Day 31 31 January – snacks

I spend most of today getting the kids’ school gear ready. I am slightly unorganised, as per usual, at the last moment realising that I don’t have labels for their covers, nor do I have enough covers for my son’s books as I am recycling last years covers. So they might be attending their first day back at school half ‘n half packed, but if there is one thing they will certainly have, which is a full and healthy packed lunchbox.

I found some tasty and easy back to school recipes while browsing the world wide web of baking. I made two varieties today, a natural no bake bliss ball and baked cookies. The Avocado Bliss Balls  was a first for me as I have never made energy or bliss balls before, but I was recently inspired by a lovely friend after reading her blog entry Energy Bite Adventures and I am amazed at how quick they are to put together. The avocado is a bit of a strange taste to add but I do love the flavour. Luckily one of my children think so too.

The Oatmeal, Coconut and Raisin Cookies on the other hand are absolutely delicious! Crunchy, wholesome goodness. I didn’t have enough golden syrup so I used the remaining organic brown rice syrup I bought for our nut and seed bars, which is a healthier replacement for any sweet syrup.


Good, honest and healthy baking for new school adventures.

Day 30 30 January – Muriwai Beach


Today was exactly what we as a family needed, time outside absorbing Vitamin D in its natural element. The best part of living in the Auckland district is the fact that you don’t drive far to reach beautiful beaches; to the east you have white, sandy beaches often covered in shells and to the west soft, black sand beaches. We have never been up far west before and I was really impressed with the vineyards. One after the other you drive past row after row of luscious green vines. It is definitely a place I would like to visit one day, perhaps a light lunch with my husband accompanied by a sweet, fruity glass (or 2) of wine.

The drive itself was about 1 hour 20 minutes, but it certainly feels short because the scenery captures your attention. From small towns to vineyard mansions to what feels like secret forest passage ways. We arrived at our destination, Muriwai Beach, and I think most Aucklanders had the same idea as us, sun = beach! There is an advertisement on television of people speed walking over hot sand as their feet is burning, which made me giggle as I could only image what we must have looked like walking on the beach to our perfect spot in the sun.

The black sand was in stark contrast to our very pale skin. But I was captivated by the sand, it is super fine so when wet it almost turns into mud and walking on the beach feels like a fitness mud camp. And all that glitters isn’t gold, as the sand literally glistens in the sunshine, as if a bag of tiny diamonds was spilled over the sand. Lying down, my body covered in SPF 50+ sunscreen and tingling in the sun, hearing the waves crash and the kids laughing, my mindset was in a safe space. A place where I am content, where life seems to stand still for a few hours and you have an opportunity to feel.


Obviously we had a packed picnic: salad filled sandwiches, boiled eggs, cherries, apples and savoury muffins, all baked and made early that morning. I love feeding my family. On our drive back we celebrated the sunstroke day with fresh strawberry and blueberry ice creams.

Blessed, sun tanned and well fed. It was a good day.

Day 29 29 January – infusion

We are celebrating a long weekend today as tomorrow is Auckland Anniversary, AND I took 3 days leave from work…finally! The weather also pitched up this time as it is a beautiful warm and sunny day.


This lemon and mint infused chilled water is exactly what my body needs: to hydrate, to relax, to be rejuvenated.

Take some time today to do something revitalizing for your mind, body or soul. You are worth it 💛

Day 28 28 January -stationery

It is that time of the year again for school children in New Zealand, the beginning of a new school year. I made use of the click and collect option from our local stationery store to buy all the stationery online, they pack it for you and you collect it when it is ready. Done!


Preparing for the new school year I can’t help but think back on how my mom sat for hours on end on a Sunday covering our school books, first with wrapping paper, and then with a plastic protective wrap. I never understood this frustrating waste of time until my I had both my children in primary school. You can feel your body aging with every strip of sticky tape you put on to stick the paper down.

Two years ago I discovered EziCover, a protective plastic cover for books with SLEEVES! So it literally just slips over the hardcover sleeve and you are done. It was another “A-ha” moment for me. And this year I am going one step further as I don’t see the need to chuck the covers away every year because they are very durable. So I am applying the reuse, reduce and recycle concept and covering this years books with last years covers . I only need to stick a new label over the top. Done!


Day 27 27 January – visit to Pepper Board

Our local watering hole when we are in the mood for tasty Indian cuisine, or when my husband is meant to make dinner 🙂

Mango and butter chicken with garlic naan was on the menu tonight. But this entry is not on the food we ate, but on the beautiful and serene décor they have and most of all this water feature. It is the first thing you see when you walk in and it immediately transports you to the heart of India. Watching the water gently flow from the sculpture while waiting for our order is enchanting.


I love travelling around the world by simply eating at local and authentic restaurants.

Day 26 26 January – pickled cabbage

The idea was to make sauerkraut with the head of cabbage we received from our neighbours, but the possibility of me mucking it up (as it needs to ferment over a period of time) is great and I wouldn’t want to waste such a beauty of a vegetable. I decided to instead make pickled cabbage. I have never preserved or pickled anything, so this was a challenge but one I was looking forward to.

I found the following recipe and it turned out very tasty. The recipe is meant for a red cabbage but all-in-all it was successful. I actually found the process therapeutic as the aroma from the boiling brew filled me with a sense of euphoria. It is divine!


Tip: rinse the cabbage out thoroughly. Even though it still salty afterwards (you do need the salt to preserve it), make sure all the coarse flakes have been removed. I rinsed mine at least 5 times, cleaned out the colander and rinsed it again. I used all the measurements as given in the recipe, and don’t mind the slight sweetness of the pickled liquid as the vinegar provide a good punch.


Day 25 25 January – neighbourly love

I have to confess that the reason I choose to live rural is because I’m not keen on having neighbours…unless my neighbours are our besties or family. When we moved into our first rental in New Zealand I struggled with the idea that we are so close to others. We had a shared drive way (a first for us), and we had neighbours in front and to the sides. We were lucky to have a gorge behind us, but that serenity was soon trampled on by our very rowdy neighbours’ teenagers. We lost count how many times we had to ring noise control. When you have 2 young children you understand that sleep is vital to your daily sanity, so to have music, drunkenness, screeching tyres and trampoline jumping at 2am in the morning was not taken lightly.

You can imagine that when the opportunity to move out rural came along we grabbed it with both hands. And since then I haven’t been keen on living in town and we have been fortunate to have rural rental properties available whenever we needed to move. Currently we live on a rural property with only our landlord to the left of us and an elderly couple to the right. And they are the loveliest and friendliest couple! We have had a few interactions with them, and most of those consisted of her handing over yummy treats from her vegetable garden.

This afternoon was no different. We received a phone call from her asking my son whether I was around as she would like to give us some greens. My son admitted that I was having a nap (embarrassingly!), but that he will meet her at the fence. She handed over a bag and inside it a beautiful cabbage head and a few spinach leaves. I have recently been looking at sauerkraut recipes and think this is a good enough reason to give it a go.


They say blessings some in small packages, today it came in a plastic bag and full of healthy goodness.



Day 24 24 January – Madeira cake

There is a British baking show which I am glued to when showing on television, The Great British Bake Off. New Zealand is currently broadcasting the 2014 season and we have just watched episode 2 tonight. Every time I watch the show I wonder how it must be being a contestant. I’m sure they are very nervous but they have so much more confidence than what I will ever have. I doubt myself too often, don’t believe in myself enough to take on such a public competition and will most likely faint if someone like Mary Berry have to taste my baking.

During last year’s season I realised that I have actually baked several of the items given to the contestants as tests, but then there were those goodies that I have only seen perfected on professional baking shows or pastries I haven’t even heard of. So this year I put a challenge to myself, to bake 1 unknown item per episode. That means 12 items over 12 weeks, my family will be stoked 🙂

On episode 1 one of the challenges were to bake a traditional Madeira cake, and that is exactly what I did. I found Mary Berry’s Madeira cake recipe here and it couldn’t be easier. I also made fresh candied lemon peel to decorate the cake with, which is another first for me.


The cake looked and tasted like summer, sun and relaxation.


Day 23 23 January – 62 today!

Today my father-in-law celebrated his 62nd birthday. My photo today is a throw back memory to when my parents-in-law came to visit us last year for the first time since we immigrated, which was then 8 years ago. We had a family photoshoot the day this photo was taken as a birthday present for my father-in-law. Our photoshoot took place on Eastern Beast, East Auckland. While there we noticed this tree swing hanging invitingly from a huge tree branch. Both my daughter and father-in-law took turns to go on it. It had a ferocious swing and you could hear my daughter’s nervous scream from far away.


I really like this photo as the moment symbolises fun, care-free and living life to the fullest. My father-in-law never looked younger than he does here.


Day 22 22 January – candle light


I mentioned in a previous post that the south island was hit by a terrible storm late last week, and just when I thought the north island was clear from it, it hits us on Saturday night. Gale force winds strong enough to break large branches, throw our lawn chairs about the patio, tip our barbeque over and snap several power cables along our street. Around 10pm on Saturday night my husband and I were watching a movie and suddenly, darkness. This is not a strange phenomenon to me, as growing up we lived on a farm most of my life and when the highveld thunderstorms hit, you were assured to be without power for most of the night.

Luckily I have HEAPS of candles! And thankfully we always have matches as we can’t live without them during the winter months when the only main heat source is an old wood oven. We took the lit candles to the room, snuggled up and I finished reading my book. I went to sleep with a heart of thankfulness as we are safe indoors from the storm outside, and even though without power we can still function within limits.

We woke up this morning with still no power. Reading an online article from my phone, 15 000 homes around Auckland are without power from the storm ad the electricity provider warned those affected that we need to prepare for a pro-longed outage as the weather is making repairs difficult. I was off to work, and my husband too the kids into town for breakfast. Surely by the time they arrive home late morning it will be fixed? Uhm, no.


10pm tonight and we have been without power for 24 hours. It feels like we have been sucked into a parallel universe and soon the apocalyptic zombies will be grudging their way through our front door. Almost all our candles are burning tonight, there is no more water left as we do not use municipal water and the pump runs on electricity to purify/pump water from the water tanks. Thankfully we have a 2 litre water bottle in the fridge which we use to brush teeth with and drink clean water. We scrimmaged through our pantry trying to find snacks to eat and charging our phones whenever we are in the car. We can’t wash dishes, flush the toilet or shower.

A quick look into the future (seeing as New Zealand is the first to see the sunlight), the next morning is no better as we woke up to day 2 of no power. Packing lunches and getting ready for work and holiday programs took on some DYI and genuine kiwi ingenuity.