It's been over four months now since we moved to Cambridge and that time has simply FLOWN by as we've been getting used to new routines, schools and workplaces. Days and weeks fly by and it's actually hard to even stop and think what we've been up to lately but I know I want to at least try. So here goes.....
Where's that mojo when you need it?
I've finally found my photography mojo - and discovered some wonderful local spots - thank goodness I actually thought my mojo might have disappeared for good for a while there - ha ha! Now that I have finally finished editing all the 2000+ wedding photos from Rarotonga and creating a photo album for the lovely couple, I actually feel like I now have some creative capacity to spare again for my own landscape photography which has definitely helped motivate me to get my butt out the door to go capture the beauty I see around here!
Our house build is coming along to plan nicely - we are now 4 weeks into the 14 week build and it's been so cool seeing how things are progressing. The boys and I drive by the section every day after school to see the progress and take a photo. All going to plan we will get the keys to the house on 22nd December - so that will be a busy week with Nic & Kim visiting from Melbourne and Christmas all thrown in the mix as well. But what a great Christmas present to wake up on Christmas morning in a new house! It's quite fascinating to watch the whole stage of the subdivision come to life - we will be the 2nd house completed in the stage (of about 30 houses in total), there's one house that's a few days ahead of us (also building with Generation Homes) so we can always see what's coming up next for us. The whole subdivision is a hive of activity at the moment with lots of building going on with at least 12 houses (that we've counted) in various stages of construction similar to ours.
You might also have been wondering how the whole autoimmune diet thing is going since I've been a bit quiet on that front lately.... well if I'm honest it's kind of been and gone. I religiously stuck to it for about six weeks but after that found it was impinging so much on all my free time that I was basically forced to ease back into a less restrictive diet. I was spending pretty much every weekend and afternoon baking/cooking meals to be able to keep ahead of the demands for food that I could actually eat. It made for a pretty boring life I tell you, so it just wasn't sustainable to do it for longer, especially as I was basically having to cook two meals every night - one for me and one for the rest of the family. I've continued to steer clear of grains (i.e. not eating rice or gluten-free pasta or oats) and have kept dairy to a minimum (only really eating a small amount of cheese if it happens to be in a dinner recipe and a small amount of milk in my daily coffee which was the first thing I introduced back in - ha ha!). Now that I am eating eggs, nuts, seeds and coffee again life feels so much more doable. I haven't really noticed any major effects from introducing foods back in - ideally I should have done it slowly over the course of a few weeks - notice I say ideally - once again the reality was I just kind of started eating these things when the moment arose - again not ideal but life just kind of happened that way. That being said, I am taking some of the positives of eating that way into my life now and will keep trying to find what works for me. I'm having mostly good tummy days and the odd day where it doesn't feel too great but on the whole it's been OK so I have to keep hoping it stays that way.
However as it worked out, I stopped my restrictive diet just in time for Mark to decide he was going sugar-free for the month of October - we couldn't have timed it worse - ha ha - just as I'm starting to eat more normally now he is off sugar and really watching everything he eats - oh well! He has found the first week very hard and I think has a newfound appreciation for some of what I went through on the AIP diet - having to question everything he's putting in his mouth and scrutinising the ingredient lists in all foods has given him some insights into how pervasive sugar is in everything if nothing else!
A listening ear
On the talking books side of things I have been cranking through the audio books on CD on my daily commute to Hamilton - it's made such a difference to my car journeys - I actually look forward to the drive now where I used to dread it. So far I've borrowed and listened to:
The Fault in our Stars - my rating 4.5 / 5 - I found it extremely well written and surprisingly quite deep for a teenage level fiction story. I bawled my eyes out a few times listening to the book - it deals with some fairly heavy topics of sickness and death in a refreshingly direct way. I watched the movie after finishing the book and found it quite true to the story albeit a little more abridged.
Go Set a Watchman - verdict 4/5. This is the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird and set nearly twenty years after the last story. It deals with the racial tension of the South in the 1950's and is mainly about Scout (aka Jean Louise) who was in the first book as a young child and is now in her twenties coming to terms with the changing racial landscape and how she deals with realising that her beliefs aren't necessarily in line with her father Atticus who has always been her hero until now. Very well written and the audio version is narrated by Reese Witherspoon who does a classy job of bringing all the distinctive tones of the South into the story.
Divergent - verdict 4.5 / 5. I really didn't expect to like this as much as I have - I never thought the whole dystopian scene would be my kind of novel - but knowing how much I enjoyed The Hunger Games I thought I should at least give it a go. I was really hooked on the concepts of a world consisting of five very different factions and I almost couldn't wait to get in the car each morning and afternoon for my half an hour of escapism - I even stayed in the car after arriving home late one night so I could find out what happened through to the end of one chapter. As soon as I finished Divergent, we sat down and watched the movie as I wanted Mark to see it - but in my opinion the book is way better, I found I could be quite distant from Tris while watching it yet in the book I feel so drawn into what's happening. Needless to say I've started straight into Insurgent (the 2nd book in the series) and am just as hooked!
Chelsea Winter to the Rescue
The boys recently revolted against our somewhat boring and staid weekly pattern of always eating spaghetti bolognese on a Monday - which had been a busy night in the past with football practice followed by cubs straight afterward for Noah. So we figured we had better branch out and try some new recipes to get into our arsenal of quick and tasty evening meals. In the past couple of weeks we have made quite a few meals from Chelsea Winter's Everyday Delicious book that I reviewed this time last year. Would you believe the Good Green Spaghetti packed full of spinach, parmesan and pine nuts has gotten the biggest tick of all?! And the Crunchy Chicken Parmigiana wasn't far behind - and has been my personal favourite. It feels great to be branching out and trying new meals - and I'm so proud of the boys for giving it a go too - even Mylo has been way better with eating his chicken and other chewy meat lately so he deserves kudos for that!
I absolutely cannot believe the incredible spring blossom we have living here. It's one thing I was always quite wistful about missing while living in Wellington. We used to get lovely kowhai flowering but other spring blossom was few and far between. Up here there has been a plethora of amazing cherry blossoms which have flowered spaced out over several weeks - I don't think I could ever get sick of seeing them in all their various pink and white glory. I certainly enjoyed capturing them on several different occasions with the camera.
Even the blossom in our backyard was a delightful backdrop to some backyard cricket...
We aren't massive takeaway eaters but even so I couldn't believe we were four months down the track of living here before we actually tasted our first family takeaway in Cambridge. There are lots of awesome eateries we are keen to try but for our first ever we went with Kebabalicious - a Turkish place on the main street. It didn't disappoint - despite us eating tortilla wraps for dinner most weeks, the boys had never really had a Turkish version and they loved the flavours of the meat cooked the traditional way on a pole - I had a deconstructed (no wrap) version which was super tasty too!
Waiting for our kebab and spotting the famous horses around town,
and the boys looking all 'Noo York' at the Deli on the Corner.
It's only one page but....
I got my photo printed in a real life book! A few months ago I'd been approached by Random House publishers interested in using my 'Road to St Arnaud' photo in a book about NZ's wild roads. I had actually forgotten about it and then the book turned up in the mail - it was pretty cool seeing it alongside so many other amazing photos from around the country and I can't wait to read more about some of the roads we have travelled and those we can look forward to exploring in the future.
Hanging with Jacksta B and her crew
The recent school holidays sped by at a rate of knots - I only took one day off in the end - the last Friday - to spend with Jackie and her family who were down visiting Hobbiton and so we got the pleasure of their company the next day. The boys and I showed them the local sights of Cambridge - the kids got to hang out on the bikes and scooters at the bike skills park and we showed them the impressive velodrome, we had lunch sitting outside a local cafe and walked the main street posing for a photo on the famous 'mare and foal' outside the town hall. We also showed them the boys school and took a walk around Lake Te Koutu - one of our favourite local spots - on the walk we even got to see baby pukeko, baby ducklings and discovered a new-to-us bird known as the coot - seriously there is such a thing - but it made for some funny jokes - I'm sure you'll have heard of it 'you silly old coot'.
Then we chilled out at home for the rest of the afternoon and ate our go-to easy large crowd pleasing meal of tortilla wraps for dinner. One of the things I loved about the day was seeing my two boys interacting with Jackie's kids who they'd never met before but got with like a house on fire - you would have thought they'd been friends for ages - love it when that happens!
Just like the old days
Last Sunday night we'd just finished dinner when we heard the Mr Softy jingle coming down our street. We ran around to find some coins and dashed out into the cul-de-sac and let the boys have a Single Frog ice-cream treat.
It felt just like going back to the days of my childhood to be able to do this...not that we did it much (if at all) mind you...but somehow it still felt like a throwback to days gone by!
We now have a few fun weekends ahead to look forward to - things like a family biking outing in the Redwoods, a weekend away in Auckland with friends, and a 90th birthday celebration for my gran - no doubt looking forward to these events will make the time to Christmas fly by even faster!