To cut or not to cut

I have a dilemma.  My daughter has the most beautiful long, red, wavy hair.  It really is stunning (of course she gets it from me!! haha), and she is complimented on it regularly.  The problem is she wants to cut it all off!  As a child my mum never let me have long hair.  My older sister was allowed to but as my sister told me recently my mum never let me have long hair because she didn’t want the hassle of having to brush two heads of long hair before school in the morning.  I vowed that if I ever had a daughter I would let her grow her hair as long as she wanted.  It seems you always want what you don’t have and my daughter wants short hair.  Do I let her cut it all off?  She is 5 1/2.  Of course I can see the benefits of her having short hair especially with summer around the corner and going to the beach regularly and it would save me 15 minutes in the morning brushing and plaiting it. The other problem is if she cuts it all off my son will want to cut all his off too and I don’t think I will be able to cope!! :o )

Obviously this is a very minor life dilemma, but what do I do?

Stephxo

Chickpea, Kumara & Spinach Curry

As a follow up to the post about my beloved slowcooker here is my current favourite recipe. Unfortunately, my kids don’t like it but its perfect for a late Friday night dinner with a glass of wine when the kids are tucked up in bed.

  • 2Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, in 1cm squares
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp grated root ginger
  • 2-4 tsp curry powder
  • 2-3 tsp ground cumin
  • 400g golden kumara (sweet potato)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 x 400g can tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cooking liquid from chickpeas, or water
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp salt
  • about 200g baby spinach
  • chopped fresh corianer, for garnish

Turn the slow cooker on to HIGH and coat with non-stick spray. Mix the first six ingredients together in a non-stick frypan and heat until the onion is transparent, then tip everything into the slow cooker bowl. Peel and slice small kumara or cut large ones lenthwise before slicing them.  Add to the slow cooker with the next four ingredients.

Put the lid on and cook on HIGH for about 4 hours, or on LOW for 6-8 hours, or until the kumara is soft.  At this stage, stir in the garam masala, and add enough salt to bring out the flavour, About 5 minutes before serving, stir the baby spinach leaves into the hot mixture, since they wilt and soften almost immediately.

Serve in bowls, sprinkled with chopped coriander and with crusty bread alongside or serve on brown or white rice if you want the mixture to go further.

Steph xo

Boskke

How cool are these?  I am proud to say that my friend Patrick designed these hanging pot plants to allow anyone to have plants in their home no matter how small that house is.  Growing up in New Zealand we never knew the concept of limited space but after moving to London it became apparent that not everyone is so lucky.  Patrick designed these while studying ceramic design at Central St. Martin’s and living on the 12th floor of a tower block.

There are so many great reasons to have plants in your home including purifying the air you breathe. I really want some for my kitchen so I can hang my herbs!  Check out the Boskke story here.

Stephxo

Mid-winter Christmas

We have a funny tradition here down under and thats having a second christmas in the middle of the year to give us a chance to enjoy all the traditional heavy christmas food in the correct season!  Since Christmas is usually stifling hot the last thing you really want to eat is a roast dinner with a hot pudding (although this is still what we traditionally eat at christmas!).  So someone came up with the idea many years ago to have another christmas in winter.  We invited a few friends over and enjoyed roast lamb with all the trimmings and lemon tart for dessert.  We exchanged small presents as well and of course we had to decorate the house to make it feel like christmas!  This is where my Kidsonroof Christmas tree came in very handy.  I bought it in Holland last christmas and I love it.  It’s made out of recycled cardboard so can be used over and over again.  Its not too big but not small enough that it doesn’t make a statement.

Merry mid-year christmas everyone!

Steph xo

Flower Origami

I saw this cute idea in a book the other day.  It is a folded flower shape that you can use for invitations, decorations, notes to loved ones, etc. — the possibilities are endless. I made a template which you can see (here).

Trace around the flower shape then mark the lines in pencil.  Fold the card along all the pencil lines then you can shape into the flower. Let me know what you are going to use it for!

Steph xo

Kapla Blocks

For my son’s 3rd birthday a few weeks ago we bought him Kapla blocks.  These blocks are such a simple idea — each block is made in the ratio 1:3:15 which apparently makes them ideal for building many different things.  The thing I love about them is you can make your building as simple or as complicated as you want and the possibilities of what you can make are endless.  We took them on holiday last week and my niece and newphew who are 7 and 10 also enjoyed playing with them.  Their game was to see who could make the highest tower.  You can also buy coloured blocks to add to your collection and books with construction ideas.

Steph xo

Kikki-K Wooden Alphabet Stamp Set

It’s no secret that I absolutely love stationery. After returning to New Zealand I was super excited to discover a new stationery shop in town. Kikki-K is my new obsession.  In fact, as I was writing this I went to the website to add the link and ended up spending an hour studying every inch of their website. The company is based in Australia and has shops in New Zealand but they ship all over the world.

Last week I bought the wooden alphabet stamp set.  My first project was to make name places for our dinner guests the other night.  Of course we didn’t need name places since we all knew each other, and they didn’t really need me telling them where to sit, but don’t you think they look cute?!!  I just cut out strips of brown paper and stamped names on them then wrapped the paper around linen serviettes and taped the strip together at the back. Now what do I need to stamp now?….

Steph xo

Kids Birthday Cake book

I think it’s safe to say most kids in New Zealand grew up with a copy of the Australian Woman’s Weekly Kids Birthday Cakes recipe book.  My sister and I would read it over and over deciding on what cake we would have at our next birthday party, and now my kids love reading it.  My friend told me recently that her kids take it to bed to read!

Kees chose the pirate cake for his birthday.  It was super easy to make although I had an icing disaster when I emptied a whole bottle of black food colouring into the mix!!!  The kids ended up with black mouths and tongues which kind of added to the pirate theme I guess!

You can buy it on Amazon.

Stephxo

Tiny Teddy Racing Cars

It was my son’s birthday last week so we had a little party for him on Saturday.  The best thing about kid’s parties is the food!  I saw these cute teddy racing cars in a recipe book a few weeks ago and had a go at making them.  They were a huge hit and are so easy to make.

To make them take a milkyway bar and push a tiny teddy into the top.  Use icing to stick smarties to the side for the wheels and the teddies are all ready for racing!

Stephxo

Baby Caterpillar

Today I was at my local market in Takapuna where I came across Baby Caterpillar.  They make the most gorgeous 100% pure NZ merino sleep wear for children including sleeping bags and wraps for babies.  They are beautifully made and so soft and the colours are gorgeous. I bought the pyjamas for my son.  I wish they came in my size!

Steph xo

Slow cooking

I went back to full-time study a few weeks back and life has been hectic to say the least.  After my first week it became clear that my family could not live on fish and chips and spagetti on toast everynight of the week.  So I went out last weekend and bought a slow cooker (also known as a crockpot).  I have to say this new kitchen appliance is a life saver!  I can put my evening meal in it at breakfast time and by the time I come home my house smells of a lovely home cooked meal and all I need to do is dish it up. Not only does it cook casseroles, you can put whole chickens in there too! If you struggle to get a meal on the table in the evening I recommend this appliance even if you use it only a couple of nights a week.

Steph xo

Maud & Mary-Jane

A few weekends ago we went up to the Matakana Farmers Market which is about an hours drive north of Auckland.  There was so much yummy, fresh, locally produced food.  Its worth the drive just for that!  As well as food they had some craft stalls and I came across Maud & Mary-Jane. Sandy who is the founder of Maud & Mary-Jane designs and makes everything herself.  I just love the vintage wool blanket cushions and how cute are the Blankiesauruses? Check out her website here.

Steph xo

Home made duvet cover

When we moved back to New Zealand I had grand plans of what the kids bedroom would look like.  I had bought them matching beds to bring back and bought loads of dark grey gingham to make matching duvet covers.  In my head it was going to look so cute! When we finally found a house to rent, the bedrooms were so small I couldn’t fit in their matching beds.  Luckily, we had bought Mia’s toddler bed back with us so Kees ended up having to sleep in that. For a while he also had to use his sister’s girlie duvet covers.  Last week I finally got around to making him his own duvet covers so his bed feels more like his own.

How I made them:

  • I cut up an old white sheet.
  • I printed Kees’ name on normal printer paper
  • I traced Kees’ name with pencil onto the sheet.

  • Then I hand embroidered over the pencil line.

  • Finally I sewed on a matching grey gingham back.

I think his new duvet looks very smart and its always good to recycle old sheets.

Steph xo

Canal houses

A while ago my friend asked me if I could make something to go above her daughter’s bed.  She asked that it not be too girlie, pink, princess-related or too young… oh and she asked if I could sew a picture of her on there too.  Not too much of an ask then!  As they live in the Netherlands we decided on a canal house theme. I must admit I’m pleased with the result and the most important thing is my friend’s daughter loves it. I have to thank my dear friend Becky for finishing it off for me by doing the quilting part as I haven’t learned that skill yet. For my part I simply just cut out the canal houses and sewed them on then added on the other items (windows, curtains, trees etc) layer by layer and finished with the hand sewing. Now for my next project…

xo Steph

Hot Cross Buns

So what’s your favourite Easter treat?  Personally I’m a hot cross bun addict!  Chocolate eggs are fine, but if I had the choice… a nice, toasted hot cross bun, dripping with melted butter would get my vote every time! The other day I decided to try and make them myself.  I will not lie to you — it takes time to make your own hot cross buns. But if you are having a lazy day at home this Easter, have a go.  They are really delicious.

Here’s the recipe for 16 buns!

Hot Cross Buns:

  • 375 ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons active yeast
  • 565 grams flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup sultanas
  • 3/4 cup currants
  • 1/4 cup chopped mixed peel

Crosses:

  • 63 grams flour
  • 6 tablespoons water

Glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon gelatine
  • 1 tablespoon water

Heat the milk until almost boiling. Stir in first measure of sugar and butter until butter melts. Set aside until lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast over and leave in a warm place for 15 mintues or until frothy.  Combine 500 grams of the flour, salt, cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg in a bowl.  Stir in second measure of sugar.  Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.  Pour yeast mixture in. Beat to a soft dough, adding more flour if the dough is sticky.  Mix in sultanas, currants and mixed peel.  Turn onto a lightly floured board.  Knead until smooth and elastic or until dough springs back when lightly touched.  Lightly brush bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl. Brush top with oil. Cover and leave in a warm place until double in size.  Punch dough down in the centre and knead lightly.  Divide mixture into 16 even-sized pieces. Shape into balls. Place buns 2cm apart on a greased oven tray. Cover and leave in a warm place until double in size.  Pipe crosses on each bun.  Bake at 200 degrees celsius for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and brush with glaze. Cool on a wire rack.

Crosses:  Mix flour and water together until smooth and able to be piped.  More water may be needed.  Place mixture into a small plastic bag. Snip across one corner to form a hole for piping.  Twist top of bag to hold dough firm, and squeeze to pipe.

Glaze:  Put all ingredients in a saucepan. Heat until sugar and gelatine have dissolved, stirring constantly.

(Recipe from The Edmonds Cookery Book)

Steph xo

Dinner with Stephanie from Babyccino Kids

We try and sit down at 6:00pm everynight and have a family dinner. I would like to be able to have it earlier during the week but my husband doesn’t get home until 6:00pm and I think its important that he gets to have dinner with the kids and we can all talk about our day. We always have dinner at the dinner table. Our dining room is off the kitchen and has windows that completely open all around it so in the summer we have the windows open so it feels like we are outside. It’s a really relaxed place to eat. I love it!

Dinner is usually fuss free in our house. I don’t spend a lot of time preparing dinner and we mostly eat homemade food. If we have take-away we would buy fish and chips. My husband makes a mean pizza which is far better than a take-away pizza so if we feel like pizza we would have homemade. Eating out in New Zealand is expensive so for us we only eat out for special occasions. I have no problem with taking the kids to a restaurant though as we would often take them out when we lived in Holland and they are well behaved (most of the time!).

We are quite strict on manners at the table and the kids have to ask to leave the table. They also have to eat everything on their plate. Unless they really don’t like it and they have at least tried it. My daughter will eat pretty much anything (except lettuce!) but my son is a bit more picky. He is getting better the older he gets though. If they don’t eat much dinner they know there is no more food until the morning. The kids usually have plain unsweetened yoghurt with chocolate sprinkles for dessert. In the weekends we may have ice-cream as a treat. (more…)

Indoor driving fun

We were hit by a ‘weather bomb’ on Saturday!  I had never heard the term before and it turns out a ‘weather bomb’ is the name for very windy wet weather.  I’m not sure why they just don’t call it a storm….Anyway I’m not a meteorologist but I do know wet windy weather means the kids are going to be stuck inside all day.

My husband is fantastic at making things out of furniture, blankets, pillows and anything else laying around the house.  This weekend he put his building skills to use by making a car.  It kind of reminds me of Fred Flintstone’s car.  Its such a simple idea and the kids loved it.

Stephxo

Lego Friends Series

I love Lego and I bet there isn’t anyone out there who doesn’t like it.  Well apart from cursing it when you stand on a rogue piece that didn’t get put away and you look down and can’t believe that a little square of plastic can cause such pain!  Anyway… there is no need to write about how cool Lego is.

But let me tell you how shocked I was when I was introduced to the new Friends range. This is a range that they recently brought out for girls. Now I’m not sure who came up with the names for these people but it’s like they looked at my life!!  The names of the ‘friends’ are Stephanie (me) Andrea (my sister) Olivia (my sister Andrea’s daughter), Mia (my daughter) and Emma (my best friend)!!!!How weird is that?  I prefer the original Lego though and the style of the original Lego people.  What do you think of the new range?

Steph xo

School lunchbox

Its that time of the year again and all the kids in New Zealand and Australia are getting ready to go back to school.  Something I have discovered since returning to NZ is most primary schools now have compulsory uniforms and as far as I can see they ain’t pretty!  Polo neck t-skirts and polar fleece as far as the eye can see, arrrgh!!! Well if I can’t have a say on what Mia wears to school I can at least give her something stylish to put her lunch in.  Thats where Penny Scallan comes in.  We bought her this cute lunchbag, and I now have my eye on the boy version… and I’m sure I need the wine cooler for picnics!

Stephxo

Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunblock

We are enjoying lovely hot sunny days here in New Zealand and as much as I love the sun I am so over applying sunscreen to my children’s pale white skin.  I am paranoid that they are going to get sunburnt and if it wasn’t for me applying copious amounts of sunblock throughout the day they would easily burn in the harsh New Zealand sun.  So I was very relieved to find a new sunblock on the market.  This stuff is amazing — you can spray it on your kids even when they have just stepped out of the swimming pool dripping wet.  I especially like to use it when we are at the beach and I can just spray the kids while they are still playing in the sand without trying to get all the sand off them first. Its making my life so much easier!

Steph xo

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