cut into the shapes you want. Cook on baking paper on trays. Go for a medium oven and if you like soft chewy biscuits it will be around 10 mins, and crunchy biscuits a few minutes longer. I like crunchy! Just keep an eye on your first batch to get your timing right... you want golden colour then they are done! Cool and package or decorate. 

Letting the kids decorate them is a great activity and you can get gorgeous colours and things to use for hair, jewellery (our gingerbread girls had diamond rings and necklaces of course!) and the stuff you can get now is even better. You can buy edible gold, glitter in all colours... and you can use icing plus sprinkles, lollies etc. We sometimes made them to look like certain people which was hilarious.

I had one for breakfast this morning so I had better give them all away today (after putting one in Andys lunch box for tomorrow) ! 

Friday 20 December 2013


During the hot weather we tend to have lots of salads and cold meat, cheeses etc and not use the stove. Also as power and gas bills are high I decided to make an extra effort to embrace beautiful fresh salads and also on nice nights use the BBQ outside. And it worked our quarterly gas bill was down by one third! I was so pleased with this. Other nights I will cook something super quick so the stove is not on, just the gas top for a few minutes only.

One really quick thing we cook is haloumi. If you don't use it and you like cheese give it a go! It cooks under the grill or fry pan in two or three minutes, it browns and becomes chewy and beautiful while holding it's shape. Then added to a salad it makes the meal filling and delicious. Chloe goes mad over this, so I cook it almost every time she comes for dinner!

The garden is full of fresh herbs and the basil is lovely right now. It smells so good! Basil happens to go with tomato, onion and haloumi like a match made in heaven. So this is a meal made in a minute and so nice on a hot day. 

Watching Jamie Oliver has helped me use my herbs much more. He seems to use so many with almost every meal he makes. I have been guilty of growing them and using them a bit but not as much as I could. So this meal is a real meal mostly from the produce in the garden and perfect for in  a heat wave!

I'm going to share some recipes for something I consider rare and yet so handy... salads that last a few days in the fridge. They are so good as once done you have several days taken care of as far as your salad/sides are concerned. And they travel well ie to work, picnics etc. But that is another post, I need some pictures! 

Thursday 19 December 2013

Hot days...

Really hot days are tough on everyone! My hydrangeas are being watered three times a day and still droop if I look at them. And despite everything one camellia that wasn't covered yesterday is now BLACK. I'm pretty sure black is not a good sign! The others have shade cloth over them and with lots of water they are looking fine.

The chooks are unhappy and I am pouring water over their house to create an evaporative air conditioning effect several times a day.

I am mostly able to stay out of it except for all the dashing out to wet and water things. Plus I do have to go to the shops but quite often that is the coolest place to be in the heat!

Having things to do that are quiet and in the coolest place just makes life in the heat much better. Distractions are good! As with children, if they are bored it is terrible! Activities in the cool make life much nicer. 

Sometimes I have worked on things like my photo albums, letter writing and so on and that has been lovely, you get these things done you never usually do because of having this enforced stay in time. While knitting and crochet are good they seem to hot to be working on and big things like rugs go away until winter when I'll take them up again. Little embroidery projects or sewing projects are beautiful right now.

I try to keep a supply of little things for when people have babies. Embellishing little singlets is so quick and easy and they are really good gifts. And it's cool work! 

A dear lady that used to make things for my girls, Loris, made glorious things for everyones babies but made the singlets from scratch. Her stuff was just beautiful and I have kept much of it to this day. I tend to buy little baby items in the sales and then work something on to them. Although... I have made little velour outfits covered in winnie the pooh characters (they are stored away in the high cupboard...) and I made this little dress in fine stretch knit jersey. It's a glory box item for one of the girls....

Another little one is using fabric paint I paint on a little design then embroider around that. Little angel singlets can then be worn as a little top on hot days which is sweet on a baby.

A little bit of basic embroidery has so many uses. If you're out of practise the hot weather is a perfect time to try some little things. Like all handiwork if you have a Nan or Mum or older neighbour ask to learn a few things, do it now while you still have them. And teach your young ones while they are home on holidays too. Or ask Nana if she will teach your daughter some of her skills BOTH of them will have the most beautiful time. Failing that look on You Tube by search "How to learn...." or " Crochet/embroidery/knitting or whatever for beginners" it is exactly like having free tuition anytime of the day or night that suits you. Imagine the value of that? This can be fabulous for kids too, as they learn they go on to another tutorial. Wonderful in the holidays but wonderful for us too. You can start now, no need to have been taught when you were little! 

The pleasure and contentment of handicrafts means you always have gifts to give for little money. You can always help people, you are never bored and always happy! Also if you are unwell or stuck in bed you have lovely things to be working on. How nice is that?