Monthly Archives: October 2014

Crafty Books!


Working in a library has its benefits. In the weekend I picked up two crafty books. They’re great with cute, fun projects that I want to make. You might not have considered them before, because they’re children’s books. I LOVE kids books. Love them! They’re colourful and happy and there is so much to learn. (This is way up on my list of ‘pros’ for having children. It’s cool). I love the simple, unpretentious projects with clear instructions. Its great to make uncomplicated things that leave you happy and not frustrated. I especially want to make the cat-face cushion from Simple Softies and the Pony Friend from Little Things for Busy Hands. There is also a great owl, cool dinosaur and two other cat dudes in Simple Softies – awesome ideas for this cause!

This semester has come to an end for me (aside from the return of three marks) so this weekend I finally have some free time! I don’t have to do anything! Its amazing. I’m going to make stuff and read this book. How great! Rowan came home from his trip with a little box of letter stamps for me (and also tiny pastel coloured pegs). I want to stamp everything, sew one more of these and finish knitting a scarf…what have you got planned for the weekend? I hope its good. Maybe borrow one of these books and do something crafty!


100 Days of Breakfast – It’s a Wrap!

Day 19a Remember when I wrote this way back when? Nope. I don’t blame you. It was ELEVENTY BILLION LIGHT YEARS AGO. OK. Slight exaggeration. It was 100 whole days ago (and a little more, since I’ve been slack in sharing this). So, how was 100 days of breakfast?

Well, in the name of honesty, I kind of hated this project. Kidding. Sort of. Lets just say, my life is FULL and I completely ran out of steam, each day, when it came to uploading my pic to  the website ect. That side of it, for me, was a little blah. As was having to find my phone every morning to snap my breakfast. As was having to hunt through the cupboard to find a non-ugly chipped bowl. As was the realisation that biscuits don’t qualify as breakfast. As was the realisation that I was having these realisations 30 days in and there was 70 DAYS TO GO! But surely, there were good things too, you ask? There were!

day 100b

plavix cost On Breakfast confer

Hey, guess what, breakfast and I are top pals now! I learnt some awesome things on this project! I learnt how to poach eggs (I’m improving). I made muesli. I discovered what I need to do in order to face the brown mush on Mondays (eat it while you’re still unconscious).

So what’s the deal with liking breakfast? grade buy dramamine Its a mindset imitrex cost . Its autopilot. One day, about 30 days in, I got up in my haze of sleepiness, stumbled into the kitchen, flicked the jug on and reached for the Weet-Bix without a thought. Boom! There it was. In a nutshell, I discovered three things. Breakfast is a habit. You need to plan in advance (actually have stuff to eat). And you need to mix things up occasionally. Interestingly, it took about 30 days for breakfast to become semi-habitual. I honestly think that if you struggle to eat breakfast, you should force yourself to do it for a month and by the end of it, you’ll probably have established a routine. There were a few things that came into play with me not eating breakfast pre-project and the biggest one was time. I would never make time to eat breakfast in the a.m. But on the project I realised that breakfast doesn’t take that long to eat (unless you want a slow, leisurely Sunday-type feast). I actually had fun with some things, like finally learning how to poach eggs and realising that its part luck. I learnt that muesli is super simple! And that this buckwheat porridge is one of my favourite things to eat. I also made this pancake recipe a lot.

100 days

xerox On Doing a Super Long Project

While I have no regrets about doing the project, it was certainly harder than I thought it would be. The hard part for me was keeping a record of my project and uploading the photos to my computer and to the website each day. It’s about a five minute job but it felt like walking up a steep hill. I wrongly assumed that this would be simple, because I do this kind of stuff all the time as a blogger. Because of this I would simply not do it each day, then I would have to do five or six days at a time which took ages. Don’t do that!

I totally recommend doing a huge project to get excited about something and form new habits. It’s great for challenging yourself and getting some perspective. Do think long and hard about what sort of project you’ll do. If I do 100 Days again, I will pick something a little more creative and stimulating. You can see my entire project here. Thousands of people did the project and there were some incredible results. (Many participants were artists, crafters and photographers.) I highly recommend checking out the 100 Days Facebook page or trawling through the other projects here!

Day 54

Happy Pantry: Behind the Scenes


I want to write a bit about the philosophy behind Happy Pantry and the thinking that goes into my recipes. I’ll start with my childhood.

Growing up, I was fortunate to eat extremely well. My parents are massive foodies. We lived (they still do) on a double section in the middle of town. Both of my parents are passionate gardeners. The food we ate was lush. Everything was home-made. We ate a lot of vegetables. Stuff was prepared with love. I was well acquainted with the likes of freshly baked bread. In the summer, grape juice would bubble away on the stove and fill the kitchen with the most delightful aroma – grapes from our backyard. It was a tradition to pick litres of berries each summer and I longed for the drive out into the country where we went picking. We lived by the seasons. We preserved. We made jam. In the winter we ate from the freezer what we had saved in the summer. We ate together and meals were always special. I’m quite sure that our barbecues are a little bit famous. To me, this is really the epitome of good eating. But in saying all of that, we also ate white flour. There was white sugar in our home-made biscuits. We ate so much cheese. We drank dairy. We ate meat. We ate pasta (home-made too). And herein lies a problem, because by today’s standards, that isn’t healthy.


So what’s a girl to do? The thing is, I don’t buy it. Yes, sugar is not good for anyone and it is one of the most addictive substances on the planet and my God do we consume A LOT as a civilization. Right now I’m whipping up some sugary pancakes made with, you guessed it, wheat flour. Save me. I know that pancakes are not a healthy breakfast. But I also know that I don’t eat pancakes all of the time. And I know that home-made pancakes made with banana and wholemeal flour are better than a box of coco pops. So what am I getting at here? I’m getting at the middle-ground. Because to me, a die-hard foodie, there HAS to be something in between MacDonald’s and eating sugar free. There has to be something in between not-good-for-you and extremely-strict-diet. And that in-between is Happy Pantry. I am not vegan, or paleo, or refined-sugar free. I am also not against any of those things and enjoy learning about them and sampling their lifestyles. The thing is, life is busy all the time. Good food needs to be accessible and satisfying. And good food is about other things to me: its about variety, its about home-made, its about knowing where your food comes from and learning how to grow things, its about enjoying the process, its about sharing and cooking together and eating together.

Day 32

I love food. Gosh I love it. My favourite aspect of food is the learning. And I am constantly learning. I say that cooking is a learning curve and that is also that backbone of this blog. So I try to make recipes that are good for you in lots of ways but not necessarily adhering to any strict diet or current trend. I try to constantly learn about new foods and new ways of cooking. I try to make things that are healthier. But I still eat meat, occasionally and flour and cheese and yes, sugar (but maybe a bit less). I think it is SO great that as a society we’re constantly trying new ways to eat because we do have to eat, every day. We survive solely on the food we put in our mouths so I’m SO PLEASED that people are really invested in trying to figure out better ways to eat. This year, thanks to the blog, I’ve loved learning more about vegetarian food. I’ve loved opening my eyes to new grains. 


So my philosophy diet way-of-life is not necessarily any particular diet: it’s about learning. On this blog you will see the entire spectrum of food, from healthy to indulgent, veg to meat and so on. I think that as long as you are constantly opening your mind to new ways of trying things then you’re on the right track! So my recipes fall into this category, not any special category. When I create recipes I want them to be delicious and simple. In addition, I’m always trying to think about how I can make them a bit healthier and more substantial. For example, my recent biscuit recipe that I made to be less of a sugar-hit and more of a pick-me-up-and-sustain-me snack. The other aspect of this is that I know that in NZ, there are a lot of people who don’t eat well because they can’t afford to – they don’t know that is possible to eat really well, cheaply. And so I want Happy Pantry to be a place of accessibility, for foodies and non-foodies alike. Because we all deserve to eat well and to enjoy food and to get the most from food. Food shouldn’t be difficult or a point of stress. It should be fun (at least most of the time). I wish I could sum all of this up in a few brief words, but it turns out that food is a complex subject. It could be debated, researched, written about, discussed and mulled over for days. I guess, in short, I strive for a happy pantry and my goal here is to share a way of cooking and eating with happiness at the centre. Thank you for reading (if you made it this far).

Happy Spaces v.19


Happy weekend to you all. I hope there is rest, good thoughts and smiles. I’ve had a strange week and it isn’t over yet. I was back at work after a week off. I went to a sewing workshop and had a blast. I saw The Paper Cinema’s Odyssey and was amazed. I’ve been cranking into my last assignment for this semester (its a slog). I’m working this weekend, working on this assignment and my Row is heading away to be with his family at a sad time. I kind of just want to hide in my bed, read and eat vast quantities of mac and cauli cheese. I hope your week has been really good or is on the up! I have some good things to share today.

– My bloggy pal, Naomi, shared this incredible interview with the artist Jacqueline Fink. Jacqueline creates large-scale (read: enormous and beautiful) knitted works including blankets and amazing pieces of art. She has some great thoughts on the supposed ‘worklife balance’. Must read.

– I want to make Nadia Lim’s Bowl of Soul. How delicious and fresh!

– And this No Noodle Pad Thai looks really great!

Frankie released a new book! A Little Bit Crafty is available for pre-order and I’m excited!

– I’m obsessed with this little felt ice cream hair clip (hand made in NZ). Its just too cute! I also love iDear’s Postcard Calendar. Genius! And this art print! I need this in my life. #makersgonnamakeSOMUCH

– Tilly (from Tilly and the Buttons) shares her tips for turning a hobby into a business. A really great read!

Mollie Makes compiles cute pictures of dogs, dog noses and dog paws (because some days you need a little dog nose to cheer you up).

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscuits

biscuits main

I imagine that that title conjures up images of rich, gooey, indulgent cookies that you have to eat in secret by the fist-full. Sorry to disappoint but these bikkies, despite their star ingredients, are closer to a digestive than a Toffee Pop. However, I promise you’ll like them and you can eat them publicly, shame-free. I don’t think a biscuit is meant to be ‘healthy’. Its a biscuit. But I set out to make a biscuit that was a bit less heart attacky and a bit more substantial. Something that you could take for your morning tea at work or on a tramp. It had to be delicious and simple and so I turned to some of the most tried and true ingredients: chocolate and peanut butter. They’re brothers from another mother and man do they make good biscuits when they’re in cahoots.


I love biscuits. Who doesn’t? When I make a batch, they tend to last less than two days and I don’t need to be convinced that this a less-than-healthy habit. I think one of the reasons that you can power through biscuits is because they are a lot of sugar and not a lot else. To make this biscuit recipe, I looked at classic biscuit recipes and decided I would try halving the sugar. I have a theory, though I’m not remotely an expert on the matter, that brown sugar is nicer than white and therefore you can use less. So in this recipe, I used only half a cup of sugar. They’re plenty sweet. I decided to use wholemeal flour and coconut in an attempt to make them more filling. This is the result! I hope you try them. They’re a lot good!


Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscuits

125 grams of butter, softened
12 cup of brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
A generous 12 cup of crunchy peanut butter
1 12 cups of wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of cocoa
12 cup of coconut
100 grams of good quality dark chocolate chopped into small chunks
(I use and recommend Whittaker’s Dark Block, 50% cocoa)

Makes about 30 biscuits. 

Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Prepare two oven trays. 

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. (I used electric beaters). Beat in the egg and vanilla essence until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides with a spatula occasionally. Add the peanut butter and beat in to combine.

Sift in the flour and baking powder. Add in the flakes left in the sieve, we’re only sifting to aerate the flour not to remove lumps. Then sift in the cocoa (leaving out the lumps!). Add the coconut and chocolate and fold together until well combined and you have a nice dough.

Roll heaped tablespoons of dough into balls and place on an oven tray. Press down on each biscuit with your fingers or a fork to flatten slightly. I bake my biscuits in two batches, one tray at a time. Bake for about 12 minutes (all ovens are different, they may need a little longer. I always flip one biscuit over and check for a nice brown bottom). Transfer to a wire rack to cool. They’ll keep for up to a week in an airtight container.

A Crafty Evening with Empire Eco Designs

2014-10-21 09.09.18

So this is what I look like when I’m a) deliriously happy with a new sewing creation and b) have just worked for 8 hours and then sewed for 3 hours. Last night I was privileged to attend a workshop with Pip Pottage from Empire Eco Designs at the Little Beehive Co-op. Needless to say, it was a hilariously fun evening and I came away with a delightful new ‘happy bucket’ and a bucket-load of new skills and knowledge. Among other things, I discovered that for two years I have been using a seam ripper incorrectly (life changing!!) and that my sewing machine has a handle.

The Little Beehive Co-op is this awesome new place in town (that you *must* go to if you’re in my neighbourhood). It is is a cooperative where a whole bunch of different makers (local and from further afield in NZ) sell their creations. The shop in itself is non-profit and it functions by all of the makers taking turns to work in the shop. There is also an exhibition space and, yay, a cool place for making. Different makers host workshops and I’m so glad I went to Pip’s. She makes happy buckets, blankets, oven mitts and other lovely things all from natural fibres. (Last night we got to choose our fabric and you know the emoji with love heart eyes, that was me). FYI, you can buy a happy bucket of this size for $20 (and the uses are unlimited).


The world around us seems like its crumbling, slowly. With global warming, awry politics, disease, financial crisis and on and on. Yet, among all of that there is still good, such good things. It never ceases to amaze me, in fact it blows me away, that makers are so willing and so ready to share their hard-earned knowledge, skills and patterns. Putting this in perspective, I now have in my possession the ability to make something that Pip sells for a living. People still have faith and that makes me so happy. It makes things seem not so bad. Despite all of the negativity, many people still have good hearts and I like to think that eventually this is what is going to rise up and pull our communities back together.

I think I should tell a funny and kind of sad story. When I went to high school, sewing was compulsory for one term in year 9 (third form). Then, if you wanted, you could continue to do sewing. The sewing teacher, in my opinion, was one of the scariest ladies I’ve ever met (she was probably a brilliant seamstress). I was so scared of sewing class that I bribed mum into finishing my projects at home. After that term, I never sewed again (until now). Interestingly, in my adult life, the sewers and crafters I’ve met are incredible, nice, humble people who make you feel like family. I’m so glad I discovered this.


I highly, highly recommend going to a sewing workshop if one crops up in your neck of the woods. I always learn so much from workshops and come away feeling super accomplished and having had a brilliant night with new friends. And I have to say a massive thanks to Pip and her mum, for being so kind and generous. Makers unite!