27 January 2014

Star Wars Cross Stitch



My lovely mum in law got me into cross stitch many years ago (she's done some amazing pieces!), but it's one of those crafts that I've left behind until now.  While browsing Etsy my passion for it was renewed when I stumbled across some of the patterns by from Geeky Stitches Etsy shop.  When crafts like cross stitch and crochet collide with things my husband and kids love, I know I've hit the jackpot!  I already have an order from my son for another pattern he's seen.

My husband was a Star Wars fanatic growing up.  He first saw Star Wars as a 3½ year old with his big brother and we are told sat quietly through the whole thing memorised, thinking it was all real life.

This one is simple yet cute - one of the famous quotes by Leia and Han during the movie.  The bonus is that I'm going to be allowed to hang this up in the house!  I'm looking forward to doing a few more in the near future.



Here's to geeky crafting.


For more crafty makings, go here

24 January 2014

Loving...

The school holidays are nearly over, and I've loved every moment of them this year (well, just about).  On Tuesday we will be back into routine, which is nice, but I'm going to miss the slow pace of the holidays, the late nights playing board games with the kids and trips exploring our area.

Here are some of the things I've been loving...

Loving Northland and our beaches - we are truly blessed here.




Loving teaching this girl how to bake.  We've been a bit slow off the mark with not having a decent kitchen for years, but now that we have, she's doing so well (especially wearing her great great grandmother's paisley apron!).



Loved hanging with this guy - we never get sick of each other (miracle aye!)...



Love getting mail - I've been waiting for a quiet moment to be able to devour this book!  These girls from A Beautiful Mess are so inspirational.



I've loved all the weddings that have been happening the last few months.  This one was set in such a beautiful surrounding - so much so that Symon and I took advantage of the location...






Check out this lovely cake a lady from our church (Keri) made.  Love the rustic look and colour...



So thankful for good friends.  These three grown adults were absolutely whipped by our two boys the other night at a game of Halo.  Poor things.  On the up side, Stephen (on the left) and Matt (on the right) both have amazing blogs that you need to check out: www.stephengarton.com and www.mattguddat.com




Finally, loving getting into cross stitch again.  This is a Star Wars one - so many awesome patterns available on Etsy now..



Hope you've enjoyed your holidays as much as I have.

xoxo



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21 January 2014

Oven Eggs & Ham



Here's a quick brunch I whipped up recently - such a quick idea and easy to add whatever you have in the cupboard/fridge as well.

Lightly grease a non-stick muffin tray and line with circles of ham.  Break an egg into each segment (or however many you require) and  then season and add any extras on top.  I added feta, but chopped tomato, onion, spring onions etc would be great.



Pop into a pre-heated oven and bake eggs until firm.



So yum!


For more delicious recipes visit here.

17 January 2014

Me, My Kids and the World Wide Web




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As a parent these days, not only do you need to learn how to feed, clean and care for your children, but you also need to have completed a thesis on how to navigate the web with your kid. 

Unless you want to become Amish, getting a healthy balance and some wise advice in this area is essential for any person, especially parents.  You just can't bury your head in the sand when it comes to technology, no matter how technologically illiterate you are.  

I often get asked questions about how we cope with media in our home and also about how we protect our kids while online - so here are some of our tips and tricks for technology in the home.

Please Note: I am definitely not an expert when it comes to this stuff, just a mum who wants to help my kids learn to navigate technology wisely.  Tackling this subject is almost overwhelming, as there is so much that could be covered, but I'm going to take the bull by the horns and do my best to share some of the simple things that have helped us as a family, in the hope that it may help some of you.

  
How Much Media is Too Much
There are so many studies available now telling us of the dangers of letting your children spend too much time watching TV or playing on media.  When you've got 4 kids, even the logistics of letting them each have a certain amount of time on media can be a nightmare to orchestrate and oversee and in the end you feel like declaring media freedom to the world forever and retreating into your room to rock back and forth while pinning your favourite humour images on Pinterest.

For us as a family, our family rule is, no computers or gaming during the week, only on weekends and holidays.  It's amazing how once the family get used to the rules, they happily go out and play together, read books and play board games.  The weekends and holidays are far more relaxed.  There are also times where media can be used as a reward (aka bribery) during the week if you want - lazy teenager who won't mow the lawns... media time is a great commodity to bargain with!


Where does your media live?
Symon and I have been involved in working with youth for well over 15 years, and over that time have learnt a lot about internet safety and have sadly also seen the devastation it can cause in young people's lives.  Not only have we seen kids who live most of their day wasted away staring at a screen gaming, but also the damages of media violence, porn and the like.

It's not that I don't trust my kids, I just don't trust the people out there who are trying and hook my kids into destructive addictions.  I'm not a silly parent who would leave my kids home alone with a loaded gun, and I feel it's the same when it comes to the internet.

Here are some of the things we do:
  • At our house, all computers with internet access are in a public place - in our case, our lounge or dining room.  This is a standard the kids have learnt - if you want to go on the internet, you do it in a public place.  We also make sure this is the standard at their friends homes that they visit.
  • We make sure our search engines are on strict filter settings, and looking up sites, or searching for things are only to be done with mum or dad helping.  Websites they want to access are saved in their favourites and accessed from there.
  • These days, Ipods, smartphones, and things like the Wii and XBox have access to the internet too. Ipods have to be played in the lounge or public place while hooked up to the net - the internet password is entered by us, and forgotten again afterwards.  Things like the Wii and XBox have parental settings and passwords so that only certain areas can be accessed.
  • While none of our kids currently have cellphones, I've heard of many families having a box where all the phones get put at night.  I like this idea.  When it comes to smartphones, you need to set your own boundaries there, but remember, they are just like a computer with access to everything a computer has access to.  For us as a family, we aren't going in that direction at the moment.

Safety Settings
There are safety settings on most things, you just need to take the time to find them and set them. Nothing is fool proof though, and that is why we as a family have decided to keep all internet access in public places.  If you seriously struggle with stuff like setting up safety settings on your devices, ask a family friend, computer literate nephew or niece, or Google it! Google is your friend - and I'm still surprised how many people ask questions they could just Google!

Things people often don't know:
  • You can set the search settings for the app store (both Apple and Google) to a strict level.  This weeds out all the dodgy adult apps from being displayed.
  • If your kid has an Instagram account and loads up pics with location settings, often the photos they take at home with be tagged with your exact home address for everyone to see where they live. Firstly, set their account to private, or teach them how to turn off their GPS when loading up pics from home (do not fear, you can delete the home ones from showing on the map by simply editing them in the map area).
  • Like I said before, most gaming consoles have parental settings/locks - make the most of these, after all, you are the parent! Be aware that there are always ways around settings for those ultra clever kids, and that's why keeping the internet public at your home is a massive key.
  • Teach your kids about internet safety - do they chat online to people they don't know (do they realise that cute 16 year old boy they are chatting to is probably a creepy 55 year old man looking for a good time)?  Who are their Facebook friends?  What is bullying online?  These are topics that have to be addressed in your family if you want to parent the best you can these days.
  • Most games have safety settings - get involved with your kids and be aware of what games they are playing.  Some games have gore filters and language filters - some don't. Look at the ratings - research the games (good links at the bottom of this post) and talk about them with your child.  Decide as a family what your values are, otherwise society/media will decide for you.
I totally respect my kids privacy and am not the sort of parent who goes searching through their diaries and emails, but they know that just like the police, if I have reason to suspect a crime, I will gain the right to break and enter.  Teach your kids while they are young to live wisely and play by the rules.


Unmonitored Media
We are involved as much as possible with monitoring our kids daily diet of media. As they get older, more and more discussion takes place with our children as to the pros and cons of certain games, websites etc.  I want my kids to grow up to be healthy adults who can reason wisely and make good healthy decisions in all areas of their life, especially when it comes to media and the internet.

I haven't talked much about the pornography aspect here in this post, mainly because of the viewing audience of this blog, but there is a deep dark underworld that is readily accessible to any adult or child with the click of a button through the internet.  Sadly today, the statistics say that 56% of divorces are because of porn addiction.  The sad thing is that this world stripped back exposes an ever darker underworld of exploitation and slavery (27 million plus at the moment according to A21 Campaign)!) that many people don't want to acknowledge.  Money is a big part of this, and hooking your kid in while they are young is their main goal, so you need to keep your wits about you.  It is up to us as parents to be aware and wise, to talk to our children at their appropriate ages about the reality of this world. I will share some links below that may help, but it's up to us as parents to get educated and aware.  We can't keep our heads buried in the sand any longer.

When it comes to unmonitored media, we don't allow it.  We check out movie reviews and gaming reviews as best we can and make our decision as parents.  We aren't perfect or flawless, but we do our best.  If we are leaving kids alone at home (now that our oldest is old enough to babysit) we take the internet modem with us.  Easy to unplug and take, no drama to plug back in when an adult is home again.


On that light note (hehe), I hope that this has been helpful.

I know many parents and grandparents feel helpless and even 'dumb' around their media savvy kids. It sometimes can feel hard to be in charge when you feel clueless about what you are in charge of! Remind your kids/grandkids that they need to respect you even if you don't get it.  Ask questions nicely, watch what they are playing, do some research, ask people around you who you know understand it more.  

If you face disrespectful behaviour from your kids, remind them who pays the internet bill.  Don't be bullied - take charge and stand your ground.  Tell them that when they are ready to talk respectfully/do their chores/use the computer where you said it had to be used, you will be ready to put in the internet code/let them use your internet or power or house!

Stay strong - you can do it!


Helpful Links
Reviews for Games and Media
Plugged In has pretty thorough reviews of games (most parents aren't aware of what your innocent kid can actually do in games like Grand Theft Auto).
Common Sense Media is a great site with game and app reviews and other resources for helping parents train their kids to navigate the internet wisely.
IMDB parental review for specific movies (go to the site, type in the movie, and scroll down to the parental review).  Can be a really great help!  Plugged In also has movie reviews.

Computer Monitoring and Safety
X3watch - cheap filtering and accountability software (highly recommended)
Watchdog - very good filtering internet service

Other Interesting Links
A21 Campaign  (become aware of the human trafficking issue)


Please feel free to share, and please leave me your ideas, thoughts or any good links in the comments below. I love hearing how others do life!


13 January 2014

Makings



First softie for 2014 - hopefully there will be a lot more this year, with a few new designs and ideas.



This one is going to a super special home!


For more crafty makings, go here





10 January 2014

Auckland Road Trippin



We went on a bit of a road trip yesterday.  When you've got 4 kids, road trips end up being the cheaper option to going on flash holidays away overseas or to other parts of the country.  We totally dig road trips, and make sure we can squeeze in as much fun as possible when we do go on one.

Yesterday's road trip was to Auckland, and was all about the kids.

We had a picnic lunch when we arrived, then explored Queen Street - things on the to do list in Queen Street included seeing the creepy Santa in real life (although he is a lot less creepy now that he doesn't have a winking eye and beckoning finger), checking out the gaming shops/comic shops (that was on the boys list, not ours),  looking at the Russian doll shop, Starbucks, Typo (on my list of course) and generally just feeling like a group of country bumpkins in the big smoke (who got a bit caught in the middle of a fist fight between two homeless people at one point too!).

Awesome Symon decided to shout the kids to Kelly Tarlton's - they haven't been there for a while and since we have some major animal lovers in our family, it was a massive hit!  Symon and the boys love sharks, and our youngest is obsessed with penguins.


As you can see, she was in penguin heaven...



We finished off our day by taking the kids to a flash restaurant for dinner.  An anonymous person had gifted our family some restaurant vouchers to treat ourselves with.  We felt so flash - we hardly ever all go out to a restaurant as a family, so it was such a blessings and one of the highlights of the day for the kids (whoever you are, thank you sooooooo much!).



Road trips rock!



For previous Road Trips, visit here.



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08 January 2014

Blackboard Container Labels



I use some of my grandmother's retro containers in my kitchen for storing my flour, icing sugar and other baking items.  They've never had proper labels, only some make-do ones I had stuck on with washi tape (they didn't last very long at all).

Thanks to the leftover blackboard paint from our Kitchen Renovation, and some inspirational images via Pinterest, I decided to make my own little blackboard labels for some of my kitchen containers.

Here's the process (with the helping and somewhat hairy hand of my amazing hubby)...

Select the containers/jars you want to label and make sure the outsides are clean and dry...



Tape up the shape you would like to paint on (or you could use a stencil or free hand if you are extra fancy)...



Paint on the blackboard paint and let dry in between coats (we did 3 coats).  There are some amazing coloured blackboard paints available now too, from places like Typo.



Once the paint has dried, peel off your masking tape and grab your chalk and label away!



I love my chalkboard paint labels!!





For more "How To" ideas, go here.



06 January 2014

Coconut Pudding



I'm a sucker for simple milk puddings, and this one went down well with the family a couple of nights ago.  I also loved the fact that I had all the ingredients in my pantry!

Ingredients
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 tablespoon Flour
1 tablespoon Cornflour
1 tablespoon Golden Syrup
2 tablespoons Coconut
1 Egg
2 cups Hot Milk

Mix all ingredients except milk in a bowl until smooth, stir in hot milk and pour into saucepan.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.

I doubled the ingredients to make enough for the 6 of us in our family.



For more delicious recipes visit here.
*Source EBR Rally Cook Book




03 January 2014

Loving...




I wholeheartedly believe that no matter what is happening
in your life, there is always something that you can be thankful for...
no matter how simple it is.  



Here are a few things I am loving at the moment...

I'm loving freshening up spaces around the home... like adding this map (on special from Typo) to our dining room.  Not only am I loving the fresh burst of colour it brings, but the fact that I've overheard the children and their friend talking about different countries, where they thought places were etc.  Decor AND learning at the same time = BONUS!





Before...



Loving hair chalk!  Heaps of fun - I even saw an adult with some in at the supermarket the other day!!



Loving "All Sons & Daughters" Live album!   Especially love their song "Wake Up".




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Loving the latest Frankie Magazine (free wallplanner, cards and pretty envelopes - hello!!) and this cute little radio that was a bargain!  Love that the radio plugs into my phone to play my latest music as well!



Loving a fresh new year ahead... new dreams and goals and priorities to be set...



P.S. Still loving the clipboard!




Happy New Year!

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