Saturday, 23 June 2012

Winter Solstice!

A wee winter solstice gift for my Mother!  I have made these myself in the past, but I spotted this gem by Tamsin Cooper in one of my favourite gift stores this past week and couldnt pass it up!  It will look so pretty pinned on Mum's winter coat :-)

Tempus fugit!  Or time flies as my grandmother always used to say to me when I was a child.  I am still very new to the blogging world and rather stumbling my through it all when I can snatch a few precious minutes of spare time.  So when life gets a little hectic, as it has lately, I find that blogging (and my favourite:  reading blogs!) must take a bit of a backseat to other priorities. 

My Mother bought these gorgeous flowers for me to grace the Yule table and remind us that the days are going to get lighter now and spring will be here eventually!  I wish you could smell things through the computer as these are just gorgeous! 

I could moan and groan here about the trials of the week, but I won’t because today my family stopped, took a moment and had a beautiful day to celebrate Winter Solstice.  We had our own little mid-winter Yule feast, followed by a few simple gifts for each other, a super yummy dessert and then we all curled up in the living room in to watch a movie.  A little bit of bliss on a cold winter’s day!

For our special lunch I made us a beef wellington:

We had this served with roast potatoes and cauliflower and broccoli cheese (all very decadent I know!).   Dessert was a gorgeous ‘Opera Cake’ inspired by the challenge on which I came across on two fabulous blogs: and (I am not very good at putting in links yet, so do excuse me if this is not the best way to do it – I’ll get there eventually!).

I am not sure if it is a ‘getting older’ kind of thing, but as the years go by I do find that I really like to take more time to savour the simple joys in life.  I love to celebrate each season now and the special quality that each one has.  Yes, even winter!  Who doesn’t enjoy a cosy, comfy dose of cold weather once in a while?  It gives us a great excuse to curl up with a hot, steamy drink, a fabulous book or perhaps time out for more creative pursuits.  I love it!

When I lived in the northern hemisphere I always found that the seasons seemed to ‘work’, but living downunder means that here in New Zealand, for example, we have a long winter with no holidays and not much to really look forward to, unless you are of the ski bunny variety (which I am not).  So my family and I decided we should have a mid-winter Yule celebration each year and I have to say, it is rather lovely.  The Maori people of New Zealand call this time of year ‘Matariki’, which is the Maori name for the group of stars also known as the Pleiades star cluster or The Seven Sisters.  It is considered the Maori New Year and a special time of celebration as the darkest day passes and the light begins to slowly return.

The winter night sky in New Zealand really is a breath-taking sight (providing the weather is clear enough so that the stars can actually be seen!), so hubby and I always make a point of wrapping up warm and going outside to gaze at the night sky around this time of year.  Somehow just standing there staring at the heavens makes most problems and grumbles seem so trivial.   Hubby and I love it and always find that it makes us feel peaceful.  I am sure the neighbours must think we are absolutely bonkers though – the two of us sat out on our front steps late at night, usually in our dressing gowns and slippers with woolly hats on!!!

Time to nip off back to the warmth of the fire and do ‘a Nigella’ and see if there is any Opera cake left to go with my cup of tea!  For those of you in the southern hemisphere – merry Matariki!  For my friends in the north – here’s hoping you are enjoying a fabulous summer.  Becks xxx 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

A proud little English boy

This image is taken from
Well wasn't the Jubilee simply fabulous?  My son and I absolutely loved it.  In fact I was really rather surprised by how 'into it' my wee 8 year old was.  But then he is very proud of the fact he was born in England (where the castles and the knights are!).  Hubby (who is English) wasn't nearly so over the moon about all the proceedings as wee son and I. 

Anyway, one of my wee boys great passions in life is cooking - his favourite TV show is the Australian version of Junior Master chef.  So he was determined to make something special for the jubilee - ALL BY HIMSELF he informed us.  Below is his creation - a jubilee cake!  He really did make it all by himself, although I did help read out some of the directions.  He used blueberries and raspberries to decorate the vanilla butter cream icing, but alas they had to be frozen ones as they are not in season here now...the winter is upon us!

The great jubilee cake!

My wee boy dressed in his favourite knight costume for the Jubilee!

Oh how I wish we were in England now! New Zealand has had a real blast of winter weather and it sure does feel super chilly and cold in the mornings now - not to mention dark! I am dreaming of pretty flowers, warm sunshine and not having to hobble around the house in my granny slippers.  I have even taken to visiting my local gardening centre on a fairly regular basis, just to get a glimpse of their pretty flowers...I couldn't resist this bouquet below.  Well a girl needs treats!


Just to be a little more frugal, my son and I also love to visit our local botanical gardens (ah the joy of breathing in all that oxygen and freshness!).  This dear little waterfall above is one of favourite views in the gardens.  We love to sit nearby, dressed up in our warm woollies, sipping hot chocolate from a thermos and dreaming of summer.  My Mother always tells me that 'you shouldn't wish your life away' - that we should all savour 'the moment' and I think (wise woman that she is) this is sage advice.  So I shall do my best to embrace the magic of this chilly time of year.

I am so behind on all my blog reading, but I cant wait to have a peek and see what everyone got up to over the Jubilee weekend - such fun!    Becks xxx