School Lunches

Where on earth did the summer holidays go? I hear you wondering.

School is back and if you are anything like me, you will start off school lunches with a hiss and a roar, preparing and presenting your kiddoes with a perfect healthy lunch each day.  Then all the activities start back up and work and home life get mega busy again and things start to slide……..

I set aside some time on a Sunday to do a wee bit of baking for the school lunches and it always makes me feel better if they are going to school with something without hundreds of added preservatives in them.

If you simply don’t have the time for hours in the kitchen then I have found a couple of quick yummy recipies which always go down well with my lot.  You might recognise them as a couple of classics, one is taken straight from the good old Edmonds cookbook.

The first recipe is ‘Cheese Biscuits’, which are a delicious light little fluffy bite and the cheese gives them added calcium and protein, perfect for eliminating that soggy mid-day lunch cheese that has been sitting in their lunchbox in the heat.  And if you cut them into cute little shapes they will fit into their containers nicely and make the perfect little snack.

For this recipe we gathered together 1 cup plain flour, 1 tablespoon icing sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, a pinch of salt, 25g butter, 1/2 cup grated cheese (cheats tip: buy the ready grated cheese for an even quicker bake) and 3-4 tablespoons of milk.  If you like a little bite add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the mixture before mixing.

We sifted all of the dry ingredients into our bowl and cut the butter in (if you have a food processor, chucking it all in this to blend the butter in quickly is a fantastic speedy solution).  Then you just need to mix in the cheese and milk to form a stiff dough, this can also be done in the food processor or by hand.  Pop it out onto your floured board, roll out to around a couple of cms thick and get your coolest cutters out until you have used up the whole mixture.  They then go on a greased or lined tray, prick each with a fork to look like biscuits, then pop into a 200 C oven for 10 minutes until lightly golden.

If you use small cutters these can make quite a few, trust me, your kids will love them!

Our second recipe I’m sure all of you will be familiar with, is Rice Bubble Slice.

The ingredients for this are all placed into a medium size saucepan, making sure you leave room for the rice bubbles to be stirred in at the end.  They are 115g butter, 4 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of honey.  If you don’t fancy taking out a mortgage at this stage for the honey you can substitute for golden syrup and it works just as well, just maybe reduce the amount of sugar to around 3 tablespoons to avoid it being too sweet.

We just melt these ingredients until they are golden and bubbly and take off the heat and stir in 4 cups of rice bubbles.  Pat the mixture flat into a rectangular brownie tray which is lined with baking paper, makes it much easier to remove later when it’s ready to eat.  Pop the tray into the fridge until it is set and all you need to do is slice it into squares to eat.  Easy as that!

I hope your family enjoys these little treats and I would love to hear your suggestions for some quick lunchbox bakes.  Thank you for joining me again and please come back again to visit soon.

A different kind of vintage bake 💕

Hi all you lovely people, and welcome to my baking blog for those of you who are new 🙂

Having recently celebrated my *cough* (we won’t say exactly what number) birthday and getting the most exciting present of a stack of rather lovely vintage cookbooks, I decided to change tack for this blog post and segue into the 60’s.

The beautiful area of Devonport here in good old NZ is home to an extensively stocked 2ndhand/vintage bookshop called, funnily enough, Book-Mark. ❤️ They always come up trumps when we visit looking for goodies and this time was no exception! Among the stack my parents bought me was a cookbook which they recognised as one my Scottish grandmother had cooked from (hopefully she will get to read this). The Kenwood recipe book is the title and this one hails from 1960. I thought this was pretty darn cool and as I have a Kenwood mixer just like my Gran did, I thought it would be perfect to give the recipes a try.

I wanted something to impress the fam and this cookbook didn’t disappoint…with the rather grand title of (putting on a perfect French accent, not 😂) “Genoise” Gateau à la Vanille, I felt this bake was perfect! There is even a byline telling the reader that this recipe was published by kind permission of Mr Trompeto, of the Grosvenor Hotel in London. How posh is that!

Scanning through I saw that even though the recipe was two-thirds of the page instruction wise, it doesn’t contain too many ingredients. You will need eggs, castor sugar, flour, butter, milk and water. The recipe is divided into two sections, the cake and the icing, and it pays to read through before starting. There is a variation note which suggests you could make this up as one Gateau or multiple petite fours, I thought why not grease and flour a few more pans and go for the smaller cakes. If you’re going to put in the work why not go the whole hog. 😁

For both parts of this recipe, you are required to warm the bowl, so I went for the old fashioned way and filled it with warm water and let it sit for a bit before drying clean again to start.

The eggs and first measure of castor sugar go into the bowl and are vigorously beaten for a good 8-10 minutes, which is where a standing mixer is fantastic if you would like to keep the feeling in your arms. 😁 It ends up looking like a fluffy vanilla cloud in the bowl..very satisfying.

The next step is a very careful folding in of the flour and the first measure of butter (melted, but not hot). Pour this mixture into your tin or tins and into the oven it goes at a moderate 375F (190C). For……minutes, it doesn’t actually say here but my little cakes took 20 minutes cosily all in together.
And voila your cake part is done. 👏

Onwards and upwards to the icing and your warmed bowl. Now, this states that you need to attach the ‘Juice extractor & Oil dropper’ to your mixer, which is a pretty cool looking attachment. Sadly I did not own this myself so I Macgyvered it and stood slowly squeezing a dropper bottle into my mixing bowl. Tedious but not very taxing on the body. 😁 The Kenwood mixer, with attachment, shown below.

The second amount of softened butter gets popped into the mixer with the second lot of castor sugar and while mixing you need to drip in the combined water and milk into the bowl slowly, taking about 5 minutes in total. Don’t forget to flavour with your vanilla essence and you should get a mixture that looks pretty similar to a mock cream.

Then the fun part…we get to ice and decorate! Woop!

Cutting the cakes in half I sandwiched the two layers together with my icing and then spread the rest thinly around each cake (Top and sides). I like to pipe so added a few fancy do-dad’s to the top of each cake and some cute sprinkles. The recipe suggests toasted almonds, and chocolate powder added to the centre icing to pipe, but it’s really up to you to go where the creative juices take you. ❤️

Here is one of my finished creations….

I hope you have fun with this bake and if you are looking for a detailed ingredient list, please check out my YouTube video at Sweet Sensations NZ. I really look forward to hearing from you and seeing you back here soon. ❤️

YouTube video link:


2021-11-10T08:55:03+13:0012 August 2021|Advice|0 Comments

Get your Christmas Tradition on.

Looking to start some new Christmas traditions?

Why not look to the past for inexpensive, traditional ways to celebrate the holiday season with your loved ones 🎄❤

Some of you may have traditions handed down from generation to generation which is fantastic, but if you are looking to add some the best place to look is for vintage holiday traditions from all over the world.

Research your family’s heritage and the customs which evolved from those countries. Here are some example from around the globe..


Many Christmas traditions were banned for quite some time in Scotland, due to government regulations, starting from 1647. This is why it is so important for their traditions to be carried through and celebrated now.

If you like baking bread then a Yule bread is the one for you! A loaf of unleavened bread is baked (or if you are feeling extra keen – one for each person in your family) and the person who finds a trinket in their loaf will have good luck for the year to come.

For those who are not so keen on all the baking, a lovely tradition is to place candles in your window to welcome strangers and comfort those searching for shelter and warmth.

The New Years Eve tradition of the “First Footer” – the first visitor through the door bearing gifts of peat, money and bread to symbolize warmth, wealth and abundance was originally a Christmas one. Why not bring this back to its origins and carry it out on Christmas day too 😊


If you love to sing, this one is for you, since the 16th and 17th Century in England people walked to their neighbours homes to sing Christmas carols outside. When they had finished they were offered a traditional spiced apple cider or beer known as wassail to warm them up 🍻

Personally, I love the idea of bringing back “Sugar Plums” – candy-coated nuts or herb seeds. I think a bowl of those in the centre of the Christmas Eve table wouldn’t last long in our house 😊

Ringing bells to welcome in Christmas Day at midnight, is a vintage tradition, although….you might want to wait until everybody’s awake for this one!


Why not bring some mistletoe into your house or garden to celebrate the sacred traditions of these groups. They believe that, as Mistletoe bears fruit during the winter, and stays green, that is holds magical powers.

It is said to cure infertility, ward off evil and cure disease.

Decorating your home with evergreens and natural materials looks great and you can go foraging for pine cones with your family to add to another fun family day out on a budget. If you live near a beach why not add some decorative shells to your creations.


Lights are a big part of Christmas traditions all over the world but the Phillippines really do it in style. They hold a giant lantern festival on the Saturday before Christmas. They are made from all different materials and laid in elaborate patterns but were traditionally made from origami paper and lit by candles. This is something you and your children could have fun making at home, then add to your decorations.


If you have some horror movie buffs at your house you might like this one.

In Austrian tradition, a creature called Krampus captures the naughty children while St Nicholas rewards the good boys and girls.

In the first week of December people dress up as Krampus frightening children with chains and bells…not for the faint-hearted 😬


On December 6 in the middle of the night, Nikolaus travels on his donkey to deliver treats to the Children’s shoes or boots left out the night before. They awake to find treats such as toys, chocolate, coins and oranges.

He also visits schools and homes where the children give him a drawn picture, recite a poem or sing a song in exchange for a small gift.

This sounds like a fantastic tradition to share the holiday season with those less fortunate and bring others joy.

Whatever your chosen tradition, have fun with it and give the gift of love and laughter this holiday season ❤🎄😊


2021-11-10T08:55:03+13:003 December 2020|Advice|0 Comments

Tips for Great Present Giving

Tips for Great Present Giving

We are gearing up to one of the biggest celebrations of the year and some of you may be stuck on what to get a certain person…fear not, I am here to give you a few handy tips on great present giving!

1. Be a great listener…

This is the best tip when you need to find out what your friends and family really love to do, or are passionate about at the moment. Is there a hobby that they love to spend time on or one that they would really like to take up but don’t have all the gear? A book about that topic or a starter pack to get them going (as long as it’s not going to cost an arm and a leg). You can find many small bits and pieces that connect to any kind of hobby, for example…Fishing…how about a small tackle box and some sinkers and flies? Or do they enjoy sports or would like to take up a new one? A good present would be some accessories or a ‘how to’ book. An avid baker might like a vintage cookbook or some out of print ones that can no longer be found in your retail shops.

There are clues in your conversations with them, and spending quality time with them will make you feel happy and geared up about the season ahead, so it is a win win!

2. Look for clues

How do they live their day to day life? Is it super busy? Are they big fans of a certain sport or past-time?

Busy people may enjoy a present for a relaxing activity, something they rarely get to do or something that they used to do but never have the time for anymore. These presents have great health benefits and can boost the receiver’s spirits, how can you get any better?

Do they mention things that they used to have or miss from their childhood? This one can bring back fond memories and could be a cherished present for years to come. Personally, this would be my favourite type of present!

Sports fans are pretty easy to buy for as you can find so many things these days which are printed with favourite teams logos, from socks to jerseys, drink bottles to bedspreads. The choice is endless. A big sports fan won’t be able to stop from telling you about their favourite team and how they did at the weekend. have a great range of personalised logos which can be tailored to your receiver.

3. You don’t need to go expensive.

As a big fan of op shops throughout our area, I can tell you that I have often found things that have long since stopped being manufactured in the latest stores and are often in new or as new condition!

There are so many 2nd hand shops throughout the country and they often have some gems, all you need to do is go in with an eagle eye and an open mind and you can find your treasure. I follow a Facebook page which is dedicated to op-shopping and they have the greatest finds on there! A great place for ideas and they often share where you can find certain vintage items, so you can go straight to the source.

A great place to find vintage books and lots of new looking books for all those hobbies you have found out about. Some receivers treasure an old book much more than a brand new one.

4. Buy Handmade

This is an avenue which means you support your local makers and small businesses and get a product which has time, love and effort put into making it the best it can be. If you are buying for someone special and contact the makers, they can often tailor the handmade item to the receivers favourite colour, flavour, hobby and even personalisation can make it super special. We even welcome these kinds of requests!

You are getting a one of a kind product which not many if any, people will be able to match with a mass produced item. As a maker, I know they put a lot of love and time into making a product just right and there can be no better way to show someone you love and care about them. You can check out some of my makes on Instagram @sewsweetnz and @sweetsensationsnz, or on my website here or Facebook at:

If you are crafty put your skills to the test and get making! It’s a great time to develop skills and enjoy the process.

5. Do your research

Look around and try different avenues for those special items, just remember to order well in advance if you are looking offshore for special items not found here.

New Zealand is a treasure trove of small businesses who have so much to offer you to help you give the best gift at Christmas and all those other special occasions. Ask around, use facebook handmade groups, search google, use those listening and detective skills you acquired earlier on in this blog.

I believe in you and know that you can become the best gift giver ever, enjoy the process and have a very happy holiday season!

2021-11-10T08:55:03+13:0022 November 2020|Advice, Xmas|0 Comments
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