Saturday, October 31, 2009


This Halloween Sophia was back late, from completing her Duke of Edinburgh tramp in the Hunua Ranges.
So, the event was hosted by a friend who hadn't gone tramping and we made the Spider cake!
Sophia went as a pumpkin (no photos allowed) and managed to score lots of goodies from her Trick'n Treat walk..

Monday, October 19, 2009


Well, for two weeks Greg is as old as me! What it is to be a toy boy! He asked to girls to make him a Black Forest Gateau and here is the result - it tasted divine!

Dinner was at a Thai restaurant and he got a Track Day, a cooler full of beer, a Birthday poem and a handmade photo album.. as well as lots of other little goodies!

So ... my birthday soon! I've asked for a chocolate cheesecake..we'll see!

Friday, October 16, 2009


Since the girls had such fun on their cupcake course I decided to go to a 'grown-up' session! It even comes with a certificate if you pass. First up was learning how to make sugar roses and other flowers - this was my completed effort, in a heart shape.. then we had a different challenge..

Then a fondant creation - since it's spring here the girls voted for a veggie garden and this is what I ended up with - it won Prize 1 !!! (The roses have changed into purple cabbages!)

All in all a fun session and all my friends will be getting rose cakes for their birthdays this year. Add this to our mega muffin and cupcake repertoire and we're set! Hmmmm what shall I do next?

Happy baking and decorating everyone...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The girls love baking and cooking, cupcakes are the latest craze over here, so we booked onto a 'decorating' course for a day in Parnell. It's based at 'Millie's Cookshop' and was quite a surprise..

The shop has a section to it which is a cooking school, complete with demonstration kitchen, tables and all the equipment an aspiring chef could ever dream of! There were 'cups' to make cupcakes in (when we all know the name originally came from the amounts in the cake 'a cup of flour, a cup of sugar' not what it was baked in!)

We had to take our own aprons, but everything else was provided and the fun began! It was very hands on, the girls were fully occupied and I was distracted by all the goodies in the shop section and spent a small fortune...

They made Cookie Monster cupcakes, flowers, clowns, meadows, bee hives and more, and of course, my girls were the best..

It was difficult to resist until we got home and had a cupcake fest - of course, the next day, when I arrived home they'd made a whole batch more - so we're cupcaked out!

here's an 1833 recipe for you to try..
"Cup cake. Cup cake is about as good as pound cake, and is cheaper. One cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, and four eggs, well beat together, and baked in pans or cups. Bake twenty minutes, and no more."---American Frugal Housewife, Mrs. Child

Friday, October 9, 2009


After years of walking or driving past the Cathedral in Parnell, we decided to venture in and have an 'explore Parnell Day'.

We began, where you always begin with children, in a playground!

Parnell is a wealthy residential suburb of Auckland, with some interesting historic buidings and a collection of churches.

It was in this cathedral that the funeral of Sir Edmund Hillary was held last year...

The Nave of the Cathedral was designed by N.Z. Architect Professor Richard Toy. It was begun in 1991 and was completed in 1995, and is stunningly beautiful.

The glass doors the length of two sides light this vast space, and accentuate the roof, which looks like it's hanging, unsupported.

The Cathedral is most famous for its modern stained glass windows, which you can see here!

There is a unique window featuring a Polynesian Christ with vividly coloured Pacific motifs.

The set of eighteen windows along the sides of the Nave, and tell the Christian story using a combination of traditional and Polynesian designs. It's an eclectic mix of beliefs and designs that takes some getting used to!

The overall design of the cathedral has been described as the world's only example of the "Pacific Gothic" style. It's always 'one of a kind and nowhere else in the world' over here!

And we ended our day with a three course lunch at an Italian restaurant, with a different view of Sky Tower. Parnell still has lots for us to explore on another day!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Tirau is Maori for "place of many cabbage trees." In the past the Maori used to come here at night and catch the kereru (local pigeons) as they roosted for the night in the trees. there aren't any left, but the cabbage tree is still the symbol of the town as you enter it.

We pass through whenever we visit Rotorua and it makes a good stopping place, lots of little boutique shops and cafes and some of the most playful building designs!

This 'Woolshed' is a souvenir shop and the tourist office resmbles a giant dog - we could make the connection between the sheep and all the wool products for sale - but a dog and tourists - I'm not sure?

Perhaps it has something to do with the giant shepherd who is standing just out of the frame, at the side?

Tirau has a huge population of 800 - so when you drive through it, it doesn't take long!
It's a quirky little place, it seems every town has to have a speciality - whether it's their public toilets, apples, murals or pies - in this case it's the corrugated iron signage! The town has used discarded corrugated pieces to advertise their shops along the way and it has become almost an art form!

This is definitely the haven for all things corrugated! It used to be a flag station on the railway. Now, the street is lined with speciality shops - a clock shop, teddy bear shop, flower shop, honey shop, even a toy collection museum - the same type is never repeated.

If the cafe is called 'Poppy's' as in this case, then there will be a giant bunch of corrugated iron poppies on the roof..

I wonder if you can guess what this shop sells?

And where would we be without a corrugated iron pukekho?

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I've just spent a few days in Rotorua, and I can assure you there are few places on earth like it! It's right in the middle of North Island and is famous for its geothermal activity! In the photo that's a sulphur lake behind me, constantly hissing and steaming with heat and gas from the centre of the earth!

A friend and I rented a little place on Lake Rotorua for a few days - that's the second largest lake in New Zealand. Just to confirm that, the name 'rotorua' means "second largest lake" ..from 'roto' meaning lake and 'rua', imaginative!

The lake itself is actually a crater from the Tarawera eruption, rivers and streams flow into it & so it is now a lake, covered with ducks and black swans and with occasional islands in the middle.

You can see Mokoia island in this photo here, which is the view from our Lodge. The island is actually a rhyolite dome - a big volcanic rock similar to granite, that erupted out and fell back into the crater to make the island (pretty big piece of rock to be flying around if you ask me!)

Basically you can smell Rotorua before you get there - it's a rotten egg smell from the sulphur fumes which are emitted from the lakes and the ground, it's a constant boiling, seething landmass, which brings alive the fact that the city sits over a caldera. Its nickname is 'Sulphur City'.

It's very popular with tourists because of its thermal pools, sulphur baths and mud bathing - sort of a new Zealand equivalent of a spa, but set out in the open above a possible volcanic eruption amongst scenery that resembles Mars or somewhere like that!

You begin with a walk around the 'park' with bubbling lakes, steaming fumaroles, boiling mud pools and hissing vents coming out of the ground and the most wonderful safety signs - like this one!

It also has the largest hot waterfall in the Southern hemisphere - imagine sitting under that! Everything has a strong sulphur smell and if you stop to think for a moment you realize the enormity of what must be happening under your very feet!

So, we had booked a mud pool and sulphur bath at a place called Hell's Gate (appropriately named when you see it!) The mud bath was interesting andvery hot! We got covered in the grey mud (the white mud is for face packs and the black mud is too hot to bathe in)

From the mud pool you move to the sulphur baths which have healing properties and go up in degrees of hotness - I didn't make the hottest one!

then I walked around Sulphur Bay where hundreds of birds were coming in for the night - the noise was deafening.