30 July 2015

On life lately......

There are not enough hours in the day right now it seems - when did I ever find hours in the days to post 3-5 times a week I'd like to know!!!!! So for the sake of not losing touch with you all here's a short n snappy summary of what's been going down at our place lately:

The chilblains are back - gutted! I thought I was doing so well and that buying my woolly slippers and socks would keep them at bay but it clearly wasn't enough....grrr.....I've now heard that once you've had them once in a winter season you can just keep on getting them... so lucky me!

Apparently it's 4 days and 9 hours till a certain person in the house's 9th birthday - don't worry we're getting regular updates so we can't forget how long it is!

Speaking of birthdays.... a couple of weeks ago Noah decided that it was his monkey's birthday that day and he wanted to make fudgy banana muffins for the occasion. Lo and behold I was then reminded by Facebook that night that it was exactly 5 years ago to the day that we'd dreamed up the idea of monkey having a birthday - how FREAKY that Noah picked that exact day - especially as we'd never mentioned it since!

I went to my first ever live netball game on Sunday night with lovely Jackie and my mum - the Silver Ferns beat South Africa quite convincingly. I was struggling not to fall asleep for most of the second half - not because it was boring - I'd had a late night the night before and Sunday nights are usually a wind-down so think my body was trying to tell me it needed to rest before another busy week ahead.

We made a flying visit to New Plymouth during the school holidays - heading down and back within the same day on a wet, wet weekend. It's something we could never have contemplated from Wellington and I know Gee Gee really appreciated the effort we made to see her but boy was driving home in the dark in the worst rain I've ever driven in a scary experience! It was like someone had turned a firehose onto the windscreen at points! Thankfully we made it back in one piece.

We had one of the only power cuts I can remember in a very long time the other night while Mark was dropping Noah at Cubs. Mylo was pretty freaked out by the whole experience as he'd not had it happen at night while he was home. I was pleased we had a few candles and torches on hand - we managed to shower in the near dark (the one plus point of having a mains cylinder) but all the washing up from dinner had to wait and poor Mark ended up eating a cold dinner when he got home as he couldn't heat it up again in the microwave! In the end we only had to wait 2.5 hours for the power to be restored but it was a LOOONG time when we had so much to get ready for the day ahead and to tidy up after dinner!

We've been making good use of our outdoor bedroom here at the rental already and have had both my cousin Gwyl and wife Charlotte to stay as well as our great friends Jackie and Heidi in the past month, as well as an overnight flying visit from Nate on his way home from the UK too. It's been so lovely to share all the things we love about our new environment with others too including plenty of visits to the section where our new house build will be.

    Visits to the local Lilypad Cafe and Punnet Cafe went down a treat with us all too!

    There was even time for a game of Trivial Pursuit - it proved quite challenging for any of us to remember what was 'current' 11 years ago when our version of the game came out though - not helped by the fact that Jackie and Heidi are also 10 years younger than us too - ha ha!

    The boys also enjoyed showing the girls around their school and took Heidi on in a game of giant chess.

    After a month without a dining room table, we have been loving eating back at a proper table with this gorgeous new table we bought from Vast Furniture. We sold our other table with the house as we knew it wouldn't easily fit in the rental or the new house and took the opportunity to brighten up the decor with some colourful aluminium chairs to accentuate the colours in the new table. Can't wait to see how they look in the new place too!

    And on the subject of the house.....we are just waiting for the title to come through - if it all goes to plan the build might actually start late August or early September which would be super exciting if it happens - fingers crossed - it could mean we might squeeze into the house just before Christmas but we are trying not to get our hopes up too much and leaving the timing in God's hands. He's worked everything out pretty SWEET so far so have to give him the opportunity to do it again!

    23 July 2015


    Cousins are a rare and special commodity in our family.

    They are hard to come by. On Mark's side of the family, the boys have one older cousin Jack who is 11. However, the opportunities to see each other are few and far between as he lives in Wales. The boys have spent time with him both here and in the UK and they really look up to him. As older cousins go, he's super awesome and we really wish we weren't half a world away.

    And currently on my side of the family, there's just one younger cousin, Maia who is 18 months old. She lives in Melbourne so we don't get to see as much of her as we would like either but it is a little easier than the UK. I do know that she relished hanging out with her big boy cousins on our recent trip to Rarotonga - it's pretty obvious from these pictures alone I think.

    On the last night, we went over to where Nic and Kim were staying to have a night of board games - something we ALWAYS do when we get together as an extended family. The boys were allowed to play on their technology for a bit and Maia hung out in the middle of all the action just being as cute as can be. 

    And who knew wearing Mummy's pyjama bottoms as a scarf could be so trendy?!

    Maia was that much older and more interactive this time that the boys really enjoyed hanging out with her just as much as she did with them.

    Hopefully we will get the cuzzies together again to hang out at Christmas when Nic and Kim come over - getting together is such precious times!

    20 July 2015

    A plethora of pumpkins calls for Pumpkin Pie {gluten-free dairy-free sugar-free recipe}

    We have been gifted a fair few pumpkins by friends and family in the past few weeks. And there's only so much pumpkin soup a gal can make and eat without wondering if I might be about to turn orange.

    It got me thinking there must be some other recipes to use up the pumpkin too, so I searched online and looked for a pumpkin pie recipe that I could make with ingredients I already had in the house and that would use as much pumpkin as possible. I also wanted to find a recipe that was gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free so I wasn't asking much really was I - ha ha!

    I found this simple recipe over at wellnessmama.com and was impressed with just how easy it was to pull together!


    For the crust
    1 cup almond flour
    3 tbsp coconut oil
    1 egg
    1/2 tsp cinnamon

    For the filling
    2 cups pumpkin puree (I roasted the pumpkin and then put it through the food processor - you can always add a TINY bit of water if it's still too solid while you try to blend it up)
    3 eggs
    1/4 cup honey
    2 tsp cinnamon
    1/4 tsp nutmeg
    1/4 tsp ground cloves
    1 tsp vanilla essence
    Optional: coconut milk to thin (no more than 1/4 cup - I didn't use any at all)

    1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees.
    2. Grease a pie pan with coconut oil and mix the crust ingredients by hand in a bowl.
    3. Press crust into the greased pie pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes until just barely brown. Remove from the oven.
    4. In the same bowl (or directly in food processor) combine all the filling ingredients (except the coconut milk) and mix. The consistency should be smooth and spreadable (but not pourable).
    5. Pour/smooth the filling over the crust and return to the oven for approximately an hour until centre is no longer soft to touch and a skewer comes out clean.
    6. Eat and enjoy with icecream, yoghurt or just on its own!
    7. Keep in the fridge. 

    16 July 2015

    On two wheels

    When I envisaged living in Cambridge one of the things I had hoped we would be able to do as a family was go on lots of bike rides together.

    I think it's safe to say we have totally made this our new favourite activity, although we did get off to a bit of a false start on the first outing. We'd agreed that Mylo and I would take the car and the bike rack (which at that stage only held 2 bikes) and meet the boys partway along the Te Awa River Ride out to Lake Karapiro. However, a little miscommunication meant we missed each other for quite a while and with a cold breeze and rain showers passing over meant it was a short lived ride together by the time we finally managed to meet up.

    Fast forward two weeks and now we had a bike rack that would take ALL of our bikes (the perks of working in a bike business!) so there was nothing stopping us driving somewhere to start our ride. I was a little worried that my little Suzuki would struggle with four bikes AND four people but she coped just fine - although it wasn't like we were driving hundreds of kilometres just locally.

    This time we drove to the very end of the cycleway and rode back along Lake Karapiro. We just happened to time our ride to coincide with the North Island Cycle Champs that were on at the domain so it was heaving with people everywhere. But it was quite inspiring watching these teenagers ride their hearts out as we sauntered past slowly at our leisurely Sunday morning pace. This section of the cycleway ain't for the faint hearted though with a couple of knarly 10% and 12% hills to tackle - I was very proud of Noah for getting right up the steepest one without having to get off his bike.

    It's such a scenic and varied track right riding along beside the lake - we made it to the dam and back again which was 6km, both riding on high with great views above the lake and then right down at lake level on the specially made board walks.

    Not content with one ride for the day we figured we would seize the moment and tackle another part of the cycleway from Cambridge to the Avantidrome - another 6km return. This is fast turning into one of my favourite rides as I'd already ridden it a couple of times on my own from home (12km return) and wanted to show the others just how scenic and interesting a ride it is.

    It's a lot less hilly (if you don't count the last big long slog up to the velodrome) and Mylo even managed to get the hang of braking on the downhills just long enough to then let go and coast enough to get his speed up to get up the hills on the other side. I can see many more rides on this part of the cycleway in our future.

    This past weekend we made the most of the opportunity to be able to ride straight from our front door and rode two 8km loops around our local area. It still amazes me that within a kilometre of riding we can be in the countryside patting horses - it seems like a bit of a dream. And on the Sunday afternoon we discovered the miniature train rides at the Leamington domain on our travels as well. It amuses me that little legs can easily ride 8km or more on this flat terrain without even realising just how far they've gone.

    There are lots of things we are still getting used to in this new life of ours. Some things already feel as familiar and natural as wearing an old comfy hoodie and some things still feel itchy and scratchy and uncomfortable - a bit like wool worn too close to the skin.

    But family bike rides definitely fall into the old comfy hoodie category.

    13 July 2015

    Past freezing

    One thing I had definitely not really appreciated in making this move north was how FREAKING cold it gets overnight in the Waikato.

    Many people have been surprised that we have been finding it so cold in the mornings and have commented 'but surely it's colder in Wellington?'

    And that's partly true. During the day the wind chill factor in Wellington would make a sunny 10 degree day feel much, much colder. Even in a nasty southerly storm when the temperatures were at their lowest, we could usually guarantee an overnight minimum of 3-4 degrees even if the midday temperatures didn't then rise much above 5-6.

    Last week we hit another patch of frosty temperatures overnight - I think yesterday morning took the cake - when I looked at the metservice website it said it was -4.4 outside - the coldest one yet. Although earlier in the week, there was also a morning where I'd had to physically yank the car door open as it was frozen shut!

    But the biggest issue for us over the past month had been the lack of proper heating in the house. Unfortunately the heat pump broke down about 2 days after we moved in and it took several visits by the repair company to be able to properly diagnose the problem, and then fix what they thought was the problem with the control board only to find once that was finally fixed that it was actually another problem with the fan motor.

    So not only was it colder overnight than we were used to but we were limping along with one oil fin heater trying to keep one room warm (and also take the chill off in the kids rooms using wall panel heaters). It basically meant we never really felt warm at all. In the middle of this all, we got a lovely email from the people who bought our house in Wellington saying how lovely and warm they were finding our house with its central heating - which was somewhat ironic to read and went down with us like a cup of cold sick!

    So it's probably no great surprise that I got the worst case of chilblains I've ever seen on a person. Basically all the backs of my toes on my right foot had chilblain blisters as well as a giant one on my big toe on the other foot. I spent the best part of two weeks hobbling around until they gradually went away. Chilblains basically come about when your feet (or hands or ears) get too cold and go numb and then get too hot too quickly straight afterwards. I put mine down to a cold morning of exercise where my feet went numb and then I probably warmed my feet too quickly with the car heater on them on the way to work.

    Morning exercise - working out on the bike trainer in the cold garage complete with hat, gloves and puffer jacket is a completely new experience for me!

    Lesson learnt though. I subsequently went to Kathmandu and invested in some merino socks that were thin enough that I could wear two pairs at a time AND bought some new sheepskin boots on special at Farmers called Mi Woolies. Cold feet begone I say!

    And for the past two days of below zero temperatures overnight, the heat pump has finally been fixed. Oh man what a massive difference a warm house makes!


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