Friday, December 24, 2010

merry christmas!

Christmas Eve! How exciting.
And the end of another big year.

Thank you so much for reading my blog, all your support and comments over this past year, my first full year in the blogging community. I listened to the radio last week as a well known and well respected radio host was somewhat scathing about blogs and those who blog. According to him we are an opinionated bunch who don't know much, and only 17% of people read blogs anyway. Well he's right in that we are opinionated. And if those of you who I've met through blogging represent just some of the 17%, then I'm not sure that the other 83% are worth worrying too much about anyway.
I feel incredibly lucky to be amongst such great friends. And I have no doubts whatsoever that if a group of us were ever so lucky to meet up around the table we'd be nattering like old friends who'd known each other forever within moments. (That's exactly how it was when I was lucky enough to have the lovely Ange and her family for dinner a few weeks ago. If only she didn't live so far away!)

Merry merry Christmas everyone. Sunshine or snow, I hope you all enjoy the warmth and happiness of friends and family over the Christmas break.
I'm looking forward to a little sand between my toes.
See you in the New Year!
Amanda xx
(image maileg)
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Monday, December 20, 2010

easy breezy - quick fix no. 11

I am not a very good Christmas baker.
At the beginning of the festive season, my intentions are always high.
I am easily seduced by beautifully styled images of sweet treats and jars of homemade goodies. I imagine myself as a domestic goddess whipping up mince pies and a Christmas cake destined to become famous.
Sometimes I even go so far as to buy exotic ingredients and lovely jars which then sit in the cupboard looking lonely. 
If I am lucky, my Mum, who makes the best shortbread, will find time to make an extra batch for us. She feels sorry for Brunnell & the girls when she sees the woefully empty tins. My sister, who is hyper-organised, and who will point out that she also works full time, will have made a beautiful cake, shortbread, and probably will be about to whip up some meringues.
Anyway, this year, though I won't get carried away and say my baking tins are impressively full, at least two of them have something in them. Tanya from Decorada, who is a Christmas angel in disguise, has given me THE most amazing Christmas cake, and, I have been perfecting this easy-as Annabel Langbein festive slice.

Chocolate & Cranberry Slice
350g best quality dark chocolate
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup shelled unsalted pistachio nuts

Line a small loaf tin with baking paper.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler until almost melted. The residual heat will be enough to fully melt it.
Add the condensed milk and stir until evenly combined, then stir in the vanilla, icing sugar, cranberries & pistachio nuts.
Press the mixture firmly into the prepared loaf tin. Chill until set, then slice & store in a cool place. This rich chocolate slice keeps for several weeks in an airtight container.

You can also find the recipe here on Annabel's website, or in her lovely book, The Free Range Cook.

So, if you happen to pop by for coffee, I'll have a little something to offer with it!
Amanda xx
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

ho ho ho - santa loves orla kiely!

Oh ho ho ho to you too Santa!
Look what we've just unpacked... Orla Kiely's gorgeous new Big Summer Flower print bags.
And they are stunning, which makes the stress levels, and hundreds of emails involved in getting them all the way over here before Christmas so very worthwhile.
Now I just might wrap one up and slip it under my own Christmas tree...

Amanda xx
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

dear father christmas...

Dear Father Christmas,
I appreciate that things are a little hectic for you right now, and that your post box will be overflowing with beautifully decorated envelopes, such as this one, which my Eva is sending you. 
However, I thought I'd better give you a little heads up, so that when you notice this beautiful envelope, you can be prepared for its contents. 
You see, Eva wrote the letter a couple of weeks ago now, and I'm not sure she realises that it may be a little difficult for you to procure the things on her list. It isn't a long list, and of course, I can definitely vouch for the part where she tells you how good she has been this year, but I fear that, even for you Santa, it may not be easy to tuck these gifts in to the sleigh.
First on the list is the giant 1.5 metre high, solid chocolate version of yourself on display at Moore Wilsons. It is taller than Eva, and quite possibly weighs four times as much. She realises that this particular chocolate Santa is a prize for a lucky chocolate buying Moore Wilsons customer, but is still hopeful that you may be able to persuade Bohemein Chocolates to make another one. Naturally, I have entered the competition myself, but the chances of my winning are slim to say the least. I have only one entry so far.
Second on the list - generous soul that she is, is a request for two tickets to Fiji. She fancies a tropical holiday with her Mummy. Now of course Santa, I'd like nothing more than a wee trip to Fiji right now, but it would seem a little unfair to have to leave Brunnell and Milly behind. And three tickets, so we could just leave Brunnell behind, would really be pushing it.  
Third, and final request - a disco and bubble making machine that could be installed in her bedroom. Now, one helpful friend who I mentioned this to, thought that this could be obtainable from The Warehouse, but frankly, I'm kind of hoping they may have sold out. I'm not sure that I would cope all that well with the constant dancing and soap making.
So Santa, that's the list.
We did try and ring you on the Santa Line on Saturday night, just to check that you had received the letter, and to see what you thought. But you were apparently out washing the reindeer, so Eva left you a wee message. I do hope you got it. She was thinking that a jamming guitar to go with the disco/bubble machine could be a lovely surprise.
A fabulous idea I thought.
Amanda xx
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Friday, December 10, 2010

the knitted nativity

Is this the cutest nativity you've ever seen?
Regal wise men, proud smiling Joseph & Mary, the shepherds
watching over their sheep. 
It certainly makes me smile!
Friday already! Where has the week gone?
It's been madly busy with all the school end of year events.
Two prize-givings, school carol service at the cathedral which was just lovely, gift service, shared class lunches and secret santas.
And now school is out for the year. The tree is up, and the girls still have to remind me about the advent pixy each night. Time to think about some Christmas shopping.
Any ideas for exceedingly difficult fussy husbands who buy everything for themselves?

Have a lovely weekend everyone!
Amanda xx

(knitted nativity from scotties) Pin It

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

first of the season

Well actually I picked two 'first of the season' flowers yesterday.
The first agapanthus, AND the first dahlia. 
My favourite flowers.
And yes, I can hear you groaning already at the mere thought of my dahlia skiting.
So I will spare you that 'first' for another day! But I warn you, other than these, weeds, and mint, my green thumb seems to have deserted me.
Hope your week is going well.

Fa la la la la....
(getting in the mood for a little carol singing tonight!)
Amanda xx

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Monday, December 6, 2010

in the swim of things

I have come to the conclusion that there is much to be said for Christmas in winter as opposed to summer.
Those cosy warm layers of clothes that can hide a multitude of eating and drinking and Christmas excess.
Instead, in Wellington's (sudden) tropical climate, and with summer at the beach ahead, there is that realisation that shedding layers of clothes, and lordy, lordy, wearing togs, is on the near horizon.
Milly and I were shopping yesterday.
"Mummy, you don't look so old on your face, but the wrinkles on your stomach are a giveaway."
Gee thanks Mil! I feel really fabulous now. Can I start a regimen of 1000 stomach crunches a day or is there such a thing as a super-maxi dress for those for whom a maxi is not maxi enough?
Any advice gladly accepted!

Amanda xx

P.S This photo is of my Nana (second from left) and her friends with their surfboards, circa 1928. 
It has always summed up her personality for me. I'm sure they were quite out there for their time!
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