Colour Chase Challenge (White)

January - White

For the last few months on Instagram I had seen images posted with a colour theme for each month. I found the Color Chase Challenge group on Facebook, which has information on the different colours for each month. You can post your images in the Facebook group, and also share and tag on Instagram as well.

I thought this would be a great project for 2018, and am aiming to do 9 images for the month so I can put them in a grid. At the end of the year I plan on printing a book with the grid and images, and also print one big canvas with the grids.

January’s colour is white, which is an easy colour to start off with. My first thought when I saw the colour was our dog Luna, who is a Japanese Spitz and a big ball of white fluff!! As she is still a pup and very energetic I wasn’t quite sure how well she would do at sitting still for the camera. To my surprise she did really well, and it went better than expected.

Luna Lying
Luna Sitting

I love flatlays and decided to play around with some fresh blueberries and meringues that were left over from Christmas. It was fun coming up with different ideas and compositions.

Blueberries and Meringues
Blueberry Tic Tac Toe

These white roses are from outside my bedroom window, it’s so nice to open the curtains and see them each morning. Both images were taken with my Vivitar 55mm F25.8 macro lens.

White Rose Petals
White Roses

My finished grid of 9 images for white.

White Grid

Unicorn Birthday Party

Unicorns seem to be the craze at the moment for young girls, so I wasn’t too surprised when Little Miss M asked for a Unicorn themed birthday party. I have being loving all of the unicorn cakes that come up on my feed, so was quietly excited that I got to make one.

Her birthday cake was a 7” chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, and covered in fondant. The unicorn horn was made from yellow coloured gumpaste, and then painted with gold edible paint. Little Miss M picked out the colours for the mane and I piped the buttercream onto the cake using a Wilton 2M tip.

Unicorn Dessert Table
Unicorn Cake

When I made the unicorn horn for the cake, I also made little unicorn horns for the cupcakes and cakepops. I left these for a few days to harden and painted them also with the gold edible paint. The ears for the unicorn cake, cupcakes and cakepops were made with fondant and a little bit of Tylose mixed in. These were also made a few days ahead of time to give them time to harden, as I didn’t want the buttercream to make them soft.

Unicorn Dessert Table
Unicorn Table

The vanilla cupcakes were iced with buttercream coloured with Americolor Soft Pink and Americolor Avocado . When I pipe with buttercream I always put the buttercream on plastic wrap, roll into a tube and then put this in the piping bag. Then when I have finished I pull the plastic wrap out and dispose of it, and the piping bag is still relatively clean. In this instance I made two small plastic wrap tubes - 1 pink and 1 green and put both into the piping bag. Then when I was piping it swirled the two colours together.

Unicorn Cupcakes

I was dreading the cake pops as I knew trying to get the unicorn horn and little ears on them was going to be a fiddly job. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I had thought, as I used melted white chocolate to put the horns and ears on, and they stuck like glue. In fact, the cakepops were my favourite thing on the dessert table.

Unicorn Cakepops

On our trip to the gold coin shop to get supplies, my daughter found the green and white polka dot popcorn cases to use as the goodie bags. We put some tissue paper in them, and filled them up with some treats for her friends.

I found the following printables on Pinterest - 

Unicorn Poop – I printed the tag onto sticker paper, cut them out, and then peeled and attached to Tic Tac containers.

Rainbow Seeds – I used skittles to fill little bags and then printed and stapled the labels onto the bags. When I was filling the bags I had them on kitchen scales so each bag had exactly the same amount of Skittles, so no need to count them.

Unicorn Goodie Bags

Yellow Dahlia's

Whenever we visit my in-laws I always take my macro lens. My MIL has a large rustic garden filled with roses, hydrangeas, dahlia's and many other flowers. Unfortunately when we do visit it's during the day, and being summer at the moment it was very bright outside. I did find a lovely Dahlia bush which was shaded, and spent quite some time taking photos. There were other dahlia's in varying shades of pink, but for some reason the yellow caught my eye.


Christmas Photos

Down here in New Zealand we don't do the holiday Christmas photo, and send it out to everyone, but I still wanted to take some photos of the kids. It's hard coming up with a theme as it's summer here, and kids with hot chocolate, cute pj's, etc don't quite fit in. Maybe next year I should put tinsel on the BBQ, they can wear shorts, t-shirts, jandals, and hold onto some sausages.  

So on Christmas Eve I was stringing up stars, and taking photos. There is so much more that I wanted to do - take some video, more stars, better poses etc etc, but ran out of time. But saying that I'm really happy with what I got. I also put the photos into a short video, which the kids loved.

One of the bribes I used to get them in front of the camera, was they could open some Christmas Crackers.

One of the bribes I used to get them in front of the camera, was they could open some Christmas Crackers.

I also got some different coloured glitter to blow.  Emme didn't quite get the hang of it, but Mason was really good.

I also got some different coloured glitter to blow.  Emme didn't quite get the hang of it, but Mason was really good.


My Baking Buddy

Even after having trees around the house cut down, my kitchen is still quite dark, small and cluttered. I do dream of a nice modern clean Pinterest kitchen with perfect light, but alas it is what it is. My Mum has a beautiful white modern kitchen with lots of light and windows, and I do take the kids around there when we make gingerbread men at Christmas to take photos.

So…I was getting ready to bake my nieces 16th birthday cake when my daughter asked if she could help. Cake decorating is also a hobby, and I can get a little OCD on how things are done.

But this time I said yes, and how can you say no when she comes out in her cute little apron and Hello Kitty whisks.

I’m happy to report there were no egg shells in the mixture, most of the flour went in the pot, and as per usual when it came to clean up time she was nowhere to be seen.

Still mixing everything together with her Hello Kitty whisk.

Still mixing everything together with her Hello Kitty whisk.

I told her that she could make cupcakes from the left over cake batter.

I told her that she could make cupcakes from the left over cake batter.

The butter has melted, and mixing everything this time with the big whisk.

The butter has melted, and mixing everything this time with the big whisk.

All mixed together, and in the cupcake liners.

All mixed together, and in the cupcake liners.

This is when she disappears and I'm left to do all of the cleanup...hmmmm

This is when she disappears and I'm left to do all of the cleanup...hmmmm


Ombre Buttercream Cake

For my Mother In Law's birthday cake I decided to change from the normal ganache and fondant to buttercream.  The cake was a caramel mud cake, which I layered with leftover white chocolate ganache, and toffee sauce.  I then made my usual buttercream, and coloured it in 3 colours to make the ombre effect.

Ombre Buttercream Cake
Ombre Buttercream Cake

After icing the cake,  I placed the macarons on the top of the cake.    I would love to say that I made the macarons, but they were store bought.  Using a Wilton 1M tip I piped swirls of buttercream between the macarons, and covered the cakes with sprinkles.

Buttercream Swirls
Ombre Buttercream Cake

Pink, White, and Gold Birthday Party

Last year I planned to do a cute ballerina themed birthday party for my daughter.  I had pins on my Pinterest board with pink themed dessert tables, pink ballerina cakes and other pink food goodies.

Planning was going well…until my daughter attended her friend’s birthday which was Frozen themed.  So of course, my daughter wanted a Frozen themed party as well……sadly I had to say goodbye to my pink décor and embrace the blue!!

This year she didn’t mention anything about a particular theme, so I decided to go with Pink, White and Gold which seems to be popular at the moment.  The good part was no figurines to make, as they are not my strong point.

I decided to go with a 7” chocolate cake, layered with vanilla buttercream, encased with milk chocolate ganache and covered in fondant.  The top layer was a 5” white chocolate mud cake, also layered with vanilla buttercream, encased with white chocolate ganache and covered in fondant.

Pink, White and Gold Dessert Table

I used Americolor Dusty Pink to colour my fondant, and cake board.  The gold was brushed on using Metallic Light Gold edible paint by Rainbow Dust.  For the name plaque I used the Vladimir Script font in Microsoft Word, flipped it horizontally, and printed it out.  I then traced it with parchment paper using a pencil.  After rolling out my fondant and using a circle cutter, I flipped my name to the correct side and traced this on the fondant.  You can then see the outline of the font, and then use edible paint or an edible pen to write on the fondant.   In this instance I used a black edible pen.  

The gold balls were made a couple of days before I assembled the cake, and didn’t work out well.  They were made with white fondant, left to harden and then painted with the same Metallic Light Gold edible paint that I used on the cake.  As they were hard they would not stick to the cake, and kept falling off. So I made new balls out of white fondant, and while they were still soft stuck them to the cake.  When they dried I then painted them gold, and the next morning gave them another touch of paint.

Pink, white and Gold Cake

For the cupcake toppers a couple of days before the party I rolled out white fondant mixed with a bit of tylose, and cut out heart shapes.  The night before I painted them with the Metallic Light Gold edible paint, and left them to dry.  They were then nice and hard the next day, and wouldn’t go soft while sitting in the buttercream on the cupcakes.


The cake pops were made using leftover cake and ganache.  I dipped them in pink coloured white chocolate, and when the chocolate was set I painted Metallic Light Gold edible paint on them.


On Pinterest I found a tutorial on how to make the tassel garland.  They were very easy to make, the hardest part was trying not to burn my fingers with the hot glue gun!!

Exploring My Mother In Law's Garden

We traveled to my husbands parents farm for my father in law's birthday a couple of weeks ago.   After lunch while everyone else went tadpole hunting in the water troughs, I  spent the time exploring my MIL’s garden.  As it is now Autumn the roses are all gone, but there were plenty of other flowers to catch my eye.  I find it very therapeutic shooting florals, it’s just me and my camera enjoying the peace and quiet.   

These Japanese Roses are one of my favourites, and I will be planting some on the cooler side of the house to add a touch of colour.

Japanese Roses
Japanese Roses
Japanese Roses
Purple Japanese Rose
Japenese Rose Bud

Pink Daisy

Pink Daisy

I loved the deep red rich colour of these Delilah's.

Red Delilah
Red Delilah

These green leaves hanging on a vine caught my eye, I love the symmetry.

Green Leaves

Trip to Te Rewa Rewa Bridge

On the last morning of our summer holiday at the Fitzroy Campground I got up early, and took the 15 minute walk along the foreshore walkway to Te Rewa Rewa bridge.  I got there just as the sun was coming up, and had the bridge to myself apart from some early morning runners and cyclists.  It was a beautiful morning, and I was fortunate there was no cloud covering Mt Taranaki.

Te Rewa Rewa bridge was opened in 2010, and spans across the Waiwhakaho River.  The internationally awarded bridge can be viewed as either a breaking wave or a whale skeleton.

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge
Te Rewa Rewa Bridge

Looking through the side of the bridge at the Waiwhakaho river flowing into the Tasman sea.

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge
Te Rewa Rewa Bridge

Mt Taranaki framed by the sides of the bridge.

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge
Te Rewa Rewa Bridge
Te Rewa Rewa Bridge
Te Rewa Rewa Bridge

We then came back later in the morning so my husband and the kids could have a look at the bridge.  On the drive there we stopped for a picture of Mt Taranaki.  This viewpoint was a recommendation from my Brother In Law, after seeing it on one of his morning runs.

Mt Taranaki
Te Rewa Rewa Bridge

Summer Beach Holiday

The kids love the beach, so it was an easy decision to spend our summer holiday at the beach.  This year we stayed in a cabin at Fitzroy Beach in New Plymouth.  It’s a great campground, with our cabin less than 20 meters from the beach.  We all loved the beach and campground,  and will definitely be going back again.

When we arrived on the first day, it was cloudy and overcast.  The kids quickly ran down to the beach to have a look.  They had to be careful as there were quite a few blue bottle jellyfish that had come in with the tide.  Luckily we had brought them some beach shoes, so they didn’t get stung.

Beach Reflections
Running along the beach
Looking at the horizon

There was no one swimming when we first arrived in the morning, maybe the blue bottles kept them away.  The overcast day was perfect for reflection photos.

Lifeguard Sign
Kite Skateboarder

Day Two

The kids were up early, racing down to the beach to have another splash around.  It was another overcast morning, so more reflection photos.  Mason also took down his skimming board that he got for his birthday to try out. Luckily the blue bottles were all gone, and we only saw one or two for the rest of the holiday.

Beach Reflections
Skim Boarding

We headed into the city centre for lunch, and then to the foreshore walkway. Along the walkway they had the Te Kupenga International Stone Sculpture Symposium.  Sculptors from across the world, and New Zealand were making sculptures from the local volcanic rock.  It was a scorching hot day, and they must have been sweltering under the midday sun in their protective gear.

Rock Sculptors

Scootering back to the car past the Len Lye wind wand.

Wind Wand

Day Three

Each afternoon the sun would appear from under the clouds and it would turn into a hot day.  The kids enjoyed boogie boarding in the sea, and would spend hours surfing the waves.

Boogie Boarding
Boogie Boarding
Boogie Boarding
Boogie Boarding

The next two days were spent at the beach boogie boarding, and enjoying the waves.  On the last morning I got up early, and walked along the foreshore walkway to the Te Rewa Rewa bridge.  I got there just as the sun was rising, and luckily there was no cloud covering the mountain.  On my next blog post I will share the pictures of the bridge.

Semi-Naked Drippy Cake

My sons birthday was last week, and we had an afternoon tea on Sunday for family members.  He had a birthday party late last month with his friends from school, I blogged earlier about his ice-cream dessert table, and his request not to have a birthday cake then.

For his afternoon tea I wanted to make him a drippy cake after seeing all of the delicious semi-naked dripping cakes on Instagram, and topped it with his favourite lollies and chocolates.

He wanted a banana cake, so I made a small 6” white chocolate and banana mudcake and layered it with buttercream, fresh bananas and toffee sauce.  Decorating the top with the toffee shards, lollies and chocolates was the fun part.  I added Chocolate Fingers, Kitkats, Crunchie Bars, Maltesers, Jaffa’s, Chocolate Fish, Picnic Bars,  Cadbury Milk Chocolate and Whittaker’s Santé Bars.

Semi-Naked Drippy Cake

The Chocolate Fish which is marshmallow covered in chocolate, and Jaffas are very Kiwi, and are a part of every kid's childhood.  When I was a kid a Chocolate Fish was a reward for doing a great job, or doing well at something. The term “I’ll give you a Chocolate fish if you do xxx for me” is still used.  Now you can also get small Chocolate Fish which are called Sprats, and along with Jaffas are quite often found on your saucer when you purchase a cup of coffee from a café.  Jaffas are the small red balls filled with chocolate and are orange flavoured.  I have fond childhood memories of going to the local picture theatre and buying a box of Jaffas to eat while watching the movie.  Way back then our picture theatre had wooden floors, and you would always hear people dropping their Jaffa’s on the floor, and hear them rolling down the steps.

Semi-Naked Drippy Cake
Semi-Naked Drippy Cake

Along with his cake I also made Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese icing, and topped with fresh strawberries.  I didn’t take any close-ups of the cupcakes as we had high humidity and temperatures, and the icing was not behaving.  I could have quite happily dived into the fridge with them to cool off.  We don’t normally get high temperatures and humidity, so our air-conditioning is opening up all of the windows and doors.

Mason loves Chocolate Brownies so I made him a batch, and iced with a chocolate cheesecake swirl, and topped with a fresh cherry.

Chocolate Brownies

Green Tomatoes and Basil

It was a grey overcast morning a few days ago so I decided to grab my camera and macro lens and go wondering to see if anything caught my eye.

My MIL gave us a couple of tomato plants as she had quite a few of them, and they have been sitting on our deck waiting to be planted in our veggie garden.

I walked past the plants on the deck and noticed we had some tomatoes growing on them, so decided to make them my subject.  It was an extra bonus that the deck chairs were right beside them so I sat down for a good 1/2 hour and snapped away.  The kids thought I was crazy sitting beside a tomato plant and taking photos.

Half way through I remembered a great tip about using a water bottle to spray water on flowers, so I went inside grabbed my daughters spray bottle that she uses on her dolls hair.  My daughter didn’t seem very impressed that I was using her water bottle on the plants.  Wait until she sees me using it on cobwebs, mmm maybe I will have to be sneaky for that one so she doesn’t see me.

These were all taken with my Vivitar 55mm f2.8, which is a vintage/legacy SLR lens.  It's fully manual, so focusing can be a bit hard at times but I love it.

Green Tomato
Green Tomato
Green Tomato
Tomato Flower

My first attempt at making a Gingerbread House

Each year it is a Hancock family tradition to make and decorate gingerbread men to leave out for Santa.  This year as the kids are older I thought we could also make gingerbread houses to decorate as well.

As I didn’t have cutters for the house I found some templates on line and printed these out to use.  We went around to my Mum’s house again to do the baking and decorating as her kitchen is bigger, and nice and light to take some photos in.

The kids had fun rolling out the dough and making the gingerbread men and houses.  As this was the first time we had made gingerbread houses I decided to let them decorate the house, and then put it together at the end.  We did one house, and they had half each to decorate.

They love the decorating part, putting on different sorts of lollies to make windows and doors.   Once they had finished the house, they started on their gingerbread men.  Emme went for the pink and girly look, while Mason tried to make his look like zombies!!

I then started to build the house…..and this is when things started to go downhill!!!  I used royal icing and glued the house together, and it lasted only long enough to take some quick photos before falling into a heap.  If I had been at home I would have grabbed one of the kids dinosaurs, and put it in the middle and blamed it on the dinosaur!!!

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and next year I will have a better plan.

1.       Research, research and research

2.       Overcook each piece and leave overnight so they are rock hard

3.       Glue each piece and leave to dry before adding the next piece…yes, hindsight is a great thing

4.       Or….buy a premade house, and not have to worry about steps 1,2 and 3.

So I have a year to plan the gingerbread house, fingers crossed for better luck than.


Mason having fun decorating his gingerbread.

Masons Gingerbread Men

Emme having fun with the decorating

Emme Gingerbread Decorating

The 2 minute gingerbread house.....

Gingerbread House

Mason’s Ice-Cream Party

This year we decided to have Mason’s birthday party early, as his birthday is in January which is in the middle of the summer school holidays here.  So all of his friends go away, and he doesn’t have anyone to come to his party.  We had his party the day after school finished for the year, which worked out really well as all of his friends came.  He didn’t want a birthday cake this year, and as he loves ice-cream I decided on an ice-cream dessert table.  

I brought the ice-cream tubs a few months ago on sale, and then found some digital paper that was similar to make the bunting on the table.

Ice-Cream Dessert Table

A few hours before the party I pre-rolled the ice-cream, put on a baking sheet and then put in the freezer.  Next time I would do this the night before as they were still quite soft.  This made it a lot easier when you had a line of hungry boys lined up waiting on ice-cream.

Ice-Cream Dessert Table

The chocolate sundae cupcakes were chocolate cupcakes covered in buttercream, drizzled in chocolate sauce and topped with a glace cherry. Even though cherries are in season here they are very expensive.

Chocolate Sundae Cupcakes
Cupcakes and Toppings
Ice-Cream Dessert Table

The ice-cream cake pops were really easy to make, and looked great on the table.  When I asked some of the boys what flavour ice-cream they wanted they pointed to the cake pops, as they thought they were real ice-cream in cones.  

Ice-Cream Cake Pops

Ice-Cream Cake Pops

I made extra cupcakes when I made my chocolate sundae cupcakes, and put the extras in a food processor and made into fine crumbs.  You can also use cake scraps as well.

I then added a couple of Tbsp of the leftover buttercream, and pulsed until it was all combined. You should then be able to form into balls, if not add more buttercream until you can form balls.  

You will need your ice-cream cone now to check the size of the cake ball.  I used twice the amount of cake ball that I would normally use if I was putting them on a stick.  Roll your cake ball and check that it fits inside the ice-cream cone.  Place on a greaseproof lined tray.  When you have rolled all of your cake balls put them in the fridge to harden up - about 20/30 minutes.

Now they have hardened melt your chocolate (melts or candy melts), and with a spoon drizzle just inside the cone where the cake ball will sit.  Then place one of the cake balls in the cone.  Continue until you have all of the cake balls in the cones.  Put them back in the fridge for 15 mins for the chocolate to harden.

When the cake balls have set in the cones re-melt the chocolate again, and dip each cake ball into the melted chocolate.  Then spoon sprinkles over top and leave to set.



All I want for christmas is my two front teeth!!

In the space of 3 days Little Miss M lost her top and her bottom front tooth. Her top one had been wiggly for weeks and she wouldn't let anyone pull it out.  She's definitely a lot happier now that she can eat without sore wiggly teeth.

So two visits from the Tooth Fairy this week. I also heard that the Tooth Fairy spent 1/2 an hour searching the house for $2 to put under her pillow!!

These were taken when her top tooth came out, and you can see in the photos that her bottom tooth was on an angle and on its way out as well. Her other top tooth is on its way out as well.

All that she would give me was a couple of minutes to take photos, so I took what I could get!!!

I also had to write a note to the Toothfairy when she lost the second one, as she was at school and they went swimming and she lost it in the pool.

She was very worried she wouldn't get her $2 so I had to write a note and explain it to the Toothfairy.

Front Teeth
Toothy Grin
Resting Eyes

I couldn't decide between B&W or Colour for these, so went with both.

Her Tooth

Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake Trifles

At the end of each year I make some homemade goodies for my kids teachers.  The last few years I have made cupcakes, and last year I made caramels, fudge, and truffles.  Last summer I made a big Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake Trifle for a work BBQ dinner, and everyone loved it.  So this year I decided to make the same trifle and put it in small glass jars for each teacher. 

The recipe was from Life Love and Sugar, which is one of my favourite websites for delicious desserts, cupcakes and cakes.  I used her brownie recipe for the bottom of the trifles, then layered with the cheesecake mixture, crushed Oreo's, chocolate whipped cream, and then sprinkled with more Oreo's.

I left out the Baileys as these gifts were for Teachers, and I didn’t think it would appropriate to give my kids teachers alcohol lol!

Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake Trifles

The jars that I used were Moccona 95g coffee jars that I had saved during the year.  They were the perfect size, and next time I would fill them right up to the top, as they did settle a bit and ended up been ¾ fill the next day.

Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake Trifles

I found the perfect size tags from Two Peas & Their Pod, and the twine, wooden spoon and fork were from the local variety shop.

Trifle Recipe

Brownie Recipe

Printable Tags

Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake Trifles

King Edward Park

After our visit to Nowell’s Lake a couple of weeks ago Emme wanted to go to our local park (King Edward Park) to feed the ducks.  She had been there a few days earlier and one of the ducks had ducklings, so she was excited about seeing them again.

Unfortunately mum and her ducklings weren’t there but all the other ducks got their bread, and Emme was off to the playground.

I managed to get a few photos of her as she went quickly from ride to ride.


It was great to see the flowers in bloom, and next time I will bring my macro lens and spend some time up close with the flowers.

Purple Flowers
Purple Flowers


Bacon and Maple Syrup Canadian Cupcakes

Recently it was the Rugby World Cup, and as a rugby mad nation it is all that is talked about in New Zealand when it is on.  At work we do a sweepstake where we pick 2 countries out of a hat.  At the end of the world cup we have a potluck lunch where each person brings along a dish from one or both of their countries.  This year my countries were Scotland, and for the second time in a row I also got Canada. Unfortunately Canada didn’t get out of the pool matches, and Scotland lost to Australia in the quarter finals.  

As I’m known as the cupcake person at work, I once again made my Bacon and Maple Syrup Cupcakes as my Canadian dish.  I love bacon and cupcakes, so it was a match made in heaven to combine the two.  I used my favourite Vanilla Cupcake recipe and adapted it to include the bacon and maple syrup.

Bacon and Maple Syrup Cupcakes


3 rashes of bacon

Cook bacon in a pan and put the fat/drippings in a container to put in the cupcakes.  Chop bacon and set aside for the topping.


125gm butter + reserved fat/drippings from cooked bacon rashes

125gm sugar

2 eggs

1 Tbl maple syrup

125gm self rising flour

2 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 190C

  1. Cream butter and bacon fat together until creamy.
  2. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Set the mixer to low and add the eggs one at a time.
  4. Add the maple syrup and continue beating until combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
  5. Alternately add the self raising flour and milk in two batches, starting and ending with the flour until just combined.
  6. Spoon into cupcake cases and bake for around 12 mins.  I always use a toothpick to check they are cooked in the middle.

When they cooled I also heated 2 Tbs of maple syrup until it was runny (20 secs in microwave), and brushed these onto the cupcakes.  This gave them more of a maple syrup flavour, and also keeps them moist for longer.

Buttercream Icing

This is the buttercream icing that I use for all of my cupcakes and cakes, but I have replaced the  1 tsp of Vanilla Essence for 1 Tbsp of maple syrup for these cupcakes.

This recipe is enough to ice 12-15 cupcakes.  

250gm butter

3 Cups icing sugar

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1-2 Tbs milk

  1. Cream butter until creamy.  
  2. Add icing sugar one cup at a time until combined and light and fluffy.  
  3. Then add the maple syrup, you can add more or less depending on how sweet you want the icing.  
  4. Add the milk if the buttercream is a bit stiff.

Pipe or spoon icing on cupcakes, and then decorate with chopped bacon and drizzle with maple syrup.

Bacon and Maple Syrup Cupcakes

Trip to Nowell's Lake

We hadn’t been to Nowell’s Lake before, and my husband suggested we go and have a look one afternoon.

Nowell’s Lake is situated just south of Hawera in South Taranaki, and is a Fonterra Farms and Community Group Project.  There are two parts - the Nowell’s Lakes which are two ground fed freshwater lakes covering seven hectares, and the Walkway.  

We loved exploring the Walkway amongst the native bush, flax and Toetoe, and each section had signs where the children from local schools and Scouts have done plantings.

Down the track to the Walkway.

Nowell's Lake Track
Nowell's Lake

Having a rest on one of the many Children Only seats.

NowellsLake 04.jpg

Asked for a serious face, and all we got was giggles.

Nowells Lake Giggles

Checking out the Bug Wall.

Nowells Lake Bug Wall
Nowells Lake Bug Wall

Looking for Crawlies (Freshwater Crayfish) in the stream.  We didn't see any this time, hopefully we can see some on our next visit.

NowellsLake 07.jpg

Emme pointing out which way to go next.

Nowells Lake Directions

Looking at her school's sign and where they did their plantings.

Nowells Lake School Sign

Some of the many birdhouses that are all through the gully.

Nowells Lake birdhouses

Emme found this small bird egg lying on the ground, and picked it up for a closer look.  

Nowells Lake Bird Egg

Smelling herbs at the herb garden.

Nowells Lake Herb Garden
Nowells Lake Herb Garden

Looking back down the gully.

Nowells Lake Gully

Local school children have grown and planted thousands of swan plants, so we will definitely be back between February and April to see the caterpillars and Monarch Butterflies.

We also took the 20 minute walk to Nowell’s Lake.  I didn’t get any pictures unfortunately as it started to rain just as we got there.  But we will definitely be going back, and I can’t wait to take more pictures then.

If you are local I highly recommend Nowell’s Lake as a place to visit.  For more information check out