25 July 2014

Mia Bella Winter Garden...

A peek at
Mia Bella Gardens
in Winter…
Love the gorgeousness of this Solanaceae, 
from the dainty purple flowers to the cute furry leaves!
(which I have now found out is actually a plant called Woolly Nightshade...so must be removed as it is a problem pest plant in New Zealand!)- for more information about this plant and it's toxicity go to:
 Green fern fronds glow in the winter sunlight...
This variety of fern is a called a birds nest fern.
Pot's of orchids brighten dull corners...
This one is a mini cymbidium,
called ' Melanie Sulphur Valley'.
Pops of pink standard cymbidium orchids
 cheer those who visit on cold winter days...
 In the warmth of winter sun, 
pretty camelias...
 Attract a few brave bees...

 As does this deliciously scented small shrub 
called 'Heaven Scent'.
 Another winter bee attraction is the Jade tree,
which flowers two months long during the season.
 Standing tall like a sentinel at the pool gate.
And yes, if you are wondering it is ' impressively huge'!
Once a pot plant, and now a statement garden plant,
this Jade tree is 30 years old. 
He stands a handsome 1.4 metres tall
by 2.4 metres wide.
The trunk has a circumference of 84cm at the base.
The bird bath is shrouded by potted orchids in bud and variegated grasses...
There is a sea of orange...
I know it's wrong that marigolds are blooming mid winter,
but they self seed and love Mia Bella Gardens glasshouse!
 Ella cat is quite happy 
soaking up the heat from the stone paths...
 Or relaxing on an outdoor chair.
 There are stems of stock, for winter picking...
 Pots of lobelia for pretties...
Beautiful, and fragrant cane stemmed begonias...
And ablutions too.
There is no riot of colour 
apart from the marigolds!
Just pops and hints of colour here and there
 amongst the shades of greens, browns and gold.
Mia Bella's winter garden, 
is still beautiful, don't you agree?

22 July 2014

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake...

Test running another recipe from Annabel Langbein
Her books are available at:

The Ultimate Chocolate cake was an easy cake to make
All the ingredients were blitzed in the food processor until combined.
Once baked, cooled...
Ice with chocolate ganache or buttercream icing.
(Just had to add a bunch of fresh pinks, 
and a little bit of French country style fabric...)
It really is a moist, delicious cake
that is so simple to make...
Even the kids could do it!
Definitely ticks the YUM factor box!

Chocolate Almond Self-Saucing Puddings...

Chocolate Almond Self-saucing Pudding
½ cup milk
40g dark eating chocolate
50g butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
½ cup self-rising flour
¼ cup ground almonds
1/3 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten lightly
¾ cup water
40g butter, chopped/ extra

·       Preheat oven to 180 Celsius
·       Stir milk, chocolate, butter and half the cocoa in pot and mix over low heat until smooth.
·       Combine flour, almonds, caster sugar, and half the brown sugar in a bowl.  Add the chocolate mixture, and the egg. Stir until combined.  Spoon into cups or large ramekins.  (It doesn’t seem like much in each but it will rise up, and you need space for the ice-cream and sauce).
·       In pot over low heat, mix water, extra butter, remaining cocoa and brown sugar.
Pour hot syrup over puddings.
·       Bake in oven for 25 minutes.
·       While puddings are baking, make sauce…
Combine over heat in pot:
½ cup cream
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
50 grams chopped dark chocolate
1/3 cup Nutella (hazelnut spread)
1 tablespoon coffee liquor (I used Kahlua)

·       Stand puddings 10 minutes to cool.  Then put a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top of each pudding and drizzle with chocolate sauce.  

Printable version of this recipe at:


21 July 2014

Ginger Sugar Cookies...

150 grams soft butter 
and 1/2 cup each of white caster sugar and brown sugar.
When light and fluffy add 1 egg,
 1/4 cup golden syrup,
 mix well.
Sift into this:
2 1/2 cups plain flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 
1 teaspoon ground cloves 
and 2  teaspoons of ground ginger.
(add another teaspoon if you prefer a stronger hit of ginger)
1 teaspoon baking soda, and a pinch of salt.
Mix into a dough.
Form small balls.
 Boy this cookie dough is sooooo scrumptious....
I'm surprised there was any left to bake!  :)
                                   Roll the balls into white caster sugar. 
                                         And press down with a fork.
                                          Bake at 350 degrees Celsius 
                                          for 10-12 minutes until golden.
Printable version of this recipe is at: 

18 July 2014

Pink Japanese Anemones...

 I think that Japanese Anemones are a beautiful flower...
These darlings are also known as windflowers.
 Available in single and double blooms
 in white, soft pinks, darker pinks and mauve shades.
New hybrids in dwarf form are being developed.
Some gardeners love them as I do....
others loathe them!
 The original white variety in particular can be quite invasive.  
So beware if you like to be in complete control of your garden beds. 
 There are three varieties of Japanese Anemone at Mia Bella Gardens, 
where I just let them do their thing, they spread as they wish, 
as I don't find it difficult to do an end of season cull to keep them in order.
 Each season a rosette of dark green leaves
 is topped by graceful stems that reach 1/2 to 1.8 metres in height.
The delicate flowers of up to 6cm across 
nod in their beautiful hues 
with round seed heads once the blooms have finished.
They will grow in sun or part shade.
 The Japanese Anemone is from the Ranunculaceae family.
It was grown in Japanese gardens for centuries,
 but was in fact of Chinese origin.
In New Zealand they flower from February, March to the end of April.
Although not a long lasting picking flower, 
you can get a day or two from them in a vase.
They don't wilt, and the buds will open.

4 July 2014

French Country Masculine Bedroom Reveal...

At last I can show you the French Country Masculine Bedroom...
Yes it has taken forever!!!
But this is what happens when one bedroom makeover turns into two!
The pink bedroom has also had an update, but that is another blog post!
So...this is how it looked
And here is is after...
Unpainted wood, and a neutral colour palette..
with black accents.
The first thing chosen was the quilt and cushion.
 the duvet...
then the curtains.
The crown cushion, and quilt are from Wallace Cotton.
The curtains from Briscoes.
An extra curtain was purchased to make a Roman blind for the window above the bed.
 The etching (top picture) is one I have had for many years,  
but the French word picture is from the Etsy.
This etching is so old it has watermarks, 
but I think it just adds to the character of the picture.
 These French place names are inspiration...
For me to visit France one day!
Initially I put this orchid on the side table...
But changed it to another orchid in a cream pot with black detail,
because it had more of a masculine feel.
And moved the flying pig from the Red Lounge...
The black and white framed photos are above each side table...
And if you want to print them just go to:
 Other accessories in the room were all things I had...
 And the funniest thing is,
this French Country Masculine room has décor pieces from other countries...
 Some gorgeous old English books...
 A French crown and metal filigree ball...
A black and white clock...
And pieces from travels to Indonesia...
 The neutral colours and wood theme continues into the ensuite shower room. 
With more of a beach feel with this original artwork I created many years ago.
 Arabella approves!
In fact, she thinks it's quite a nice place for a nap!
                             Before....                                       And after...
I am very pleased with the way it has turned out.

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