The Inspiration of Finn

Wattle Lane

The little dog, Mayzie, in The Wattle Lane novels was inspired by my own dog, Finn. Like Mayzie, Finn is a funny little bitzer with a big personality. He has a tuft of hair that stands up on top of his head and looks so adorable.

Finn was a very mischievous puppy, chewing the corners and legs of furniture, and the edges of every rug in the house. He also managed to destroy every toy we bought him. He took great delight in digging up the back lawn, pulling plants out of the garden, upending plant pots and dragging out the contents. But we forgave him all his naughtiness, because he was only being a puppy, after all. He has a friendly, playful personality, is very sociable and loves to play with other dogs.

Finn is sixteen months old now. He has boundless energy and is still very demanding, but…

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My Heritage Album

Wattle Lane

Heritage scrapbook album

In The House in Wattle Lane, Neave traces the journey of her ancestors through creating a heritage scrapbook album. I began my own heritage album with my great-great-grandmother, who emigrated from the Shetland Islands to New Zealand in 1875. How courageous she and her family must have been to make that long and treachorous sea journey, plagued with storms and illness, to begin a new life on the other side of the world. They had no idea what awaited them when they got there, and to start a new life from scratch must have been very hard indeed. Like many others of their time, they were true pioneers.

I decided to leave the brown album page plain for the background to give the layout a vintagey look. Elements that I used on this page include scraps of lace, a vintage doily, a vintage key, old buttons, bejewelled trim, scrapbook…

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Kunekune Pigs

Wattle Lane

As an animal lover, I like to include animals in my novels. Usually my characters have pet dogs or cats. However, with The House in Wattle Lane, I decided to give one of the characters a pet pig. While I was writing the book, I couldn’t believe my luck when our next-door-neighbours came home with a pig. I was warned not to get too attached to it, as it would only be there for a few months, but still I made friends with him. He was a pink pig with a warm personality. I would look over the fence and see him basking in the sun on the back lawn and he would come trotting over when he heard me call his name. I got to know his favourite foods and would take him over treats. He loved apples and cauliflower and silverbeet and muesli bars and raw broccolli and…

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Chloe’s Caramel Date Squares

Wattle Lane

A recipe from The House in Wattle Lane.

Caramel Date Slice

120g butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup dates, chopped
walnut pieces

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla essence until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Heat the milk and golden syrup in a pan, but do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. Cool, then stir into the creamed mixture. Fold in the sifted flour, baking powder, and cinnamon, followed by the chopped dates. Pour the mixture into a greased or paper-lined slice tin. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool, then ice with caramel icing and cut into squares. Press a walnut piece onto the top of each square.

Caramel Icing

60g softened butter

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A Memory Frozen In Time

Wattle Lane

This photograph is of my paternal grandparents who both died when I was young. I don’t have very many memories of them, so it is nice to have this picture to help me to remember what they looked like.

I used several different techniques on this scrapbook page. I like to build my pages using lots of layers. I created the pattern on the background paper by applying texture paste through a stencil. Then I inked the edges and applied a little tea stain to give it an antique look.

On the second layer I used chalk on the flowers to add colour. Some other elements I added to the page include a vintage doily, dyed with tea stain, a tarnished old key, and some pressed flowers from my garden.

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Little Houses

Wattle Lane

little house 1

When I first saw this little house for sale in a local shop, it instantly made me think of the houses in my Wattle Lane novels – two and a half stories high, with gingerbread trim and an attic tucked beneath the eaves. The miniature houses are made by a local couple who have a laser cutting and engraving business They make a range of different style houses, and also make them in a larger scale for doll houses.

Front and side views Front and side views

Back view of house Back view of house

The little house, just 10 inches tall, sits beside me on my desk while I am writing. When I look at it, I imagine the little scrapbook shop on the bottom floor, and of Angeline sitting in her attic studio at the top of the house, making her paper angels.

Now I just have to decide what colours to paint it. Perhaps…

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Heritage Scrapbooking

Wattle Lane

Heritage scrapbooking is a great way to document the journey of our ancestors, to tell their stories through journaling, pictures, and memorabilia, brought together in a beautiful album for generations to treasure.

In my novel, The House in Wattle Lane, 29-year-old Neave learns about the lives of her ancestors from older family members, and the journey that took them from Ireland to England, and to the small gold mining town of Kerrigan in New Zealand. In a heritage scrapbooking class, Neave documents their lives, beginning with a family tree page like the one below. This is a fictional family tree of the family in the novel to show the sort of thing you could do with your own family tree.

There are many examples of family tree pages on Pinterest and on Google images that can give you ideas. On mine, I used scrapbooking paper, watercolour paints, and cutout…

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