Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why men are like buses

Phew! Finished at last. I've been reading Just in Time to be Too Late - Why men are like buses. It's not that it was hard book to read, quite the opposite really. It's just that I had Steve breathing down my back as I read it. Each time I put it down he would pick it up so we were reading it simultaneously. Many of you will know that I am a S-L-O-W reader - it can take me months to get through a book. Steve is, well, the opposite, yet I was determined to finish this book before him which, despite having a head-start, I only just managed to do.

It's a good read if you want to know what it's really like to be a man in the 21st century. Written with humour and wit. If you don't really care about the male perspective then you may prefer Can We Help it if We're Fabulous? And other thoughts on being a woman which is about being a female. I haven't started this one yet as I am saving it for our week holiday at Mt Maunganui.

Steve has declared that he probably won't bother reading the latter. I guess he thinks he knows all he needs to know about women. Maybe we'll still be needing the relationship counselling afterall...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Getting to know you

For the Stevens family, the past few days have meant sleeping in, eating, reading, playing, skate boarding and blogging. With the occasional trip to the beach.

And now Steve can say that he has actually read my blog. Of course I had to prompt and prod him for feedback. I think generally he thinks it's 'good'. Why use ten words when one will do? He also said that he's learnt more about me from reading my blog. I quickly suggested that he write a blog so we can really get to know each other. Think of the money we could save on relationship counselling.

A few days ago I confessed to using the DVD player in the car to keep the kids quiet. Of course this has come full circle and they now want to turn it on when we've got a five minute journey to the next suburb. We, being good parents, laid down the law and told them that wasn't going to happen. After some vocal protesting which we firmly ignored, they got the message. Today, after a trip to the library, Steve and I thought it would be nice to stop for a coffee on the way home. More protesting ensued. Again, being the good parents that we are, we let them sit in the car across the road, windows down, looking at books. We enjoyed a quiet coffee.

Note: It wasn't a hot day, the windows were open, and we had a good view of the car across the road from the cafe :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Boxing Day tradition

It seems the Aussie tradition of heading to the beach on Boxing Day exists for Kiwis too. After lunch we took a short drive to Mirawai. The girls and I had a pleasant afternoon on the black sand - the girls played 'cat' games on the large rock in the middle of Maori Bay and I got engrossed in Just in Time to be Too Late - Why men are like buses which Steve gave me for Christmas. Steve disappeared in the waves and we didn't see him for some time. Some things never change.

The following day we ventured further north but were a little slow leaving the house and before we knew it were crawling alongside hundreds of others on the highway. It was a bit like the traffic jams you get heading up to the Sunshine Coast from Brisbane, minus the blazing heat. Did I mention we've got a DVD player in the car? Before we got it I used to make snide remarks about parents who would stoop so low. Well, it seems it is not beneath us and never did we imagine it would be such a hit - the kids like it too. We didn't hear a single complaint. The only whinging was when we actually reached the destination (Pakiri) and turned it off!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Begin with coffee, end with coffee

Hopefully you all received our Christmas letter. The girls were really looking forward to a visit from Santa and he did not disappoint. I was reminding them just yesterday that it is never to late to start being good.

Before I could start preparing breakfast I had my obligatory two cups of coffee and another thrown in because, well, it's Christmas! We had waffles with mango, strawberries, bananas and mascapone. It's the first time we've actually had to pay for mangoes - ever!

With some inspiration from Maggie Beer, I am baking a turkey with apple and prune stuffing. I got a free-range, corn-fed turkey from the local butcher and in return gave him all the money in my Christmas account. I only hope I do it justice. The butcher said the secret to the perfect turkey is a good butcher and an excellent chef. Well, he's done his bit, now the pressure is on!

Note: The pic above shows Steve attempt at looking 'festive'. I think those shorts have been around longer than me! Nice clashing Steve.

We are sticking to a good ol' Aussie pavlova for dessert because everybody here loves it. Did you know that the Kiwi's claim the pav' is theirs? To be honest, we Aussies are notorious for adopting anything the Kiwis do well as ours, so there could be some truth in that. I will research and get back to you!

I hope you enjoy the Christmas music selection - it really is hard to find 'good' Christmas music.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009


Yesterday the girls and I made some softies. The girls drew their designs and picked the fabric from left over bits and pieces I've kept over the years. I made the pattern pieces and did all the cutting and sewing. The girls then stuffed them. We had lots of fun telling each other to "Get stuffed!". I was inspired by some of the cute things I've been looking at on other blogs and the local craft markets. I think they're not too bad for a first attempt.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


OK, I've been told I'm a bit slack with my posts - sorry.

I found these little letters at the Crafternoon Tea market last weekend. Using the first letters of the names of our family members we can come up with some cute ones:
STARE, DREAM (using Dad and Mum), SMEAR (not so cute).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mad Men

I've put Mad Men back on my list of favourite things to look at on the web. I love, love, love it!

I have Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD and was only half way through S2 when I discovered Season 3 was screening on telly in NZ. Who would have though the Kiwis would be ahead of the Aussies?! Actually I don't know where you are up to in Oz, maybe S3 is finished but in case it's not I won't spoil it for you, just to say that the episode I watched the other night was a bit weird, even by MM standards. Clue: take a look at Joan Harris' blood stained dress above!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy Jandal Day

A jandal is a thong of course and today is National Jandal Day here in NZ. The idea is to raise money for Surf Life Saving. And the forcast is for nice jandal weather, yipppee!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Today is your birthday, they're smoking cigars

Actually, it's my birthday. Let's just say I'm thirty-something. I love this old Sugarcubes song. I don't hear it very often but when I do it gives me goosebumps. Don't know why. Not a huge fan of Bjork - liked some of her earlier stuff when she first went solo.

The pic above is the necklace Steve and the girls gave me. Sweet. Below are the other handmade things the girls gave me.

Counting down, and up

  • Today is the first day of summer. It feels more like spring in this part of the world, but I'm not complaining.

  • Only two days till my birthday (and Ari's) (and plenty of others of course).

  • And twenty-four sl[sh]eeps till Christmas.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Alphabet tag

I took the kids back to school last Friday afternoon for a run around. We made up a game called Alphabet tag: the person who was "it" had to try and tag another - pretty basic; players had to run from circle to circle; "bar" was the circle with the initial of your name; you could only stay on bar for 3 seconds. Simple but we had lots of fun.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My place, my space

The house is starting to feel like home. Not quite the 'home' feeling you get when you've lived somewhere for 10 years but nonetheless it's home. I wish I could say that all the boxes are unpacked, but sadly there are still a few begging to see the light of day. The problem is there nowhere to put the stuff inside them.
It may not seem like much, but to tidy things up a bit I need:
  • book shelf
  • cupboard for general storage
  • chest of drawers for my bedroom.

My 'hanging' clothes are in the wardrobe in Ava's room as she doesn't really have much to hang. The rest of my stuff is still in a suitcase on the floor in my room. I'm really over it but can't seem to summons the energy to drive all over town to hunt down the 'right' piece. It's much easier to look on Trade Me (NZ's own eBay) but then you run the risk of being out-bid at the last minute which happened to me recently. That really *issed me off!

Anyway, when I look at the mantle above the fireplace, I feel calm. Like this is my place.

My space (above), however, is where is seem to spend a lot of time. I don't know where the day goes. I sit here, send a few emails; search Trade Me; pay a few bills; enter a few online competitions (ask Sarah-next-door to explain); look at a few blogs for inspiration and before I know it I have to race out the door to pick up the kids from school. I just don't get it. How I ever managed to fit in (paid) work I'll never know.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Do you have a namesake?

When I was growing up I hated my name. I got teased; got called Tomato. And I always had to spell it. It's not exactly love, but over the years I have grown to like it. I still have to spell it. I like Mara even better although I do find it a bit weird when I get called Mara by people I don't know very well (or worse still, people I don't like much). Then of course, there is my middle name: Heidi. I think it's a nice name. I have a cousin called Heidi. She's stunning and Heidi really suits her. Heidi is younger than me so I wasn't named after her. I don't have a namesake. And I don't think Heidi suits me.

When I had my first daughter I knew immediately that she was a Ruby. Those who know Ruby will agree the name suits her. Steve wanted to be sure before making it official though so we trialled it first (about four weeks) - that drove people crazy! We didn't give Ruby a middle name; thought Ruby Stevens was enough. But over time it niggled away at me. I'm not a Stevens, I'm a Tesolin and I'd given birth to this child and we didn't share a name. It didn't seem right. So I got the necessary papers to change her name to Ruby Tesolin Stevens. The only problem was I didn't fill out the papers and send them off. By the time I got around to it the fee had changed from something like $30 to $250!

By the time I had Eadie, who is named after Steve's maternal grandmother, I knew I wanted to include Tesolin as a middle name. And when Ava came along I didn't give it a second thought. I don't use their full names very often. I don't feel the need to include Tesolin on forms (except for the bloody passport applications). It's more about us having a linked identity which I know is obvious. It's also about them knowing where they come from.

I guess that's what drive people research their family tree. To find out more about identity, heritage and missing links. What a great idea.

Mahem and Malarkey

In the days leading up to Halloween a few people had mentioned to me that this festivity was becoming popular over here.

Early Halloween afternoon the girls and I headed down to the Mayhem and Malarkey event in the village. There was puppet making, face painting, fortune telling and spell casting. It was expertly organised by a local theatre group, the props were fantastic and it was all free! It was the spell casting that got me laughing. Resembling Beetlejuice, this guy encouraged the kids to pull the limbs off a Barbie (cheap version) and throw them into a smoking cauldron. He then took to her golden mane with a pair of scissors, snipping away till he revealed her bald spot! He then feed the final ingredient (her head) to his pet rat who ate it then spewed it into the cauldron. Very entertaining!

With kids' faces painted, we headed home. The girls sorted their costumes out and I made some eye ball treats. Being the sort of person who usually over caters in the lolly department when it comes to birthdays and that sort of thing, I felt quietly confident for the onslaught of trick or treat-ers.

After leaving Steve at home with a bowlful of lollies and the location of the hidden stash, I took to the streets of our neighbourhood; my Vampire, Devil and Angel leading the way. It was low-key to begin with. The girls got a few treats and I got to meet a few neighbours. As we continued we crossed paths with other groups of ghastly kids. In no time at all there were groups of kids everywhere, escorted by spirited parents.

I had totally underestimated the popularity of Halloween in NZ - well at least here in Mt Eden. My "hidden stash" was drained completely. Long after the girls and I returned home the trick or treat-ers continued. Everyone really got into the spirit of it all - the costumes were great, and every kid who came to the door was well-mannered.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Birthday!

My big sister is now a member of the Forties Club! Wacky Aunty Cory will be forever young-at-heart though. m, xox

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mt Eden

I climbed Mt Eden not long after moving into the house. It takes about 15 minutes from our front door to the summit so it's hardly a workout. You get a great view of Auckland from the top. In this photo you can see the ever-present Sky Tower and the harbour bridge in the distance. What really impressed me though was the volcanic crater - now that's cool.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Table talk

Finally, we have a place to sit and eat and talk. The lounge room floor is fine for those (occasional) times when you want to stare blankly at the telly. But if you want to connect with people, the best way to do it is by sitting around a table - preferably with food on it.

I think we will have to re-introduce Manners Night in our house to remind the little ones of the basics they know, but choose to forget - bless them. (Thanks go to Ma for creating this tradition.)

Cooking a meal! That's another tradition we need to keep alive. Simple, yes, but it does take some planning - and time. Now I know not everyone enjoys cooking but it is important for us all to be able to throw something together and call it a meal. Boys and girls alike, should all know how to cook a meal, sew on a button and use the washing machine. This is not about feminism. It's a life skill! It might even help your child snag a girl- or boyfriend down the track (which could ultimately be part of your extended family). So it's in your best interest! Teach your children well!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Friends are never far away

I've discovered it doesn't matter how far the distance between friends, it can be bridged. Does that make sense? You know what I mean. These beautiful flowers arrived from Sarah M earlier in the week when I was feeling a bit down. Even in NZ, I think of Sarah as "Sarah next door". I've had plenty of emails and texts to put a smile on my face too - thanks everyone!

Missing you

The kids and I have been in NZ for almost five weeks now. Steve's been here for much longer of course. The pangs of homesickness are starting of affect us girls. The kids are really missing their friends, chickens, school and teachers. They are making new friends here and settling in to school but they've come to realise it's not just a holiday. I know when Ruby gets upset it must be tough as she is always the brave one. The photo above was taken on their first day of school. I managed to get one shot before the battery on my camera died! They look cute don't they? I am so proud of them. It's been such a big adjustment (for all of us).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Auckland: beautiful one day, tsunami the next

Ah, you've gotta love Auckland weather. Yesterday we reached a top temperature of 9C. The coldest day by far but it was a freak cold snap (apparently). The poor farmers and their sheep[s] were caught off-guard with many animals in distress or dying. There was also the threat of a tsunami last week as well. I didn't know if we were in any real danger but the memory of the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 was playing on mind as I wandered the shops in search of a straw broom (every witch needs one)(still haven't found one). Anyway, that's enough about the weather.

Apart from a straw broom, there are a few (more interesting) things we need to buy for the house including a dining table. We never really needed one in Brisbane as we had our meals on the deck or at the island bench in the kitchen. The pic above is of the girls eating their spag bol at the makeshift table. Must go shopping!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wind 'em back

Daylight savings started in NZ yesterday morning. Personally I don't like it. I have enough trouble getting out of bed in the morning without being forced to do it an hour earlier. I don't care what 'they' say, the sun will always set the time on my body clock. As for getting the kids to bed when it's still daylight outside - they didn't think that one through either did they.

We spent the weekend at the Coromadel Peninsula which is a beautiful part of the world. I didn't brave the water though. We all know I'm a whimp when it comes to getting into the water in Oz so it will take a summer of heat waves to get me in here. Not that I'm wishing that upon myself! That was one of the attractions of moving across the ditch. BTW that dust storm didn't make it to our coastline.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pack up your troubles

If you've ever had professional packers do the hard work when moving house, you'll know what I'm talking about. After a mild panic attack at the thought of not having done enough sorting, two big, tough guys came in and took control. Expertly wrapping everything in sight from Polly Pockets to Bohemian crystal. OK, Polly Pockets and Littlest Pet Shop toys. Finally we are on the home stretch - this move across the Tasman as been so draaawn out.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

10 sleeps to go...

Or should that be sheep[s]? Not sure, what do you think SOTH?

I had the first of my good byes the other night with my buddies all of whom I am going to miss dearly. It is all feeling very real now and the thought of leaving you behind is making me very emotional. At least I hope that's the reason for it and not menopause. Surely I'm too young for that?!

Thank you also for the beautiful Ari piece - very unexpected. I was sure you were going to send me off with a survival pack, which of course would include a 10 kilo bag of Di Bella coffee. Anyway, I'm certainly not complaining, nor dropping hints for that matter.

But I've not gone yet and there're a few more farewell moments to be had.