Friday, December 23, 2011

A Holiday Week in Photos

I have been keeping a photo diary this week of all the Holiday things we have been up to, I certainly got into the holiday mood last Saturday night with some Christmas  music and Christmas card making!

Then we moved on to the brilliant Nativity they have each year at church, all the kids dress up as either Angels, Kings, Sheppard's or Sheep as the Nativity story is told and groups of kids come up on queue, I have vowed to make some more King's costumes for next year though as there were some very disappointed little boys with only 4 king outfits to go around.

Then later that day we went for early Christmas dinner at our friends house. Tin up chicken **** was on the menu, one cider and one coke. Very delicious even if it looks ridiculous!

Monday and Tuesday we had two sets of friends over and I found on one of the afternoon's the boys just chilling out as brothers

Tuesday afternoon we went to the Snow Dome in Hagley Park. The boys loved it, had heaps of fun throwing the soft stuff around and got a Cadbury chocolate at the end . We then went here

 The Telecom Christmas tree, where you get to phone Santa and

Jumping on bean bags! While mum gets to relax on one of herself and chill in the sunshine

Wednesday was a trip to visit Mary and her new baby (which was not Jesus) the boys were very good at being gentle & quite, so afterwards we took a diversion past the Air force museum, what a treat especially for boys and it is free! 

Thursday was started with a healthy treat of pancakes (1 cup flour, 1 cup of milk, 1 egg & some sugar)

After crackers and cheese for lunch we headed off at 12:15 to the grotto in Spreydon not one person in the queue (Big grin) This is a total must to take the kids to at Christmas we went around twice

Friday well ... Friday started pretty good with a trip to the Library

and then we had another massive earthquake at 1:58  a 5.8 . It is amazing the calmness a mother can have if she sees her children are safe and taking the "turtle position" well at least one of them, the youngest attempt was more like a photo shoot shot with his hands under his chin! 

If that was not enough we had a 5.3 8 minutes later and to totally ensure a damper on Christmas spirits a 6.0 at 3.18pm! The boys just totally went with it, Matthew taking the right position everytime and Luke eventually learning. I did feel slightly lonely under the table for the 6 on my own so decided to come out! 

Very pleased to have a cheese and wine to go to that evening even more pleased it was only a few houses down the road! I made these yummy cheese crackers from Nigela Lawsons Domestic Goddess cook book (a must for anyone who loves cooking).

We ended off the week in our beautiful new city doing a bit of window shopping it was great to see so many people out especially after yesterday.

Justin & Pookey in front of some of the container shops

Having a good look through the Ballantyne Christmas windows

Streets filled with Sunshine :)

All of the things we did this week were free, except the Grotto which was $2.

Today the fruit cake is baking and Christmas tree hanging cookies will be made shortly more pressies to wrap and then we shall all snuggle up for the Christmas eve movie followed by chocolate Santa's under the tree while we hum a few carols - can't wait.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone! Especially as those Christmas cards are for next year! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Diaries - A gentle whisper

So you may have heard people say that God sometimes whispers your name, as a mum of two rumbustious boys I find it well hard to think that that is even possible - particularly first thing in the morning. But we all know miracle are possible (especially at Christmas time) and this morning it happened...

Life as a mumtrepreneur is not an easy road, and this is why I intitially started this blog, to somehow keep a diary of how things are going. I don't think I have truly reflected that yet so here is a good start. I will never forget my manager telling me after I had just started back on a 4 day week job after just having Matthew, that you will never feel like you are a good enough mum, a good enough wife, good enough worker. I think this is not all together true as I do believe you can feel satisfaction, but this highlighted a very important aspect of motherhhood. The split of your time, better yet the split of you!

God created woman last, as creation started and continued it got more and more beautiful and complex, and it ended with us. Food for thought?

Running a business from home just add's one more complexity and puts more strain on the division of a woman. I remember shortly after having my first "free time" once both boys were at kindy and preschool and struggling to hold a conversation with another mum, this we soon realised was due to the fact that we are constantly drawn away from whatever we are doing to tend to a little one or do something else which in turn leaves us mid sentence.

It also put's a huge amount of strain on every relationship in your life let alone the house, finding brain space time is very likely the most common issue as this is constantly taken over by the entrepreneur thinking of new or better ideas for the business. So what I tend to slip into is the idea of loved ones much like children just interrupting when they need attention and then I can flick my switch and do my duty. This is the start of a crack that come an earthquake will easily result in a huge gaping hole!

So this morning as I lay in bed with the boys bouncing around I remembered yesterday while we were visiting 2 elderly ladies from our church, getting Luke to tell them what the fruits of the Spirit where. Luke recently started at a Christian preschool 2 minutes down the road. I love that he has exposure to this from a young age but I think the convenience of it being so close was the pulling factor for me if I am honest!

The first term focused on the fruits of the Spirit and so each time he learnt a new one it opened up great opportunity to teach them what that truly meant, I have quickly adapted a new parenting technique: when I see him acting unkindly - getting him to stop and tell me the fruits of the spirit, emphasizing which one he is clearly lacking in. Yes I know full on for a 2 year old.

So after yet another very strained relationship day, I lay in bed this morning thinking about the fruits of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace; patience; kindness; goodness; faithfulness; gentleness and self control. I could almost hear a car screeching it's breaks as the penny dropped. How could I be teaching my kids that this is the behaviour we should aspire to when I myself was so clearly lacking. Log in eye. And that is when it happened ...

Like a gentle whisper I heard the words "slow to anger" I found myself thinking "Is that one of the fruits?" Going through them again, no, it must be another scripture.

In came the normal wake up call of the mother and entrepreneur, kids breakfast, evaluate (eye scanning) cleanliness of the house mmm not bad today, let light in, check bank account , check for parcels, COFFEE, make up a cookie mix for a present, warm up coffee,  shower oh and the best part is bathroom time with God.

I have a devotional Bible with days of the week marked out throughout the Bible with a scripture reading and devotion Monday - Friday. So I open on Thursday -  I don't remember reading yesterday but I turn to Friday anyhow.

I had a sneaky feeling that I was going to read something relevant to my eye opening discovery this morning. Something about being a good wife and mother no doubt but the reading was from Joel 2 entitled an Army of Locust's and started with very descriptive story of a battle. mmm Oh well, I will keep reading just in case and there it was in vs 13 "Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love"

How does God talk to us? Just like this! I was in tears in the shower after realising that the gentle whisper was God. God actually spoke to me amidst  my busy morning, he chose me? The woman who so often is not kind, gentle or self controlled and this week particularly not slow to anger. This immediately recalls an early reading this week entitled Real Joy - knowing the depth of your sin and knowing you are forgiven and loved.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bags of fun

Look what the Elves got up to last night at 11pm! Bags of scrummy cookie mix. I have longed to do these for at least 9 years since our first trip to the USA and finally in a bit of desperation for a gift for Luke's preschool teachers, I decided that this was something I did have in the cupboard!

I ended up adapting my own cookie mix recipe so I was hoping they would turn out good, but to confirm I decided it would be worth trying it out tonight and the new adapted version is not only quicker (seen that you just throw everything together ) but tastier too!

One note that these really work well if they are chilled for about 5-10 minutes before baking, otherwise due to  the high butter content they will melt into one big glump of goo!

Here is the recipe:

280g flour
70g castor sugar
pinch of salt
50g rolled oats
100g chocolate chips
70g soft brown sugar
some co-ordinated M&M's on top ( I used the crispy ones as they are my favourite) I ran out of red & green so did a girly pink & purple version

Add the above ingredients to the bag or jar, I found combining the castor sugar, flour & salt and keeping this at the bottom worked best based on a trial of 3 and changing it each time. The M&M's also sit very nicely on top of the chocolate chips.

On the recipe card
Add 1 egg yolk
225g softened butter
1 tsp of vanilla essence
Chill for 10 minutes in the fridge before baking
Bake at 150 degrees fan assisted until golden brown 10 -15 minutes

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lego Party NZ

Ok yes, if you did not know it already, it is time to come out of the pantry -  I am one of those crazy obsessive mum's who go "all out" for parties, I cannot help it I love it, it is part of who I am so if you don't like it then stop reading! ;) If however you can find some inspiration from it without getting tired by just looking at it ,then fabulous it gives me reason for putting it up here! 

So master 5 is obsessed with Lego, master 2.10 is also for that matter. I spent ages trawling through websites to find ideas on Lego parties, but I have to admit that I find it a tad annoying that you stumble upon a fantastic idea, only to find that something like "Graham crakers" are needed. So I am pleased to be able to offer my New Zealand version of a Lego party! 

So it is only fitting to introduce the party ideas with my very own design of lego lumps. Simple and even easier if you have some mild form of ocd like me!

Simply sort out those mini m&m's by colour and into groups of six, melt a little chocolate and mark six spaces on each pineapple lump and attach your m&m's. I am pleased I used the chocolate (which was leftover from another recipe below) as we had no drops off's during the party

Next up where the marshmallow cake pops, I got my idea from here but I just snipped a mini marshmallow in half, pulled a bit of the big marshmallows top off and stuck them together with reinforcement through the humble toothpick ( I could not locate lolly sticks easily) 

One bit of advice is to definitely freeze these before dipping them in the white chocolate (I added a bit of yellow food colouring to the chocolate) it makes them rock hard so much easier to work with.

I used a toothpick and my black food colouring gel to draw the faces. It is easier than it seems, if you draw a smiley face shape [ like this ) but the right way around!] for the start of the sunglasses then go from there and just add some stubble for sides and around the mouth.

Atlantis Jello's nice and simple 3 colours of jelly & some clear cups. Make sure you start this the day or so before. After the first layer, I just let the jelly mixture cool down before pouring it on top of the other layers

Also above are a selection of lego coloured crispy m&m's, Basset's jelly beans and fruit bursts

The lego cake! I got the final idea from this site which has some fabulous ideas on it plus the tutorials are videos once again. Key tips: Freeze the cake for 30 minutes before crumb coating made such a difference! 

Chocolate Lego men I got from a mould I purchased from Ebay (cute but not a necessity! )

This was a last minute idea, I found two recycled matching glass jars in the cupboard, filled them with lego's and popped the balloons in. I found the sticks at The Warehouse 

Ok this is my ocd coming through again, we are fortunate enough to have bought a large bulk amount of lego from Ebay in the UK, for the equivalent of NZD $50 so I sorted them into colours added some boards.

I love this idea I got from a friend to peg up the birthday cards as you get them, it is all to easy to set them aside and loose them. This way they become part of the decorations! Especially when a very clever 5 year old makes a lego head card! 

Party bags! I love party bags, it is one of my favourite parts of a party. The original idea from here but those little gift bags which may be very cheap in the USA are $4 + here each and with 12 kids that is slightly expensive! So I found a pack of 10 bags in the party section at the Warehouse and stuck some circles on top with foamies.

Inside I put the usual lollies, some lego stickers and a little lego toy, these I sourced from this amazing website which you can search for by country and I sourced mine from Europe in the end for about $2 NZD each.
This is also a great place to find those missing bit of lego that have gone up the vacuum ;)

So I have one very happy 5 year old, who saved his cake for after tea, Happy Birthday my Matty :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A quilted story

So today I did a huge chunk of a very special quilt, in fact I completed 90% of the top in a few hours and let me assure you this has nothing to do with my sewing skills! In fact quilting is easier than you think. Especially if you are good at sewing straight single lines like me :)

This quilt is far from perfect but actually that is the way I like it, it sort of tells the story of us, we all have areas we fail in, but when God looks at us a whole he does not see those imperfections, he says beauty beyond measure, He sees His creation, covered with His fingerprints.

The other thing that I love about sewing something like a quilt is the way it rests over you while you sew. (This is especially great in the winter!) This always makes me feel extra special about sending it across the miles to someone special knowing it has been with me while I have made it take shape.

Now I have to layer & bind not sure which way around this should work! So any volunteers for showing me how to finish it off before Christmas are very muchly welcome! Otherwise I will consult the world wide web! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pitter Patter Raindrops

Waking up this morning to the sound of rain on the roof makes me thankful for my warm cozy bed! I opted to not send Matthew to kindy and avoid Luke's musical group and stay in for a nice relaxing morning with the boys.

We made up a play tent with the ironing board (seen I don't use it for anything else :)

And while they played nicely, I started the second recipe in my week of Baking for the National Bellyful Cake Stall day, which will be at Christchurch Girls high 10am at the Christmas Encraftment Market

This is a really simple recipe but I fancied it up slightly by making them in my mini cheesecake tin.

100g butter & 3 tablespoons of golden syrup and 2 tablespoons cocoa (melted in the microwave)
200g of digestives broken up and 50g raisins 

Mix the two together and cover with melted chocolate and refrigerate

While the boys then played with Legos in the Sew Pretty room

I managed to put up some new fabrics

and start some mini bunting inspired by Max at our Seceret Santa swap

Now that I have started typing things up it definitely makes my day feel like I have accomplished far more than I thought! Thank you to the inspiring CHCH bloggers who have got me going on this blog!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pirate by nature

Today we went to a Pirate party, I have to say this is the first party that my boys have been jabbering about for weeks before today!

We had to get dressed up for the occasion, which was super fun. Pookey was already dressed, seen that he literately sleeps in this costume!

For Mr 4 I made a simple eye patch out of some felt and black elastic which I so happen to have in my front room ;)

Now I know the mummy who has been preparing for this party and it has made us both come to a realisation about kid's birthday parties based on the amount of preparation that goes into them.

I am secretly torn between the two, the lazy relaxed part of me enjoys the idea of tipping a tub of tip top onto a plate and adding some yummy sprinkles - such like this

And I 100% support the idea that some years and times in life you just have to give into the simple way ... which can be massively satisfying, speaking from experience that is.

However if you are a creative addict then I see no harm in enjoying getting ready for your child's party, making them part of it and having a creative outlet quite simply! This is not about obsessively ensuring that every detail is top notch, it is about enjoying what you do and creating a magical world for your little one to enjoy. I did catch myself saying on more that one occasion "It is not about them, it's about you!" even if it is not your party!

I had super fun shopping for pirate wrapping paper (nothing that won't be used a zillion times over!) and when I did my last pak n save shop I picked up some chocolate coins to stick onto the present. 
The card was made recycling the invitation

I found these cute stickers at a dollar store, again I got these possibly a month before the party, I have tried to start creating a mental list of things to collect. The hard part is not to mis-place them before the event! 

And if you are starting to think I am super organised you know me not! However this pirate mummy totally is and it was great fun getting updates on party prep and virtually searching for ideas together in the last few weeks!

Well done my friendie! I eagerly await next year!