March 24, 2012

A weekend of tree planting and Fun with Finn, Murphy and Kodak

Sunday Sunshine and K9 Swimming,

The weekend was supposed to be a stunner, however Saturday was a bit of a right off with torrential rain interrupting was was turning out to be a lovely day.
We headed off to Matakana Market and having visited last week and tried a couple of fine food options we tried a couple more. I had a Chinese sticky bun and Brooke had waffles with maple sticky bun was a little soggy bun, but Brookes was awesome. We then headed out to meet with Jude who runs a fantastic garden nursery just north of Matakana. We met her a few weeks ago at Warkworth Market and bought some Fejoa and passion fruit trees. So out we went for a wee look and yes, you've guessed it, came bought 42 trees. There are a mix of shelter and fruit trees. Jude kindly offered to bring them in her truck because there were so many. Saturday afternoon kinda went like this......................

   Placing of the Shelter trees ready to dig, dig, dig

         Waiting for me to dig their new home

One day I'll be as tall as this fence

          Brookie setting the trees with compost

Once the plants arrived, it seemed a good idea at the time to just get on with it..and after 5 long, hard hours of digging, setting and composing they were in, yay!!!!

Bye Bye Saturday... TV dinner and well earned rest followed...

What makes a perfect Sunday?

Doggies swimming and lots of sunshine that's what.

We made a weekend 'to do list' and along with chopping wood, putting wind shelter around veg gardens, looking into shelter trees and mowing lawns there was little matter of enjoying quality K9 time. We took the doggies up to Omaha Wharf where they could swim, run and play until their hearts content. Here's how they did just that:

 Do you think Brooke has their attention?

The creature from the Black Lagoon?
      Finn doing her best attempt at being the Loch Ness Monster



Murphy swimming out to her ball


On her way back

And waiting to steal her ball after all that effort...
Finn the terrible

Kodak after his swim.
Look closely you can see the sea shaking off him.

                  The Wharf through the Pohutikawa tree              
5 Elements.

Sea, Sky, Wood, Iron and Stone

Thought for the day: Forgive your past and move on.

March 16, 2012

Work - Life - Balance

March 17.

We have officially been in our new home for 2 really feels like we have been here a lot longer. I guess having 5 weeks off work allows you to focus on your goals without distraction.
Working at Auckland Zoo is for me a joy, I get to focus on people and relationships which has always been my passion. It's always a great conversation starter when people ask where you work?..the Zoo has a fantastic reputation for it's efforts towards conservation and  is very popular with the Auckland community.
Throughout our time off we realised that it was too easy to immerse ourselves in work and give much less of ourselves to everything else outside of it. It is our goal to maintain our love of work whilst being aware of this balance, so far it's going well and work feels good, I'm not sure yet if it's because we are better balanced in our home life or that we have just returned...either way, and as the saying goes "if it feels good, keep doing it'"

Some update on life at the Cottage:

Jenny - Ivy and Lucy
The girls are developing in size, confidence, agility, speed, greed and personality. The most significant and obvious development is in hierarchy and it doesn't get any better than this image .     

Week 1 saw an even playing field and the girls just hung out eating and sleeping. The next few weeks would reveal the boss.
Even an old chair gives way to dominance.. Jenny claimed top spot with Ivy happy in the middle and little Lucy accepting her place.I'm predicting another couple of weeks before Franny and Annie are challenged for top spot..gulp! 
                       Remember week 1 ?
Veg Garden update:

A great Scottish term meaning - it couldn't get any better is "Pure dead brilliant" and that's exactly what our wee garden is looking and tasting like.. our sweetcorn is growing nicely, beetroot is blooming and our lettuce is already good enough to eat and boy can you taste the difference or what?

What a 'Peach'
We planted our first trees today. We received a couple of peach trees from our fencer chap Ralph and decided today was the day to begin our fruit tree population..we have been researching the best fruit trees, shelter trees and shrubs for our soil and area. We have several local contacts  for all that we require this space. 

This weeks Baking: 

"Ladysmith Cake"


  • 175 g butter softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Edmonds plain baking flour
  • 1 teaspoon Edmonds baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts


  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  • In a separate bowl beat eggs until thick
  • Sift flour and baking powder together
  • Add to creamed mixture alternately with the eggs
  • Transfer one-third of the mixture to a bowl
  • Stir in cinnamon
  • Reserve remaining mixture
  • Spoon cinnamon mixture into a greased and lined 18 cm square cake tin
  • Spread surface with raspberry jam
  • Top with reserved mixture
  • Sprinkle the top with chopped nuts
  • Bake at 180°C for 50 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched
  • Leave in tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

March 03, 2012

For Jen

A stunner of a Sunday...

Today was the most beautiful day, the sky was blue and not a cloud could be seen. What joy.

I wanted to post these two pics as a thankyou to our good friend Jen for her thoughtful gift of a Moroccan light pendant.

Close up

Pride of place

True friendship should be a constant companion.

March 02, 2012

March 3. Stormy weather makes for great cooking

  "The weather bomb" that could have been much worse.

Throughout the night it was a little freaky, the wind and rain certainly let us know they were there, they seemed to swirl and twirl around the house never settling too long anywhere.
The dogs spent (what felt like the entire night) pacing the hallway,the clip clip of their claws on the wooden floor was another reminder of the unsettled weather around us, even Kodak (who is deaf) got in on the hall parade... it was a long night...

The morning was somewhat calm and dare I say it, warm. Throughout the day it's been a bit weird with moments of pure calm, then major bursts of high winds with torrential rain.

Talk about wind in the Willows! our poor trees took a battering, but have stood up well.

What do you do when faced with weather ambush?

You create in the Kitchen that's what!

Recipe share 1.

Maggie's Muesli: this recipe makes about 12 servings of breakfast muesli and is a fantastic starter to your day, it's a slow energy release recipe that will sustain you easily until lunch. I double the recipe as it keeps for ages

2 cups rolled oats
1.5 cups shredded coconut
1. 1/4 cup wheatgerm
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup raw (unsalted), bashed mixed nuts (I bash mine in bag)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup liquid honey
2/3 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)
1/2 cup dried fruit

Prep Method:
Set oven to 180'
Place first 8 ingredients into mixing bowl or baking dish (I prefer a deep baking bowl to prep).
Mix honey and oil together either in pan or microwave just to warm.
Pour honey/oil mix over dry mix and mix thoroughly (using your hands is best)
Transfer mix to baking dish and level out
Transfer dish to oven
about every 5 minutes YOU MUST stir mixture to ensure heat reaches all ingredients evenly, the aim is to toast all ingredients from top to bottom.
When complete, remove from oven and let dish sit to cool (I usually take dish to a cool room like laundry).
When completely cool (an only then) add the dried fruit. If you add fruit to early it will harden and ruin dish)
Transfer Toasted Muesli to a air tight container and eat at your leisure!

      Prepped ingredients,
ready to transfer to baking dish    
                     Prepped and ready for oven 

             Stir every 5 mins                 
Leave to cool down

 Recipe share 2.

Caramelised Onion.
This a wee take on Annabel Langbeins steak sauce dish, this dish was a complete winner and is really easy. I made 2 different dishes from this batch.

6 red onions (a mix of red and white is fine)
1.5 cups water
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt

peel and cut onions into wedges.
Place all ingredients in to a large pot and bring to boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 40 45 mins, stir now and again until onions are soft and juices are all but gone.
Remove from heat and cool to store or use for next recipe.

Sausage and Mash with Caramelised Onion.
Using 2 cups of the prepared caramelised onions add 1.5  cups of quality beef stock. Thicken with 2 tsp of cornflour mixed to a paste with a little water and simply simmer for 1-2 mins.

Make Mash Tatties (tip! - don't add butter when mashing, add it after and beat with wooden spoon, they come out so much better)
Cook sausages how you like them

Put tatties on plate, lay sausages on top and pour caramelised onions on's a winner.

Caramelised Onion soup with Cheesy toast.
Use 2 cups of the prepared caramelised onions and add 2.5 cups of quality beef stock. Thicken with 2 tsp of cornflour mixed to a paste with a little water and simply simmer for 1-2 mins.
Make cheesy toast and sprinkle some Lea and Perins on top.
Then just serve.

The perfect stormy weather soup..yum.

 Thought for the day:

If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said.

March 01, 2012

March 1 - 2. Oh those eggs....

Welcome to March..

Where is the year going? I'm still hoping summer may just sneek back for a wee while, but I guess that's wishful thinking. We have been busy securing the property for 'the storm' that's seemingly going to hit Auckland on Saturday. The weather is a little weird today (Friday), it's very calm and warm. I guess it's the pefect time to say that good old cliche "the calm before the storm".

News of the Chooks:

It's official - Frannie and Annie and both laying, yay!!
We got 6 eggs in 3 days and here's the proof: The 2 in the middle + the bottom right are Annies, the 2 brownies and the top left a Frannies (bless). The eggs are so big we canny even get the box closed. Today we had Brookies special pancakes and I really believe they were her best yummy and yellow and tasty.

Ivy, Lucy and Jenny are doing really well, they are eating constantly and growing so much. Frannie and Annie still have major issues with them, they chase them out of their patch and at night it's so funny listening to them all cackling away as they settle in for the night. We cleared the old pig area for them to forrage in and they instantly began earning their keep by frantically dragging the dirt to collect insects and turn the soil over, they are machines.

Justine Woosnam

Justine is a gracious individual, a gifted Artist and a wonderful friend. She created these images of our dogs Kodak and Lucy. I had Kodak commissioned for Brookes birthday and Lucy was a gift from Brooke after she left us for doggie heaven last November. I can't begin to tell you how impacting it was as
I cast my eyes upon this  
glorious image. Justine told me how Lucy's image touched her so deeply as she immersed herself in bringing a photograph to life. As I look at this image it is so comforting to know that someone has created a memory that not only encaptures all that Lucy was, but allows me the priveladge of knowing that she will never be gone from my life becasue this image is as real to me as if she were still with me. Justine is a gift for all animals, she has an affinity that allows them to trust immediately, she askes nothing of them, but gives all of herself to them..she is a treasure. If you want to capture your companion I recommend seeking out Justine. 

Girls just wanna have fun:
One of our friends brought a bubble making gadget around on Sunday, Finn had a whale of a time...

Thought for the day:

"Change is inevitable. If you are not prepared to  change, you must be prepared to be left behind."                                    
                                                         Hillary Clinton 2008.