Monday, 17 December 2012
I'm just popping in to let you know that this blog has now moved to a new home at
See you there.
Monday, 21 December 2009
I have yearned for a set of Caran D'Ache watercolour pencils for 30 years since my set was stolen from me in high school. But I couldn't find any anywhere here in New Zealand that sold them. My original set was given to me when I lived in England and I loved using them so much.I decided to do an internet search to find a supplier in New Zealand...zilch...so out of interest I did a worldwide search and found a company in Germany that stocked them. But after many frustrating emails...slow responses and not getting answers to the questions that I asked...plus a 30 day delivery time and outrageously expensive shipping fees...I decided to look elsewhere.
Amazingly I found what I was looking for on Amazon.com...but the price...yikes! I sat looking at the pencils online...a set of 120 gorgeous watercolour pencils...the best quality you can buy...screaming "buy me!"...gorgeous Caran D'Ache Supracolor II watercolor pencils made in Switzerland...I sighed...I drooled...I told myself that I would get them if I won the lotto.
For weeks I couldn't forget about them...So near yet so far. Then I made up my mind, I talked myself into buying them...not hard to do really lol. They were to be my reward for working so hard all year and a new hobby for me to do during my month off on Christmas holiday...yes, a whole month off!
After buying the pencils I worried that they would get shattered in the mail coming from America...They had already travelled from Switzerland to America...what state would they be in? But they arrived perfectly safely a week later...I was going to open the parcel at Christmas but when it arrived there was no way that I could wait.
Here they are laid out on my desk ready for me to start practicing after 30 years...I am very rusty...I can't even remember how to use them but I am having so much fun learning. Isn't the internet a wonderful place?
Visit my new Happy Ramblings Blog to see what I am doing for Christmas this year.
Saturday, 19 December 2009
Where has the time gone?!! I have been so busy these last few weeks with work and preparing for Christmas. Finally all my Christmas shopping is finished. All presents chosen and bought. All I have left to do is to wrap the presents, make the mince pies and then buy a few groceries on Christmas Eve.
I finished decorating my studio this morning under the supervision of Oscar (seen sitting on the arm of the sofa in the photo) who seems to be happy with what I have done.
Christmas here in New Zealand is hot and humid...quite different to my memories of England where I grew up. I am trying to establish some new traditions for myself as well as hanging on to old memories.
In England my parents used to buy a crate each of oranges and tangerines. Each fruit was wrapped in its own piece of tissue paper, and the smell was wonderful. Here in New Zealand it is strawberry and cherry season, so I have replaced oranges and tangerines for these rich red festive looking fruit.
Because the weather is so hot here at Christmas we have given up on cooking a hot roast Christmas dinner. Instead we have a cold feast on Christmas Eve. This year we will be having 3 different types of smoked salmon, plus pickled herrings and cold ham together with a whole selection of cheeses, pickles and salads.
This will be followed by Christmas mince pies and cinnamon spice cookies. Then we will open our Christmas presents...it is a Polish tradition to open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve instead of on Christmas day. This is a tradition that made me the envy of my friends when I was little! We also had presents from Father Christmas in a Santa sack to open on Christmas morning.
I have a Santa sack which I fill for myself with little gifts each year too...I think everyone should do this! It is great fun to do. The idea is that over the year you buy little things for yourself...such as a nice soap, scented candle, bath fizzers, sweets, books, anything you like really...then wrap each up individually in Christmas paper and pop them in your Santa sack...Then by the time you come to open it at Christmas a lot of the things will be surprises that you have forgotten about and you will love what you got! A nice reward for a hard years work.
Monday, 23 November 2009
The wild flowers have done it again this year...they have surpassed themselves in glorious profusion. Our shared drive way, on our side at least looks like a field covered in snow...something that never happens in Auckland...sighs...I do miss snow...at least I can pretend.You can see in the top photo, the left hand side of the drive is perfectly manicured. No weeds and a lovely row of trees. Our neighbour pays someone to mow the hundreds of meters of grass there regularly. But they also use weed killer along the whole edge of the drive (you can see the thick brown line of dead plants at the edge of their side...eeeks, not my favourite...The neighbours moved to the country from the city and I don't think they like things to look countryfied somehow.Whereas for me I love wild life...Our property is herbicide and insecticide free. I love to see hedgehogs snuffling along in the long grass and pheasants and quail and hundreds of butterflies, dragonflies and bees. It is amazing how different peoples perceptions of perfection differ.
Visit my Happy Ramblings Blog to see more about my life in New Zealand.
Friday, 13 November 2009
To my delight I have just found out that someone has added the new BBC series of Jane Austen's Emma to You Tube. I have just watched the first episode and it was delightful. I will watch the following episodes over the weekend...I can't wait...these programs always make me dreamy-eyed.
I love Jane Austen's stories and others that are based around the Regency period and I especially enjoy seeing beautiful Regency costumes in films and television series.
Here is a link to the Emma series on You Tube and a little background information on the characters in Emma can be found here on the BBC website. I am looking forward to when this series finally reaches T.V. here in New Zealand so that I can watch it on a larger screen. British programs always take forever to reach here...sighs.
I hope that you enjoy watching Emma as much I am.
Thursday, 12 November 2009
I just had to share with you this glorious view from one of our bedroom windows. This pink rose bush has grown huge...taller than myself...and throws streamers of trailing branches full of shell-pink roses down to the ground.
When I look out of this window it always reminds me of a scene from sleeping beauty where the castle is surrounded by a dense wall of roses that the prince has to cut through. I wonder where my prince disappeared too...maybe still caught up in the rose bush lol.
These roses have a lovely scent too and it is very pleasant to sit on the verandah next to them. We were given a cutting of this rose to grow many years ago and as you can see it has taken very well to our clay soil and doesn't mind the hot dry summers at all. There is always an abundance of flowers in spring.
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Meet my sister's peacock called Fred. He was very photogenic yesterday and posed nicely infront the camera for me. But unfortunately he refused to display his beautiful tail.
There are no peahens around for him to display to. But he does give the sparrows and doves a fright when he displays his feathers to them. One very confused bird!
Fred is 41 years old now. Quite an age for a peacock. My sister adopted him from a neighbour who had a flock of peacocks. Fred used to wander over to my sisters house for peace and quiet. Then when her neighbour moved they said she could keep him if she wished.
Fred's diet consists of dove food and cat biscuits. I don't know if her cat is impressed by this! Fred's favourite pass-times are trying to get into the garage to have a snooze or having a nap on the front door mat.
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
I am busily preparing for bonfire night this week. Instead of celebrating on the actual day (November the 5th) which is a Thursday, I am going to have a party on Saturday night.
I bought lots of fireworks including some really huge scarey looking ones. I will let the men light those and keep the sparklers for myself!
This evening I baked Yorkshire Parkin which is a traditional English cake that we make for bonfire night. It needs to be made at least 3 days ahead of time and is delicious to eat. Tomorrow my mother is going to make Treacle Spice cake. Then I will be making Russian Fudge and Treacle Toffee on Friday.
We will be serving pumpkin soup and garlic bread, cheesy-baked potatoes and sausage rolls. All simple hot food that can be eaten around the bonfire to keep us warm.
I am also going to buy giant marshmallows which can be toasted on long sticks when the bonfire dies down.
I can't wait. It should be a fun night!
Thursday, 29 October 2009
The wisteria covering the verandah at the front of our house is in full flower at the moment. It flowers profusely at the beginning of each Spring and gives me a whole month of enjoyment.
The clusters of white flowers hang down like cascades of white waterfalls, with some of the blooms measuring 27 inches long!On the occasional warm sunny Spring day I like to sit on the verandah with a refreshing cup of tea and a favourite magazine.
Here I take in the wonderful sweet scent of the wisteria and listen to the droning sound of the bees busy gathering pollen to make their honey. It is no wonder that the bees are crazy for wisteria, I am too!The weatherman has promised sunny warm days this weekend. I really hope he is right. It is freezing cold and windy today, so I think I will go and make some Russian fudge to keep me warm. My mouth is watering already!
For more about my life in New Zealand pop over to my Happy Ramblings Blog,
Sunday, 25 October 2009
This is my favourite cake for this time of year. We usually have it on November the 5th...Guy Fawkes night...to eat while standing in front of a bonfire watching fireworks...yummy, this cake won't last long!
Here is the recipe:
Make 2 days before eating to get the yummy texture.
8 fluid ounces boiling water
4 ounces unsalted butter
12 ounces treacle
1 egg beaten
10 ounces plain flour
1 1/2 level tablespoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cinamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 level teaspoon ground cloves
Oven temperature 180 C (350 F)
9 inch square cake tin greased and then line the bottom and sides with baking paper. (I use a 9 inch round springform cake tin and it works just as well).
Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the treacle. (I use a hand-held electric whisk).
Add the egg a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground cinamon, ginger and cloves. Beat into the creamed mixture alternately with the 8 fluid ounces of boiling water until the mixture is well blended.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Tap the tin gently to remove any air bubbles.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 55 mins (or until a skewer poked into the cake comes out clean).
Cool in the tin on a wire rack.
Put the cake in an airtight tin for 2 days before eating to get the perfect moist texture with a slightly sticky top....yuuuum.
For more recipes, you can visit my new Happy Ramblings Blog.