Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Weekend away and a recipe!

Lemon Crumble Slice

Hi again, hope you are all well and getting through winter without too much trouble!

Paul and I decided to have a wee break from the winter in Auckland and spend a weekend on the Coromandel Penninsula - about an hour and a half from central Auckland. We picked our B&B and set off for the lovely drive from here to Thames.

When you arrive at Haven Homestay - after all the introductions, tour and settling in your room - I always invite guests to have a cuppa with us, to get to know who we will be sharing our home with us and to ascertain what the guests might want to do whilst they are staying in Auckland. This is a simple thing to do, but I feel so important to make our guests feel at home.

So, back to my story - The un-named B&B we stayed at was a lovely period property, clean and comfortable, no complaints there - but - the welcome "sign" wasn't a happening thing - and it made SUCH a difference to us as guests. We didn't know the area - where the best place was to eat - which bush walk was worth doing - you get what I'm saying!

So I am glad that we went out and stayed at another B&B, if only to know that what we do here at Haven Homestay helps in some small way and that people feel at home and comfortable staying in our home!

Well my latest instagram of the slice pictured above was popular - many requests for the recipe! This recipe came to me from my lovely friend Jane - a farmers wife in Gisborne. Its as popular down on the farm as it is here at Haven Homestay.

Isn't it funny that with all the fancy iced cakes you see theses days a plain old slice still catches the eye! So here goes.............



Put the first three ingredients in the food processor and wizz together - then add beaten eggs and wizz again - press two thirds of the crumble mixture into a lined swiss roll tin - spread with a jar of lemon curd - sprinkle the rest of the mixture over the top of the curd - bake at 180 degs for 30 minutes - Jane mentions that you can really use any preserves but as many of us know lemon always hits the spot!!

So, if you were to stay at a B&B would you want to have a welcoming cuppa with home baking or be left alone to get on with it?...............................

Till next time, when I will tell you about what we found to do on our short stay on the Coromandel Penninsula... bye!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Another lovely sunny day in Auckland!

Shelley Beach

Hello again family and friends! Last weekend was Queens Birthday weekend and the weather was glorious once more so we packed our trusty picnic bag and set off north west of Auckland to the Kaipara Harbour.

The drive through lovely farmland and forest areas was lovely and we got to Shelly Beach in 45 minutes or so.

The public domain at Shelley beach was surprisingly very busy, with lots of boat trailers and people getting their boats in and out of the water. It was quite entertaining listening to the chaps talking about their luck that day. The cafe was also quite popular and I noticed that they served fresh fish and chips - might have to forget the picnic next time!!!

After a walk down the long wharf, chatting with the kids fishing there, we had a short walk to the end of the beach - we didn't get very far as the tide was high. Its a lovely spot though for a relaxing day in the sun with plenty of people watching on offer. There is a small area for overnight parking of campervans and seemed to be a popular thing to do as it was full of visitors.

When travelling to Shelley Beach there are many different activities for young and old to do - we passed Woodhill State Forest and noticed signs for mountain biking trails and Tree Adventures, you can find info here www.treeadventures.co.nz. There are also mineral springs at Parakai  www.parakaisprings.co.nz This pool has hydroslides pools for families as well as quieter ones inside for those that just wish to relax. We also noticed the airfield which seems to be a popular spot for skydiving   groups www.parakaiairfield.co.nz and if we'd been adventurous it would have been the perfect day for it - lovely and clear!

And on the way home you can always stop at the many vineyards out in West Auckland and have a tasting session or two. One of our favourites is Westbrook Winery
www.westbrook.co.nz. We have spent many happy times here and it is a lovely place to end another busy day out in Auckland - all not far from Havenhomestay.

Westbrook Winery

And now I must go and plan our next "day out" ...till next time......


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mothers Day Picnic, a lovely sunny day out and about!

Tawharanui Regional Park

Hi again dear readers....

Auckland has been blessed this Autumn with the most stunning weather - long sunny days - without the searing heat of the summer sun. This Mothers Day we set off on a drive up to our favourite spot in the region - Tawharanui Penninsula. Just a short hours drive up state highway 1, Tawharanui is a favourite with many Auckland families in the summer months. On a sunny Autumn day it is the perfect spot for a walk and a picnic.

Tawharanui is a regional park and park rangers and volunteers have managed to free the area of pests and predators - consequently there is now an abundance of birdlife and kiwis.There are many lovely walking tracks long and short. We sat and had our picnic under the shade of the trees before setting off for a short walk to the rocky area  in the photograph.


There are many other things to do on a day out to Tawharanui - lots of interesting cafes and crafty places to visit nearby - well worth the drive for a relaxing day out from Haven Homestay! We LOVE it!!!!

Till next time .............

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The End of Winter - A road trip to Hamilton and a good cuppa!

Well here we are again, now almost at the end of winter. Things have naturally been a little quiet around here so my good friend, Pam and I decided that a road trip was in order!

We set off on a grey day that promised rain and headed down the southern motorway for Hamilton. The journey there and back is easily completed in a day now the roads have been improved. We arrived in Hamilton around 11am and spent a couple of hours visiting with Pam's Dad, catching him up with all the family news. About 1pm we set off for the Zealong Tea Plantation, just on the outskirts of the city, set in lovely countryside.

The grounds of the Plantation are dotted with statues and figurines depicting different aspects of the tea trade (and on a warmer, sunnier day we will return to have a proper look).

For now though this photo indicates the type of things you can see. These teapots at the carpark were quite amusing, they form a dragon shape, which you really can't appreciate from this photo, but you get the drift!

All around the Tea House are row upon row of clipped camellia bushes - they stretch forever!

I believe the picking of the new leaves begins in October. Zealong are 100% organic and produce four flavours of pure tea. There is also a tour of the grounds and production plant if you wish to know more about how the leaves are processed. Something for our next visit in the springtime. 

On entering the tea house we were greeted by a very friendly maitre d and shown to our table. It seems to be a popular place and reservations would be recommended.

The dining room was a delight - beautifully upholstered furnishings created a feeling of luxury and despite being busy it was very quiet and serene. Beside each table is a wooden box upon which a tea kettle sits to keep the water for your tea at the correct temperature. Within minutes of us settling in a young lady came with a selection of the teas on offer and she very clearly explained how to pick your tea, how long it infuses for and how many times it could be infused. At each place there was a porcelain cup with a strainer and a lid for our use. Pam chose the pure oolong and I chose the black - both so yummy and fresh. The black was mellow and had hints of honey - and no milk was involved!!! Our orders for our lunch were taken and before long we were tucking into the most beautifully presented meals we have had for quite a while.

tea kettle keeping warm

Pam's Chicken Hotpot

Pam's fruit platter with chocolate ganache

We couldn't fault the meals or the way they were presented to us. We spent over two hours there and can honestly say it was one of the most unique dining experiences either of us have had in New Zealand. We would really recommend it!

We came away feeling pampered, spoiled and really well cared for and will be back very soon...............

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Frolicks - Hidden Treasures - Beachhaven

Aimee & Ivy

Last weekend my lovely husband was out on the sparkling Waitemata catching us some dinner, so I decided to go and do something "girly". I set out to visit a vintage fair being held at our local events centre. Whilst it was a small affair - not too much to spend my money on - I did find the wonderful Aimee&Ivy their selling their beautiful and, most importantly, reasonably priced china and collectibles.

After purchasing a few items I had a chat with the owner of Aimee&Ivy, Michelle, who it turned out has her little shop situated in our own neighbourhood. So off a popped today, camera in hand to have a chat to Michelle and to take some photos so you can see too.


Glassware and china

Michelle started collecting at an early age and certainly has an eye for quality. Her bright and colourful little shop is full to bursting with high quality items all at a very reasonable price. Michelle has no intention of ripping her loyal customers off that'
s for sure!

In addition to glass, china and clothes, Michelle also hires out vases of every size imaginable and is also starting to make her own soft furnishing using vintage and quirky fabrics. This place is certainly a find and an asset to our area.

During winter she is open on Friday 10am-3pm and Saturday and Sunday 11am-3pm, and can be found on Facebook too! The shop can be found at 149a Birkdale Road. Do go and have a look, you are sure to come away with something beautiful!

vintage clothes

Little secret treasures abound in our area and I will be taking the time over the next few months to seek them out and bring you the details, after all its these small things that make Beachhaven such an interesting place to visit and, perhaps, stay awhile....... Till next time when I may have something we all love to eat to tell you about.......ta taaaa!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Families, food and traditions

What a lovely week we have just had - a week on the Gold Coast to attend the wedding of our nephew Ben and his lovely Australian girlfriend Michelle.

In the days before the wedding we spent time with Michelle's family, having a lovely BBQ by the river on the family farm, where we hear Michelle spent idyllic summers swimming after school. It was a great time for us all to get to know one another and they made us very welcome. 

The weather on the day of the wedding was perfect, not too warm, and the wedding a coming together of two families from different parts of the world. The ceremony that Ben & Michelle arranged was one that made much of the joining together of the two families and included the two mothers lighting a candle each, followed by them both lighting a family candle together. It was quite a poignant and beautiful moment!

Following the fabulous wedding breakfast and dance the newly weds are now on honeymoon.

A wedding such as theirs with such an emphasis on family got me thinking about all our family traditions. Our girls are very keen on our traditions and still like their Christmas stocking, Easter eggs and special cake for their birthdays, especially if made from the much battered AWW Cake book. The pages now are falling out and the recipe for the vienna cream is virtually unreadable!

Just three of the many!

There is a new copy of the book in the stores now, maybe I will buy the girls their own copies to save a dispute as to who gets mine!

Traditions are a wonderful way of keeping a family close and connected and very important in this day and age when we live in a "throw away" society.

I sure that Ben and Michelle will create many lovely traditions for their new family, maybe I will send them a copy of the "cake" book.............

 Vienna Cream

125gms (4oz) butter
11/2 cups icing sugar
2 tbspns milk

Have butter and milk at room temperature. Beat butter with electric mixer till it is as white as possible. Gradually add about half of the sifted icing sugar. Keep beating adding milk gradually. Then beat in the rest of the icing sugar. It should be smooth and easy to spread with a spatula. Colour using food colouring. Dip a skewer into colouring and tint slowly and gradually. Keep covered during use as a crust will develop.

adapted from AWW Children's birthday cake book

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Frolicks-In the Kitchen

Toasted Museli

One of the many things guests love about staying at Haven Homestay is the toasted museli for breakfast. As so many happy people leave with a copy of the recipe, I thought I would do a short blog on how its put together.

As my family can testify I am not much of a photographer, so I do hope the following pictures make some sort of sense.

The main ingredient!

Wholegrain oats are the main ingredient, which are pretty easy to come by, just don't use normal rolled oats because the finished product will be like sawdust!


The museli is made in the microwave so its important to use a flat, wide dish so the mixture cooks evenly. I use a flan dish. Add to the oats the wheatgerm, oatbran, chopped nuts and coconut and mix up thoroughly.

The next step is to heat till bubbling the oil, sugar, vanilla, honey, salt and cinnamon, about 1 minute or so in the microwave, I use a pyrex jug because it gets pretty hot so be careful!

Add the hot mixture to the dry mixture and stir thoroughly, this takes a bit of work, especially if you are a bit impatient - I usually end up with a mess on the bench. Never mind, just be thorough!

Now you bung it in the microwave for 4 minutes on high - then give it a good stir - put it back in for another 2 minutes - give it another good stir and break up any lumps - at this stage it should be starting to smell AMAZING! Give it another minute and it should be a nice golden colour.

As much as you will want to eat it at this stage, please leave it to go cold. When its cold break up any lumps that may have formed and add a handful of chopped dried fruit, whatever you have, I use cranberries, sultanas and apricots.

So there you go Haven Homestay's famous museli..........a list of the ingredients follows! I do hope it makes sense if not you can always ask a question in the comments. Mmmmmmmm - now I am quite hungry - pity its not breakfast time.......


1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 flavourless oil 
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups wholegrain oats
1/2 cup oatbran
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup wheatgerm
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup dried fruit

Mix the first six ingredients together in a pyrex jug and microwave for about a minute till it bubbles. Add to the combined dry ingredients and microwave on high for 4 minutes-stir-microwave for another 2 minutes-stir-microwave for another minute, then leave to cool. Add dried fruit if you wish and store in airtight container.

Adapted from Alison Holst Museli recipe