29 March 2013

Things I'm Loving @ Easter

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

Morning love fest
I love impromptu love fests. The other morning Noah begged me to 'take a picture of me and Murphy mum'. I love how much they love their furry friend. And I love how tolerant Murphy is of them. Everyone always tells us he's such a beautiful animal and how friendly he is.  I always laugh and say 'you don't have to live with him', he sure has his annoying moments too but for the most part he is a truly loved member of the MNM's family.

Brave wee soldier
So we got the stitch out last Tuesday (which Noah got to keep and take for news the next day - he was most excited) and it was healing pretty well.

I saw WAS, because that was until he fell off some equipment at school face first this Tuesday and nicely added a graze to his head right on top of the still-healing gash.

I feel like we might need to invest in a crash helmet for this one?! To be fair, he has grown a huge amount over the summer, so I get the feeling some of it is his brain not quite keeping up with his body growth and making him a bit unbalanced at the moment -  here's hoping it's just a phase though! I do love his beautiful skin and I hope we can get away without any more scars for now!

Loving that he rallied from the graze and stayed at school for the rest of the day - although I'm pretty sure it was the thought of the playdate he had at home after school with a young gal from his class that got him through!

Sorry love are we keeping you up?
Mylo gave up his day sleeps long ago but still tends to get pretty tuckered out and has taken to falling asleep in the car or in the couch late afternoon given half the chance. Even the thought of a new film to watch (Wreck It Ralph) couldn't make him keep his eyes open. I love sneaking sleeping shots of my kids - I don't get to do it often enough and they are so so peaceful aren't they. And I love it how he still has control of the remote between his legs too!

You never know what you're gonna get
Pick up time at daycare can be interesting. You never know quite what you're gonna get. On this day it was a very cool Hungry Caterpillar and apple that greeted me. On the subject - don't you find face paint is an interesting thing? I find there are only 2 extremes when it comes to the stuff. It either won't rub off no matter how hard you try and you basically have to shed layers of your children's skin to get it off OR it comes off every time you so much as look at it. The green apple was of the 'rubs off the minute you look at it' variety - it got everywhere. I'll admit it did still look cool though!

Star Wars
I went out for lifegroup last week and when I came home I laughed and laughed when I found this on Mark's Facebook page with the caption:

'Let's just say Darth Vader won'

He makes a pretty good actor does this one!

Getting crafty with creche
Despite wanting to be more involved in creche, the first part of this year was a bit of a write-off as we were away more weekends than we were actually here. So it was lovely last weekend to finally be able to put my money where my mouth was. I'd pinned a whole lot of ideas the weekend before, and decided to make this very easy Easter craft with the under 5's. All it took was some plates, popsicle sticks, glue, and cardboard cut-outs and then we let the kids go crazy with colouring their creations. And being able to tell the story as we went was precious too.

Don't get me wrong - we lost and found a few angels and Jesus along the way, there were some pretty wonky looking crosses that didn't make the cut, and a few more glue gun burns than I'd anticipated (the adults not the kids!), but all in all a very successful outing!

And on this day..
Loving that on this day, this special day - and it's a crying shame that as far as some people know and care it's all about eating copious amounts of chocolate - the course of history was changed forever. Because God did what no-one else could. His Son saved this day. He saved this day and he has saved every day thereafter. For eternity.

And that is worth every ounce of gratitude and all the love this wounded soul has to give. For every day that I live and breathe. Do I hear an amen?!

Here's how you can join in this week:

Link up below with your blog post telling us what you're loving, and grab the Things I'm Loving button below for your post too. Don't forget to share the love by visiting all the other lovelies who have joined in - the linky is open till same time next week!

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28 March 2013

MNM's Make: An Easter Garden

This year I'm making a conscious effort to make Easter more than just a day full of sugar and eggs and bunnies. I want my children to know that Easter is a celebration of the greatest sacrifice of love this world has seen.

So, I'd seen a few of these Easter gardens floating around the Internet these past weeks, and figured that I'd have most of the necessary ingredients at home.

Here's what you'll need:

One large round pot base
One mini pot
Compost, potting mix or seed raising mix
Grass seed (or other seed for growing)
Sticks (6 to make the crosses with)

Fill your pot up with soil, lay the mini pot on its side and cover with soil until all you can see is the entrance of the pot.

Sprinkle grass seed over the soil and push down into the soil as much as possible.

Lay some pebbles at the entrance to the tomb.

Find some small sticks to use as crosses - I stripped a few branches off our olive tree and either glue or tie together using cotton.

With any luck, and a wee spray of the soil every day with water, the grass seed will sprout and we will see new life spring forth by Easter weekend.

It didn't take more than half an hour, but the boys and I so enjoyed this simple but effective way of bringing the story of Jesus' death and resurrection to life in our home. Being able to talk about the crosses and what happened, and why there was a tomb and what happened after the 3rd day brought the story to life in a way that just talking about it wouldn't have had the same effect.

How about you? How do you keep your family's focus on the real message of Easter?

I am quietly determined that we will do more than just pig out on chocolate on this very special weekend. And sharing in the making this garden was just one step in the right direction. But it was a step.

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27 March 2013

Wardrobe Wednesday: When frills are what's called for

There's something so feminine about a frill, don't you think?

And I do love me a good frill.

Like any fashion - it can also be taken right to the extreme though!

This is one of my favourite dresses - which I wear to work, I also put a long top under it and can still wear it in the winter, yet its silky feel means it is very cool to wear in the summer too. I've worn it a few times out to dinner too so it doubles nicely as my L.B.D. Very functional! And paired with a high-waisted, stretchy belt it's a great combo.

I even wore it to a 2nd job interview last Friday - which is when I took these pics

And I have to rave about my shoes. These have been my favourite summer shoes by far - they are so comfy and yet dressy too. I love that I can still get away with wearing them as the days get cooler in autumn too - they're almost like an ankle boot but with the little peep toes showing. I can wear them all day and not get sore feet or a sore back. Which for me = Bliss!

Dress: Glassons $30ish
Belt: stolen off another Tempt top sitting in the wardrobe
3/4 Tights: The Warehouse $15
Shoes: Naughty Monkey brand - bought at Melbourne's equivalent of the No 1. Shoe Warehouse - $30ish

What about you? Are a frills or no-frills kinda gal?!

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25 March 2013

The original MNM's: Surviving the storm

If you've missed earlier instalments of this story, you can find them here: how it all begantruly, madly, deeplylong distance love, and making it work.

It's hard work, this settling into life in another land. Finding new jobs is relatively easy, and within six months they've bought their first house. She settles down to complete an Accounting degree whilst working full-time, a commitment that will take many hours of hard work and dedication over a long four years to come. But it takes even longer to feel truly settled, and for a while each time they make a trip back to the UK it unsettles them to see familiar faces and places and to wonder whether they will ever return here.

In the meantime though, there's a wedding to plan. They know that they want it to be a small, casual affair, so that they can afford a trip back to the UK to celebrate with another smaller wedding party there. They put their thinking caps on, and hatch the plan of an outdoor wedding and a marquee at his parent's friend's house up the coast in Raumati. They've heard how much more settled the weather can be up the coast and think it sounds the perfect location for a glorious summer beach wedding.

The plans take shape, and flights are booked from those travelling from other parts of the world to be here. The bridesmaid and groomsmen are selected and in some case re-selected as various life circumstances force some to pull out along the way before the big day. But they adjust their plans and look forward to what will be the biggest gathering of their family and friends in one place on this day.

And then, the week of the wedding finally arrives. And with it the worst week of storms in 40 years hits NZ. Five days before the wedding, the motorways in and out of Wellington are completely flooded. She sits her university exam at the beginning of the week with half the class missing who couldn't make it through all the closed roads. With all this unexpected rain, the roof on their 100-year old villa starts to leak in multiple places prompting her to have to get up in the roof to strategically place containers all over the place to catch all the drips. It's not a high priority this week, but it's still another thing that must be done.

Most of their overseas bridal party arrive just 2 days before the wedding (Thursday) on a hair raising Queenstown-Wellington flight with many on their flight screaming at the wild rocking turbulence throughout. The next day, the road up to the beach house is brought to a standstill for hours as a landslide at Paekakariki nearly closes the main highway north altogether. It takes the groom and his men several hours to make the usual 45-minute journey as they travel up to the beach house where they will be staying the night before the wedding. This also means the marquee is a few hours late being put up, and in their haste to make up time the marquee crew manage to hit a water main in the backyard which causes all kinds of panic and an emergency plumber has to be called.

She, back in Wellington, is blissfully unaware of some of these dramas, having been treated to a blissful half day spa session with her 2 lovely bridesmaids. And it is a good thing that she is unaware of the extent of it all, as she may have just curled up in a corner somewhere rocking quietly had she known the whole story. But one thing she does know is that the forecast for tomorrow (the day of the wedding) is for 150 km/hr winds and that isn't really conducive to a serene outdoor backyard wedding with photos on the beach afterwards now is it?!

The girls are up at dawn on the day of the wedding having hair and makeup completed before making the drive from Wellington up the coast. Despite the glorious blue skies that greet them as they awake, the clouds quickly roll in and the winds soon reach gale force by midday. She and he have made the fortuitous decision to move the location of their photos and their wedding night accommodation to a beautiful estate named Greenmantle which is inland from the beach and they are hoping will be somewhat protected from the vicious wind.

The bride is a little upset to find that the final alterations by the dress company have been grossly miscalculated and despite her knowing she has lost weight from her last fitting the dress is so tight she can barely breathe. She will later be relieved to whip off her strapless bra from under her dress during the reception to ease some of the discomfort so she can at least bear to eat.

On their way to the 4pm wedding , the girls pass a house that is being attended to by firefighters having lost most of its roof. She laughs instead of crying because that's all you can really do with the insanity of it all. She arrives at the beach house, climbs out of the car and immediately nearly loses her veil to the sky, and walks up the stairs from the garage, into the crowded lounge inside, cleared of furniture but filled with 60 of their nearest and dearest friends and sees this boy, this wonderful boy who has had her heart from the beginning. While the wind rages outside threatening to blow the very glass out of the windows all around them, he is waiting to take her hand. And that is all that matters.

Even though the marque outside nearly rips in half during the ceremony and the party lights catch on fire in the wind before everyone has even made inside to sit down for the reception, though they have to send out a runner to buy candles so guests will be able to see what they are eating as the night draws in, even though this day has turned out nothing like their original plan, it is still the best day of their lives.

These two - who were willing to risk it all six years ago in their innocence and young love, have moved heaven and earth to pledge their forever vows together on this day. Thousands of kilometres and oceans between them couldn't part them and neither could the worst storms in half a century begin to dampen their day.

And on this day, this altogether crazy nothing-went-right-but-what-the-heck-can-you-do-about-it-but-laugh day, they sealed this might-never-have been-had-they-not-believed-in-it love once and for all.

If you missed the previous posts in this series, you can find them here:

Part I The Original MNM's: How it all began
Part II The Original MNM's: Truly, Madly, Deeply
Part III The Original MNM's: Long Distance Love
Part IV: The Original MNM's: Making it Work

22 March 2013

Things I'm Loving 22.3.13

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

The next Wiggins and Cavendish?!
We took the boys out to the Avalon bike park in Lower Hutt the other weekend. And then didn't see them for the next half an hour.

It's such a cool place - complete with roundabouts, Give Ways, and judder bars (translation for you non-Kiwis: speed bumps) and even a train (read: miniature train that comes around every so often but watches out for the kids!) crossing for them to practice their road etiquette. We sat and watched and enjoyed seeing little legs flying. Hard to believe that the littlest legs kept up with the bigger legs - they were fair flying at twice the rate, it's little wonder he got tired more quicker!

Mini 'me's
One boy mad on Harry Potter. The other who just loves to do what his big brother does. Getting their 'serious' on just like their hero in this shot.

Where the light catches
I swear there are more cruise ships visiting us every summer, sometimes up to 4 or 5 a week. I snapped this picture of one cruise ship as it came in early morning with the sun heralding its arrival. Magic.

Getting down to business
Cleaning bathrooms is not my favourite past-time. But even less appealing is having all that hair in my face while I'm doing it. This is where I invented the 'I mean business with you bathroom' topknot. And I'm sure I managed to clean the bathrooms faster than normal.

Naughty but nice
After seeing a pin on Pinterest, I thought I'd treat the boys to a naughty version of a popsicle. Made with lemonade and with soft jelly lollies in them - they went down a rip roaring treat!

Man vs NZ's wild
Loved this Air NZ safety video with hubby's favourite hero Bear Grylls.

Champagne in a magnum?!
Loving this new Magnum icecream. The pearly glittery outside shell leaves a lovely sheen on your lips and fingers and the subtle champagney taste. Have you tried one?!

I can't believe Easter is only a week away - far out how fast did that come around this year?!

Here's how you can join in this week:

Link up below with your blog post telling us what you're loving, and grab the Things I'm Loving button below for your post too. Don't forget to share the love by visiting all the other lovelies who have joined in - the linky is open till same time next week!

19 March 2013

MNM's Bake: Meringue Icrecream Cake

This was one of those 'drool over' and pin immediately Pinterest pins. It was one that as I repinned I told myself I must make very soon. Well soon turned out to be about 10 weeks later, but hey who's counting?!

300ml cream (to whip)
30g chocolate (we used 2.5 lines of Whittakers Dark Ghana 70% cocoa but I think milk chocolate would be nicer)
2-4 tbsp hazelnut flavoured Baileys (or 1 tbsp of coffee liqueur as per the original recipe)
6 meringues (approx 100-120g)
1 loaf tin

For a chocolate topping:
200ml cream
125g dark chocolate chopped finely (6 lines of Whittakers Dark Ghana 70% cocoa)
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur

For a raspberry topping:
100g raspberries (frozen or fresh)
2 tbsp sugar

1. Line the loaf tin with Glad wrap (cling film), enough to hang over the edges so you can cover it at the end.
2. Whip the cream just enough until it's thick but still soft.
3. Chop the chocolate into small piece and fold in.
4. Fold in the Baileys (or other liqueur)
5. Cut up the meringues and then crumble them in to the mixture and fold in.
6. Pour into the loaf tin. Cover with the excess glad wrap and then wrap another piece right around the tin.
7. Freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight.

1. Pour the cream into a saucepan and add the chopped chocolate.
2. Put on a very gentle heat and whisk as the chocolate melts, taking the pan off the heat as soon as the chocolate as almost melted.
3. Add the liqueur, still off the heat, and whisk again to amalgamate the sauce completely. Pour into a jug, whisking now and again until it cools to just warm.

1. Add the raspberries (but defrost if frozen first) to a bowl with the sugar.
2. Mash sugar and raspberries together.
3. Drizzle over the ice cream.

And of course there are so many variations of ice cream you could make with this base - white or milk chocolate, raspberry swirl, other alcoholic liqueurs, even mint essence (my favourite) - the possibilities are endless!

For more tasty recipes on this blog, go here.

Fun with Food
Linking up to Ange's weekly 
linky Fun with Food over here.

18 March 2013

The original MNM's: Making it work

If you've missed earlier instalments of this story, you can find them here: how it all begantruly, madly, deeply and long distance love.

So now they are in the same country at least. And that's a good start. She enjoys a few 'adjustment' weeks living with him and his lovely family down in Somerset, a beautiful part of the country. But then reality sets in. Her paltry savings aren't going to last forever and she knows she needs to find herself a job. It appears that there may be a few more twists and turns ahead before they can truly be together.

Eventually she is successful getting a job working for Thistle Hotels, but there's a catch - it's based in London. And he still has one more year of university to complete down in Eastbourne - a 2-hour train journey away. They resign themselves to the fact that this is how it's going to have to be and that at least they can travel to see each other on the weekends. And so the year goes by - with her living in an Antipodean flat in the dodgy East End of London fearing for her safety most nights as she walks home from the train station, and him enjoying student life down on the South Coast in Eastbourne.

The year passes, he graduates and by now she has a different job, working as an Office Manager for a start-up recruitment company, an experience that will completely alter the future shape of her career. They find a flat together near Wimbledon, sharing with another couple - although their flatmates change multiple times in the not quite 2 years they live in the flat - with some great and just as memorable 'not so great' flatmates along the way.

They travel at every opportunity. Although he is fortunate enough to travel frequently through his role as a travel consultant, they also manage to visit the Greek Islands, Amsterdam, Paris, Switzerland, Sri Lanka and the Maldives together. But they are also well aware that her visa end date is approaching and despite managing to negotiate a slightly longer stay through her work, her time is running out. She's always known that she wants to return to NZ, she couldn't possibly imagine not coming back to the beautiful country she calls home.

A last hurrah is planned - a trip around Europe for a month before some time in South Africa on their way back to NZ. But as fate would have it, just as they are making their plans, a petty thief uses a crow bar to break into their car to steal their stereo speakers, worth all of $10. It's enough damage to nearly write the car off and they need to sell the car to raise some cash for their trip. It forces them to re-think and they decide instead they will settle for two weeks in Italy.

They depart for Italy and return two weeks later - engaged! He has secretly been carrying a ring around for half the trip - going out of his mind with worry at being robbed at any moment - and halfway through the trip he can hold on no longer, proposing to her in the famous town square in Siena on a Sunday night in April with a light rain beginning to fall. It's a moment they will never forget.

Celebrations abound amongst family and friends when they share their happy news, but just a few weeks later they have to muster up courage to say their tearful goodbyes, leaving behind row upon row of terraced houses, smoggy air and thousands of years of history - bound for a youthful land of mountains, rivers and native bush awaiting them in her homeland.

And will it work - this plan of theirs to forge a new life for themselves here? They have to believe it will.

For the rest of the posts in this story, carry on here:

Part I The Original MNM's: How it all began
Part II The Original MNM's: Truly, Madly, Deeply

Part III The Original MNM's: Long Distance Love
Part V The Original MNM's: Surviving the Storm

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16 March 2013

Essential to life

Water. We need it. We can't do without it.

So it's a more than a little concerning when all the talk has been this week that Wellington has less than 3 weeks of water left and that the entire North Island has now been declared a drought zone.



This has been the most AMAZING summer ever, but it has come at quite a price.

I'm very aware that we can all play our part in not making this crisis worse than it already is. So here's how we are doing our bit to help:

  • Only washing up any dishes when we absolutely need to
  • Going with the 'if it's yellow, let it mellow...if it's brown, flush it down' philosophy
  • Taking a bucket into the shower to catch run-off water to water the garden with (there's now a complete outdoor water ban)
  • Turning the shower off whilst shampooing, conditioning and washing bodies in the shower
  • No baths at all, short showers only
  • Only running the dishwasher when it's chocka-block full
  • No running the tap when brushing teeth
Are you being careful with water where you are? It sure becomes such a precious commodity when you know it's in short supply!

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15 March 2013

Things I'm Loving 15.3.13

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

There and back again - the book version
So after our wee adventures up north in January, I thought it'd make a nice momento for us to have a photo book of our time. It's all to easy to blog about the trip and then forget about it, so this time I was determined to have something special to remind us of the amazing time we had. It took a good week and a few late nights to do but here's a sneak peek of the finished product. I used My Books to put it together and one of the things I like about it is you can download the software and then you don't have to be connected to the Internet while you're putting it all together - and getting it at 50% off - even better!

Peace and quiet
Loving the early mornings when I arrive at work and I'm first one to turn on the lights and no-one else arrives for at least half an hour. It makes that first little bit of time super productive when I'm surrounded by the solitude of early morning shadows.

Hubby got me these Havianas over a year ago for Christmas. And I must say I wasn't convinced about them for a really long time. I think because my old  jandals just felt way more comfy and worn in. But lately I've been giving them another try - and surprisingly they really have grown on me. And they are such a cool design I'll admit. Hubby is also pretty pleased to see his prezzie finally being put to good use.

And yes if you spotted the sizing, I have very small feet for my height! Did you know that you can tell if your feet are in proportion to your body by trying to fit your foot in the space between your elbow and wrist - it should roughly match - but you can see that mine is a lot shorter. So here's a Friday challenge for you, a) are your feet in proportion and b) are you flexible enough to muster up the contortion involved to figure it out!!!

The Following
Is anyone else watching this gripping new series? It's on late on Monday nights (9.30am on TV 1) but we record it and watch it later in the week. It's pretty raw and intense. Without giving too much away, here's the plot. The story follows a former FBI agent who finds himself in the middle of a network of serial killers, when a diabolical serial killer uses his charisma and the Internet to create the network. James Purefoy plays Joe Carroll, a former college professor who taught the works of Edgar Allan Poe and killed young women in the gothic hero's honour—until he got caught. Since then he's been spending hours on a computer in the prison library, building a social network of copycat killers who hang on his every command. When the series begins, he's just escaped from death row with help from those followers, and the FBI calls in former agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon)—who brought down Joe the first time—to consult on the case


We are hooked!

Young love
If you've got a spare few minutes to sit down and watch this with a hot cuppa, it's worth it. How much effort did this guy go to make his proposal the best ever. Wow.

What the fairies left
Loving what the English fairies left us. We are feeling a little bereft as Mark's mum and dad left yesterday after what has been a really amazing couple of months. We have done and seen so much in this time, and the fact that they were here for what has been the best summer ever...priceless! It has been such a joy to see them enjoying their grandchildren so much, getting to know them each and spending more quality one-on-one time than we would have ever expected. They left us a little treat each on the table when they left.....

....and despite the sadness of yesterday's farewell, it feels really more like 'we'll see you soon', as in just six month's time we will be winging our way to English shores for a month. So we are loving the amazing memories we have to carry us through until then and loving the anticipation of the fantastic family adventure ahead!

Here's how you can join in this week:
Link up below with your blog post telling us what you're loving, and grab the Things I'm Loving button below for your post too. Don't forget to share the love by visiting all the other lovelies who have joined in - the linky is open till same time next week!

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