30 May 2014

Things I'm Loving: Early one morning, late one night

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.

I love photography. And some days I also hate it.

I know the shots I want to take. And I get frustrated when they don't turn out quite as I imagine them to be.  

And yet I know the only way I'll change that is by investing. Time. And lots of it. 

Starting by overcoming the urge to stay in bed on one of the only two days a week I'm not already up at 5.30am.

Choosing the potential to create an amazing opportunity over the desire to just stay a while longer with eyes closed. 

And so on this morning, I took a chance.

And fell in love all over again with this city.

I saw her opening herself up to the new day.

Opening her sleepy eyelids to greet the dawn.

I watched her allowing the day to caress and warm her cheeks.

This city, she opened her arms wide.

Embracing the possibility of the day.

And much much later, when the day is nearly done, I saw her exhale.

I saw the city allowing herself a moment, this moment, to simply enjoy the bokeh dancing before her eyes.

And the cars with their lights streaming all over the city providing an incredible all over body massage for her.

And when the moon rises, it's like a candle being lit over a romantic dinner for two, just me and her.

We linger over our meal, and sip the most delicious dessert wine signalling the stars to come out to play.

I learnt so much from this one day armed with patience and tripod and allowing the city to enamour and wrap herself around me with loving arms.

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!

29 May 2014

Rosemary McLeod's Craft Series: Cushions and Decor

In the final post on this series of e-book reviews, how about we all pull up a comfortable and cozy pew on our favourite seat so we can have a chat about Cushions and D├ęcor.

Now who doesn't love a good cushion? Cushions can change the very atmosphere of a room. They can say 'come cozy up with me and a cuppa tea' or they can say 'wow here I am, I'm bright bold and beautiful and I've just made this room waaaaaay more interesting'.

Cushions can transform a very average and uncomfortable seat into a zone of comfort. They can be a place to lay your weary head on the couch for a mid afternoon zzzzzz or to curl up with a good book. I bet you have a favourite cushion at your place that your gravitate to. Or would gravitate to if you made one of the lovely cushions within the covers of this e-book!

I cannot end the review of this series without mentioning the detail with which Rosemary's books assist in detailing the methods and materials she uses. Nothing is left to chance, or left unexplained to put you off with the excuse that it hasn't been covered. Like these illustrations of all the different stitches you may need to know to create your masterpiece.

And last but not least I'll leave you with what is perhaps my favourite quote from the e-books, one guaranteed to make any creative's heart sing:

Don'be be uptight about colour; we do this for enjoyment, after all, not to pass exams or stand up to the rigorous eye of a stylist for an interior design magazine. There is no right or wrong here, and there is competition to emulate some idea of perfection. There is only what we're happy with.

So get into your happy colourful place and start creating!

The e-books are amazingly good value to buy for as little as $6.78 per title and are available for sale on Amazon for iBook, Kindle or Kobo here:

ApronsBagsCushions & DecorTea Cosies and Adornments.

And congratulations to the final winner of the e-book giveaways: Kirsteen Murray from Life in My Houseful of Boys.

28 May 2014

The Hallway Project: Part I

If there's one paint job that we've been putting off for years, it's the hallway.

The rest of the house has been painted in stages over the seven years we've been here - the first and most urgent job was turning rather garish margarine yellow walls back to half spanish white in the living areas.

Then when it came time to turn the small bedroom into a nursery for Mylo's arrival, we tackled that.

Next up was the upstairs bathroom which was suffering from peeling paint in the skylight. And Zircon blue the colour of choice.

Then it was the spare room and Noah's room turned to half spanish white in quick succession.

And our most recent transformation was the downstairs bathroom, from terracotta brown to zircon blue to match the upstairs.

We've been meaning to do the hallways ever since - really truly. It's just that it was quite daunting to even start the darn project. So we'd kind of just put it off. You see we don't just have one hallway - we have a whole series of them because our house is split over three and a half levels.

We have a garage on the lowest level with a set of stairs leading up into the house.

We painted this whole area - ceilings, skirtings and all.
And clearly haven't gotten around to putting the bannister back up yet - whoops!
Stairs are a bit of a bitch to paint with carpet already down too I've decided!

Then there's a small half level at the front door entrance.

Who'd have a cat - you might have noticed in the other picture of the stairs
that there is one very obviously picked-at stair - ahem Murphy!
Which is why he is now banished outside during the day when we're at work and school so he can't ruin any more of the carpet!

We also painted around both these door frames
They were looking pretty tired after fifteen years of use!

Then going up another half level is the main part of the house.

A mere 9 sets of doors and two sets of stairs to paint around so far!
After that there's our bedroom that's up a whole level of stairs again.

So here's where our job stops and the professionals' starts. We've down all the parts of the hallways we safely can, and now have to leave a professional to tackle the rest as the walls on the stairs up to our bedroom are so high and the angles so extreme that we'd have needed specialised scaffolds to do it (safely) as you can see from the Before Photos below.

Even so, it was no mean feat doing the part of the hallways we did tackle. It became pretty obvious that the hallways are the most scuffed and beaten up walls in the house so there were a lot of places that needed touching up before we could even begin to paint.

Then there were the 9 (yes you read right!) sets of doors we had to mask up and paint around as well as 2 lots of stairs, not to mention some sloped ceilings too! It was not a job for the impatient or fainthearted. We started over Easter and chipped away at it a couple of hours here and there including some afternoons after school where I sent the kids out in the driveway to play with the neighbours (which they love doing by the way so it wasn't a hard sell!) so I could do the tricky skirting boards in peace.

So now we await Part II - which is getting rid of the dark blue walls to match the other hallways once the painter can come. 

So just a few angles to manoeuvre around - it's in an entirely different league than painting a bedroom with four walls and only a door, a window and a wardrobe to paint round that's for sure!

Still, I'm really looking forward to seeing how light and airy the hallway looks afterwards....so watch this space!

27 May 2014


Project 52: a portrait of my children once a week, every week in 2014

Noah: this week you ran in your very first cross country. I didn't get to see you race but Dad did and he said you ran your little heart out to get sixth place in the Year 3 boys. Doing your best, that's all we will ever ask of you.

Mylo: this weekend you owned us all in your very first game of Monopoly. After winning 6.5 million (we have the Monopoly Millenium edition) in free parking money all of a sudden there were hotels popping up on Wembley Arena, GMTV Studios and Hammersmith Apollo and poor Noah was down 7.5 million pounds and out of the game the first time he landed on them.

26 May 2014

Snickerdoodle Recipe {gluten free, dairy free and too delicious to keep a secret}

Back in the day when I didn't worry about what I ate for my health, my doughnut muffin recipe was a winner and a regularly baked treat in our house.

Now in the (mostly) gluten-free version of my life, I try to find recipes that don't me feel like a second-class citizen missing out on all the good stuff. So when I find a recipe that, in my humble opinion, is just as tasty in it's own way then I do a little happy dance for joy!

Ingredients Part I:
1 1/2 cup ground almonds/almond flour
1 tsp coconut flour
1 egg
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

Ingredients Part II:
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

1. Combine all ingredients from Part I in a bowl . Stir well to combine until it turns into a dough.

2. Wrap the dough in glad-wrap and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour - the longer the better.

3. Preheat oven to 180. Mix together the ingredients for Part II, and line a baking tray with baking paper.

4. Once the dough is sufficiently chilled, take out of fridge and roll tablespoonfuls into balls.

5. Roll the balls in the sugar/cinnamon mixture to coat.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

These will keep just fine in the cupboard for up to a week - but believe me they won't last this long.

Makes about a dozen so you may want to think about doubling the recipe!

For other tasty recipes, visit here.

23 May 2014

Things I'm Loving: Completing the Metlink City Safari Race

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.

Last weekend we competed in the 3-hour Metlink City Safari Orientering Race around Wellington.

We had dithered a little bit trying to decide whether or not to enter, mostly due to the unpredictability of Wellington's weather and a degree of uncertainty about how Mylo's legs would cope with all the racing. There was a 6-hour option too but we were not THAT crazy. Having missed out on the 5K Colour Run earlier in the year, we figured this was our best chance of doing a family team event before winter really sets in here in Wellington. So we bit the bullet and registered.

Metlink City Safari

On race day, we got to the registration just after 11am and received our map and instructions for team who?! MNMs Adventures (of course!). We spent a bit of time poring over the maps and planning out our route, and quickly decided that despite the lure of free travel on all public transport around the greater Wellington region (buses, trains, cable car and ferry), we would plan a route that took in as many checkpoints (and therefore points) as possible in the shortest time-frame. It was also a route that we knew very well being right in our backyard around Karori, Northland and Kelburn.

Map of the region showing all checkpoints

Our detailed map showing all the points we were aiming to get

At 12.15pm we had a 10 minute prologue warm-up racing around the vicinity of the finish line to get to grips with how it worked finding the checkpoints and texting in our answers. Except in the melee and excitement I completely forgot to text any answers in - I'd only circled them on the question sheet - ha ha - I guess that's the whole point of the prologue - ironing out all the kinks before you actually get racing!

And after a quick welcome from the mayor to everyone at the event, before we knew it, 12.45pm rolled around and we were off and racing for real. I synced my phone timer with the official timer so we'd know exactly how long we had till the finish - and every minute mattered at the end! We made the decision to head straight out to Karori on Bus No. 3 to get to the furthest point possible (checkpoint 50) and work our way back from there. This proved to be a good decision and one that a lot of other teams had made too which also made it fairly easy to find the checkpoints as there was always another team or two in the area.

After looking in through the window of a closed bakery to find the price of a can of coke, we ran through the Karori Cemetery spotting the required words on a grave, the item a statue was holding in her left hand and bushwhacked for a bit down some fairly off-the-beaten track paths in behind the football fields where Noah played his Friday football to find the name of a person on a sign. This route meant we came away with a good 220 points in about half an hour.

Our route - start and finish at the orange stop button by following the arrows!

The race was not without a hairy moment though, we'd been running down a tarsealed path in the cemetery when Mylo went flying and I was sure we were going to be scraping all the skin from his hands and knees off the road. But after from a couple of minutes of very loud tears but no obvious blood, we pulled ourselves together and got going again. Phew!

After hiking up into Northland via the very steep Albemarle road collecting another 30 points down by a stream, we'd originally planned to take the No. 23 bus (to save little tired legs) back to the botanical gardens, but figured out quite quickly that this would waste a fair bit of our remaining time as the bus was still 15 minutes away and with a downhill walk to the botanical gardens we made the call to instead walk down the very steep and windy (but scenic) Orangi-Kaupapa road collecting another 40 points counting the 193 very steep steps down towards the gardens.

Taking a quick break on Orangi-Kaupapa Road to enjoy the views of the city

Suddenly we were at the gardens, with another 200 points on offer. We followed our noses again up some fairly off-the-beaten path tracks to the sculpture on Druid hill (60 points for finding the symbol inside the sculpture), and then wound our way up past the Met Service building to the Krupp Gun cannon to get another 40 points for finding the Latin words inscribed on top of the cannon. After a quick detour down to discover what bird was painted on the mural at the playground (a Kiwi - 20 points), we took the cable car back down to Lambton Quay, collecting the 70 points available for finding an answer on the cable car itself.

A nice break for the legs on a quick trip to the bus terminal and back again

With about 40 minutes left to go, we took advantage of the many buses that cruise along Lambton Quay even on mid Sunday afternoons and whipped up to the bus station terminal to collect another 50 points (how much was the can of Coke inside the news agency), before getting another bus back to Queens Wharf.

At this point we jumped back onto the more detailed prologue map of the waterfront and mopped up a good 80 points over the remaining half an hour. We enjoyed getting up close and personal with the HMS Canterbury frigate that was parked up (although I believe the correct expression is docked!) down at the wharf, and we were certainly dwarfed by its huge presence.

The HMS Canterbury dwarfing everyone on the waterfont

The very last checkpoint was one you had to get your feet wet for so we let Noah take his shoes and socks off and grab us an extra 5 points.

We made it back over the finish line with 1 minute 25 to spare, which was perfectly timed as every minute that you were late arriving cost you 10 points.

We handed back in our racing vests and swapped them for a filled roll, cake and a banana and enjoyed the buzz of the square as the other teams all milled around, everyone looking pretty tired and exhilarated at the same time.

After a few minutes the points were up on the live Leaderboard, and we were pretty stoked to see that we'd come in 20th place out of 70 family teams competing and 37th overall out of 120 teams (so in the top 1/3 of the pack!) with 640 points. A great result I reckon with a 7 and 4 year old in the team! The official results and maps showing all the individual routes the teams took are here which we enjoyed perusing after the event. The winners of the 3-hour event managed to get 1,000 points which was a great achievement!

Four happy and tired bodies with minds still buzzing wandered back to the car with a slight detour at Burger King for the boys on the way (which was their treat for being such great sports with very few complaints along the way!). I find it quite incredible that Mylo managed the course as well as he did (mind you he has surprised with his stamina on other occasions recently like our walk at Lake Mangamahoe). I do think it really helped that we stopped regularly for water, lollies and snacks and took the weight off our feet at every opportunity while waiting for public transport.

And with the boys into bed early to rest tired bodies after a little rub-down with Mum's massage oil, Mark and I sat down to a succulent meal of lamb shanks with minted mash and green beans that had been sitting in the slow cooker awaiting our arrival.

I'm so glad we took the opportunity to do this event, not only was it a fun family activity where we got to be physical, use our brains and work as a team together, it was another adventure and cherished memory for all the MNMs!

 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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