Saturday, December 31, 2011

No view at the top

Our Melbourne relatives, Regina and Kevin, dropped in for a visit yesterday. We took them to see a few of the local sights, our favourite being the top of Maungawhau. The only problem was there was no view to be had. You couldn't see the Sky Tower or Rangitoto :(

It was a wet and windy in much of the north island, but at least it wasn't cold.

Left-overs picnic

What better thing to do with your left-over Christmas prawns and ham than have a Boxing Day picnic. We decided to walk up Maungawhau (Mt Eden) and have an evening picnic.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A pear-shaped Christmas

Well finally, it's here! Santa came to our house last night and we feel quite privileged knowing that New Zealand is one of his first stops on the globe.

Things were a little rocky yesterday and I had to admit that maybe I bit off a bit too much. I don't profess to being Martha Stewart, but I like to think I am reasonable competent in the kitchen. After a week-long stretch of feeling like I had Christmas preparations well under control, things went a little pear-shaped, and I'm not talking about a partridge in a tree. It seemed like everything I attempted to create ended in disaster.

Instead of looking like this:

My macaroons looked like this. They were not even worth filling but the kids still want to eat them.

I was also going to take a hazelnut, coffee and brandy cake to our friend's place for dinner tonight, but I don't think so.

On a happier note, the chocolate gluten-free Christmas cake I made did turn out (no pic, sorry). And I used the left-over egg yolks from the macaroons to make traditional custard to have with it. The custard will also come in handy when mopping up the dregs of the hazelnut cake – the ingredients were far too expensive to just throw it out! I think I'll just play it safe and whip up a pav to take to Helen's tonight.

I was also pleased with the Christmas bunting I made and the outdoor candy tree. This is us enjoying brunch which consisted of pancakes, waffles with mango and cherries.

The girls were really pleased with their new outfits.

Merry Christmas everybody and all the very best for twenty-twelve!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Free at last

Ava finally got her cast off yesterday. She was very excited but initially a bit worried about the saw.

Now it's off, she is slowly getting back to the idea of using her right arm again.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Despite very windy conditions and huge chop, I managed to complete the ocean swim I've been working towards. I was about middle of the pack which is somewhat reassuring.

Eadie also did her first ocean swim. The kids course was 200m along the shore line in waist deep water. For weeks leading up to the swim she kept asking: Have you entered me in the swim yet? -- over and over again.

Well done to both of us! I wonder what the next challenge will be...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

School photos

With Miss Ruby heading off to intermediate school next year, this will be the last sibling school photo we get for a while.

What treasures!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Santa's little helper[s]

At the time of writing this post, I am madly wracking my brain for ideas on what to buy for Christmas presents – for us, it is mostly about the kids. Although I can find cool things on other people's blogs and in magazines I find it far more difficult to actually source things. There is also the added pressure to trying to get it all done before the kids finish school – two weeks to go!

I think the thing that annoys me most about Christmas is the 'stuff'. Now don't get me wrong, I do love Christmas and I really love watching the kids open their presents, after all, isn't that what it's all about? That and the 'Jesus' thing. Anyway, I thought we could help each other out by sharing our ideas. Maybe you've bought your kids something in the past that was a real hit. Maybe you've discovered something 'new'. Or even better, a website where we can buy online and avoid the shops altogether (are far more pleasurable experience in my opinion).

I bought some fabric paint the other day and plan to put some sort of a kit together so the girls can do some printing. Maybe start with a plain pillowcase, t-shirt or tote bag. You can also get pens/paint to use on glassware and crockery. Buy some cheap glasses or breakfast bowls which they can decorate. Or buy some iron-on transfer paper and print something cool from the web.

I got lots of ideas from Lotta Jansdotter, she has some really cool stuff, I've currently got one of her books out from the library but you could get it or something similar and gift it with the paints.

Lotta on YouTube

Leave a comment with your ideas pleeeeease!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What sort of mother...

... sends her child on camp in New Zealand without a raincoat? The answer, of course, is a busy, stressed one. I have my fingers crossed for a week of sunny skies – so you think I'd better start praying to Hughie?

Ruby was all smiles when she boarded the bus. She's off to Waitomo for a week of adventures including caving, abseiling and generally just roughing it. I might have been just a little bit hurt when she declared at the dinner table the night before departure, that she wouldn't miss any of us. She did go on to say that she might be happy to see us when she gets back though – I hope so. I know I'll be glad to see her.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I heART gallery

One of the things I love to do in Brisbane is visit GoMA. It is so cool (I mean that quite literally in the height of summer) and has so many interactive displays to get your creative juices flowing. It always amused me how many parents were busy creating stuff in the kids' areas.

When we moved to New Zealand two years ago, one of the first things I did was seek out the Auckland Art Gallery only to be told it was undergoing a major reconstruction – it's planned completion date was in September 2011. That seemed like such a long time to wait but now it's here, and the new gallery is open for everyone to enjoy. They even have a kids' areas which we visited recently, and yes, I did make a few little crafty things.

These photos were taken on my phone as my camera is in getting fixed. It broke just two months out of warranty :( A big thumbs up to Panasonic though who are fixing it as a warranty job.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Road signs

Sometimes road signs can be quite amusing, unfortunately it's not always convenient to take a snapshot. The first time I saw this one we were driving past in the car and I only got a glimpse. Only having seen the bottom sign, I couldn't understand what it meant.

On a later date when we were walking around the area I took another look and worked it out. It means if you ride your bike near tram lines with only the back wheel on, the front fork could get stuck in the tram tracks and fling you over the handle bars causing your head to fall off – it's so obvious when you think about it. The question is, why isn't he wearing a helmet? Oh, that's right, we're in New Zealand.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stinky Rotarua

Last weekend we went to Rotarua – NZ's geothermal playground. We stumbled across a Maori marae.

One of the advantages of this hotspot are the hot foot baths. Take your shoes of and soak your weary feet whenever you like – for free.

A few months back, on our two year anniversary of living in New Zealand, I realised there were still things I wanted to do but hadn't got around to. Some things, like Waiheke Island, are virtually in our backyard but we still haven't been there. So I decided to start a list of things we want to do before we leave. Going on the luge in Rotarua was one of them. I'd heard about it and have been told it was a good thing to do but really, I had no idea how much fun it would be. Crash helmets were compulsory and I'm relieved to say that we managed to have fun without breaking anymore bones.

I don't have any pictures of us actually on the luge. We were having too much fun to stop for that. But here's us going up the chair lift for another run down. I kept reminding everyone to ski off at the top but no-one really laughed at that joke.

Ava had a bath in the laundry tub as I didn't trust it to stay dry in the shower. I remember bathing the kids this way when they were babies and we were on holidays in Yamba.

We spent a bit of time at the [not very] Polynesian Spa, another geothermal past time. There were three pools of varying temperature: warm, hot and hotter. Ava managed to have a soak and keep her cast dry.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Win Win

Anyone who knows me well, knows how much I love a bargain. But there's one thing I love more than a bargain, and that's a win. I don't mean the lottery because the probability of winning big time there is pretty slim so I don't even bother. But the thought of winning a little something, is like receiving a present when it's not your birthday.

I should say, that apart from a pair of gorgeous earrings won a few years back, I'm not much of a winner. But my luck changed a couple of days ago when I got a phone call to say that I'd won a prize from Dish magazine – two bottles of wine and a cast iron skillet. It may not be Le Creuset but I'm happy with my pan, and the Hawke's Bay wine will go down nicely, thank you very much!

Today, when this Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard, then the fridge and finally the freezer, she breathed a sigh of relief when she found some steak and sausages. It was actually a double bonus as it meant I got the chance to try out my new skillet. Very impressive indeed – using the skillet was just like barbecuing in the kitchen, a mean just look at these brown little babies.

Of course, this Mother Hubbard is a sweet ol' thing, so even though I may not always have the stuff to make a hearty meal, I usually have the essential bits and pieces to put something nice together for dessert. We all lucked in tonight with delicious pavlova topped with Aussie mangoes and NZ strawberries. I figure if I can pay $1 for avocados, and $2 for a capsicum, I can certainly pay $3 for an Aussie mango.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Remember, remember the 5th of November

Guy Fawke's Day (GFD) is not something that appears on the Aussie festive calendar as the sale of fireworks for private use was outlawed in the 70s. NZ on the other hand, does not share the same safety concerns. Perhaps they should but I won't debate that here because for me, GFD means one thing only – fireworks!

Last year we missed the boat not being sure of how the whole thing works. You see, you can only buy fireworks for the four days leading up to GFD. Little stalls pop up everywhere and that's where you get your gear. People obviously take advantage of it and stock up because you keep hearing them go off for days, even weeks after GFD.

Last Saturday we joined some friends, each with our own supply of explosives, for our own not-so-little fireworks display. The kids, lined up on their little seats and bean bags (at a safe distance), thought it was awesome. As each one was set up, the crowd paused and took in the neighbours display. Being the responsible adults that we are, no one was hurt although there may have been a few scared dogs in the neighbourhood. Sorry poochies.

When we finished burning off our fireworks, we had boxes and boxes of sparklers to hand out. Interestingly, sparklers are considered fireworks here and therefore the same rules apply to their sale, just like all other fireworks, whereas in Australia they can be bought all year round. I guess that's the consolation prize for not being allowed the big guns!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How do you organise chaos?

The state of my desk drives me insane but the organisation of it seems to reach a certain point which falls short of what I'd like it to look like.

It also applies to the laundry, if you can call it that. You see our laundry is actually a cupboard which houses the washing machine and dryer, and the bench on top. It's always cluttered with odd socks, black tights which no one wants to take ownership of; swimming paraphernalia such as towels, goggles, kick board, goggles; the give-away pile; and occasionally some ironing (I try to avoid ironing altogether).

While we're at it, the bathroom isn't much better. When we moved into the house I had great plans to make a simple curtain to cover up the mess but two years on, I still haven't done it and now I wonder if it's worth it.

I guess the common thread through all of these conundrums is storage – or the lack of it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or treat?

Or should that be treat or treat?

Halloween's popularity is growing rapidly. Especially in our neighborhood. We had a few door knockers before our girls hit the streets, and whilst it was not the majority, I have to say I think some kids need to work on their manners. Naturally, I drilled my kids (and the extras that came with us) on Halloween etiquette before we headed out. Steve's job was to ration out the lollies (they always seem to disappear quicker than I expect).

The kids just love Halloween. I mean really, at what other time are they permitted to collect so many lollies? The real challenge is stopping them from eating them all before bedtime. There are so many kids in our street that everyone pretty much embraces Halloween. I did give the 'young professionals' (read: uni students) a warning to be better prepared next year. We are extremely tolerant when it comes to their loud parties, you'd think they'd throw a few lollies the kids' way.

Happy Halloween!
From the She Devil, the Mummy and the Zombie Punk

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What a trip!

Ava and I have spent the past two nights at the hospital after she took a bad fall on Thursday afternoon when she tripped over a netball.

I was watching Ruby's netball game when Eadie rushed over to me to say Ava had fallen over and really hurt herself. As I ran towards her she I could see she was frozen, crying "My bone's sticking out and it really hurts!".  I took a deep breath as I approached her and although relieved that the bone wasn't actually sticking out, her right forearm had a distinct bend in it. I scooped her up and raced her to the first aid room where a splint was put on it. Sadly for Ava, she didn't get any pain relief.

A friend, who is also a doctor, drove Ava and I to the Starship hospital and that's where we stayed till 10.30 this morning! X-rays confirmed the break and options were discussed. Then the long wait started but of course at that stage we had no idea how long we were actually going to spend there. In my naivety, I thought if you broke a bone they "fixed" it, put a cast on and sent you on your merry way. It seems that Ava was not the only child to break a bone that day as there was an unprecedented number of orthopaedic cases forcing them to open more operating theatres.

Twice she was taken down to the pre-op room only to be told a case with a higher priority had come in. The poor child only had breakfast yesterday, and then nothing until 11pm last night. That was one of the hardest parts of the whole ordeal. That, and the waiting, and the boredom.

Getting a temporary half cast put on until she got the real thing.

The doll we decorated whilst waiting for Ava's turn in theatre – one of the things we did to occupy the time.

Happy to be back at home.