About Me

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The past two years have been all about adjusting to motherhood and finding my way through it via craft. The out pouring of this came in the form of my blog Aunty Mum. Now I'm finally finding my feet, the children are growing, I'm getting some independence and my interests are morphing . . . into cooking. Join me in exploring creativity in many forms, food, fabric, frowns and laughter.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Too Hot to Think

Today has been one of those days where I wonder what the weather will be like come February as it’s so warm and it’s only December (just). But, jobs to be done so no slacking due to heat.

We have Janae’s birthday party on Friday and I couldn’t have little girls wading through knee length grass to get to the outdoor toys; thus the mower was deployed. I only mowed a week ago and I still managed to get 15 catcher loads of grass off. In between I had to stop to de-head lice my children. Poor little Rogan has picked up some nasties in his hair and was sent home from Kindy. So, out with the conditioner and all three children are in the process of transforming from the “unwashed” to the washed once again.

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It’s the Mainly Music final session tomorrow and it’s the Christmas special. This morning Janae and I were at Carolyn’s wrapping children’s presents, sampling her delicious shortbread that makes up part of the mums gifts and have quite a chat and giggle. But I had to come home and get started on my contribution to morning tea. Usually we have some fabulous women from our congregation that have a roster and provide morning tea for the mothers, but we’re special lady-less this week so it’s down to us. I’ve been perfecting my neenish tarts in preparation for Christmas and I’ve managed to churn out these delicious little treats for tomorrow. The best part is, my children don’t seem to care for them so there’s no danger of them being snapped up early in the morning. Neenish tarts always make me think of Christmas as they were the true sweet treat my mother always made. I think they lasted until Boxing Day and that was it until the next Christmas.

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And I had to share this picture with you. The other morning Janae was being a little troublesome due to getting up far too early so I threatened to send her off in my suitcase to some place exotic. She thought this was a great idea and jumped in ready to go. Her pillow nor her koala fitted in the case so I’m guessing she postponed her trip until I can get a bigger case.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rip Roaring Retreat

I’ve just come home from a wonderful weekend away with a bunch of women ranging in age from 80 to 20 up in the Kaimais at a little place called the “Lazy Tramper”. Actually, a more aptly named venue for yours truly couldn’t possibly have been found.

It was a weekend filled with laughter, inspirational speakers, glorious food and a New Zealand singer, Nicky Moran, that everyone has to hear. Nicky has the most amazing voice. While I hate to pigeon hole anyone, she is like a modern amalgamation of Carole King and Norah Jones but so much more. And I was so blessed to be given her latest CD by one of the ladies at the retreat.

I charged my camera up especially to take lots of photographs but never got around to taking any so I’ve added some of the children playing when we got home. So often, after I’ve been away for a couple of days, it’s difficult to get into the swing of things and we fall out. Today we’ve had a lovely couple of hours in the searing heat.

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We filled up the paddling pool and wallowed for a bit in cold water. We got the bubble mix and blew bubbles.

Janae, our little bee whisperer has been chasing bees around the lawn. I keep waiting for the scream that we associate with a first bee sting but it’s yet to come. She can pick them up with her bare fingers, stand on them, pick them up in all sorts of containers and they’ve yet to sting her. It’s coming though, I’m sure.

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And on Friday, before getting away for the weekend, I finally finished the back of my jumper. Whew, what a marathon. But now I’ve done one side I know I can do another. I’ve just about completed the ribbing on the front and, once the children are tucked up in bed, I’ll do some more out in the cool evening air . . . that’s assuming there is going to be some cool evening air.

Right, fights are erupting so it must be dinner time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Wonderful, Wet, Summer Morning

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In the middle of winter I always long for weeks and weeks of sunshine that I know come with summer. The reality of weeks and weeks of sunshine is that I end up longing for rain. And today it arrived. Nice, wet, nourishing rain.

Janae and I had no option but to get the recipe books out and do some baking. Today I decided that I was going to make some things that I’d never made before as I’m completely over the usual family favourites. So above is a picture of our peanut brittle cookies. These were fun as I got to roast peanuts, make toffee to pour all over them and the best bit is the kids don’t like them so I get to share them with the Mainly Music mums tomorrow.

I also got my mother’s enthusiasm going when I phoned and asked for her recipe for good old fashioned sultana cake. This was a cake I didn’t much care for as a child, but as an adult it’s delicious. And the best part is that it’s all in archaic measurements. It had me completely bamboozled for a while. I can cope with ounces and pounds usually but this was strange. The recipe called for three quarters of a pound of sugar and half a pound of flour etc. Why it couldn’t just say 12 ounces and so on. We got there in the end and it’s come out looking like something from the Women’s Institute bake-off.

The final piece of baking was totally child oriented and they are ring shaped, chocolate flavoured cookies covered in chocolate icing and sprinkles. The look on Kayley and Rogan’s faces when I presented them with the cookies for afternoon tea made the whole fiddly process worthwhile. In fact, I think they’re going to form an essential part of our birthday party fare from now on. I just have to invest in a smaller doughnut cutter.

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And while all this baking was going on little Janae was a princess. Well . . . maybe not a princess but queen of play dough certainly. It took almost as long to clean this mess up as it did to make it. But I didn’t have the heart to disturb her fun as she was, on the whole, being so well behaved and patient with me as I concentrated on measurements rather than her. Well done Janae!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

No Time for Pictures

Whew . . . what a day it's been . . . busy but very good. We sang this morning and that went rather well, even if I do say so myself. Then this afternoon I really felt for Fergus and Carolyn (the "vicar and his wife") as they had a movie date planned but what to do with little Emily. I put my hand up because I know how lucky I am to have child free time and wanted them to have that too. Then I agreed that Rogan's friend Ben could come over for the afternoon as well. With Ben came his little sister Catarina. Then Kayley came home.

The strange thing is, I didn't really realise how many children were swarming over my home until I got the afternoon tea sorted and out came six plates. Yes! Six! But, strangely enough, it wasn't any more difficult than a Sunday afternoon with three children. I even got about a dozen rows of knitting done and few if any mistakes. The house does look a little battered, but that doesn't bother me tonight. And everyone sort of mucked in.

Emily wasn't very happy about missing out on her mummy and daddy's date so she spent some time at the top of the slide telling me to go away and having a little cry. But, with the enducement of a fun spiky ball, Kayley's undivided attention and a gentle rub down with sunblock she was soon into the swing of things and had big smiles by the time her parents arrived to pick her up.

Janae managed to make Catarina cry by dousing her with cold water in the bath, but a quick change of clothes, a wee cuddle and they were back on track. Kayley, once again assisted with the boys and got them sitting down drawing pirate ships for ages. It all just went quite smoothly.

So, tonight as I sit here, a little exhausted, I'm giving myself a wee pat on the back. We survived and had fun. What could be better than that?

Oh, a funny aside . . . when my mum arrived to drop Kayley home she looked about horrified at the children swarming like giant bees and jumped straight back in her car and ran for the hills. I must remember that when I'm wanting my mum to head home without giving me a list of jobs to do, I'll have to recruit all my friend's children!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy Birthday . . .

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To me! I can hardly believe another year has gone around. What a whirlwind life is when you get closer to 40. But, to make it a whole lot sweeter I had some friends over last night for wine, Cranium, many, many laughs and lots of yummy food. Yesterday afternoon my mother brought over all these gorgeous roses from her garden to brighten up the living room. They’re just so luscious that you can’t keep your eyes off them.

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And I was spoiled rotten too. I don’t ever expect gifts so when they arrive it’s both a shock and a blessing. Anna gave me these lovely scented candles for my kitchen bench. They haven’t photographed well but they’re tall, black and smell delicious. Thank you Anna.

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And Carolyn gave me this stunning necklace hand crafted by another friend Carolynne. Now I know you’ll love this and wonder where you can get something similar. Carolynne is having a pre-Christmas showing of all her “bling” at the Omokoroa Centre down by the village pharmacy on Friday night from 7pm so get yourself along there to treat yourself for Christmas or to get something for a well deserving lady that you know. You’ll love giving it and she’ll love wearing it. I know I’m going to wear mine everywhere.

So this morning I’m child free, which is possibly one of the greatest gifts a mother could hope for on her almost 40 birthday (on her 40th she’s expecting a child free weekend). So I’m going to get all the wine glasses put in the dishwasher, get out the eggs, lemon, bacon, bread and anything else I might require for a slap up eggs benedict breakfast for one. Yum!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Note to Self . . . Get Citronella Candles and Bug Spray

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I’ve been trying to enjoy this balmy evening out on the patio knitting my jumper. Unfortunately the bugs have got the better of me as I spent more time swatting little biting things than knitting so I really need to get some anti bug stuff as I have a feeling I’ll be doing more of this as the summer wears on. Aside from the bugs, however, I’ve been really enjoying this project. I can’t believe there are only seven rows to go before I start working on the arm holes.

Every row is different and requires a level of concentration that plain old stocking stitch just doesn’t call for. Thankfully, however, it’s a very forgiving pattern and the copious errors don’t show too badly. And I’m loving knitting with cotton in a way I never did with crochet. It’s going to be a dream to wear as it’s super soft and light. I just can’t wait to get it finished now.

Over all it’s been a fabulous day really. I was treated to a hair cut for my birthday by the wonderfully lovely Doreen. The children and I picked the first of our summer vegetables from the garden (a broccoli and a cabbage) to go with our spaghetti Bol for dinner. Janae and I had unexpected visitors this morning and I finally got the first proof of our ads completed for the Carols in the Park event that’s coming up in a couple of weeks. My coffee/bible group is organising carols “for the children, by the children” in our local park this year so if you’re around Omokoroa on December 4 come on down, bring your picnic dinner and join us in some singing. All that’s left for me to do is fix the errors in the proofs, distribute them to the schools and various other places, con a friend into playing the keyboard for us (but we won’t ask him to sing as he’s far too good and will put the rest of us off) and turn up on the day.

Well, time’s marching on and despite the fact it’s far too tempting to stay out and enjoy the evening I must get off to bed as Janae and I have to dance our little feet off at Mainly Music in the morning. See you again soon!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cable Chaos

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I started my next project yesterday, and then started it again, and then started it again. Just prior to the third attempt I almost gave in completely and made something else, but my stubborn nature got the better of me. I thought to myself, I know how to knit and I know how to read so I should be able to do this and I will if it kills me. Finally by 1am this morning I was starting to get the hang of it all.

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And this little chart here was the big problem. It’s not entirely accurate. There are four rows on this chart that call for four stitches where there are only two. Once I’d figured that out I was on my way and now I’ve completed the first pattern repeat.

I started with the back of the garment as that’s probably the best place to make all your mistakes and bungles and, trust me, there are plenty in here: the forgiving thing about an intricate pattern is that they’re harder to spot. And you’ll notice that I’ve taken to writing all over the page too. This isn’t something I do lightly as I have this insane sense of respect for a printed page. However, these little scribblings and notations have been something of a saving grace as I don’t have to keep counting rows that are repeated, I just check the list of stitches I’ve written down and bingo, I’m through another tricky section.

The only real downside of this is that it’s not a child friendly project. I simply cannot, even with notes, some confidence and a modicum of patience, knit this while the children are around. Ah well, it’s a good thing they’re still young enough to put to bed early and have plenty of time to knit in the evenings. And, my vegetable garden and other parts of the outdoors will be pleased to receive a little more attention too.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the progress of this. It’s good to know it’ll never get too boring to continue with.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Finished at Last

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I plodded through last night and managed to get my cardigan finished at last. And this morning, with a cool spring morning, I have been wearing it with much love and satisfaction.

I learned how to pick up stitches quickly, neatly and easily last night so there’s the added bonus of having a new trick up my cardigan sleeve as well.

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I’m very pleased that I stuck with a hood instead of just a collar. I doubt I’ll ever put the hood on but it just makes the garment feel a little more modern. I’m determined to wear it to music practice tonight as a bit of a brag . . . let’s face it . . . we’ve got to shine our lights on our gifts from time to time.

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And as I was wandering around the garden this morning I was admiring my Kaimai Sunset rose climbing against my bedroom wall and just had to share it with you. This poor rose has had a few struggles this year with rust and aphids but it’s had a spray now and is really starting to show its true colours. It’s quite a sight as you drive up to the house each day. Thank you Anne Marie for your very wise suggestion of rose.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mum’s Home

My mother has been away in Australia for two weeks and returned last night. I volunteered to do the midnight pickup and collected my cousin Tom from the airport at the same time. As always, Mum came home loaded down with gifts. Here’s the one she’s given me today . . .

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I have wanted this cook book ever since watching Julie Goodwin win the first Aussie Masterchef. This afternoon I’ve been flicking through the pages, smiling at the titles to some of the dishes, mouth watering at others and being completely inspired. You see I’ve finally been confessing a long time dream . . . to be a pastry chef. And I’m starting to believe that I could just about achieve it.

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So this afternoon I came home and whipped up my first pavlova. I’ve never made one because I always thought they were too difficult and because my mother is the queen of pavlova making. I’m quite happy with it as my first effort and now it’s decorated with some cream, fresh strawberries and drizzled with chocolate. The truly crazy thing is I don’t actually like pav but as Tom’s here and we’re having a roast beef for dinner I thought I’d give it a go. I’ll let you know what everyone thought of it.

And the cardigan is still trudging along. I’m on the final piece of the jigsaw which is the hood. I’m half way through that, then I’ll attach it, pick up the ribbing stitches and that’ll be it complete. I can’t wait.