30 June 2008

Coffee, Library and a Pink Doggy

Today was one of those wonderful days... Symon had the day off, so we and the girls ventured into town. I was a bit sneaky and left Symon in the car with the girls while I popped into a couple of thrift shops and a fabric store and then bribed him into buying me a latte... mmmmmmmm... coffee!

Anyway, after picking the boys up from school in the afternoon, we all ventured into the library and spent over an hour reading and collecting stacks of books to take home (I do mean stacks... the pram was overflowing with books... so much so that the baby was nearly lost!). After dinner we all sat around the fire in the lounge and read... I read my craft and cooking books, Miss 4 read her doggy books and shared some of Master 6's cooking and cake decorating books, Master 9 devoured a Spiderman comic, and Symon studied a book on "Poisonous Creatures in the Natural World" and another on "gnomes"... we are all so different.

Miss 4 has been following in her father's footsteps (snigger snigger) and sewed (with a little help from mummy) a cute pink doggy today! I was really impressed with her patience and "give it a go" attitude. There was only one moment where she stormed off into the bedroom yelling "sewing is too hard!", but quite soon came back to give it another go.

I think it looks pretty amazing (thanks to daddy for sketching the doggy design!).

29 June 2008

Proof of Mandrake Sewing!!!

I have proof... Mandrake has gone to the other side... he has begun to sew a softie!

Maybe it was the inspiration of seeing his boys sewing the other day, or the competitive side of him that wants to give everything a go. Or maybe, just maybe he has been subjected by Miss 4 to watch far too many replays of "Highschool Musical".

I know - I was surprised too! One friend told me "that's just wrong"... but I think it's kind of cute. I've heard of heaps of guys who knit and sew... it's even biblical (Acts 18:3)!

Anyway, my awesome friend Anya sent me a lovely book for my birthday last year with little animals you can make from socks and gloves... and it is from this book that Mandrake has been inspired... so here is the proof, and I will hopefully post a picture of the finished product soon too!

28 June 2008

Chocolate & Honey Pinwheels

I was inspired the other day after coming across these amazing looking biscuits in my Nana's latest NZ House & Garden magazine... they are refrigerator biscuits - I love refrigerator biscuits!!! My other Nana used to make almond refrigerator biscuits when I was young. The cool thing about them is that you store the log of biscuit dough in the fridge and cut off biscuits to cook when needed.

These pinwheel ones look really nice with the swirl from the two different flavours... even though the kids saw me making them (Miss 4 helped)... they were still amazed at how the biscuits looked when cut before baking.

115 grams (4oz.) margarine or butter
115 grams (4 oz.) powdered sugar 
225 grams (8 oz.) plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon cocoa
2 teaspoons chocolate powder

Cream the margarine and sugar very well until light and creamy.  Add 3 teaspoons of water and beat very well. Add the vanilla essence and mix well.  Sieve the flour and add to the mixture.  Prepare a dough out of the mixture. Divide the dough into two equal partsand in one part, add the chocolate and cocoa mixture. Divide both the doughs into two equal parts.

Roll out all the four parts into 6 mm thickness.  Place the chocolate parts on the white ones and then roll up like a Swiss roll.  Cut into about 6 mm (1/4") thick slicesand press by hand.

Grease a baking tin and arrange the biscuits leaving a little space between them. Bake the biscuits in a hot oven at 400°F (200°C). for 15 minutes. Leave the biscuits for some time until the pinwheels become hard.

For more delicious recipes visit here.

Smoked Fish, Potato, Feta & Broccoli Tart

Spotted this recipe in my nana's latest NZ House and Garden, and decided to give it a try... very yummy and easy to make!

Basically all you do is boil a few potatoes and then dice them, put them in a bowl and add half a head of broccoli that has been blanched, chopped parsley (I didn't have any for mine), 150g of flaked smoked fish (I used cheats version... tin of smoked fish!), and 100g crumbled feta, plus salt and pepper to taste.

Give this all a light mix and put it all into a pie or tart tin lined with puff pastry. Press down a bit then tip over 2 lightly beaten eggs and then get a little fancy with some left over pastry on top (brushed with a little egg or milk to brown). Put in the oven for 30-40 mins at 200 degC.

Even the kids ate it - which is a real sign that it was good!

For more delicious recipes visit here.

26 June 2008

Yummy Mixtures

I remember as a child absolutely loving being allowed to "make mixtures". My children also love doing this... although I usually make them do it outside!

Miss 4 had an awesome time a couple of days ago making mixtures. She popped the different bowls in the fridge as each one was finished, and fed the bits she didn't want to the chickens. I think they are still alive and well!

Contemplating what to create...

"I want to be a chef when I grow up Mummy!"

25 June 2008

House Hubby of the year...

Today Symon turned into 'House Hubby' for the day while I took a First Aid course from 8:30am til 4:30pm.

When I was picked up at the end of the day, I was met by a car-full of happy kids, hot pizzas and a camera diary of the girls adventures with daddy (while the boys were at school).

So here are some of the photos...

Driving with Daddy

Getting ready to go to the video shop with Dad

Choosing some DVD's

Daddy chasing after the runaway baby

Icecream treat at McDonald's

Chippy dipped in icecream... yum!


Miss 4 having a turn with the camera
Doll house playtime
Nap time

Miss 4 & Daddy watching a chick flick together

24 June 2008

Nandi's Paisley Aprons

While hanging my paisley aprons on the line, memories of my great-grandmother flooded back to me... these paisley aprons were once hers, and I am now proud to call them mine.

Unlike many people, I had the privilege of growing up near, and often visiting my great-grandmother. Nandi lived 5 houses down the road from ours, and I loved going down the road to visit her with my mum. Her house had that familiar "nana" smell... things always cooking on the stove, powders and perfumes... and Nandi was always glad to have visitors and offer a "cuppa" to anyone keen.

I loved exploring Nandi's place... there were always lots of little trinkets around, cute little ornaments, and my favourite was her jewellery box full of broaches, beads and earrings.

I also remember Nandi wearing her paisley aprons... I loved them! I wonder if this is where my love for paisley began?

So when Nandi passed away (many years ago), I was eager to have her paisley aprons passed on to me... and as I hung them out to dry today, I wondered if Nandi ever thought they would still be worn many years later, and loved, and hung up next to her great-great-granddaughters apron too!

Mr Mum

Just thought you'd all love to see some evidence that my husband does do "womanly household chores". The girls thought he needed a hand with hanging out the washing though... they are still training him up!

23 June 2008

Food, friends and family...

Today has been one of those awesome days... catching up with good friends, eating yummy food, and being with the family. The house was tidy for once, no one was sick and there were no dramas (namely baby playing in toilet or falling off the edge of the sofa). Don't you love those days!

A few months ago I had a yummy quiche at my cousins house, and his wife passed on the recipe for me to attempt... and viola (isn't that a cool word), here it is... Blue Vein, mushroom and broccoli quiche, rich but nice (I had to include a picture of the blue vein... it looked so wierd).

Latest Softies

Two more little softies finished in the last couple of days... already gone to good homes... I must get around to trying some more styles!!!

21 June 2008

Macaroni Cheese

There is something about comfort food... especially on a rainy day!

So, for all you comfort food lovers, I decided to take a photo of the yummy, comforting and most favourite dinner we had for tea last night... macaroni cheese with ham and breadcrumbs on top (my version anyway). So quick and easy to make... and most of the family enjoyed it!

For more delicious recipes visit here.

20 June 2008

Thoughtful Mandrake

Today I was so blown away by a very thoughtful Mandrake... popping into the fabric store (now that in itself is like a fish out of water) on the way back from dropping the boys to school, to choose a few pieces of fabric on the specials table as a surprise for me. The amazing thing is that two of them I had been eyeing up (during my sneaky visits now and then) but never got around to buying.

I find it hard to imagine him standing at the counter telling the lovely old ladies how much of each piece he wanted... maybe they thought he was into sewing...

So thanks so much Mandrake - a really nice surprise and really thoughtful.

I also just bought some paisley fabric (online) and silly me never sussed out the measurements... so I have no idea what I am going to do with heaps of tiny squares of paisley fabric... my love for paisley came first before logic... any ideas?? Might try a multi-patterned softie for fun! Maybe I should just leave the material shopping up to Mandrake??

19 June 2008

Special Time

I don't know about other families, but our family life can get pretty busy. We often make time to go on outings with the kids and do fun things together as a family, but it is so easy to neglect the one-on-one relationships (parent to child).

So somewhere along the way we picked up a really cool concept of "special time"... this is where each child has a "date" with their mum or dad, and can decide to do something very special.. just the two of them.

Our kids love their special time, and often when a child is playing up or withdrawn, all that is needed is some special time with one parent (or even grandparent!).

Whether it's going to a cafe together for a fluffy, having a private tea party, watching a movie together, visiting the $2 shop for a treat or Dad just having Dad-kid special time caving (while mum put her feet up) - the concept is so simple and yet so genius! Hopefully it will continue on even when the kids are grown up.

17 June 2008

More Softies...

Latest softies sewn ready for friends orders... I love the blue floral one (got that antique toy bunny look).

Motherhood = Character

Recently a friend mentioned to me that she had been asking God to help her have more love for other people. Not long after that, she went through quite a hard patch with a good friend, and realized that you can only truly learn to love others when they are hard to love!

I started to think about parenting, and how at times it can be so difficult… so often my patience is tried, my love, my kindness, and all those other things that we would love to have come naturally flowing out of us all the time. But then I thought about how all of these things often need to be learnt, and they can only grow through opportunities and situations. You can’t say that you are patient unless you have been through situations where you had to learn to be patient! You can’t say that you are kind, unless you have had to learn kindness and shown it when you wouldn’t naturally.

The Bible talks about this (Matthew 5) – how it’s easy to love those who love you and easy to be kind to your friends, but not your enemies. True love is so much more than this.

This is where our children are such a blessing – as each one is a living opportunity to grow in character. So often I am too busy focusing on how I can help my children grow in character, rather than making the most of opportunities for my own growth… in love, in mercy or just in plain old kindness. Marriage is also an amazing opportunity to grow in character!

So be encouraged as a parent, spouse, friend, employee etc… you have amazing opportunities before you every day, to either become a grumpy, moody and bitter person (hey – sometimes those days just happen and we have to start fresh the next day!) or become a beautiful, character filled person. The opportunity is before you each day – we may as well make the most of it!

16 June 2008

Passing the time while stuck in A&E

Just home from spending the night in hospital with Mandrake Jr. after an asthma attack. We spent over 4 hours sitting in a room in A&E and finally got a bed for the night in the Children's Ward after 1am this morning.

Boy it's hard to help the time go by with all those white walls. I wasn't prepared to stay the night so next time I will remember to go prepared for the worst. The staff were great though - and Mandrake Jr. is doing fine.

I must also say that Mandrake coped really well at home with the other 3 kids - thanks honey!

Anyway... here are my 10 tips for passing the time while stuck in A&E (with your 6 year old!)...

1. Play "I spy" for a while (you will soon run out of things to spy after you have done the white walls, hospital bed, ceiling and curtains!)

2. Answer the endless questions about the smoke alarms and sprinklers on the ceilings

3. Let your son attempt to play the few games on your mobile phone

4. Kick yourself for not having any cool games downloaded on your mobile phone

5. Kick yourself for forgetting your toothbrush and paste

6. Have turns trying to beat each others peak flow meter reading

7. Stroke son's newly cut no.2 hair

8. Talk about the neck braces stacked on the shelf in the room and why people need them, how they are worn, who wears them... and every other question you can imagine would come regarding neck braces!

9. Make frequent outings to the toilet together for something exciting to do

10. Discover the children's toys and books in the hallway about 2 hours later


14 June 2008

Pins and needles...

I hope Mandrake doesn't mind... but I got the boys into sewing the other night.

They each have a small mound of favourite soft toys that sit on their beds, and are constantly begging me to sew weird and wonderful things... so I decided to let them have a go themselves.

I was quite pleasantly surprised! Son of Mandrake drew his own design, cut it out, and then used it to cut out the material he had chosen. Mandrake Jr had a bit more trouble, but is slowly getting there with his square thingy... and Miss 4, well, lets just say that it's a very unusual thing but I am sure I will be able to help her make it look like something!

Will keep you posted with the finished products soon!

p.s. note Mandrake Jr's no. 2 haircut... Mandrakes fault - nothing to do with me at all!

11 June 2008

What's up with men and flyspray??

Okay - I just have to write this post right now, while the smell of flyspray is just about making me gag.... what is up with guys and flyspray?

From a young girl (to this present day) I have memories of my dad overdoing it with bugs and flyspray... ants, flys, bees, wasps, whatever the bug, if they entered our house, everyone was going to suffer. There was no waiting for the actual chemicals in the flyspray to kill the creature, they were going to be so covered in the stuff that they would drown before the chemicals took effect.

Darling Symon seems to have the same love affair with the stuff. For some reason he has had quite a few bad experiences with bugs... putting on a wetsuit for a surf, only to be stung in the chest by a wasp that was hiding inside it. He also as a child threw stones at a wasp nest with his childhood buddy Brian, only to be chased by a swarm of angy paper wasps and stung in the chest several times (serves them right!). As an early married couple he had the wonderful idea of making our own surfboard wax, using genuine bees wax... we left our windows open in the house while we melted the wax, and it was amazing how soon our house was full of swarming bees!

Anyway, tonight a giant wasp entered the lounge, and immediately Symon was on alert! With utter bravery (protecting his family his main concern... I wish!) he caused a great spectical, slipping on the floor and nearly breaking a glass and re-dislocating his shoulder... and finally conquering the said wasp by drowing it in flyspray. Thanks darling - you saved the day... you should have a mini flyspray can on your swiss army knife!

Paper & tape - cheap fun for kids

I am still amazed how the most simplest of things can give so much fun... like bubbles, balloons, big boxes... and paper & sticky tape.

For some strange reason last night, right before bed, the kids decided to make superhero masks (and a princess crown) out of paper and tape... (big ups to Nana for her much needed creative input while visiting).

07 June 2008

Latte Art

Don't you love coffee art! I just discovered latte art recently, and was really impressed with some of the awesome designs people are attempting!

I am not that flash personally - still struggling to get a nice creamy top on most of my latte's (thanks Alex for your tips!)... but maybe oneday I could attempt some of these!!

Anyway - probably only for people with way too much time on their hands!

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