Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tan Square

When the children were at home they would take home-made baking to school for lunches and sometimes I would run out of time during the day, or just find the tins empty so then I would make something while I was cooking dinner. I soon found a few microwave recipes which meant they didn’t take long and if the oven was being used, I could still make something quickly. They only required melting the butter and sugar and then adding ingredients, pressing into a container and microwaving – sometimes only ten minutes total.

This has been adjusted for my oven which is a 1100watt oven
Here are some sites to help with conversions.

150gr Butter
¾ cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder

50gr butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
¾ cup sweetened condensed milk

Melt the first measure of butter and sugar in a large microwave bowl for 1 minute on high.
Add the flour and baking powder and stir to combine thoroughly. (It will be slightly chunky.)
Reserve ¾ cup of this mixture and press the rest into a square microwave dish.
(I use the lid of a casserole dish and the handle acts as a stand to elevate the dish slightly.)
Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Allow to cool a little.
Mix the second measure of butter, golden syrup and condensed milk in a medium microwave jug.
Cook on high for 2 minutes stirring after 1 minute and 1 ½ minutes.
Pour caramel mixture over base and then sprinkle/crumble the reserved base mixture over the caramel. For something extra special I sometimes sprinkle a few chocolate chips over this too.
Cook on high for another 3 minutes.
Allow to cool and then cut into pieces before it is completely cold.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Rachel's Holiday

This the third in an Irish family (the Walsh's) saga series written by Marian Keyes.

Marian Keyes
Rachel is a drug addict and her family have her commuted to
a rehab center back home in Ireland after her near fatal overdose in New York.

‘How did it end up like this? Twenty-seven, unemployed, mistaken for a drug addict, in a treatment centre in the back arse of nowhere with an empty Valium bottle in my knickers . . .’

Meet Rachel Walsh. She has a pair of size 8 feet and such a fondness for recreational drugs that her family has forked out the cash for a spell in Cloisters – Dublin’s answer to the Betty Ford Clinic. She’s only agreed to her incarceration because she’s heard that rehab is wall-to-wall jacuzzis, gymnasiums and rock stars going tepid turkey – and it’s about time she had a holiday.

But what Rachel doesn’t count on are the toe-curling embarrassments heaped on her by family and group therapy, the dearth of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll – and missing Luke, her ex. What kind of a new start in life is this?

Rachel's Holiday is not only a fun read but it has a real strength into the ways and means of recovery from addictions. Its a long red over 625 pages but all part of the story.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mid-Winter Feast

On Sunday we had our mid winter celebration. It may not be the middle of winter anymore but it was the coldest day in New Zealand with snow falling to sea level in some parts, so it was certainly a fitting night.

Harry kept the fire going and all the family (except our eldest and her fiance) including our three granchildren were here. That came to eleven, although little Jacob isn't quite up to sitting at the table with us.

Ryan, Jacob and Evelyn

It was interesting as it was the first time Sarah and Jennifer had seen Daniel since he had left home.

Its so much more enjoyable for everyone not to have the expectations of gift buying and other end of year and Christmas functions to go to. There is also the fact that we can choose a day that suits us all.

Our meal was roast lamb flavoured with cloves of garlic and rosemary with mint sauce, served with roasted potatoes, kumera, pumpkin, carrots and parsnips. There was also broccoli with cheese sauce, peas and corn. Dessert was Christmas pudding flavoured with brandy served with whipped cream.

This year I started the afternoon with a high-tea. For those (like Harry) who don't really like sweet treats I also did a platter of chippies, crackers and Camembert cheese, mixed fruit and nuts and marshmallows.

The treats on the tiered cake plate were:

Sesame crackers with dried tomato and garlic hummus and I had topped that with a small sprig of mint and a rosemary flower.

Mini cheese muffins with a little sprig of parsley.


Chocolate truffles


I love it when family are all together and realise how much of a blessing it is having most of them close enough to have these family times.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Cupcakes and high teas are the latest fashion, one of wich I am happy to play along with.
I have tried a few recipes for a plain pleasant tasting cupcake and so far this one (I have adapted slightly), is the best.
It makes 12 medium sized and 24 mini cupcakes.

125gr softened butter
½ tsp vanilla
⅔ cup (150g) caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups (225gr) self-raising flour
¼ cup (60mls) milk

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place cupcake case into holes of patty pans to help keep their shape while baking.

With an electric beater, beat the softened butter and sugar until combined and then add all the other ingredients.
Beat gently to combine then on medium for about 3 minutes until the mixture is smooth and pale in colour.
Carefully drop spoonful’s into cases to come to just below the rim of the cupcake paper.
Bake about 20 minutes watching they do not overcook. They should be just turning a light fawn. Lightly press one to see if it springs back.
When I made the mini cupcakes I baked them for about 12 minutes.
Turn on to a wire rake to cool so they don’t stay cooking in the heat of the pan. Turn them top side up (don’t burn yourself) so the tops don’t get indents from the wire rack.

When cold ice with butter using and decorate as you wish.

Butter icing
60gr butter
1 ¼ cups Icing sugar
1 tblsp milk

Soften but do not melt the butter.
Beat together with the icing sugar.
Gradually add the milk, beating all the time, being careful not to let the mixture curdle.
Do the same with any flavouring or colouring you wish to add.
(My icing just started to curdle once I put in the pink colouring)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jules Riding

Saturday night at the Tirau Co-operating Church we had a live concert of Jules Riding. I had promoted it and although we sent out flyers throughout the town and put up posters we really only had parishioners there.

He sang songs from his new CD "Cataclysm" and shared his testimony of the four years he sunk into depression and even thought he would never sing or write again.

His story is moving but in the end triumphant as he discovered three amazingly encouraging counsellors who help him through this time when he felt he had lost all he loved including his marriage.
But his faith in God held him and carried him through the wilderness as he dealt with hurts from his past and self-doubt. And just like we read in the Bible of Job, God has blessed him even more abundantly, restoring his marriage, his singing and song writing career and even, I believe, his faith in himself.

We were encouraged to read the psalms and hear the cry of the psalmist when he felt all was lost.
Many of his songs have been taken from the Psalms so they are profound truth.

I was especially touched by his song "Wounded Spirit" and "In your Presence". Jules had sent a copy of his CD to help promote the concert and I often listened to it at work so had started to sing the songs too but to see them performed live and knowing the stories behind them really worked in my heart.

Having suffered from a breakdown in my past and living with a man with depression is hard, but to know my journey is not one that no-one else has travelled gives comfort. And so I also share that comfort with others.

Jules Riding and Me (Tirau)

The God of All Comfort
 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

All scripture is from New International Version 1984

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Playlist - Take Me In

My Mixpod which is a selection of songs I have added to an Ipod on here, can be managed by turning on, off or the volume up or down. Check here for more detail.

The eleventh song is Take Me In, and this version is sung by Kutlass. They are a Christian rock band from Oregon.

They recorded this song for their album Strong Tower released in 2005, featuring a mix of new and popular worship songs.

I find when we sing this song in church that I am literally transported to a place that I imagine as being like the holy of holies. The place where the Ark of the Covenant ( Exodus 37:1-10) was kept behind a curtain. Only the High Priest, on the Day of Atonement, was allowed to enter into this Holy place to make "atonement for the sins of the people",  once a year.

It was so sacred that he would have a rope tied around his waist and bells on the base of his robe. If the bells stopped tinkling for too long the people would drag the body out by the rope as it meant his own sin was too great to enter this place and he had dropped dead.

But Jesus ripped the curtain in his death so we are free to enter the holy of holies. His sinlessness paid for our sin.
There have been times in the singing and hearing of this song for me that I feel a touch from God and it is in times when I need it most.

The clip that goes with this particular vidoeof the song, if you look at it, is taken from the movie The Passion of the Christ.

Take Me In

Take me past the outer courts
Into the Holy Place
Past the brazen altar
Lord I want to see your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
And the Priests who sing your praise
I hunger and thirst for your righteousness
But it's only found in one place

Take me into the holy of holies
Take me in by the blood of the lamb
Take me into the holy of holies
Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Being with Theresa - Part two

But wait there is more...
is mention in the previous post my trip to Wellington was to be with Theresa while she had appointments to try on gowns for her up coming wedding. These were fr Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings and although I am not going to show you she and I think one in particular is so right for her.

Theresa wanted this time away to be for me a time of rest and pampering.

On Thursday I had a full one hour body massage and it was truly relaxing and soothing. Theresa had to go into work for awhile so we met up in a cafe later so as to walk back to the apartment together.

With the recent diagnosis of my heart condition one of the things I am to do is start some gentle exercise and with Theresa and Steven living right in the city we walked everywhere. 

Friday lunch was spent with my parents who also live in Wellington but we were able to borrow a car and drove out to the suburbs to see them.

I don't get to see them very often (Wellington is about 470 kilometers away from Tirau where we live) so it was a blessing to chat and catch up on news face to face instead of over the phone.

We both had major things going on in our lives to share, and we wanted to be with each other when we did.

After lunch was the first of two surprises Theresa had organized for her and I.

East Day Spa  is on Level 2, of the old Tramways Building, 1 Thorndon Quay, Wellington.

Step into East Day Spa and discover a place of calm and serenity.

The philosophy behind East Day Spa is to stimulate holistic wellbeing for the busy urbanite. The East Day Spa experience combines:

Eastern-style natural holistic skin, massage and beauty treatments that have stood the test of time
Warm and nurturing hospitality and spa treatments for men and women that gently soothe, heal and relax
A tranquil urban haven with decor inspired by the exotic and mystical East.

We had a pedicure and manicure and it was very soothing.

Saturdays treat was with two others and we were booked into Martha's Pantry  at 276 Cuba St, Wellington Central.
It is described as:
An old-fashioned tea room complete with counter-food, cupcakes, coffee, tea and other goodies. Martha's Pantry also do high-tea - 3 tiers of the most delicious sweet and savoury goodies plus superb tea. 

I think only the photos will help to describe it more

And then when walking back down Cuba street and admiring the old buildings...

we spied a gown in a shop window...

complete with matching pink bridesmaid dresses!!

Needless to say they weren't really what we were looking for.

So home Saturday I flew through a stormy night to arrive safely back home truly blessed by a fun-filled time with my eldest daughter.

Thank you Theresa for a wonderful time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Being with Theresa

I have just spent three and a half days in Wellington with my eldest daughter Theresa.
It was a beautiful time of just being together and doing some looking for a wedding gown.
Theresa totally spoiled me with surprises and just doing everything for me so I could rest and be pampered.

I flew from Hamilton to Wellington on Wednesday after getting some "grab a seats" at $58 both ways.
Its been so long since I last flew anywhere it was a treat in itself.

Once we had collected my luggage we went for a drive for lunch and found a place that was called the Parade Cafe.

It used to be on Oriental Parade (across the road from where it is now) in a building that was demolished for the building of apartments and now the cafe has kept its name but is in an old tug boat moored in Freyberg Lagoon on Oriental Parade. It still rocks in the ripples of the harbour as you are eating! But it is a sheltered spot so not too much to make you seasick.

I had a lovely bowl of pumpkin soup and toast followed by a flat white, something to warm the soul after a bumpy trip down.

We then filled in some time by going for a drive up Mount Victoria and despite the cold wind we were able to view the airport, Wellington City, the harbour and the apartment.

It seemed strange that in all the12 odd years I lived in Wellington itself, I had never been up there.
Wellington Airport

Wellington City (Southern end)
Wellington harbour and northern city

The apartment - second building to the left of the red roofed Embassy Theatre

Monday, July 4, 2011

Jack Sprat

I have recently been diagnosed with coronary heart disease. This occurs when the coronary arteries which deliver oxygen to the heart muscle become narrowed or blocked by plaques.
While I am waiting for an appointment for a coronary angioplasty I am doing everything I can to reduce the risk of a heart attack.

One of these things is changing my diet and reducing all saturated fat from it.

I have been amused a little, as I am over weight but hubby is so skinny it makes him almost underweight.
So where I am reducing the fat I am conscience that it is not so much of a necessity for him. And what comes to mind (although it is reversed for us) is the old nursery rhyme...

Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean
And so betwixt the two of them
They licked the platter clean.

The origin to the words of Jack Sprat can be found in British History!

The Jack Sprat alluded to in this English poem is reputed to be King Charles I (1625-1649) and Henrietta Maria, his Queen (1609-1669). Apparently, when King Charles (Jack Sprat) declared war on Spain, parliament refused to finance him (leaving him lean!) So his wife imposed an illegal war tax (to get some fat!) after the angered King (Jack Sprat) dissolved Parliament. The first publication date for the lyrics of this nursery rhyme can be traced to 1639

Below is the version from The Little Mother Goose (1912). This version includes a "Moral"...

Jack Spratt could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean,
And so, betwixt them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean.
Better to go to bed supperless than to rise in debt.

I discovered on another website that...

Due to the always changing political climate in today's society, the above nursery rhyme has been changed to read:

Complications arose during a non-congressional investigation of dietary influence. One person of the male gender was unable to assimilate adipose tissue, and another person, of the female gender, was unable to consume tissue consisting chiefly of muscle fiber. A reciprocal arrangement between the two, who also happened to be a party of a domesticated alliance, allowed for the total consumption of the viands under consideration, which was ultimately achieved, thus, leaving the original container of the viands devoid of any contents.

I was aware there was a second verse but couldn't remember it. Upon searching I discovered there were in fact four verses to the rhyme.

Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean
And so betwixt the two of them
They licked the platter clean

Jack ate all the lean,
Joan ate all the fat.
The bone they picked it clean,
Then gave it to the cat

Jack Sprat was wheeling,
His wife by the ditch.
The barrow turned over,
And in she did pitch.

Says Jack, "She'll be drowned!"
But Joan did reply,
"I don't think I shall,
For the ditch is quite dry.".