31 August 2008

Real Men Knit...

The art of knitting is being lost in our modern culture. Maybe people are too busy these days to knit; maybe people think knitting is only for granny's; maybe woolly jumpers aren't as trendy as they used to be, or most probably one of the main reasons is that these days it is too expensive to knit a jersey rather than buy one.

Anyway - I am glad to say that the craft is being passed on in our household. I have never been a knitter... I am way too slow, and find I get a bit bored. I have completed one or two scarves in my lifetime, but that is about it. So I was very impressed to see Miss 4's pony blanket that she completed with the help of her her Nana (very patient Nana at that!).

It got me thinking about a couple of male knitters I know... one is a middle aged man who loves to knit. It doesn't seem quite right to have a man knitting, but it is a lot more common than I thought.

What do you think about the clip below guys (and girls)? Do you know any male knitters? Maybe we should start a male knitting movement... I don't think my husband would be impressed if I got the boys into it, although I did have a little birdie tell me that he himself learned to knit once!

30 August 2008

Ugly Chickens

All I can say is how can these...

Turn into these?

No longer do we have cute fluffy chickens... the chickens are definitely going through an 'ugly' stage as they lose their cute 'fluff' and grow into their 'big chicken feathers'.

Reminds me a bit of transitions in life... sometimes things are going great, and sometimes things are rough... but we all go through transitions and stages, and even if life's circumstances are looking rather ugly at the moment, beauty and growth is around the corner (well, that is if you can call 'big chicken feathers' beautiful?).

Times of change and transition are inevitable in everyone's life - hang in there, lift up your eyes for hope.

I look up to the mountains does my help come from there,
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Psalm 121:1-3

28 August 2008

My Top 5 Childhood Crushes

Okay - in response to my husband's post "My top 5 childhood crushes" (see here), here are my top 5!

To be honest, I had to think really hard, as I wasn't the sort of person who had crushes on heaps of tv stars growing up (unlike a certain person!). I am sure you will all have a good snigger at my top 5. I am definitely showing my age with this post!

5. Charles from "Charles in Charge"

Who could forget Charles! He was always a very level headed guy on Charles in Charge. I am sure that swish hairstyle (and maybe the cool braces) had something to do with this slight crush when I was a young 6 year old.

4. Officer Jon Baker

My big brother was obsessed with watching "CHiPs". He loved the big bikes they rode on. I was probably only a 4 or 5 year old when we used to watch it - but I thought officer Jon was pretty special (the blonde guy). Their glasses were cool too.

3. Bo Duke

Another programme my brother loved to watch. Again, I was very young, but I loved watching "The Dukes of Hazzard". Bo (the blonde one) was really cool - and I was obsessed with how they used to get into their cool orange car through the windows without opening the doors... I remember trying this a few times myself in dad's car.

2. Mr T

I know some of you are laughing... but I really did have a crush on Mr T. He was so cool (and still is!). Our neighbour was an old lady who owned a video player (that was pretty rare in my younger days)... so she would video "The A-Team" and "MacGyver" for me and my brother to watch. Mr T was so cool - and no, I did not have a crush on MacGyver.

1. The Greatest American Hero

My number one childhood crush would have to go to Ralph Hinkley, The Greatest American Hero. I remember a young singer with curly blonde hair that visited our small church in Hikurangi, Northland when I was young. He looked a lot like Ralph, and my mum bought his record. I remember staring and staring at the photo's of him on the album cover... I truly believed that he was The Greatest American Hero... and he had visited our little church. Wow.

So there you have it... my top 5 childhood crushes. And as my husband so lovingly said at the end of his post... I am happily married too, to a wonderful guy. He may not have blonde hair (or swishy black hair like Charles), and he definitely doesn't have Mr T's skin tone or muscles... but he is absolutely awesome... and I still have a crush on him after all these years!

27 August 2008

The life of a lemon

So many lemons that I decided to have a lemon baking day... Lemon Rind Biscuits, Homemade Lemonade and Lemon Sponge.

They all turned out wonderfully... and went quickly once the boys came home from school.

Recipes below!

Lemon Rind Biscuits
Rind of 1 lemon
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
80g butter, chopped into pieces
1 cup flour
extra sugar

Using the copping blade of a food processor, mix the lemon rind and sugar, until the rind is finally chopped (I mixed grated rind and sugar in a mortar and pestle). Add egg and butter and mix until smooth, then add the flour. Chill the dough until you can shape it.

Form the dough into 2-3cm balls, roll them in the extra sugar and place 5 cm apart on ungreased baking trays. Flatten with the bottom of a glass.
Bake for 6 minutes at 200degC, until the tops are shiny.


6 lemons
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 cups water (1.5 litres)
Icecubes and lemon slices for serving

Wash and dry lemons. Using a potato peeler, remove the peel very thinly from three of the lemons. Place peel in a meduim pan, add sugar and half of the water. Cover and simmer gentlyy for 15 minutes. Allow to cool.

Squeeze juice from all of the lemons and strain into a large jug. Strain syrup over lemon juice and add remaining water stirring to combine. Cover and chill.

Serve lemonade in glasses, over ice cubes. Float lemon slices on top.

Lemon Sponge
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
whipped cream

Put flour, sugar, eggs, butter, milk and lemon rind into an electric mixer bowl. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in baking powder. Pour into two greased and lined 20cm sponge sandwich tins. Bake at 190degC for 15-20 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Leave in tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. When cold, sandwich together with whipped cream and cover with sifted icing sugar.

For more delicious recipes visit here.

25 August 2008

Shy guy...

I had a little date this afternoon with a very special little guy.

Have you ever seen newborn birds in their nest, mouths wide open, loudly trying to get the mother birds attention to be fed? The loud demanding ones are the ones who get the food... the quiet ones often go without.

This little guy is our quiet one. He hardly ever complains, he is very satisfied, and he is hardly ever demanding... and he often can miss out.

In a loud, busy family there are always needs and demands being made. I find as a mum that I am constantly moving from one demand to another, meeting everyone's needs. Then often I will notice this little guy in the background. He is happy, he is content... but he still needs some special attention once in a while.

Well Mummy and him went on a special outing to the library - just us two. We ordered a hot chocolate each and something yummy to eat. We also picked a couple of food magazines to browse through together (he looooooves anything about food) and just had time alone... just the two of us.

Would you believe he is actually a very funny little guy and really comes out of his shell when it's just the two of us. He has deep scientific insights too, the sort of things I would often miss... like how the frothy milk swirls around and around in his drink... and deep questions like "Mummy, why did God make smokes?".

Precious moments - I think I will keep an eye on the shy guy a bit more from now on.

24 August 2008

Russian Dolls and Bunnys

I had the wonderful satisfaction of finishing six softies today! They have all been half finished for a week or two, so it was nice to finally be able to finish them off and add them to the softie shop (here).

I have had a bit of an obsession with Russian Dolls lately (Matryoshka), so gave a couple of them a go... cute little things. I like their little babies. I would actually really like to buy a proper Russian Doll for some weird reason - they just seem really cool . There are some quite expensive ones for sale and also some junky cheap ones... maybe I will buy a cheap one 'for the girls' and then I can play with it!

Hope you have had a great weekend!

23 August 2008

Soule Mama

After a whole week of the bad flu thingy, I am still struggling to feel normal again (Symon - hold off on the comments about me not being normal anyway!).

It was really nice today to get back into everyday life again, playing with the kids, visiting the library and grandparents... all those normal everyday things that we can so often take for granted. I now have a new appreciation for everyday life. Funny how it's only when something is taken away from you for a while that you really start to appreciate it.

I was so excited today to pick up a book I had ordered from our local library (they bought it just for me!). It is "The Creative Family" by Amanda Blake Soule. I have been visiting Soulemama's blog for quite a while and have enjoyed reading about her everyday adventures with her family and her crafty creations.

The thing I love the most about Soulemama, is that she is not ashamed to enjoy her family and be proud to be a mum. I remember a time early on in my parenting days when I would be asked, 'What are you doing at the moment?", and I would often reply with, "Oh, I'm just a mum". My view of motherhood has changed dramatically since then. I am now fiercely proud to be a mother, and like Amanda Soule, treasuring every moment of enjoying life with my kids and inspiring and encouraging them to do the same.

So I am definitely looking forward to reading her book and getting some fresh ideas for creative time with the kids.

22 August 2008

Flashback Friday

A little flash back to when I was young, helping my brother hold one of our Dad's fishing trip catch's.

And another flashback... Symon when he was young, with his stylish hairdo, cute teeth, retro bike and t.shirt and sexy legs!

Ahhh... those were the days!

21 August 2008

Inspirational Softie-maker

It was while browsing the softie pool on flickr last year (here) that I had the urge to attempt to make my first softie. There are some pretty cool creations on here (and some pretty strange ones too).

Last week (before I was hit with the flu) I discovered revoluzzza's flickr page (here). She is one clever and creative person, so I thought I'd give you a quick sample of some of her stuff. I really like her bunnies and journal covers.

20 August 2008

Mr Mum

While recovering from a very bad flu, I just had to link you to my hubby's latest post.

Thank you so much honey for keeping the ship afloat these last few days!

Click here to read "Mr Mum".

15 August 2008

Bread and Butter Pudding!

Our house has been full of unwell little kids for the last week - 3 have this nasty flu-like bug going around (that includes vomiting!) and two of us have horrible head-colds.

It's funny how we do exactly what our mums used to do for us... blankets (or sheets if you have a fever) on the couch to make a 'bed', a little place set up with your bowl, water-bottle, tissues and wet flannel. And when you are on the mend, a nice piece of vegemite toast cut up into little squares and eaten with a fork!

For an extra special treat during those sickly times, my mother used to call on my Great Grandmother to make her special Bead & Butter Pudding. So guess what I decided to make tonight... that's right, Bread & Butter Pudding! And it was so bland, comforting and nice! Just how I remembered it being.

Below is the recipe I used...

Bread and Butter Pudding

butter to spread
6 slices of day-old white or brown bread, crusts removed
3/4 cup mixed dried fruit
3 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 1/2 cups milk

Preheat oven to moderate 180 degC. Grease a medium, shallow, ovenproof dish. Butter bread and cut slices in half diagonally. Layer bread into the dish, sprinkling each layer with dried fruit, sugar and spice.

Beat the eggs, essence and milk together. Pour mixture over the bread and set aside for 5 minutes to soak.

Bake pudding for 50 minutes, or until it is set and top is browned.

All the sugary goodness waiting to be popped into the oven...


For more delicious recipes visit here.

14 August 2008

So similar yet so different...

Our first real conversation was in the back of a car on the way home from a youth group trip to Auckland. The car was full of random people... nice people... but no one I really 'clicked' with... that was until we started chatting. Of course it was about music, the bands we liked and other things like that - but straight away I knew we were on the same wavelength, we both had the same interests, we both loved to laugh... and most importantly we both loved God.

He is my soulmate, my best friend and my love. We have spent every part of each day together (the joys of working from home) for over the last 12 years of our married life... and I am still not sick of him!

And here we sit on one of our precious nights home together - both trying to unwind from the very stressful 'zoo hour' of 5-7pm (for those of you without kids, it's that scary dinner, bath and bed routine... x4)... anyway, here we sit both taking a moment to unwind and relax... me, quietly hand-sewing a softie while watching the Olympics on tv... him, playing a very stressful and loud game of Supreme Commander on the computer. So loud that it's stressing me out!

So similar, yet so different...

I just had to write a post about it :)

13 August 2008

A little boy called Steven Zimba...

There is a special little boy that lives in Africa, who is a part of our family too. His name is Steven Zimba, and he is our sponsor child.

Our lives are pretty much as opposite as you could imagine... Steven lives in Africa for starters, he comes from a very poor family and one of his favourite delicacies is caterpillar relish! But we also have a lot in common. Steven loves life, enjoys soccer and other outdoor games, and has a strong faith in God.

We have learned a lot as a family thanks to Steven, especially when the time comes to write him a letter. We are encouraged as a sponsor family not to talk about things we own, material possessions and stuff like that. Sometimes (I sadly must confess), it is hard to think of things to write about... the weather... the weather... the weather?? The kids also have to think deeper than their latest Nintendo DS games or their excitement about a new toy or tv programme. They are challenged to think about the more important things in life, and to think about othe people in other countries who do not have the blessings that they have. They are challenged to give up a tiny bit in order to bless someone greatly.

So thanks Steven Zimba... (although you will probably never read this), you have helped us as a family to think about others, to be grateful for what we have, and to realise that no matter what our situation, there is always a little bit more that can be shared with others.

12 August 2008

Gratitude Wrap

Okay - so I am going all motherly and crafty-like... it's actually quite scary!

I have just finished my first attempt at making a Gratitude Wrap. It was also my first time at sewing bias binding on a sewing machine and was my worst nightmare! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah... I hate bias binding!

This special idea was created by Soulemama and was her solution to never getting around to thanking those special people in our lives. It is a special little wrap (I know mine looks more like one of those granny pot mit things) and in it is a place for thankyou cards, a place for an address book (and pen if you want) and another little pocket for a book of stamps. What a great idea!

I love this quote... "Silent gratitude isn't very much use to anyone." Gertrude Stein

So for anyone who is keen to give one a try, checkout her free pattern here.

10 August 2008

Shadow of your wings...

Today I was feeling a tad bit down and took a moment to step out on the back porch to see how the baby chickens were going (especially in this cold frosty weather).

The sight that met my eyes was beautiful, and warmed my heart and soul.

Mother hen was sitting outside on the grass, with no baby chickens to be seen. Then out from under her wing popped a bright yellow head. Our little yellow chicken happily looked around as it sat tucked under her warm and protective wing, not a care in the world as long as it's mummy was there to snuggle into.

Straight away I was reminded of our Heavenly Father and the many amazing scriptures there are that refer to his 'wings'.

Psa 36:7 How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.

Psa 17:8 Guard me as the apple of your eye. Hide me in the shadow of your wings.

Rth 2:12 May the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully."

Psa 61:4 Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!

Psa 63:7 I think how much you have helped me; I sing for joy in the shadow of your protecting wings.

Psa 91:4 He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with his feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

It's amazing what can impact you from everyday life... thank you little yellow chicken!

Marble Heaven

I just want to say is a massive THANK YOU to Stephen for sending the kids to marble heaven.

After my last post about their new marble bags (which were pretty empty), Stephen dug out his shoe box of marbles to reminisce and decided to give them to us.

They were so excited - you made their day (and I had heaps of fun looking through them too)!

07 August 2008

Marble Bags

It is quite weird when your children get into things you used to be into as a child... like marbles. I remember playing marbles at school - they were the latest craze (back then). My brother and I had the special added benefit of our parents owning a toy shop, which meant we had the coolest marbles too.

Well, the three oldest now have little marble collections (thanks to Poppa letting them each choose some marbles from his prized collection), and each wanted a marble bag. I have never ever sewn marble bags before, so was quite pleased with myself a couple of nights ago when I whipped up three within an hour!

Does anyone else have memories of playing marbles when they were young? Mandrake and I were trying to remember all the different names for the different marble types... galaxies, peewees... does anyone remember the other names?

06 August 2008

Coconut Crazy!

I never would have thought that one little coconut could bring so much excitement and joy... although, I do remember saving up my pocket money once or twice when I was young to buy my very own coconut!

It is amazing the discussion, questions and experiences that can come out of an unusual food item (as in one that we don't buy very often). First was the interest in the 3 little holes, and how daddy was going to get the liquid out of it. Then was the excitement in tasting the liquid (in a tiny glass each), then tasting the nut itself.

Next came daddy's story about drinking the liquid from a green one when he was in Fiji on a missions trip, then the story about the time he was prying coconut from the shell with a sharp steak knife (when we were engaged) and he had a little 'accident' and the knife went right through his thumb and came out the other side (you should have seen the look of horror on their faces at that story... and the look on mine at the time it happened!). That night we spent a long wait in A&E at the hospital!

After many random questions from the children, and mummy making a quick visit to http://wikipedia.org, we discussed and discovered some very interesting things...

Did you know that coconuts are not really nuts... they are a fruit?
Did you know that the liquid inside the coconut (brown ones) is called coconut water - not coconut milk?
Coconut water can be used as an intravenous fluid.
The green coconuts have the most liquid inside and their flesh is like jelly.
We discussed the warm countries where coconuts grow.
The husk and shells can be used for fuel and are a good source of charcoal.
Each palm can yield up to 75 fruits per year.
Coconut crabs crack coconuts with their strong pincers in order to eat the contents!

So there you go - your little science/social studies lesson for the week!

05 August 2008

Louise Slice

My Nana always made the best Louise Cake in the world.

It's always been on of my Dad's favourite slices, so I have often make him some as a treat... but never could get it as nice as Nana's one - that was until I inherited her recipe.

After making it up over the weekend especially for Dad, I am convinced that it is a good one. She often doubled it to make an extra thick slice. Yummy!

So here it is... Bernie Nan's Louise Cake

10 ozs flour
5 ozs butter
2 ozs sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon baking powder
essence of lemon

Cream butter and sugar
Add yolks of eggs
Stir in flour, baking powder and lemon essence
Roll out and spread with raspberry jam
Beat whites stiff, then zdd 8 ozs castor sugar and 4 ozs coconut
Spread on top of jam and cook 20 minutes in a moderate oven

Cut in to squares when cooked

For more delicious recipes visit here.

The cup addiction continues...

Okay - I have restrained myself from buying these cups for well over a few months... but then yesterday I couldn't restrain myself any longer.

They remind me of paper coffee cups - but are not paper of course. Even Symon agrees that they make the coffee or hot chocolate (with marshmallows and grated chocolate on top) taste even better.

04 August 2008

Latest Softies added to the Softie Shop

The three latest softies added to the softie shop - amazing how quickly it is to make them now that I have a sewing machine!

03 August 2008

Weekend Fun

Poor Symon has been very sick in bed with a really bad flu and I have found it quite a struggle to keep 4 kids 'quiet for daddy' over the wet weekend, especially with the lounge being right next to the master bedroom.

My plan to hire out the latest Wiggles DVD for the girls (to keep them quiet) ended up causing more pain for Symon than pleasure. Everyone has been dancing and singing and watching it over and over, so much so that even hearing the tunes hummed makes him feel quite nauseous.

So after dropping Master 9 off to a birthday party this afternoon, I took the rest of the tribe to visit Nana & Poppa's place, where chalk drawing on their large drive was a massive hit! Chalk... another one of those simple things that can bring so much joy.

We even took Poppa some of his favourite slice... Louise Cake (recipe coming soon).

Aren't grandparents great (check out my Dad's mo).

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