Sunday, May 4, 2014

Optimus Prime Party

Sprat turned 7 over the school holidays.  His party theme of choice was Optimus Prime.  We had a fantastic few hours playing games, shouting very loudly for no reason, racing around the house at top speed, eating as much food colouring as we could and generally just hanging about with his besties.

Boys of this age amuse me no end.  Fart noises, crazy dancing, rude words, gross smells.  It all induces majorly loud laughing fits.  They are such strange creatures.

Sprats party was a great send out to the end of the school holidays.  Back to the grind tomorrow, and a certain Danger Mouse who starts his school visits this week.  A new chapter is almost beginning.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Bunny Tails

Afternoon tea for us today, Good Friday, has been Easter Bunny Tails and fresh out of the oven Hot Cross Buns.  Easter weekend is usually a time where we go away, but we've opted to stay home this year, which has allowed me to go a bit crazy on the Easter crafts and baking.

These Bunny Tails are quick to make.  Simply dip marshallows into melted white chocolate, and then into thread coconut and allow to dry before eating.

Bliss.  Enjoy your family time this Easter where ever you are.  Happy Easter all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Egg Tree

Decorating for Easter is not what we do in our house but an abundance of plastic Easter eggs has had us dabbling in a bit of Easter decorating cheer.  

With a bit of help from me, the kids decorated this Easter Egg 'Tree' and it is proudly on show as our table centre place.  I have to say the idea of decorating in bright spring pastel colours is appealing more to me as the days get darker and colder.  

Our tree was simple to make.  The kids gathered branches from the half dead shrubs outside our house and arranged them in a mason jar.  They needed help with the strings on the eggs, but did all the arranging themselves.

I am thinking of maybe filling them for Easter morning with Chocolate Raisins as an extra Easter Bunny surprise.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter Cornflake Nests

These are dangerously delicious.  Shhhh, I didn't stop at just one.... but don't tell my children that. It wasn't me hiding in the Harry Potter cupboard under our stairs eating a sneaky second one.  Nope.  No way.

These are so quick and easy to put together.  In fact, apart from some assistance to melt the chocolate, you could let the kids do the whole thing themselves.

300 grams milk chocolate melts
135 grams cornflakes
Packet of Cadbury Mini Eggs (or similar)

Melt the chocolate melts following the instructions on the packet.  Allow chocolate to cool slightly and then mix the cornflakes through until they are evenly coated.

Spoon mixture into 12 muffin cases and decorate with Mini Eggs.  Allow to set before eating (I just left mine on the bench for half an hour).


Monday, March 31, 2014

What We Are Reading

We love books.  There are books in every room, overflowing from wardrobes, down the sides of beds and spilling out of library bags.

There is always a certain few books though that the children like to read and read again.  And as the kids get obsessed with certain books I thought that I would share them - others may be missing out you know!

Currently one of those is Poo Bum by Stephanie Blake.  Its the top favourite in the house.  A completely pointless story as far as I am concerned, but hilariously funny as the kids anticipate getting to scream "Poo Bum" as loud as possible.  The pictures are bright and its a really easy read.

Not sure how long the obsession with this book will last, and how long I have to endure hearing "Poo Bum" to every question I ask them, but it makes us laugh and we love that.

I also read a few chapters from a 'big kid' book every night after our picture books.  I am pretty passionate about reading to my children - here I am ranting about the delights of reading literature to the kids. I found The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo at the op shop (of course).  Filled with beautiful illustrations, we are finding it totally captivating.

Edward is a china rabbit, who one day is lost from his owner.  The story follows his journey, and I guess (as we haven't finished the book yet) he eventually ends back up with his old owner.

Its had me sobbing while reading it, while Sprat clutched my hand in sadness.  Its a beautiful story about learning to love and losing love.  We anticipate every night being able to sit down, all of us snuggled up on the couch, and disappearing into the pages of a book.  And admittingly Edward Tulane is more up my ally than Captain Underpants...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Op Shopping - Puzzle Time

Puzzles.  The kids love them and we spend huge amounts of time puzzling together.  I recently gave a heap of our puzzles back to the op shop to make way for some fresh new ones.  I've had a couple of op shop trips to re-stock our puzzle supply.  

Today was Habitat For Humanity, and for $20.50 I got everything below, including some great puzzles.  Definitely not as cheap as things used to be, but for the Libby Weaver book alone it was worth it!

I actually squealed when I saw this.  Excited much?

Strawberry Shortcake puzzles.  I am sure I had one of these when I was little, they brought such a rush of nostalgia back when I saw them.

Fairy puzzles for The Girl

A Melissa and Doug Puzzle and a 100 piece for Sprat.  The Melissa and Doug puzzle is awesome!

A two handled mug for The Girl.  She loves to have 'cups of tea' (milkshakes or hot chocolate) with me, so now she has her own special mug to use.

Golden Circle books we don't have yet for our collection, and Elmo.  We all love Elmo. 

Of course I can NEVER go home without books for myself.

Now to just find some room for my new books....

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Exterior Blackboard

The hubby made an Exterior Blackboard for the kids over the weekend.  I showed him a picture on Facebook on Sunday morning, and within the hour we were at Mitre 10 buying supplies.

It was so simple to make.  Says she who watched.

A big piece of hardboard.  A coat of Resene Sureseal.  Two coats of Resene Exterior Blackboard paint.  And a blackboard was born.

I am looking forward to the ever changing artwork that will live on my fence.  And somewhere to write up my WOD's ...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Where Have the Spoons Gone?

The lunchbox is filled with delicious, nutritious lunch.  And a teaspoon.  Off it goes to school or kindy.  At the end of the day the lunchbox is returned full of bread crusts, apple cores, destroyed cling wrap and no spoon.  Where did the spoon go?

They seem to morph away in our house, maybe to the same place as socks?  I tried sending plastic spoons but after Danger Mouse turned his into a deadly weapon one day I had to stop.

Then I found these suckers (see what I did there?..).

And my lunch making days got a little bit more exciting.  No more missing spoons.  No more nasty unnecessary yoghurt preservatives.  And even Sprat, the anti-yoghurtist, would eat them.  They taste great, don't take up a heap of room in the lunch box and can be frozen over summer.  My lot fight over these.

I did get quite excited when The Collective contacted me asking me if I was interested in reviewing these.  Of course.  We are already majorly big fans in our house so it didn't take much convincing.

They also come with really cool collect-a-bull ABC magnets in each pack.  And they don't leave scratches on the fridge like some other magnets. The Girl loves to find the letters of her name and spell it out.

So if you have lunchboxes with worm holes that suck away spoons then these are the answer to all your problems!  I am so sold.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Rediscovering Plastic Animals

Hello sun!  After two days of cold temperatures and nasty winds, the sun shone through and blessed us with 26 degrees of awesomeness.

Not wanting to miss out, I spread out a big blanket under the tree and brought out our plastic animals.  These used to be a favourite a few years back.  They've since been relegated to a spot hidden far back in the Narnia space of the wardrobe.  I actually had forgotten we owned them.

So much opportunity for imagination play.  Danger Mouse was on them the minute they came out.

We had man eating crabs, shark riding giraffes and naughty lions that had to be tethered to the tree so they couldn't get away.

We spent from 1pm until around 5.30pm, with a break to pick up Sprat from school, just hanging out on our blanket, playing with the animals in between riding bikes and reading books.  Sprat even did his homework outside with the friendly help of a plastic elephant.

It was wonderfully relaxing and highly entertaining yet terribly simple.  Fingers crossed for another sunny day tomorrow.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sewing Room Hoop Art

I've been collecting embroidery hoops on my op shop travels for a while now.  I had a vision of a wall in my sewing space filled with awesome fabrics in embroidery hoops.

Today I made a small start on that vision.  I am not sure how I feel about it yet though.  I am not loving it. But I am not totally hating it either.

Its OK.  Its a work in progress and we'll see where it goes.  There is room for improvement and allowance for change.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Unexpected Treats

Every now and then I like to surprise the kids with a hidden and unexpected treat.  Something they'll stumble upon as they go about their day.  Nothing ever big, just a small token to remind them how awesome I think they are.

Today it was a helium balloon each.  I tied them to their favourite toys and left them on their beds to discover in their own time.

Just a simple little gesture really, and so much love in return.  My children rock.  


Saturday, March 1, 2014

New Discoveries - Te Waihou Walkway, Blue Spring

The Blue Spring, Putaruru.   The water is 11 degrees all year around and is so amazingly blue and clear.  We decided this would be the perfect place to take the kids on a hot day.  Totally underestimated 11 degree water though, even on a stinking hot day, it was bone chillingly cold. It was fun watching people squeal and squirm until it was our turn. Ice cream headaches are just a tickle compared to the all over body ache this water created.   Worth the experience though, it really is incredible.

With the 3 children we parked at the Leslie Road entrance (about 3.6km down Leslie Road, off Whites Rd, on the right hand side) and it was a short and really manageable walk to the popular swimming hole.  From Whites Road it is longer, around 4.7km long, but apparently a beautiful walk.  We'll save that for another day.

We went on a cicada hunt and Sprat was able to give us a lesson on the life cycle of a cicada as he has been studying them this week at school.  I had no idea he was so clued on up cicadas!

An awesome family walk - pack a picnic, throw in towels and togs and a snorkel if you dare. And bring some empty water bottles - you can fill your bottles from the spring.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Lemon-Coconut Bundt Cake : Scrumptious Company

Back into playgroup routine again (wahoo) so a good excuse to start baking again.  I tried this recipe for Lemon-Coconut Bundt Cake from Scrumptious Company.  It combines two of my most favourite things, lemon and coconut, and meant I could use my new baby Bundt tin.

A beautiful moist cake, with the flavours complementing each other and not to overpowering. As my bundt tin is just a baby, I made muffins as well with the leftover mix.

Its no exaggeration that its as good as Scrumptious Company states it is.  It really is.  For the recipe and beautiful photos check out the above link.  Nom nom nom.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bibs, Wipes and Snap Press Machines

We welcomed a new niece into the family 3 weeks ago.  For my in-laws, this is number 12 Grandchild, and for my SIL her 4th baby.

I am guessing by the time number 3 and 4 babies come along, things like bibs and wash cloths are looking like they need to be doused in petrol and set alight.  This was certainly the case for me when The Girl entered the world.  

So I've made up a pile of nice fresh new wash cloths and bibs to gift to the new arrival.  

I cheated and brought a bib panel from Spotlight - I got totally sucked in by the cute owls.  And it meant I got to use my new toy - a Snap Press Machine!  Happy days.  The wipes are made of muslin - nice and soft and fast drying.

Stupid really, but I hadn't realised how easy bibs are to make, there are heaps of free patterns on-line, and you can never have enough with teething, dribbling and solid eating babies around.

For my SIL .... I haven't actually put these in the mail yet .... so I am being very naughty blogging about these before you see them.  Surprise.....

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Child's Play - Getting Back to Basics

Yes!  The same thing happens with the box the toy comes in - the box more often than not is played with for longer.  Or the wrapping paper the toy was wrapped in.

Before seeing the above, I had already been tearing my hair out at the massive amount of 'stuff' my children have.  7 plastic boxes full of toys to be exact, not including lego, building blocks, train sets, match box cars, RC toys, board games, puzzles, crafting materials (including playdough and paints), dress-ups and The Girls baby dolls and accessories.  Just masses of stuff, and barely any of it really gets loved and played with.  Stuff stuff stuff.  Its really just driving me mad.

Do children really need all that stuff?  Is it really necessary?  When I think about what my children truly play with, I can draw the list down easily.  For the boys - bikes, lego, match box cars, Trash Packs and crafting materials.  For The Girl - bike, lego, baby doll and accessories and crafting materials.

The rest of the stuff is just that.  Stuff.  

They don't need it.  Is it going to deprive them of an amazing childhood if they don't have the latest plastic accessory?  No.  Why do I keep it all when it hardly gets touched?  I don't know!!

I even tried to rotate toy boxes to encourage play, but it hasn't worked.  They still just go back to their favourites and ignore the rest.

Danger Mouse is a prime example of not needing the latest stuff.  He likes to collect treasure. And he cherish's it.  The hubby and I recently went to Queenstown and spent a lot of time rock skimming on Lake Wakatipu.  The rocks are amazing, and we brought a pile back for Danger Mouse as his special surprise.  He loves rocks.  His Wakatipu rocks are now home to his frog he has found on his travels.  Tomorrow no doubt I will find them somewhere else.

He brings back pinecones from every trip to the Mountain Bike Park.  Cardboard boxes if he sees them anywhere.  Leaves.  Cicada shells.  Rocks.  Bits of string.  And he plays with this stuff.  They just don't get played with once and dumped in the bottom of a box with the rest of the pretty stuff. They get used again and again until they are worn out, broken, lost or squashed.  And then easily replaced on the next outing.

It doesn't cost me anything, is not wasteful on the environment, harmful and none of it really takes up much room.  It inspires him, challenges him to find different uses for his treasures and helps him sculpt an amazing imagination.

So its inspired me to get back to basics with my children's play materials.  Anything that they really do play with can stay, along with anything that inspires creation or imagination.  Everything else is getting whittled down and will be found new homes elsewhere.  We really don't need it all, its wasteful and its got to go!

Looking forward to freeing up more space.  For op-shop treasures maybe?....

Friday, February 21, 2014

Op Shopping - Tea Cups and a New Collection..

There is always much excitement from me when I manage to find a tea cup trio on my op shopping forages.

This is a Queen Anne 'Violet' 8301.

There is even more excitement when you manage to find a set of awesome vintage double sheets that don't cost your left kidney!!

And I think I have also started a new collection.  Sigh.  In my vintage years I am going to be that 84 year old lady with 17 cats and a house full of hundreds of dusty salt and pepper shakers.

What is the appeal?  I can't tell you, except I wasn't able to leave them behind.  Am I starting a new collection?  I think so.

My finds this week were found between Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army.  There were also a large pile of chocolate molds that came home with me, along with a few books for the kids.