Pretty Christmas star cookie tree – New Zealand

I was very excited to find these pretty Christmas star cookie tree cutters to make my Christmas cookies look that much more fun.

Star cookie cutters and stand


One of my favourite cookie recipe is from Chelsea Sugar Shortbread. This is a gorgeous recipe and to make it even more yummy I added 1 cup of dark chocolate chips at the end (before rolling the dough). Check out the recipe here.

Butter and icing sugar beaten together

Butter and icing sugar beaten together

1 cup of chocolate chips added

Once I rolled out the dough, I cut out the star shapes and a hole in the centre of each one.

This dough was wonderful to roll out, no need to refrigerate first

This dough was wonderful to roll out, no need to refrigerate first

Star cutters

Star cutters


Stars cut with holes in centres

When they cooled I decorated them by sprinkling icing sugar over them. It is important to let them completely cool before stacking. Although I love eating them while they are still a little bit warm.

Cooled shortbread sprinkled with icing sugar

Cooled shortbread sprinkled with icing sugar

Then I stacked them largest to smallest, it is up to you how many of each size you want.

Finally, I added a red ribbon to make it more festive and attractive.

This is really a great way to present your Christmas cookies as I did for morning tea today.

Christmas Cookie Tree

Christmas Cookie Tree


Christmas morning tea

Thanks so much for reading my post! What is your favourite cookie recipe?


Easy to make pallet Christmas tree…New Zealand

This easy to make pallet Christmas tree took me around 2 hours to make. It is a simple project that you can get the children to help you with and it is fun!

I found this on Pinterest here. And immediate decided it would be perfect hanging on our wall this Christmas.

Supplies needed:


Hack saw

Paint (60ml)


Nails (tacks)


Christmas Lights (I used battery operated 24 LED string lights)

Christmas decorations

Tree log

If you read my previous post on pallet coffee tables, here, you will know I have pallets stacked in the yard just waiting to be used.

The pallet I picked was easy to dismantle.



First, I used a hack saw to saw through the nails on the back of the pallet. Removing the two sections of wood. The nails that were sticking out I just sawed them off to tidy them up.

Hack saw

Hack saw



Next, I washed down the pallet with a hose, and started painting the front only. I used Resene paints, test pot colour Bianca (only because I already had this colour at home). I watered it down in the paint tray. Only a light cover was needed as I wanted the wood showing through to give it a rustic look.

Painted pallet front

Painted pallet front

Once it was dry I placed the nails (tacks) in the wood. I made a zig zag pattern. Placing the nails out more each time to widen the tree.

Christmas decorations

There were some great decorations at Kmart, very cheap and cheerful! Some gold beading at a Thrift store and gold balls I already at home, which I brought at Kmart last year, but they are still available.

Kmart Christmas decorations

Kmart Christmas decorations

Attaching the gold beads I strung them around the nails. Doing this gives you a good idea how your tree design looks and whether you need to make any alterations. I attached the lights in the same pattern. The cookie cutter copper lights are so cute!

Beads put on in zig zag pattern

Beads put on in zig zag pattern

Check out the star and hearts I made of burlap, see my post on how to make these here. And, then all the decorations I wanted.

Christmas decorations on pallet

Christmas decorations on pallet

Pallet Christmas tree decorations

Finally, I attached with twine a piece of a tree log I grabbed from a wood pile.

Tree log

Tree log

We hung this on a wall for the holiday season…the family love it!

Pallet Christmas Tree

Pallet Christmas Tree

Pallet Christmas Tree

Thanks for reading my post! Hope you get to make a pallet Christmas tree!




Simple, but cute burlap Christmas ornaments to make these holidays…

These simple, but cute burlap Christmas ornaments don’t take long to make at all. I saw them in a store for $9.00 and thought “hey I can make that for a lot less”, so here is my take on them, for a lot less!!

Supplies needed:

Burlap fabric


Tracing paper or baking paper






Needle and thread


First make a star and heart pattern. To do this trace using tracing paper or as I did use baking a star and heart. If you have a stencil use this.


I trace the patterns on to cardboard just to make it easier.



Next, trace the pattern onto your burlap fabric, you will need 2, for front and back.


Then, use the pattern to trace and cut out the stuffing. I just used polyester filling as I already had some at home. I found it easier to have a flat piece of stuffing and cut it to a little bit smaller that the pattern. It then fits in nicely inside.


I then sewed with needle and thread the about 1 cm in around the star and heart, finishing at the top. You could use a sewing machine or even use fabric glue, the choice is yours. At the top at attached a small loop of twine for hanging up the ornament.

At this stage I gently fray the edges to get a frayed look.


Finally, paint the top left or right side of the ornament. I used Resene paints (a test pot) colour Copper Fire, because I already had this at home. It is copper colour with glitter. You can use any colour!


I made various sizes for my Christmas tree. I imagine there a lot of other shapes you could use to make these ornaments.

Hearts and Stars Ornaments

Hearts and Stars Ornaments


Burlap Christmas Ornaments


Thanks for reading my post! I hope you get to make these simple, but cute ornaments!


9 pretty herb bouquets in New Zealand

9 pretty herb bouquets in New Zealand.. can be a great alternative..

Herbs bouquets can be a wonderful way to decorate your home this Christmas! I am trying to be a little bit greener and this is a great way to do it.

First, here are some different herbs with red berries from my garden. The other great thing about using herbs in your home is they not only look good, but also smell amazing!

Rosemary and red berries

Rosemary and red berries

Bay leaves and red berries

Bay leaves and red berries

As you can see I love using my ironstone jugs and mason jars.  I am happy to have now found a great use for this vintage silver trophy cup, which had been sitting in a box for years. Do you have any silver trophy not been used at your place?

Parsley, rosemary and red berries

Parsley, rosemary and red berries

Herb bouquet with irises

A wonderful way to bless a friend is give them a bouquet of herbs and flowers when they come around to visit.

Bouquet of herbs and flowers

Bouquet of herbs and flowers

Herbs and flowers

Rosemary, chives, oregano, parsley and flowers

Herbs are really easy to grow, even inside. See my post about growing them in tin cans on your window sill here

Mint and lavender

Mint and lavender

Parsley and daisies

Parsley and daisies

Parsley, rosemary and flowers

Parsley, rosemary and flowers

Roses and bay leaves

Bay leaves and white bramble roses

Mint, roses and lavender

Mint, roses and lavender

It is really easy to buy herbs these days in the supermarkets, at the market, at a plant nursery, garden shop. When you plant them most of the time they grow without much attention. Some water in the summertime if outside, but water all year around if inside. You do have to keep picking them otherwise they grow into flowers and seed. But, the flowers and seeds can be pretty as well.

I am growing a rosemary topiary for Christmas, see my post about it here. They make really lovely Christmas decorations or a gift for a friend.

Thanks for reading my post!


Have a blessed Sunday….Havelock North, New Zealand

Have a blessed Sunday … Havelock North, New Zealand. It is another beautiful spring Sunday here in Havelock North. Thinking of everyone who are preparing for Thanksgiving this week.

Here are some shots of my post I am working on for next week…aren’t they beautiful!

Roses from my garden

Herbs and roses

Herbs and roses

Bay leaves and roses

White bramble roses

Herbs and roses


Roses, lavender and herbs

Feel so spoiled to have all these flowers growing in my garden. I am blessed!

Have a blessed day wherever you are  reading this!



A very easy fruity desert cake recipe made in New Zealand…

The fruity cake recipe comes from New Zealand cook Dame Alison Holst. I love her recipes, they are a great favourite for us Kiwis, so easy to follow and wonderful results.

This cake is going to be served  a lot over the holidays, as fresh fruit has come into season at the berry farms near us in Havelock North.

Fruity Dessert Cake

Fruity Dessert Cake

Serves 6-8 people (depending on your slice size!)


¼ chopped walnuts, toasted almonds or toasted hazelnuts (I don’t add nuts as you never know who has allergies these days)

1 TBsp white or brown sugar

150g (5 oz) butter

1 Cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 ½ cups self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1-2 cups cubed or sliced ripe, raw fruit*

½ cup berries (optional)

*Suitable fruit includes peaches, nectarines, plums, apples, pears, kiwifruit, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries. Drained canned fruit may also be used.

First, choose whatever nuts complement the fruit you are using. Toast them lightly under a grill or in the over as it heats to 180 degreesC(350 degreesF), then chop finely, mix with the 1TBsp sugar and put aside.

Melt the butter in a microwave bowl or pot until just liquid. Add the second measure of sugar, the eggs and vanilla and beat until blended. Sieve the flour and baking powder onto the mixture, then add half the nut and sugar mixture.


Spread it evenly in a buttered or sprayed 23-25 cm (9-10 in) round (preferably loose-bottomed) cake tin.

Next, prepare the fruit, slicing it or cutting it into 2 cm ( ¾ in) chunks. Arrange the pieces, skin-side up, (I took the skin off for mine) in the batter. Sprinkle with berries then with the remaining nut topping.


Visit to apple orchard

We have so many orchards here, shots from a recent visit to my brother’s orchard.




Wattie’s canned boysenberries

I have made this recipe with different fruit and berries, but today I didn’t want to make a trip to the supermarket, (are you ever like me can’t face yet another trip to the supermarket?)  so I used apples I already had and a can of Wattie’s boysenberries (these berries are often grown here in the area, canned by Wattie’s)

Wattie's can Boysenberries

Apples and berries on the cake

Apples and berries on the cake

Bake at 180 degreeC (350 degree F) for about 45 minutes, until the cake mixture has risen round the fruit and browned lightly, and the centre springs back when pressed.

Baked fruity cake

Fruity Cake from New Zealand


Finally serve it warm, cut into wedges, sprinkled with icing sugar, if you like, with a whipped cream, yogurt or ice cream. I actually do like it cold as well.

Fruity cake

 Thanks for reading my post! I hope you get a chance to try out this recipe – let me know if you do!







It’s a beautiful day to walk the dog in New Zealand!

Welcome to Thursday! It’s a beautiful day to walk the dog in Havelock North, New Zealand!

I took Rodeo our fox terrier puppy out for a walk this morning, in the neighbourhood. It is such a beautiful spring day, the sun is shining and the birds are amazing. I wish I could record all the native tui lovely melody, with their loud flapping wings. We saw some quails and native wood pigeons.

These native Pohutukawa trees are everywhere. Love their red flowers!

Native Pohutukawa tree flowers

Pohutukawa tree

Rodeo amongst the daisies

Rodeo walking amongst the daisies





Palm tree

These large palm trees are amazing. Our native wood pigeons love to live in these. The tree across the road from us must have about 20 of them living in it – it’s very noisy!

Bramble white rose

Back home checking out the garden and the weeds!


Bramble white rose

This is a beautiful bramble white rose in my garden. It is so large that it’s held up by old wooden support structures.

Beautiful rose

Look at this beautiful rose

Roses in the garden

Native flax flowers

Native flax flowers can be yellow, red or orange

Tui in the flaxs

Tui on the native flax, see my previous post about them in our garden here

Thunder, Lightening and Hail

I have to laugh we had such a lovely walk and now as I type this post up the weather has changed dramatically. There is thunder and lightening outside, we probably only get this about 5 times a year in our area. It is also hailing!

Hail on our deck

Hail on our deck

Hail on our deck

I am sure it won’t last long and the sun will come out again. It will be back to being a beautiful day. Have a wonderful Thursday!

Rhubarb Custard Pie – Thanksgiving in New Zealand

We are going to be celebrating Thanksgiving in New Zealand with Rhubarb Custard Pie

We moved to Havelock North, New Zealand just over 4 years ago, but we still love celebrating Thanksgiving as a family here. In America we always travelling down to spend Thanksgiving with family in St Augustine, Florida. It was a great time of gathering together and of course an abundance of food. I  associate Thanksgiving with pies, pecan, pumpkin, sweet potato, never rhubarb custard pie. What’s pies do you always have for Thanksgiving?

When I got to thinking about our Thanksgiving here in Havelock North in a few weeks, I started looking at my pie recipes and came across my Grandma’s Rhubarb Custard Pie.

My Grandma's old recipe book

My Grandma’s old recipe book

I have some rhubarb growing in the garden so I thought I would try the recipe out.


Rhubarb Custard Pie Recipe

Choose your favourite pastry for the crust. I use Chelsea Winter (New Zealand Chef) sweet shortcrust pastry recipe available here.

Grease an 8 in/20 cm pie dish and line with your pastry, flaky or short.


2 level cups of finely sliced rhubarb (do not peel)

2 eggs

1 Tbsp. melted butter

2 level tsp. flour

1 scant cup of sugar

Chopped rhubarb

Chopped rhubarb

Beat the eggs, add melted butter. Mix flour and sugar well, add to the eggs, beat until light and fluffy. Then stir in the rhubarb.


Pour the mixture into the pastry-lined dish.


Bake in a hot oven 425degrees F, 220degrees C for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350degrees F, 180degrees C for 40 minutes or until firm to touch.

The recipe says to eat it hot with whipped cream, we loved this, but it was just as nice the next day cold. The rhubarb is quite tart in the pie, but it balances out well with the custard.


Earthquakes in New Zealand

We had some severe earthquakes in New Zealand last night, only felt one but it was scary enough.


Rodeo, our fox terrier is usually crazy in the morning, but after a night of earthquakes in New Zealand he is tired and anxious

Thanks for reading my post. Hope you get a chance to try my Grandma’s pie!








Time’s a ticking to Christmas – shopping at Kmart.

It was such a windy day here in Havelock North yesterday it looked like snow was falling. But really it was beautiful flower petals.

It looks like snow, but it is petals

I did a quick trip to our local Kmart in Hastings, only 10 minutes away and was excited to see such an amazing remodelling of their store.

The store was buzzing and usually I don’t want to think about Christmas this early, but I found 3 things I had to buy. And of course when I got home I had to try them out as you do.

The first thing was 3 Metal planters for only $17. One of these I was definitely using for my Rosemary topiary I am growing. See my post – growing rosemary topiaries in time for Christmas

3 Metal Planters

3 Metal Planters

Rosemary topiary in metal planter

My rosemary topiary I am growing in the metal planter

Next I purchased this adorable Ombre Rocking Reindeer for $7. I love this and it fits in perfectly with the colour scheme in my living room.

Rocky Reindeer

Rocky Reindeer

The last thing I got was a cute Reindeer bath mat for $12. I can see a Reindeer and duck egg blue theme in my home this Christmas.

Reindeer bath mat

Reindeer bath mat

Ok, so I didn’t buy much, but I was selective and I have got to say I was so impressed with wonderful array of items and very reasonable prices at Kmart.

Vintage silver trophy

One of the things I love using is the lovely silver trophy we got when I was a child. Our Siamese cat won this cup! I filled it with my lovely white bramble roses.

White bramble roses in vintage silver trophy cup

White bramble roses in vintage silver trophy cup

Old Mason jars

Another thing I love to use is old Mason Jars of my mums, here I painted the old ring with some Duck Egg Blue to add my theme colour.

Annie Sloan Duck Egg Blue Chalk Paint

Annie Sloan Duck Egg Blue Chalk Paint

Then I filled it with bay leaves from my garden and Bay blueberries grown locally in Hawke’s Bay. Filled it with water and a little tea-lite candle.

It makes the decorations special to use things from the house and garden. It also saves on the budget at Christmas!

Thanks for reading my post. More Christmas posts to come…


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