Sunny thoughts

Thanks for all of the kind thoughts and wishes sent my way in the past 24 hours, it really means a lot to me, I appreciate you taking the time to let me know you were thinking of me and my Mabel.

It’s the eve of Christmas eve and today has been a pretty hectic day. I’ve only just arrived home from my last outing of the day (9pm), officially checking off my last pre-Christmas chore  – grocery shopping. Seems I wasn’t the only one trying to get my last minute Christmas shop out of the way (so I can avoid the shops altogether tomorrow) as the supermarket was mad. Half the city must have had the same idea.

Ive just popped some (more) Christmas cookies in the oven (today’s final task), so while I’m waiting for them to bake Ill post a few pic’s from today and a few more of earlier in the week.Cookies

My that oven IS dirty (its ok, I’d notice it to) try focus on the cute Christmasy tea towels!

The tree is up, the presents are finally all wrapped and waiting…

TreeI love that we get to enjoy Christmas in the sun, but to be honest its almost a drought already so a few minutes of rain (strictly for the garden) wouldn’t go amiss!

I dug up a bucket of spuds for Christmas dinner, not quite the tiny new taters I had in mind, but we had some for dinner tonight (along with the very first sweet corn of the season) and they are very tasty. PotatoesThe garden is looking good, along with the potatoes so far it’s also been a good season for raspberries…RaspberriesAnd we are going to have bumper crops both of grapes and passionfruit later in the summer…GrapesI picked this posy of sweet peas and pink geraniums to give to our neighbors this evening. I wish I could share the scent with you…. its so sweet and summery.Sweet peasThe hydrangeas are also heavenly this year… even the bees agree with me! BumblebeeNow for a few more holiday pics…

MT Drury 2photo The weather was exceptional… sunny and warm, although a little windy. This panoramic of the Mt Maunganui main beach will display at full size if you click on it: Mt Drury2013The children had a ball; fishing, swimming, scootering, playing, sand castle building – we were on the go from dawn till dusk (literally, they were up at 6am) each day.half way down the mtphotoSo how’s Christmas shaping up for you, I’d love to know… is it summery or wintery? Are you all ready and waiting, or do you still have a long list of tasks to complete before you can relax? J xox

PS. Ive just taken the cookies out and sampled them (tasty!) Ive promised the children they can sandwich them together with peppermint cream tomorrow morning :)


A break away and some Christmas pillowcases

In the midst of the busy (or should that be silly?) season, we have decided to take a pause and make the most of the beautiful weather we are currently experiencing by spending a few days away at the beach…

At the beachCarter at the beachBeaching = happy kids!

Maia at the beachMy feet at the beachYes those are my toes. You’re welcome!

Ill post some more photos when we are home in a couple of days, but what I wanted to share today are these Christmas pillowcases I whipped up this morning – I’m embarrassed to admit they’ve been in my to-do pile for the last three weeks.

DIY DIY Christmas pillowcasesThere was really no reason to put them off; pillowcases are super quick to sew, requiring little prep and only three seams (and some over sewing so the edges don’t fray).Carters Christmas PillowcaseJust use another pillowcase for a template – there’s really nothing to them! Christmas pillowcase Maia 2 If you’re quick there’s still time to make pillowcases for some kiddos you know… in fact, I think my husband would quite like one made for him too! They are a lot of fun… and are certainly good for encouraging children, who are excited about Christmas nearly being here, to get into bed!Christmas pillowcase Maia 3I’ll leave you with a final photo taken from the top of Mt Maunganui this morning.  Paradise! Bay of Plenty from Mt MaunganuiI hope you are enjoying the lead up to Christmas, and are finding some time to relax? Love to all! Janette xox

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Despite the weather being almost unbearably hot….

Christmas centerpieceIt is indeed beginning to look a lot like Christmas!Christmas centerpiece 2From the Christmassy centerpiece on our table… Christmas crafts for kidsChristmas crafts for kidsTo the Christmas crafting that’s been going on. There are obviously going to be a lot of reindeer at the inn this year. Here’s hoping they don’t eat too much?Carter painting his reindeerCarter’s ended up with lightning bolts on both sides (he’ll need these for extra speed apparently).

Crochet christmas decorationsThe tree has been up for a couple of weeks, and the remainder of the decorations are now up too. These crochet decorations I made last two(!) years ago needed a few bead replacements, and are now good as new…Crochet christmas decorationsI’ve also started making a starry crochet garland, I’ll share the star pattern as soon as Ive made a few more. I’m loving my smaller hook and crochet yarns now I’ve become accustomed to using them.

Christmas muffinsAnd if you are looking for the perfect little Christmas muffin, give these a try. Sweet and cinnamony… just the thing for Christmas, wherever you may be!

Christmas Muffins

  • 1 cup plain white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk


  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a whiz mix egg, butter, sour cream, and milk –  until well combined.  Add in flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, and whiz just a little until the mixture is all combined (dont over process or you’ll end up with tough muffins!). Scoop batter into 10-12 paper lined muffin tins.  Stir together topping ingredients and sprinkle about a 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of the mixture onto each muffin. Bake at 200C for 15-20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown.

Make a cup of your favourite warm beverage, put your feet up and enjoy. How are your Christmas preparations coming along?  Is everything ready? Jxo

Crochet Christmas Mouse

I’m overwhelmed by so much mouse love!  Thank you!

Crochet mouse free pattern Here’s a little Christmas hat and scarf for your wee mousie… complete with holes to let those ears through!

Crochet mouse free pattern christmas 3Mouse hat.
The hat is made using 4ply yarn and. 2.5mm hook.

Round 1: Ch 16 join with ss to form a ring
Round 2: Sc in each st around, continue to work in rounds do not join. 16
Round 3: Change color. Sc in next st, sc2tog, sc in next 7, sc 2tog. 14
Round 4: Sc in next 4, ch3 sk 3, sc in next 2, ch3 sk3, sc in next 2. 14
Round 5: Change color. Sc in each st around.14
Round 6: Sc in next st, sc2tog, sc in next 6, sc 2tog, sc in next 2. 12
Round 7: Change color. Sc in next st, sc2tog, sc in next 5, sc 2tog, sc in next 2. 10
Round 8: Sc in each st around. 10
Round 9: Change color. Sc in next st, sc2tog, sc in next 4, sc 2tog, sc in next 2. 8
Round 10: Sc in each st around. 8
Round 11: Change color. Sc in next st, sc2tog, sc in next 3, sc 2tog, sc in next 2. 6
Round 12: Sc in each st around. 6
Round 13: Change color. Sc in each st around. 6
Round 14: Sc in each st around. Ss in next st. 6. Fasten off, tie ends and weave into hat, leaving long strand of white to sew Pom Pom in place.

Mouse Scarf.
Using 2 strands of 4ply held together and 2.5mm hook. Chain 30. Fasten off, sew short section of white throughout each end, leave short tassels.

Have a happy day :) Janette xox

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…

Christmas treeIsn’t it funny how Christmas seems to loom imminently but then the day or two before pass quite slowly? But here we are, Christmas eve is now upon us, and the children are all tucked up in bed dreaming of tomorrow and what it will bring.

We’ve spent the last couple of days just relaxing around the house, going on bike rides and finishing up lots of Christmassy crafts – these salt dough ornaments have brought many hours of joy…

Salt dough ornaments 2Saltdough ornamentsSalt dough 3Salt dough ornamentsIf you are looking for a nice activity for a bit of down time for the kids on Christmas day or eve, I recommend this lovely nativity scene from Made by Joel, it’s a free download which you print and then color. Maia really enjoyed this quiet activity this afternoon, and I love the end result! Nativity sceneI’ve had a bit of fun myself on the chalkboards in our kitchen… all the while listening to Christmas carols of course – I obviously haven’t spent very much time out shopping this year, so haven’t reached Christmas carol saturation yet! Christmas chalk drawing 3Christmas chalk drawingChristmas chalk drawing 2 And here’s how they look all together…Christmas chalk drawing 4So with the presents all wrapped and under the tree, I’m off to bed myself -  the day tomorrow is bound to be a big one, as I’m sure the children will be up before dawn! I hope you have a very very merry Christmas where ever in the world you may be.  Love and best wishes, Janette

Reindeer cookies

Reindeer cookies recipeThese went down extremely well with every child (and adult!) we’ve encountered in the last week. I think we’ll make another batch tomorrow to see us through to Christmas…

Reindeer cookies recipeThey are also so much fun for children to make – just as long as you don’t mind the odd wonky eyed three nosed reindeer…Reindeer cookies recipeThis is the best recipe for gingerbread shapes of any kind, we’ve used it at least a half dozen times this year alone.  Easy to make (all in one pot), it doesn’t break up or stick like other recipes Ive used… also very tasty to eat uncooked – so Carter says!  It came from Nana Ola’s friend Sheryl… thanks Sheryl!

Gingerbread Reindeer Cookies recipe:

  • 1/2 cup golden syrup
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking sda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger

Preheat oven to 180 C. Heat golden syrup, sugar, butter and milk together in a pot until melted.

Sift dry ingredients and add to pot. Blend together well, using a wooden spoon.

Roll out between two sheets of baking paper. Cut into rounds (and squish slightly to make an oval head shape), place on baking sheet and decorate (press into place) with currants (eyes), brown and red pebbles or M&Ms (noses) and small pretzels (horns).  Bake for 5-7 minutes until lightly golden. Share with all your friends!!! Reindeer cookies recipe

Hand made gifts – sugar scrub

This week Im going to share some easy-on-the-pocket-and-quick-to-make hand made gifts, perfect for Christmas.  First up hand made sugar scrub.  We made these for Carter’s teachers at his montessori preschool…

It’s so simple to make sugar scrub, even children can (and did) do it.

In a bowl, combine raw sugar with oil at a 2:1 ratio. This means, for every 2 cups of sugar you’ll add 1 cup of your choice of  oil. We used a mix of Coconut oil (approx two thirds) and olive oil (one third). Stir together well, then add a few drops of essential oil or oils until you achieve the scent strength you want.

make sugar scrubWe used peppermint oil and added a couple of teaspoons of dried rosemary leaves (from our garden) to make a lovely invigorating scrub.  Pack into small jars, I used small jars which I purchased here. Decorate with a label (see below) and a pretty ribbon, and you’re done!

Make sugar scrubTo use sugar scrub simply wet skin thoroughly and scoop a small amount of sugar scrub into the palm of your hand. Apply to skin and massage well, this doesn’t have to be hard scrubbing – the scrub does all the hard work for you… and rinse. Perfect for hands, feet, knees, and elbows… once you realise how soft you skin feels after sugar scrub you wont be able to stop. I love sugar scrub and now that Ive made my own I couldn’t imagine buying a scrub again!

And because I love to share, here are some free printables just for you (click on the link to open the document):

Here they are all packed up ready for Carter to carry (the box is scorched almonds for the only male teacher there – I wasn’t sure about giving him sugar scrub??) to school to distribute:

free Sugar scrub- How are you getting on with your Christmas gift preparations?  Nearly finished?  Not long to go now! Jxx

Merry Christmas!

Its been a pretty busy sort of a week, good with lots of fun though!

I made another couple of these for gifts:

Doily free patternAnd a few of these, some of which I have also given away:

Crochet snowflake

They don’t take long – you probably still have time to make some…

Managed to spend lots of time with my two favourite small people. Maia and I gave each other a manicure!

Holding handsThe kids made some very non-christmas crafty ladybugs:

Lady bug craft for kidsCarter’s didn’t have spots for long…

Lady bug craft for kidsSpent some time in the garden, its growing like crazy and starting to get away from me.

My vege gardenIts being very kind to us though, we have plenty of lettuce, beans, herbs, silver beet, zucchini, spinach, kale, strawberries and this week we dug the first of these… which have been just delicious!

New baby potatoesWe’ve also had our first plums which were divine and are hanging out for the tomatoes and grapes to ripen.  Our nectarines and peaches are still a wee way off though.

I made two batches of this with all the rhubarb we have growing, and this for dessert tonight. And one of these, really if you love gingerbread, make one… I promise you won’t regret it. I also made some of this which I have been enjoying for my breakfast every day, a little bit naughty but very yummy!

Crochet snowflakeWell there’s really not much more to report from here in New Zealand, the sun has just gone down and the kids are tucked up in bed dreaming about Santa coming tonight. We’ve left out milk and cookies (two types) for the big man himself and some grain and lichen for the hungry reindeer (we went on a collecting expedition yesterday because it’s reindeer’s favourite food). So with that I will wish you all a very very Merry Christmas wherever in the world you may be! Lots of Love, Janette xxxxxxxx

A little Christmas crochet inspiration

Thought I might share a couple of Christmas crochet projects Ive been working on…

These crochet Christmas card decorations are now making a lovely display in my kitchen.  I found the idea at the dutch sisters site and knew I had to make some!

Crochet Christmas CardsIt’s really simple; just crochet a pretty picot edge around a old Christmas card and viola, a snazzy wee decoration.  Love love love it! I might do some photos like this after Christmas to hang in the same spot…

Crochet Christmas CardsThe photo makes them look a bit wonky – and its too dark to take another now – really they’re not!

I also just finished this little guy.  I was going to write up a pattern for him, but I dont have the time (maybe next year). At any rate he’s just a ball (two thirds white, one third red and a black belt) with a santa hat and some (pipe cleaners in his) legs.  Maia informs me he needs boots, so Ill have to add that to the list :)

Crochet SantaI cant believe its actually less than a week till Christmas, and Ive still got so much to get done!  Fortunately all my shopping is done, just waiting on a couple of things that I ordered over the internet to arrive (fingers crossed!). How’s it going at your place, all calm and zen like just waiting for Christmas to arrive, Or??? Jx

Jingle bells

And now for kids Christmas craft number 437… ok maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but we’ve done a few these holidays that’s for sure!

This one’s easy. Take some bells, key rings and card rings.

Make your own jingle bellsPut them together…

And what have you got?  Jingle Bells!

Actual photography of said jingle bells in use proved to be outside my abilities as a photographer.  There were lots like this:
Make your own jingle bellsHere is the one photo of the dozens taken that’s actually in focus…

Make your own jingle bellsInstead, hang them on the tree and take a photo (they actually make pretty nice decorations)!

Make your own jingle bellsMental note to self: Next time limit the number of bells in each child’s hand… the noise is deafening!! Jx