27 January 2015

I Choose Joy...

The school holidays have come to an end, and tonight as I drag the school bags out of the cupboards, put the lunch boxes on the bench and try to stuff all the new stationery into their bags, I've been thinking about the year to come.

So many people have new years resolutions, other's have "words" for the year or new goals - there's nothing wrong with that at all.  I have things I want to do differently this year, things I'd like to focus on more and other things I'm wanting to give less of my time  to, but one thing I really want to do is to choose JOY more.

So often I can find myself worrying about the things to be done, the things that aren't going right, the things coming up, the current pressures we are going through - and when those things pass, there's always something new.  I don't want to live my life like that - and I know that's not the way God intended life to be lived.

Symon and I were talking today about a book he is reading (The Life You've Always Wanted by John Ortberg).  I love this excerpt...

"... I realized that I tend to divide my minutes into two categories: living, and waiting to live.  Most of my life is spend in transit: trying to get somewhere, waiting to begin, driving someplace, standing in line, waiting for a meeting to end, trying to get a task completed, worrying about something bad that might happen, or being angry about something that did happen.  These are all moments when I am not likely to be fully present, not to be aware of the voice and purpose of God,  I am impatient.  I am, almost literally, killing time.  And that is just another way of saying I am killing myself... Ironically, often the thing that keeps me from experiencing joy is my preoccupation with self.  The very selfishness that keeps me from pouring myself out for the joy of others also keeps me from noticing and delighting in the myriad small gifts God offers each day.  This is why Walkre Percy describes boredom as "the self stuffed with the self."... and I need to learn.  Joy is at the heart of God's plan for human beings.  The reason for this is worth pondering awhile: Joy is at the heart of God himself.  We will never understand the significance of joy in human life until we understand it's importance to God..."

I want to choose JOY more this year.  I want to live in the moment, whether it's hard, painful, mundane or wonderful, and choose joy no matter what.  God's mercies are new every morning thankfully (Lamentations 2:22-23) - each day is a fresh start.

(Photo's taken during our recent family trip to Kai Iwi Lakes)

24 January 2015

Laundry Renovations

Years ago we bought a very old & tired home that needed everything done to it... and many years later (8 to be exact) in amongst life with 4 kids, we are nearly finished!

I cried when we first moved in - I'm not a visionary like my husband who can look at an old house and overgrown section and see a beautiful property with an awesome renovated bungalow... I'm a maintainer, and all I could see was mess, work and more work.  I was also heavily pregnant with our 4th child, so maybe some of those pregnancy hormones were involved with the crying too... but finally the work has paid off!

This laundry room used to be the enclosed back porch of our bungalow.  Our washing machine and dryer were in with our kitchen (renovation post here) and this back porch was where we would sit, the kids would play and once we even kept some lambs we were babysitting in it!


The bearded visionary behind it all...

Here are the after pics!  Symon did all the hard work and lots of painting, and I did a heap of painting and the decorating.  We love this space!!  

Yaaaaay for laundry and ironing! (wait... did I just say that!?!?!)

Hopefully I'll get around to posting some of the other "before and afters" of our house.  To check out some of our other renovation projects, go here.  

18 January 2015

Softie for Summer

My niece is due to have her first little baby soon - a girl names Summer!  We celebrated with a lovely baby shower yesterday, with tonnes of delicious goodies to eat and drink and lots of fun games - my two girls were very excited to be able to come along and take part (I don't think I've ever seen a 7 year old so engrossed in trying to win baby bingo!).

I made Aimee this pink softie for Summer, and cute icy pink fabric I found with raised spots/dimples.

Looking forward to meeting this precious baby girl.

For more crafty makings, click here.

14 January 2015

Holiday Fun...


We've been trying to squeeze in as much holiday fun as we can this last week before Symon heads back to work.  

Being a family of 6, big travel trips or camping expeditions aren't usually on the holiday agenda for us, but we usually try to make use of the free playground that God has given us here in New Zealand - beaches, parks, walks etc.  There are so many great places to travel and explore, and mostly all for free or a very small cost (like Auckland Museum and the North Head tunnels).

There has been a beautiful beach wedding to attend...

We also visited a beach church service last Sunday at Sandy Bay,  followed by the first family surf in a long while!  Massive thanks to Poppa who did a fine job teaching the girls how to stand up on their first surf lesson ever - he taught me many years ago!  A couple of clips here and here of them surfing.

Symon & I even got a surf in, although Symon caught way more waves than me.  I reckon it was the beard that helped him...

We also took the kids on a road trip to Auckland yesterday, making the most of the free parks, North Head tunnel's, cheap Museum trip and more.  I even got to sneak into Little & Friday for a coffee and treats and made sure that I took my crochet along with me on the trip.

Some of the goodies at Little & Friday

It's been so good making the most of what we have around us - so many beautiful beaches and bush tracks to explore - no excuse not to get out and about in this lovely weather (sorry for you Northern Hemisphere folks reading this while you are freezing cold and in the middle of winter!).

Romantic selfie photobombed

We have a few more adventures planned for the family before we get back into work and school! Hope you are enjoying God's playground wherever you live.

10 January 2015

Marmite Story

My husband is a great dad who loves to tell tall stories around the dinner table sometimes, much to the children's delight.  With a twinkle in his eye, and a slight curving up of his mouth at one side, he will start telling the kids a story... if they think it's one of his funny tales they will yell out, "Dad, you've got your Marmite smile!", to which we would all know it's a funny tale rather than a true story.  
What is a "marmite smile" you ask?  Well, it was the very first one of his tall tales that was told around the dinner table one night.  I've asked him again and again to write the story down, and finally he has published it on his site here symondrake.com: Marmite Story and let me share it here for you to read as well.
It's slightly eeeeewwww but also quite cute (for those who don't know, Marmite is a New Zealand spread that many Kiwi's enjoy).

While eating breakfast the other day, my daughter asked, “Daddy, where does Marmite come from?”
“Well, Princess”, I told her, “That’s a long story. Truth is that most people don’t really know. Good thing your daddy does.
The story, as I remember it, goes a bit like this…
Chapter one
In the land of Somalia, near the city of Mogadishu, lives a very rare type of Marmoset. (Marmosets, for those who don’t know, are cute little tiny monkeys… so cute and tiny, that they can quite happily sit in the palm of your hand.)
Somalian Marmosets are very special, because they are the only Marmosets in the whole wide world which are troubled by a very rare kind of black mite (Mites, for those that don’t know either, are not so cute, but still tiny, insects that make their homes on other animals).
These Mites, which have taken a fancy for living in the fur of the Marmoset’s hind quarters, are simply called Marmoset Mites, or, you guessed it, Mar-mites for short.
Chapter two
If you have ever had Nits, as I have (my mum once told me, that nits only liked the cleanest children’s hair), you would probably know what a Nit comb is. If you don’t (maybe you don’t shampoo you hair enough), a Nit comb is a special comb that catches Nits.
A Mar-mite comb is very similar to a Nit-comb, only different. With trusty Mar-mite combs in hand the local “I-heart-Marmosets” fan club meet together every Sunday after Church to give all the friendly local Marmosets belly rubs and a good comb over (especially on their hind quarters), to rid them of all the pesky Mar-mites.
Now one day, a certain little boy called Johnny (his friends called him Johnny), being dragged along to the weekly Marmoset grooming every Sunday by his mother, had an idea. He thought about what it would be like to eat a Mar-mite.
You may think it is disgusting to eat something like a Mar-mite, but you and I both know that some children (and some grown-ups too) have put much worse things in their mouths… (sniff).
Johnny squashed one inbetween his fingers and taste-tested the black goo. It tasted good. Really good! He couldn’t believe how good the Mar-mites tasted, and began telling the grown-ups all about his amazing discovery.
As you can imagine, most thought it was a horrible idea to eat a Mar-mite at first, but one-by one, convinced by little Johnny’s enthusiasm, the entire fan-club discovered the amazing taste of Mar-mites. They were so excited, that they changed their name from the “I-heart-Marmosets” fan club to the “I-heart-Marmosets-but-I-heart-munching-Mar-mites-much-more’ fan club that very day.
Chapter 3
Every 4th Sunday after church the members of “I-heart-Marmosets-but-I-heart-muching-Mar-mites-much-more” fan club (or the IHMBIHMMMMMFC for short) bring buckets full of Mar-mites (which they have collected in their Mar-mite combs) to the IHMBIHMMMMMFC president’s house and have a ‘bring-and-share lunch’ around the swimming pool. There is no water in the pool, and while nattering over bikies and a cuppa, the Mar-mite buckets are emptied into the pool, which is no longer empty but full of Mar-mites up to ones ankles!
Everyone then spends the afternoon taking turns squishing the Mar-mites with their bare-feet! If you think that’s really disgusting, that is exactly how wine is made (true story – ask your parents!)
The black gooey goodness is collected in small glass jars and taken home to be spread on toast, or to give away to family and friends.
Chapter 4
And that is the true story of where Marmite comes from.
Now when you tell your parents about this story, they will probably tell you (as most grown-ups do) that it is a ridiculous made-up story, just like all other fairy tales, and not to believe it.
It’s probably best kept secret anyway, because if Animal Rights Activists knew the truth that Mites are squashed to make Marmite, it would be the end of the entire operation, and there would be no more Marmite! (so don’t tell anybody.)
Next time you have some delicious Marmite look very carefully, because sometimes, if you are very lucky, you may see a tiny leg of a Mar-mite (that hasn’t been squashed completely) when you spread delicious Marmite on your Breakfast toast and you will know that this story is true.
“Where does Vegemite come from then?” I’m sure you are wondering. Well… that story will have to wait for another day.
Every once in a while, a person who hasn’t scrubbed his or her feet, while squishing the Mar-mites, gets some toe-jam in the mix. Luckily, (by a top secret process that even I don’t know about) the toe jam gets filtered out, and also put into glass jars. This is sold all over the world, not as toe-jam (because that sounds a bit gross), but as Peanut Butter.
(Copyright © 2015 Symon Drake. All rights reserved)

06 January 2015

Amigurumi Cupcake

I was in the mood for a super quick crochet project today and decided to make one of my favourites - a cupcake!  I've made these quite a few times in the past (like here) and love doing different icing colours.  The pattern is easy to follow and can be found here on Nimoe's blog.

A perfect little gift for young and old alike (in other words, there's nothing wrong with an adult like me keeping it for myself aye?!)...

For more crafty makings click here.

05 January 2015


Yay - it seems that summer is finally properly here!  After a few weeks of rain and strange wintery-like weather, it's been so nice to get some proper summer days here. We've been making the most of it so far with a family BBQ at the beach with our awesome friends...

We also had a trip up north today to Kerikeri (our boy has his braces appointments up there) and took my mum along for a great day shopping, having a picnic together and enjoying exploring the area.  

Love New Zealand so much and am constantly amazed at the beauty in this precious land.  Aotearoa - The Long White Cloud.

02 January 2015

Southern Sweet Iced Tea

With summer here for us New Zealanders and the influence of Uncle Si invading our home, there's been a few fresh batches of Iced Tea being made around these parts lately.

I posted a recipe here at the end of 2012 for my iced tea, but also gave this one (Southern Sweet Iced Tea) a try and love it.  I don't like my iced tea too sweet, but it's so refreshing on a hot day with a few cubes of ice and wedges of lemon.

Happy New Year!

Now go and make yourself a jug of iced tea!

For more delicious recipes visit here.

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