Monday, February 28, 2011


My head has been too full to write in the past week... too full I think of the awful tragedy in Christchurch.  We are all glued to the news with the slightly unreal feeling that it really must be unfolding somewhere very far from here.

Normal life goes on for most of us and that vague sense of guilt that goes with it. In our house our heads are very full of the sort of cross-roads-of-life stuff that comes around all too frequently in the lives of serial movers. Do we stay or go or stay a little longer and then go or just never go or should we never have come at all?!  I am channelling calm as you can see by the picture above.

I am also trying to pin down my children in the search for one of my rings that has mysteriously disappeared off a high shelf in the kitchen. Two year olds are not reliable sources. He has sent me rifling through the lego box and into the vegetable drawer of the fridge.

Driving across Auckland's bridge an hour ago I was daydreaming about inventing a diamond detector (so handy) and then saw the flags at half mast overhead.  That brought me right back to the real world.

Image from here

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I write a lot about family, friends and my sense of place on this blog. Today I feel very much a part of New Zealand.

Auckland though is a very long way from Christchurch and it's hard to know just how the people of that  shattered city are dealing with the day ahead let alone how they will deal with the weeks to come.

There are dozens still missing. Here in my city it's all anyone is talking about. A cousin, aunt, uncle, elderly mother, sister or friend whose house is destroyed, who's sleeping in a park, who miraculously left the now collapsed car park fifteen minutes earlier.  The houses destroyed, the injured elderly neighbours, the children whose parents didn't come to pick them up from school.

Our own little school has reminded us of its disaster plan. All the classroom buildings are earthquake proof, the children would move to higher ground in a tsunami. We're urged to have a family plan in case of disaster.

I don't know how the people of Christchurch have carried on since September 4. More than four thousand aftershocks, big and small and now this. How do you leave your child at school? How do you head off to work? How do you tell yourself it will all be alright again one day?

Picture from here

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Time with family...

Gardening, beaching, exploring, walking the walking school bus, visiting the classroom, swimming, soccer, cricket, lego and crafting countless paper aeroplanes.
A week of doing the little everyday things together. The little things that the grandparents in our family don't often get to do.

Thank you both for coming all this way. Please come again soon. x

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


There has been a lot of love on the blogosphere this week... apparently it was Valentine's Day this week, yesterday I think. I only realised halfway through the morning when my gym instructor wished me (and forty others I should add) a happy Valentine's Day. After a hard forty five minutes clmbing up imaginary hills on a bike he gave me (and the other forty) a chocolate heart. I didn't have the heart to tell him how much chocolate I eat in a week.

We ignore V Day in our house and my parents (who are staying with us) have always ignored it. They've been married nearly forty years and still laugh at each other's jokes (Dad jokes and my Mum laughs) so I rather think we can happily go on ignoring it. 

I read somewhere that today is Singles Day. I'm sure it's made up but do I like the idea. Not that I want to be single again, I rather enjoy my husband's company and love family life but I did like the time I had as a Happy Single before he and the two boys came along. 

These flowers are for all of you - the singles and the smug and not-so-smug marrieds. You may have seen them before on my table. Perhaps I'm in a flower rut but I do rather like them...
I also like my new purchase - new to me but old and no longer needed by someone else which is my very favourite sort of household item. 'Thrifted' is the term given to the shopping habit of more clever people. Me? I go to lovely well styled shops and buy my second hand goods there.
 The flowers and the new jars go very happily with my favourite green cupboard - also pre-loved and now very much loved by me and even my Valentine. The painting is one I bought when I was 23 and it's waited until this house to hang on a wall. It looks made for this cupboard with the same muted, restful tones. Odd how that happens by accident. I could never have planned it.
I am a little absent this week... spending time with my parents and my children. For families who move too much this is a rare treat and we're loving it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Diary of a crazed cake decorator....

Next time I see a cake I am not, not, not going to think "I can make that...."
I do that a lot. Year after year in fact.  Last year my midnight icing job produced a wonky, chocolately caterpillar that looked more like a train than a creature.

This is the cake that started it all last week....
A cake made by our seven year old neighbour's grandmother for his soccer party. How cool is that? Of course I thought, 'I could do that'.

I was given her cake mould, the board, the figures, the green spray paint stuff for the coconut grass... I went to a professional cake shop and wrote down everything the girl told me. She told me the roll out icing was too iffy in the humidity, piping would be better. Advice from an expert and all the right gear. Success would follow. Surely?

Friday 10.30am
I baked my first ever pound cake. A mission in itself - 6 eggs, a packet of cream cheese and three cups of flour and three cups of sugar. No rising agent. It was like a brick and took two hours to cook. A tasty brick though and one that would stand up to the rigors of a soccer shaped cake mould.
Et viola (ah yes I bake and speak French - sort of)
I went to bed feeling very pleased with myself. The party looked on track for the next day. Outsourced entertainment (a soccer coach) and low key party food - just chocolate crackles and lots of store bought additive filled rubbish chosen by the six year old. Boy heaven.

7.50am Saturday morning
The kids skipped off to cricket with Dad leaving me alone with a bag of icing equipment I didn't really know how to use. No problem... I've made notes.  I'll knock it off in an hour.

First I made the icing. Butter icing made with the cake decorator's friend - fat in a bucket. They don't call it that or you'd never buy it. Look away now if you ever want to eat a commercial cupcake again.
But I wanted white icing and this is how you get it. A cup of gloop, 500g of icing sugar and a dash of milk.

Now to make black icing.
W.R.O.N.G. Two batches of grey, sludgy brownish icing.

Food is just not meant to be black. I was told in the cake shop that the black colouring goes straight through children so warn their parents. I should have stopped then but I was blinded by that picture of the perfect soccer ball cake. Damn, I'm shallow and stupid.

8.45am (the weather is warming up nicely and so am I. Humidity at around 85% already).
I gave up on black, tossed out the icing and started again.

This time green made with Kelly Green colouring. How appropriately on trend. I just love to be on trend. Mmm, a green and white soccer ball. He'll love it. Again a vision floated before me of THE perfect cake.
I commenced piping stars. My hand killed. It looked alright, almost professional but you could see the brown of the cake in the gaps.

A little surge of panic. THERE SHOULD NOT BE GAPS.
I should have worked through it. I didn't.  I wiped off the stars and started again.

This is where I lost it. Hence there are no photos. I was hot, sweaty and getting beaten by a cake. Again.

10am-ish, (heck I don't even know what time it is now...)
I made more white icing. The white icing was smeared over the cake. The soccer ball's ridgey bits disappeared - a few crumbs appeared in their place. Professionals do NOT have crumby icing.

Disaster didn't just loom, it engulfed me. I wiped off the icing, again.
The fat in a bucket was gone.  I was out of piping bags. The car was at cricket.

I counted to ten (around ten times), had a shower, came back and started piping again with some icing I salvaged from a previous attempt.

10.45am-perhaps (it felt like 1am).
Husband reappeared from cricket looking very unsurprised that the cake preparation had descended into stress and that icing covered the bench top.

Luckily my neighbour was also on the scene. My calm, encouraging, wonderful neighbour. Even her 7 year old son whose grandmother had made the Best-Soccer-Cake-Ever  knew what to say, "It's really good that you're making a soccer cake," he said encouragingly. Bless him.
Saintly Neighbour zipped off to buy more white fat and more piping bags. I resumed piping. Things were looking up. Disaster and her friends Tragedy and Defeat tiptoed back and hung around in the corner of the kitchen waiting for me to fail again. I didn't. And I had help. Many hands do make light work....

It looked okay in the end.
Good actually. Heck, great in fact. Whoo-hooo!!!!!

So now a few days later and I've forgotten the pain. It's like childbirth. I'm even thinking 'next year I'll make something a bit harder, really push myself.'

See how stupid I am?

My son, the one who's now six, says he doesn't even like icing. If I were more sensible and actually listened (to him and those whispers of doubt in my head) I'd give him what he really wants... just a cake.

By the way - If a cake tragedy makes you chuckle then please do read this blog - it will make you laugh and laugh.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Black, white and wood...

The boy is back at school, the year is well underway but I am still floundering around trying to kickstart 2011. It's times like these I really miss a formal job. 

My son said to me last week, "You're always on holiday Mum because you don't ever go back to work." Ah sweet. And so insulting to the SAHM movement. What he doesn't realise is that I really need a holiday after his holiday ends. 

No holiday but in the meantime some inspiration to get me going on a few jobs around the home. 
I just love the combination of lots of white, lovely old wood and a dash of black. It's the dash of black I am aiming for in the next month or so and much as I would love to conjure up some black framed steel doors or windows I just have chairs to paint.  As you may remember I planned this little job quite a few months ago... then it rained for three months and I forgot about it.

I also have things to throw out (again), things to frame and lists to make. I feel better already.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Movies for 2011

It's the Awards season. The red carpet, the acid tongue of Joan Rivers... and all those frocks and botox.

It's also the time of year when movie saturation sets in. And year after year the Oscars roll around and I haven't seen the darn movies. And by the time it's all over I don't really want to.

I have had children for six years now... I blame them. (They're also behind my career collapse, the disordered state of my house and my new grey hairs. I admit that all of that might have happened without them but we humans like to lay blame and they're much shorter than me and don't read my blog.)

Now where was I? Ah yes, watching clips of the King's Speech over and over again until I'm going off Colin Firth.

I have decided it's time for another list.  2011 is the year of the list and catching up and getting current.
First the books, now the movies.

I have trawled through the last eight years or so of Oscars winners and nominees (further back and it started to feel like the special effects would be laughable and the actors so young I'd feel old) and drafted my Movies for 2011.

A warning - this is not a list for film buffs. This is a list for sad old bloggers and their partners who can just struggle down to the local DVD shop on a Saturday and then just stay up long enough to watch the movie and drink half a bottle of red. Three quarters on a big night.

The list is really for my husband. Its hould save him many precious minutes of wandering the aisles aimlessly wondering what to get. Time then to nip next door and buy the wife a slab of chocolate.

Image from here


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