Lemon Yoghurt Cake- Thanks Alison Holst!



It was a friend’s birthday on Friday and so I made an old favourite of mine from Alison Holst’s Dollars and Sense Cookbook. It is one of those never-fail popular lemony cakes that is good on its own with coffee or slathered in cream or yoghurt for dessert. It keeps really well and is so simple. See http://www.holst.co.nz/Recipes/Lemon-Yoghurt-Cake.aspx


Because this cake contains oil and yoghurt in place of solid fat, it is very easy to mix.


Lemon Yoghurt Cake by Alison Holst
• rind of two lemons
• 1 cup oil
• 2 eggs
• 1.5 cups of sugar
• ½ teaspoon of salt
• 1 cup plain or flavoured yoghurt
• 3 tblsp of lemon juice
• 2 cups of self-raising flour
Grate all the coloured peel from the lemons into a mixing bowl. Add the oil, eggs and sugar and beat with a rotary beater until thick and well blended. Add the salt, yoghurt and lemon juice and beat again briefly. Add the sifted flour and beat gently into a smooth batter. It doesn’t matter if there are a few lumps as they seem to disappear.
Pour mixture into a buttered and floured ring pan and bake at 180 C for 30 minutes or until the sides start to shrink, the centre springs back when pressed and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for about ten minutes before turning out carefully onto a rack.
Serve plain, sprinkled with a little icing sugar or topped with whipped cream.


The recipient of the cake said this, ” I am ploughing through my birthday cake-so moist and lemony and yummy..”

I hope you are having a great long weekend NZders, FG




The Documentary Film Festival- Kids for Cash

The above is currently running here in Auckland at the Q theatre. I had the privilege of seeing Kids for Cash last night. It is the story of two corrupt American judges who ran a kick back scheme to make money by routinely imprisoning  young teenagers for long periods of time  for very minor offences.

The film is utterly compelling and includes not only the testimony of the young teens and their parents but also intimate portraits of the judges themselves.

I had no idea that the US has not signed the Declaration for the Rights of the Child ( along with the Sudan and Somalia). They incarcerate 5 times more children than any other country and children are not allowed parole in  severe cases like murder. It costs just over $10,000 to keep a child at school and $88,000 to keep them in prison.

The director, Robert May was at the screening and we were able to ask questions. It is on again on Sunday at 6.30pm. If you are able to see it, I highly recommend it.


If only

Sadly we have had a horrible murder here on the North Shore. A woman caught a later bus home from work as she decided to do some over time and was viciously attacked when she walked a short distance home from the bus stop. All my women friends have found themselves dwelling on this horrible event as most of us walk a short distance home in the dark from our respective bus stops.

I keep thinking, if only Blessie Gotingco had decided not to do overtime, if only someone on the bus was walking the same way, if only of only if only. It is of course, a futile activity, just as is wishing if only my husband had taken more care of his crampons, if only he had stopped to put them on a bit further away from the edge, if only if only if only.

“I like not only to be loved, but also to be told that I am loved. I am not sure that you are of the same mind. But the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave. This is the world of light and speech, and I shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear.”

― George Eliot


The above quote was read at our marriage and three week’s later at my husband’s funeral.  I am going to try to remember to tell my loved ones how dear they are to me.



Care packages

I have just one son and I regard him through rosy-tinted lenses about 4 feet thick. Now that I am not earning much money I look to support him in other ways. He is studying postgraduate environmental science and is flatting with 8 others. Sam has always shown the way in frugality…in fact i would describe him as overly so. He is a vegetarian and survived one year on $15 per week for food. At 6 feet tall and long and lean I didn’t think this was a particularly healthy existence. He has since become much more adept at cooking and being aware of the nutrients needed for good health.  Right now he is very busy with both his part time work and his studies so this morning I am taking him a small care package of pumpkin pie and chocolate chip biscuits. He is very tolerant of being s-mothered and I look forward to a quick catch up today.


Our main method of communication is snap chat which I find really frustrating as the image is gone before you know it,  and messaging- two word messages from him and long epistles from me filled with typos. Some examples from Sam’s messages:

That would be all good

Thanks 🙂

Ha ha sure 

How do you show your affection for your children?

Books I’m reading

Today I thought I would make mention of a series of books I have been reading. I guess they fit in the “self-help” category but as Alain Botton says of the series, “Here are books that prove that the term ‘self-help’ doesn’t have to be either shallow or naive.” Mind you, he does write one of them. I consider them to be easy-reading philosophy books.  They are called The School  of Life series and come in two volumes. The ones that are asterisked are the ones I’ve read so far. They are all by different authors.

Toolkit for Life Vol. 1 includes the following titles:

How to Find Fulfilling Work  * I read this one after I had resigned but it was very reassuring.
How to Stay Sane 
How to Worry Less about Money  *
How to Think More about Sex *
How to Thrive in the Digital Age 
How to Change the World 

Toolkit for Life Vol. 2 includes the following titles:

How To Be Alone
How To Develop Emotional Health
How To Deal with Adversity * currently reading
How To Connect with Nature *
How To Think About Exercise *

I am not reading them in any particular order, just what becomes free on the Auckland Library Borrow Box kindle service. And of course I enjoyed some more than others.

I usually have a few books on the go so I am also reading Knitting Yarns, Writers on Knitting, a collection of short stories edited by Ann Hood. My son gave this to me for my birthday and while I am not usually a great fan of short stories I am loving it. So much so that I went to the library and and got out Ann Hood’s The Knitting Circle. I tend to enjoy Canadian writers more than American writers but  I am enjoying this and it is keeping my attention.

It also inspired me to finish another square of a blanket I am knitting. What comes across strongly is that knitting has a meditative, soothing quality that helps calm and comfort.

Let me know what you are reading. Sue


Some small changes to save money

This morning I am contemplating a few of the small changes I’ve made to save money for my new life style.

I no longer download new books without thinking. I belong to the library of course but am really enjoying their free kindle books on Borrow Box and Bluefire Reader. I haven’t used Overdrive yet but plan to try it out soon.

I have unsubscribed to any tempting “Sale” emails e.g. Onceit, Max, Repertoire; the list is endless. It is such a relief not to go to my inbox and see all these emails as well.

I have stopped getting a monthly magazine which was expensive, $20.00 a copy. I will buy one occasionally for a treat.

I am making gifts rather than buying them. I am knitting and making tiles and cards. Cards are very expensive and can be up to $8 and making them is fun and easy. Once again though, to set yourself up with materials, card, etc. is expensive to start with. I save paper and ribbons and keep them in the “Susan” drawer in the kitchen.

I am now going to cheaper movies because I can as they are usually before 5 pm.

I am looking at cheap flights to visit Christchurch and Dunedin because once again, if you don’t need to go at weekends it is a lot cheaper.

I am shopping more efficiently and making sure we don’t end up throwing food out because we haven’t got around to cooking it.

I know none of these things is particularly new or earth-shattering but I think it is easier to live more cheaply without working by not needing public transport costs, new clothes, make up, fast food, coffees, drinks after work and so on.

I still like these things though! I just think more about options, have people home more often and rather than lunch and coffee out I might do lunch as a picnic followed by a nice coffee at a cafe. Auckland is so fantastic for walks and parks.

At the weekend we went for a walk in the newly completed La Rosa gardens reserve in West Auckland where they have returned the stream to a more natural form to support plant life and provide a haven for native birds. A bonus was running into an ex pupil who was with her young children at the playground. Afterwards we strolled along the beach at Blockhouse Bay.


The small joys of being at home-end of week one

There are two small things that are bringing me much pleasure by being at home. The first is not having to find something suitable to wear. How lovely to wear socks and comfortable shoes, merino tops and no make up. I have never become accustomed to wearing the dreaded nylon tights that tear on first wear, that sag at the crotch and silly shoes that defy comfort.

Secondly, preparing breakfast at a leisurely pace followed by a second cup of tea. Fatuous I guess, but I have a real kernel of pleasure in these small things.


I am developing a bit of a rhythm to my day by starting with yoga, doing some domestic chores while mulling over my list of things I want to do and then sitting at the computer for a while, I have read about the concept of “flow” and had a sense of that yesterday when I looked at the clock and it was 4 o’clock and I had no idea where several hours had gone,

I am looking forward to spending some time with my partner tomorrow where previously I needed to spend a lot of the day doing domestic chores or shopping and so on. I resented his enthusiasm for biking or walking as I felt I had so little time to myself after a full-on week at work.

So far I have more or less stayed within budget but I can see how a coffee here and there can add up very quickly.

Anyway, have a great weekend wherever you are and whatever you do. Sue



Keeping the budget in check

Feeling a bit creaky as I have done the TV yoga every day. I used to do it regularly but slacked off to zero after a couple of years so getting back into it is goood. However, I realise how stiff and inflexible I’ve become. I used to be able to reach my toes easily.

Today I have been sorting stuff to sell, as a friend and I are going to the Browns Bay market very early on Sunday morning and I have also put one or two things on Trademe.co.nz. I feel a bit penny pinching as I could just give them away but as I am trying to live on just $50 per week for what I’m calling frivolity and the doco film festival has started I need all the cash I can get. Apart from the money it feels good to clear out stuff I know I’m never going to fit again.

This morning I have been working on transferring poems to my tiles. It seems to work OK. So far I have just done decoupage on tiles for gifts for friends, it makes a change from the dish cloths… I will post one with a poem when I have experimented a bit more.

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