Friday, July 25, 2014

Craft project #2 - the slightly disappointing candles

For Crafty Freaks project number two I had the genius idea of making candles.

I've become a big fan of candles, primarily for their ability to freshen the air, as opposed to the light (I spent years not understanding candles, because I like to be able to see, and they're so dull. It turns out I have very poor vision in low light). There are a lot of people living in our house, and we cook a lot. Bread everyday and lunches and dinners and endless things. I hate houses smelling like food, so candles sort that nicely.

I also like smelly oils in the oil burner. I've got some yummy flavours, have you smelled lemon myrtle? It's delicious. I also love basil, it's really liquoricey.

So bingo, thought I, how hard can it be to make some nice candles?

I bought a kit from Zen Designs. It's a super starter, had a kilogram of soy wax, assorted containers and wicks and a bottle of oil. The service was terrific, and including postage it was $30.

 (this is after I'd used enough for 4 candles)

It was very simple to make the candles. I ordered coconut and lime fragrance, not something that would usually float my boat, but I was feeling adventurous, and it was quite nice.

I also tried making some with basil oil and lemon myrtle, plus some of the colour that came in the pack (gold). The colour made it quite beeswaxy looking, I liked the effect a lot.

The kids helped me with it. It was a great project for them, lots of weighing and mixing and testing the temperature. We made 4 wee candles.
 (pencils being used to hold the wicks straight)
They look great. The ones using my own oils you could barely smell, but I don't think essential oils are usually used like that? Anyway, my motivation to tinker around with them pretty much died the next day when I got a huge shipment of candles in the shop, and they smell incredible with loads of interesting flavours. I think in this instance I'll leave it to the experts in the future.

It was really fun though, and sometimes I think it's good to try these things just to appreciate how expert some folk are. I still have a lot of wax left and I think we'll be making some more for a rainy day project.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Craft mojo

In an effort to get back my craft mojo and my writing mojo and my mojo mojo, I have signed up to do the Little Minx Crafty Freaks challenge. Now, I would never admit to failing anything, however I think it is fair to say that a) I'm late and b) I'm submitting renovations as "craft".

It's still impressively dusty and needs a further wipe. I'm proud of it though, I've never really tiled before, only ably assisted. This time I did the waterproofing underneath, mixed the adhesive and spread it out in lovely swirly sweeps, laid the tiles and settled them and then grouted the lot.

The project wasn't especially cheap. We bought the tiles forgetting about all the other associated costs (tile board, waterproofing membrane, we used 6 boxes of grout) but it really will make the bathroom look completely swish once it's finished. And a tiler told Glen mosaic tiles can cost $250m2 to lay. I understand this now, it was an unpleasant job. I can't stop looking at them now though. 

As far as craft projects go I don't know how often I'll get to practice this new skill. I do need a splash back behind the stove though, and we have some nice leftover tiles.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Hobbit vid

I mentioned many months ago that I was helping a friend out with a music vid, well here it is! You can spot our caravan in it, which was magically hiding everything behind it (portaloo included). It was a very fun and interesting day, the band - Claude Rains -  were amazing, they did take after take. And the very pregnant director, Gwen Isaac, was a fricking machine. She was a very different kind of pregnant person than me (I was more the sit around playing Singstar type).

Without further ado:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Years Resolutions

My main resolution for 2012 was to pick up the phone without fear. Not that I'm scared of anything sensible, just that usually I can't be arsed and try to procrastinate the call away, which invariably means checking the message and calling back the person I'm actually perfectly happy to talk to. So now I answer the phone, and I'm pretty good at it if I say so myself.

In 2013 I have a few resolutions.

  • I'm going to exercise more. I know. Original. But I'm feeling a bit old and weary these days and it is an actual true fact that I feel much better after some exercise.
  • I'm going to sit down at the computer every night for a bit after dinner is cleared away and try and be productive. Quite a lot of this time will be spent updating products on the website, archiving emails, that sort of fun stuff, but I hope that if I get into the habit of being productive on the computer I may find some creative writing mojo.
  • I'm going to focus more on making things and less on acquiring them. We've got our house pretty well sorted and the entire next level of renovation is the one that involves huge amounts of money (bathroom, bedroom reconfiguration). We don't have huge amounts of money, so I'm happy to concentrate on fulfilling myself creatively. I really want to go and learn some proper legit skills to help with this, I'd like to learn how to use my camera and I'd like to pick up some screenprinting skills. I also have a really odd desire to embroider or cross stitch something. It must be my old age creeping up on me.
  • I'm going to get stuck into the garden. When the wind stops. Which is never. I'm a bit over the wind.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Things I want

Yeah yeah, I have enough, but of course still I want more:

A green wall
A boat
To see Moonrise Kingdom
And Looper
A holiday
Better weather
To be able to do pottery without having to learn
The caravan to be painted
More energy in the evenings
More Homeland.
To have a longer attention span
For someone else to file all my receipts
More vegetables in the house. Preferably cooked (or prepared) and delivered to the table

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Doing things

I get sad about this blog. It was such an awesome part of my life for years, and I really felt like I'd found my voice with it. Lots of things happened though, Facebook took off, Twitter became a constant stream of consciousness thing, rather than concocting blog post during the day I'll blat out my every thought.

I had a third baby, opened a second shop, moved house. Time marches on and I still neglect it. I haven't the time or inclination to plug the SD card in or take photos. I'll leave the blog here as long as Blogspot will have it, but I suspect it is pretty much a historical document (and has been for a few years).

My vision of myself when I have more time is of being a more creative person. I'd like to do all the vague projects that waft around in my head. I'm realistic and realise that some time in the distant future I might not want to be a shop-owner, and I often think about what I'd do after. I think dreaming of a Lotto win is a good way to work out where you'd like to be, at the moment I think if I won Lotto mostly things would stay the same. I like the kids' school a lot, I love the shops, I like where we live. I'd like more holidays and maybe to study something fun, but three little kids are the reason I don't do that, not a lack of money or motivation.

All this vague waffling doesn't really say anything, just that I'm still around, would like to be around more, am not stressing about that.


Monday, April 23, 2012


I wrote something over there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Twenty things

1. I want to get into the habit of writing again, so I've taken Twitter and Facebook off my phone. Baby steps.
2. Twenty things seemed like a manageable number, and really they'll probably all be tweets anyway.
3. I'm listening to Joan Armatrading. iTunes makes is really easy to follow every nostalgia whim, and I'm fond of this music from when I was a girl and my mother would play the album. Related: I miss vinyl at the moment.
4. I have been reading a bit more lately. It is good. Thanks to Goodreads I know the last thing I read was Annabel by Kathleen Winter. I liked it, it was about a transgender person, and I know very little about transgender people. I still know very little, but I can nod a little more knowledgeably.
5. I'm working through painting the doors in our house orange, yellow, coral and teal. The colours are great but the paint is a bit shit, it is Dulux and I don't know why I didn't get Resene.
6. Today I ordered next summer's clothing from Kowtow and next summer's handbags from Saben. Days like this make me realise my life is bananas and surreal.
7. Speaking of bananas I just made banana muffins for my nephew's lunch. He is staying the night.
8. Twenty is a lot of things to think of.
9. Ooh! I can show you my excellent recent purchases. Here are my new shoes:

They're lovely, they were impossible to get into at first, but once they're on I can wear them comfortably for the entire day, a key function of shoes.
10. Here is my Le Creuset pan
strictly speaking I didn't buy it, I acquired it with credit card points. It makes me a better cook and you can cook all things with it. All things.
11. Not a purchase, but a bread recipe that will blow your mind.
12. While I'm being shallow, I got this stuff, it's really pretty amazing  
and quite cheap compared with things that aren't cheap, like almost all cosmetic brands.
13. I'm going to Wellington Fashion Week next week to write about it for the Wellingtonista. I'm blaming this for my current shallowness. I also need to learn some stuff, like what a "media pack in" means. I'm hoping it doesn't mean cattle prods.
14. I'm helping my friend Heather and her band Claude Rains with their music video next weekend. I'm quite excited. I'm just making cups of tea, but it feels like it might be the beginning of my new era, making cups of tea for bands.
15. 15 eh? 
16. Having one shop is really super awesome. So much less stressful and so much less hard work it is barely believable. I don't know how people have big empires. I suppose they don't actually like working in shops and gossiping with people all day long.
17. Speaking of which, my next challenge is to write a shop newsletter, it has been MONTHS. Sign up if you like. Or hahahhahahahahhahahahaha if you happen to think QR codes are kool, here you go
18. I'm now going to put some bread rolls in the oven, well, after I make two more exciting points. Since we got our breadmaker we never buy bread. It makes us extra smug.
19. Perhaps you should download Joan Armatrading. It won't make you rich, but it might make you happy.
20. I need to write a self-help book, and say things like "it won't make you rich, but it might make you happy".

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


A new year brings the usual thoughts of resolutions and plans. Mine are pretty simple, life is lovely and I hope it will stay that way, that my children will thrive and prosper and so will we. Plus I'd like to go out more and see more old friends. Specifically I'm going to be less phone phobic!

I'd also like to go away in our caravan often. We went up to Waimarama with it (plus two tents), and it was magic. I loved it, the bunting helped.

Friday, December 30, 2011


Well hello there!

Just like that I see the try the new interface button, and voila, much better.

Hippy happy hoppo hip hooray

Yo my lovelies.

What a month! First it was my birthday, and I got a magnificent new bike, which I've not really used much yet. I rode it down the hill quite fast, and it was pretty awesome. Then we put it in the car to bring it home! Our hill is steep. We got a bike rack the other day though, so we'll be cycling family extraordinaire.

And we've had Christmas. It was wonderful. Santa came and brought two of the kiddies bikes, and the other a cool remote control helicopter (which is amazing). We had 22 people for lunch, and it was hot and went wonderfully smoothly.
And tomorrow our shop in Mt Vic is gonesville. We're very relieved about this! There have been some issues with parking (yawn). Ironically the movers today got lots of grief from the parking warden today about parking on the curb. Ironic because they've been pretty much absent for the last 2 years. Anyway, we're well pleased to just have one little store to look after for a while.

In a couple of days we're taking our caravan off for its first holiday (with us). We're very excited and will take lots of photos. I think I have to reluctantly concede that Blogger is shit and I'm going to have to export this blog to a better service. It is very awkward to write and upload photos on this. Hmm. Will work on it.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas cake

Once in a blue moon I go out, and one such occasion recently was the launch of Bees Blessing's rebrand/launch party at the Empire in Petone. We love Bees Blessing because 3 of our corker wee chooks came from their farm, not to mention the fact they make very tasty cordials and condiments. We love the Empire because they make the finest hot chips (Belgium with cheese and gravy and curry with curry sauce - don't choose, get both), so it was a lovely night (albeit brief, 3 kids in a pub?).

I met Laura there, the brain behind Hungry and Frozen, such a super blog with way more to it that food. She likes music too! And lovely little flights of fancy, read it, you'll see what I mean. So when I put the word out on Twitter that I was after a christmas cake recipe and Laura suggested hers, I went for it. Her recipe is here. I made a few changes based on what I have on hand (a lot of eggs) and what I like in christmas cakes (cherries!). My version follows, but hers is probably better.

1 1/2 cups (375ml) ginger ale
1/2 cup booze (I used Johnny Walker black and Ballentines whisky - dregs!)
1kg fruit (I used glace cherries, dried cranberries, currants, raisins, and also a premixed bag)

300g butter
150g brown sugar
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Orange zest of one orange
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 tablespoon cocoa 4 eggs 300g flour

Soak dried fruit in ginger ale and grog.

Melt together butter, condensed milk, spices, cocoa and zest.
Whisk up the eggs and add to melted ingredients (quickly, so you don't end up with scrambled eggs)
Add baking soda (suspect this is optional with all those eggs)
Stir in flour.
Double line a cake tin in the christmas cake fashion (I'm partial to brown paper for aethestics, with baking paper insides, but this is frankly lame, so don't worry. Just use baking paper, it won't burn).

Bake in oven at 140 celsius for about 2 1/2 hours.

Ice if you like. I love marzipan, but I have never iced a christmas cake and won't be starting now.

Full credit to Laura, this recipe is a stunner. It has been out of the oven less than 3 hours and look what we've done to it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Since we've been in our new house a few things have been procured that are somewhat awesome. The latest (and favouritist at the moment) is a piano. I've wanted a piano for a long, long time. Our last house was too little though, so last week we got on Trademe and bam! Piano love. I'm blimming hopeless, but what I lack in technique/talent I make up for in gusto and enthusiasm. The neighbours may be a little tired of my extremely slow version of the Sound of Silence. I've bought lots of music books full of cheesy music, not because I actually want to perform for anyone, but so that I can sing along as I learn.

We also got chooks! We have five of them, and they bring me a great deal of joy too. They're all laying, so we get lots of beautiful eggs, but I think the best thing is they eat all our scraps. I never felt like composting wasted lunchbox food was actually the best thing to do with it, but turning it into eggs, genius. They're quite funny to watch too.

And my other favourite thing is 2 x 10 litre pails of black paint for the exterior of the house. I can't wait to get stuck into transforming our beige box into a big black box.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Here are a few pics from the last few weeks. First the obligatory SNOW! Man we loved that snow. If Wellington could turn on snow for one week each year I think the place would be perfect. We took the suggestion from @nzdodo on Twitter (whose real name is Jolisa Gracewood) to add cream, vanilla and sugar to a bowl of snow. I am deadly serious when I say this may have been the most delicious thing I've ever tasted.Finn froze an icecream container of snow, we're going to try and recreate it, but I suspect a large part of the charm was sitting on our snow covered deck with gloves on eating it.
I tried to take house pictures, but to be honest we're miles of having anything vaguely done. We've made it all pretty liveable, and we love it, but it will be yonks before we can change the carpets and that sort of thing.

Here's our dull as dishwater bedroom, and this is the problem with showing progress pics, because while we've painted it, I think the colour looks awful in this house (although slightly nicer than the blue and white pinstripes). I'm of the firm opinion that white is the only colour that will look ok.

So to prove that I actually am capable of having colour, here is a picture of the shop at the moment. Geez, when did blogger turn so awful? Uploading pictures has been nightmarish. We've got new websites, all the baby clothes are still at, and we're busily uploading products to the revamped, and I suspect I'm going to have to change this blog to something that can handle pictures as readily as the new websites. Anyway, I got there in the end, here is the shop. xxm

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A good trip

We went up to the big trade fair in Auckland on Tuesday, we being me and Glen. My parents came to look after the kiddies at 7am, bless, and we tootled off to the airport. We hired a massive Rav 4 in Auckland, curious to see if that is a car we'd want, it wasn't.

The fair was the usual, by this point I'm pretty efficient at checking it out, and I got some cool stuff for Christmas.

We cleared out of there pretty quick and headed to Ponsonby for a mooch around. Firstly we went to Design Foundry, crikey what a cool place. We had a delicious coffee there and I did some stellar shopping. I got this great frock, so delighted. Later I tried on some clothes at World too, I'm in love with World. Sadly I'm way to poor for that sort of carry on.

By this time we needed some serious sit down action, and popped into a little place called Bonita. It was really cute, yummy food, super nice wine. We kind of couldn't believe some people get to do this on a regular basis, normally our life is a whirlwind of children and work, we were totally blissed out. And after that, to make everything extra perfect, we went to a great place called Coco's Cantina on K Rd (recommended by Claire), polished off steak, and then went to the airport where our Jetstar flight departed on time! Truly, it was a crazy good day.

And today I got a new putey, which means I no longer have to worry about our old one cutting out mid writing and breaking my heart. Viva la new puter.

Next time I'll put up some house pics. We've been hard at work, and just love it. The place is splendid.