Day 119 29 April – hipster hippies

My husband and I were invited to his work mates wife’s 40th birthday party. The theme: 70’s and yes it’s a dress-up.

I don’t mind dressing up. It is the preparations that I don’t often have time for that bothers me. I certainly didn’t want to unnecessarily spend money on buying our outfits as these dress-up kits can easily cost $20 plus per outfit. I decided to instead purchase 2 white t-shirts from The Warehouse and 1 packet of tie-dye and create do-it-yourself tie-dye shirts. The dye cost me $4 and the shirts were $5 each.

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I had some time to spare during dinner the previous night to quickly tie-dye the shirts. I strategically tied elastic bands around selected sections of the shirts. The dye powder was dissolved in 3.75L of steaming hot water, the shirts inserted and stirred for a short while before leaving it to soak for approximately 45 minutes. Afterwards I rinsed them thoroughly with cold water and put them in the washing machine on a rinse only cycle. I removed the elastic bands and hanged the shirts to dry overnight. We were pleasantly surprised with the outcome and would most likely be wearing the shirts on a casual basis.

The night itself was pleasant. We didn’t really know anyone there but we made the most of our time. My husband even went into a photo booth with me and we have 4 fun and funky photos to show for it!

Peace, love and prosperity to you all.

Procrastibaking – when there’s a pile of laundry to iron but you bake instead

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My sister tagged me in a post on Facebook to which I could only giggle as it is so very true. I have always enjoyed baking but only truly found my passion for it over the past few years. I think it came about when I started baking to fundraise for my daughter’s gymnastics competitions back in 2011. We had additional costs that year as we were travelling up to Auckland from Cambridge once a week for extensive training. I started out by baking one of the best biscuits I had ever tasted called Death by Chocolate biscuits. It is not an easy biscuit to bake compare to the ones I bake now, but they are devilish good. Rich, sweet, decadent and literally melt in the mouth.

Soon afterwards my husband bought me my first Nigella Lawson cookbook. I have made several of her desserts and baked goods but what I love the most about her books is the way she writes them. You might as well be having a one-on-one conversation with her. It’s personal, funny, witty, just like her.

Baking cakes only started in 2013 when I worked for a company where sharing your baking was considered the best thing since slice bread. At first I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes (the seasoned company bakers) so I didn’t bake anything for the first few months. It was only when we moved to our new premises in April 2014 and we lost more than 1/2 of our workforce that I brought my baking in. I baked traditional and fail proof cakes, muffins and biscuits at first. It was through the encouragement of my work mates that I started experimenting with flavours and cake combinations. Whatever I baked I took with to work. I baked for individual employees, whether it was to celebrate their birthday or send them off as a farewell. I felt great joy when I could share these baked goods with them. My most memorable cake was the Hummingbird Cake which I baked for the sales manager’s farewell. It was rustic and full of flavour and oh so pretty.

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Today I still mainly bake to share. I bake to give as gifts, to show love and empathy when friends loose a loved one, for my husband to share at work (expecially when the ladies ask for anything sweet with chocolate). One of those cakes was a traditional Black Forest Cherry Gateau. I baked it for my husband’s birthday so naturally he took it into work for everyone to share.

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I bake because I learn something new every time. I bake because I can’t think of anything more satisfying to do. I bake because nothing smells more divine than the aroma of freshly baked cookies. I bake because I owe it to myself to enjoy food.

Day 115 25 April – sweet treats

We have SO many birthdays in April. Not only was it my dad’s birthday on the 19th, but a good friend of mine celebrated his birthday on the 21st, my mother-in-law on the 22nd and my brother-in-law today the 25th. I arranged for flowers to be delivered to my mother-in-law for her birthday as it is hopeless trying to send something through the post to South Africa. I have used NetFlorist several times this year to deliver beautiful flowers to friends and family and I highly recommend them! Their service is impeccable, their products fresh and they are very affordable having to pay in NZ$.

Today is Anzac Day. I spoke a little about what this day is all about in my post Poppies and I can’t help but get emotional on this day. In 2010 I attended my first dawn service to commemorate the returned soldiers and remember those who have lost their lives to bravely serve their country. These services stir your spirit and awaken a sense of gratitude.

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In celebration of Anzac day I baked traditional Anzac biscuits. I have never baked these before and can’t believe how easy they are. The biscuits are believed to have been baked by the soldiers’ wives who would send them abroad. The biscuits are made from rolled oats, flour, sugar with butter and golden syrup as the binding agent. The more factual story is that they were baked and sold at public events to raise funds for the war effort. They received the name of ‘soldier biscuits’ and it was only after Gallipoli, and with the New Zealand and Australian troops known as ANZAC, that the biscuits were given the name Anzac biscuits.

My daughter also returned today from her 5 day visit in Tauranga and with her she brought a small jar of guavaberry jam which our friend made. I am in love! I served a small teaspoon with our coconut pikelets. It is tart yet sweet and goes well with the maple syrup and dark chocolate. We have a guavaberry bush and I will certainly be repeating this smooth, delicious jam recipe soon!

 

 

Day 109 19 April – brekkie

Today is my dad’s 64th birthday. He is certainly one of the most hard working people I know, and the worlds’ worst procrastinator. He leaves everything for the last minute which drives my mother (and us girls) insane! But we love him for who he is, and almost more so who he has become.

Since becoming a grandfather 15 years ago he has changed for the better. His firstborn grandchild definitely had a calming effect on him and 4 grandchildren later he is a great granddad. He doesn’t do as much with them as he did with us when we were younger, but he has patience, he speaks lovingly to them and always has an open arm for warm hugs. He still has his moods, his outbursts, sometimes drinks a bit too much, but he loves his family and we love him for that.

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This morning it was only my son and myself at home for breakfast. I had some over ripe bananas in the fruit bowl and a bag of freshly bought feijoas. I found a 1/4 of a bag of frozen berries and chucked them all in with white chocolate bits to make scrummy mini breakfast muffins. They were a small mouthful of flavour.

Who needs a fancy café when mamma D is baking 🙂

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.

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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 10 10th January – my happy place

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Two things I love, baking and giving. And what better time to give than on someone’s birthday. A lovely friend of mine celebrated her birthday today, and as a small surprise I baked her some of her favourite biscuits of mine; mixed nuts and white chocolate. I placed the freshly baked biscuits in a glass jar, tied ribbon around it and in hand took the time to drop it off at her place late afternoon.

This year I want to pay attention to the lovely women in my life. It has always been hard to do living so far away from many of them, as most of my dearest and closets friends are in South Africa, and unfortunately the postal services there is unreliable. But treating them on their birthdays is certainly something I am going to do.

 

Day 2 2nd January – celebration

Family is everything! And this was once again reinforced over the new years weekend. We flew down to Christchurch mainly to celebrate my sister’s 40th birthday, but turned it into a 2 day long party. Late afternoon cricket matches, late nights card games, laughing, sharing stories, listening to my nephew play guitar while we sit around the fire taking in the quite surrounding, decorating cake, eating cake, going for walks, listening to the kids bond by playing board games and darts…the list goes on.

We were 17 people in one house, 8 adults and 9 kids. It was loud and busy, yet relaxing. No need to rush, no schedule to stick to, a go-with-the-flow type of weekend.

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My sister’s best friend and I put the above cake together for her. The reason why I chose this photo to add to my dairy is because I learned a new decorating skill: making edible sugared rose petals. I had my doubts at first. I can’t say I’m a raw egg white enthusiast, but wow! After a few hours of air drying these delicate beauties, they were crisp as if touched by the cold winter morning frost.

They say sharing is caring, so here is the recipe we followed to make the sugared rose petals – http://www.food.com/recipe/homemade-crystallised-rose-petals-248004

What I found pleasing about this, apart from learning this decorative skill, was my sister’s surprised reaction when she saw the cake and heard what we did. She was humbled and thankful, and that is what it’s all about. Giving, not receiving.