31 December 2014

Happy New Year!

I've been away from the blog for awhile. We've had a fantastically busy November and December. We had our parents visiting all of November and then we moved house. We are pretty settled now, and I'll be posting a little more often. I have some sewing projects and recipes to share and my kids have made some lists of their favorite books of 2014. I love book lists! Of course I will be sharing photos of some of our activities around New Zealand. Hope to see you around this year!

11 November 2014

Around Wellington - Wainuiomata Coast

Just for fun, we decided to explore a remote beach on the Wainuiomata coast. It's about half an hour's drive from Wellington, and we nearly had the place to ourselves. We are told this is a good place to see fur seals and sea birds. 

It didn't take long for the kids to get into the water.

 Plenty of big rocks to climb and explore. So exciting to find puddles of water with creatures in them up on top of a big pile of rock.

And did I mention that there were sheep? Most of this beach is private property - grazing sheep. I can't say that I've ever been to a beach with sheep before. 

05 November 2014

Asparagus, Bacon and Egg Salad


  • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • About 2 1/2 cups chopped asparagus (1 lb)
  • 2 slices cooked and crumbled streaky bacon
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • pinch salt and pepper, to taste


Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the asparagus and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until tender yet firm. Drain and run under cold water to stop it from cooking further. Set aside.

In a small bowl mix the Dijon, oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Arrange the asparagus on a plate, top with egg and bacon and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Enjoy!

04 November 2014

Around Wellington - Wellington Zoo

I can't believe it took us 10 months to finally get to the zoo! It's a great little zoo, and it's old. Wellington Zoo was founded in 1906. There is a great collection of animals and regularly scheduled talks all around the zoo. One of the best features is The Nest.  Animal check-ups and operations can be viewed and expert comentary by Zoo staff is provided twice a day for live procedures.

Of course, recycling is a big deal and there is a large display of objects made from recyclables.

This zoo is totally kid-friendly with lots of areas for playing and picnicking. One thing I did notice - there were no food vendors or cafes inside the zoo. 

This charming bird talks back - 

Chimpanzees, waiting for oranges being tossed in by keepers.

Getting up close and personal with the Wallabies

Our beautiful sunny day just turned rainy and windy. Time to go home!

03 November 2014

Menu Plan Monday


Ham, spinach and potato soup adapted from this recipe


Taco Night
Black bean and Kumara


Swiss steak


Lemon Chicken - trying this recipe


Chili and baked potatoes




BBQ Drumsticks
Mashed Potatoes

29 October 2014

Vanilla Cupcakes

These cupcakes are light and fluffy, and perfect for any occasion.


1 2/3 cups (240g) all purpose flour
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup butter (170g), room temperature
2 eggs (3 egg whites if you want a perfectly white cake)
3 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk

* I also occasionally add 1/2 a banana, mashed to this recipe. It's delicious.

Heat oven to 180 C (350 F). 
In a mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter until creamy. Add egg whites, or if using whole eggs, add 1 at a time, beating well in between.  In a small bowl, combine sour cream, milk and vanilla, in another bowl, combine flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Alternate adding milk, then flour mixture, blending well, until all ingredients are combined.

Line muffin tins with cupcake papers and fill 2/3 full with batter. Bake 17 minutes, or until tops are lightly golden brown and spring back when touched. Cool. Frost with your favorite frosting.

28 October 2014

Around Wellington - Springtime at the Botanic Gardens

Taking advantage of a gorgeous spring day to see the tulips, play in the gardens and have a wee picnic. People always say, "You can't beat Wellington on a good day." They say that because it's true. 

Happy kids on school holidays


27 October 2014

Menu Plan Monday

This is one of those weeks - we have tons of things going on, from Halloween to birthday parties, teas with friends, house hunting, and Grandpa and Grandma arrive on Thursday. Our first visitors here in New Zealand and we are super excited! Got to have easy, low prep meals going for those busy days. I also kinda need to clear out the freezer. 




Taco night


Veggie Frittata


Baked potatoes


Fish n' Chips


Pizza (birthday party tea)
Salad for the grown-ups


Pizza Night (YSA potluck)

23 October 2014

Tween Fashionista Remakes - Maxi Dress into Maxi Skirt

A couple of weeks ago, the Tween Fashionista put on this adorable maxi dress and declared it too tight. It probably isn't literally too tight, but she doesn't like things that squeeze. It's too cute to give up, so we decided to turn it in to a maxi skirt. It's super easy to do. Here's how we did it.

Measure the length, either using another skirt that you like, or by determining the length you want and measuring it from the bottom. Don't forget to allow for casing or seam allowance at the top - for this skirt, we decided to do a yoga type waist band. I also made it a little shorter than the striped one in the photo above - easier to run and play in.

Measure from the hem up, and cut the skirt portion. For the yoga waist band, cut a strip of fabric from the leftover fabric. To know how wide to cut your strip, measure the waist and then subtract 2-5 inches depending on the stretch of your fabric (*Note that you want the stretch to go side to side around your waist, not up and down). For the height, determine how high of a waistband you want. The Tween Fashionista doesn't like things high on her belly, so for our purposes, we are cutting a band that is 25 inches wide and 9 inches tall for her 28 inch waist. This includes seam allowances.

Even up the sides if necessary. Because I cut mine from the top of an a-line dress, there was a bit of an angle. Sew the seam on the waist band. I use my serger, but a zig-zag stitch works great.

Fold the waistband in half and match seams. Run a gather stitch in the top of the skirt piece. Gather the skirt piece to fit the waistband and pin about every inch. Stitch (I love my serger for this, but a zig-zag stitch will work great).

Serge or zig-zag waistband - the zig-zag or serged seam allows for stretch without breaking threads when the fabric is stretched.

She's wearing it, no complaints about the waistband. It's all good. 

And off she goes.

Have you re-purposed anything lately? 
If you have any questions about technique or terminology, leave them in the comments and I'll get right back to you.