Monday, December 5, 2011


Yes I know it's been over a week now since thanksgiving but I haven't had a chance to sit down and get it all here yet. I decided with the children in the throws of mayhem, that thanksgiving would be a nice way to spend some time together and focus on things that are good in our lives right now.

So as always with kids, nothing goes as it does in your head when you daydream about such glorious events. I saw everyone sitting around grinning at each other, boasting with thankfulness and cheer. But reality is the harsh reminder that they are children, not show ponies.

Whilst busily slaving away in the kitchen over our magnificent feast I had a wee conversation with Quack. I asked him what he was thankful for and he rattled off that 'he was alive and God had made him unique and wonderful'. He then continued 'that Jesus had died for us on the cross so we could be with God again'.
Bless! This is going to be perfect I thought to myself.

So you can imagine when I pulled my pumpkin pie out of the oven after the said 45 minutes and it was no where near cooked I was a little rocked from my dream state. I then thought I have doubled the filling wanting a magnificent creation so it will take a little longer. When I pulled it out 30 minutes later, and not a lot of change, the sweating began.

Oh dear, oh no, please don't - the crust was burning and the middle wasn't setting.... Uncle Google time! {I have a chicken that by the 'plan' needed to be in the oven ten minutes ago and that ain't looking good for anytime soon.}
After lots of reading I decided on covering the pie with foil and leaving it fifteen more minutes and allowing it to cool to set. The outer was cooking it was just that wobbly middle. And what do you know?! Foil is a lifesaver!

So in goes the chicken stuffed with herb and cranberry stuffing, lots of fresh chopped herbs placed under the skin for flavour and a little salt to help dehydrate the skin and make it nice and crispy.
I served the chicken with roasted pumpkin, kumara, potatoes, carrots and onions, also steamed corn kernels and peas and lavishings of homemade chicken gravy (the packet stuff does nothing for me).

Before the meal I announced that we would begin with thankfulness and grace - cue Quack.

Me: What are you thankful for Quack?
Q: Dunno? Nothing? Don't care.
Me: We talked about it earlier remember?
Q: No I don't, never said anything.
Great start...
Me: So Pops what are you thankful for?
P: Nothing. I don't do this stuff. I have nothing to be thankful for.

Arrggghh! Seriously people!! What is wrong with you??

We ended up with a few thankful people, one who was invited to our dinner was thankful he received a feast that smelt as good as it looked. I was thankful to be spending time with my family over these next few weeks before we disappear to the big west country and that we have an amazing Lord who saved us from ourselves, has redeemed us and given us the victory over death.

And then finally!! Quack was thankful his Mum is the best cook in the world! Cue the raised eyebrows from Nana... My Mammy is a fabulous cook, as my Grandmother was before her, and I have learnt a lot from her.

Jaybug blessed the food being thankful we were all together to eat good food. Then it was time to eat. YUM!

Will we ever get any?
But was it as tasty as it looked?
The chicken was moist and flavourful.
The stuff was perfect, not too wet, not too dry.
The veges were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  
And my favourite part - the gravy was so good I could have poured myself a glass.

And then there was pudding. I was a little bit nervous about this part as I have never made pumpkin pie and have only tasted a few times. I remember as a child my Mammy making one for a thanksgiving service we had at our church with some American ministers. I found numerous recipes online like this one and this one. And in the end I mash a few of them together (hence the sweat when it wasn't cooking)

I cut into it and it looked pretty good and smelled pretty good, but would it be edible was the question. Well before I got to serve myself some I think my Mammy was on her second piece which equals huge success. I served it with a vanilla whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream. We also had jelly and marshmallow fluff dessert for the kids {packet of instant pudding made with 3/4 of the milk, bottle of cream whipped and folded into the instant pudding with a bag of marshmallows}

I think next time though I will bake it in a shallower dish so I don't use so much filling and so it cooks in the appropriate time {and doesn't burn the crust}. But other than that it was a success. I am thinking this may be a start of a family tradition. You can never run out of things to be thankful for and I think it is good for the children to have a day to celebrate life {along with all the others that are usually focused on them and what they get}
We also have some friends who have booked a seat at our thanksgiving dinner next year in Australia! Must have looked good?

Maybe some of my lovely friends and readers have a better pumpkin pie recipe for me to try? Did anyone else celebrate thanksgiving this year?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Arriving in the Land of the Lucky

Well the wife has dragged me into this so I better share how it was coming to the Lucky Place for the first time.
Once saying the goodbye's to the family and the great dinner with wife and friends, as the wife has mentioned my last night in a bed in NZ has to be somewhat very disappointing. The bed was the worst you could imagine and not really the type of bed for snuggles and the likes (had to throw that in Hun).

Saying goodbye to the wife was emotional as I was not going to see her for a while and after the night we just had made things feel 10x worse.
I bit the bullet and said well I'd better be going now gave her a big kiss and cuddle and off i went to be meet by a Woman that could of past for as guy in customs. "This way Sir" she said in her man voice, so in line I stood behind an est 50 Asian tourist's and talking at the top of the lungs to one another. Great this is turning out to be a great start to my trip.
Get to the customs desk and takes a look at me and the guys says "good luck" oh great now what am going to be up for knowing the bag search and x-ray coming up. Get to x-ray and pull everything out of laptop bag. and empty the pockets etc..... walk through scanner and relief no buzzer, pick up my stuff and on my way.
Grab some duty free for me and my mate C, and off to the check in. Get to the dam check in and look who's there 50 dam Asian tourist's all again loud as anything (sorry to any Asians looking at this) but cmon agree with me that you don't need that at 5am in the morning on a 3hr flight. Now I know why the customs guys said "Good Luck"
Well its exactly what I got the whole dam way to Lucky Land, whilst wedged in a seat next to a 6ft plus guy who needed two seats. I had to lean out into the isle all the time to get fresh air.

So as you can see my 1st morning is a complete nightmare and there's more!!!!!!

I arrive in Lucky Land and fly through customs and go to get my baggage. I wait over half an hour for my Hockey bag to come through fragile baggage and then I'm on the hunt for Breakfast. I get to the counter and realise I am in a different country and need there money to buy breakfast so I Hold my order and whip over to the ATM with 4 bags in tow remember =mish
Get some local coin and grab my order.

I then now have to find the train to catch to the Sydney Central Train Station, grab a ticket and the guy tells me I've got about a minute to get downstairs to catch the train. I pushing my trolley with my luggage to the lift and its out of action GREAT!!!!! I then have to carry all my bags down the dam stairs plus my breakfast anybody looking at me would of been thinking what a retard!!

Get on the train and squash in for the ride, get to the central station and ahhhhh fresh air with a hitch its bloody HOT!!!!!!

Well after I get off the train I need to get to Country Link platform to catch the train to my final destination I'm running low on time too. Yet again carry all my bags down a flight of steps and head towards the Country Link platform, here my run of bad luck continues. I get to where they want me to go and up a whole lot of steps onto another platform only to then go back down at the other end and up some more and down some more to get to the platform. I stop some young girls and ask them is there another way to the platform they guide me to where I need to go and that there is elevators there to use. I felt a sense of calmness from them and moved on my merry way. Well I get to the elevators and they are also out of service (are you serious that all elevators in Sydney are down or is this trip making me feel bad the further I go???)I attack all those stairs with such anger that when I get to the Ticket agent for the train she politely asks "Hot out there Darl" She saw the anger I think and gave me the last ticket for the train in 1st class.
Finally I get to sit down and wait 10Min's for the train,

I think the man upstairs was looking after me there giving me the last ticket. I get on the train and welcomed to my 1st class seat. I wonder what cattle class is like because this was nothing special. 

 I settle in for my 5 hour train Ride to my final destination for the day and I have a passenger next to me who seemed nice enough, young guy about 16 who watched jersey shore the whole trip on his laptop. two good things about the train was seeing the scenery and air con!!!! When I get to my final destination I am greeted by my new Aussie family taking me in until I find my own abode. The heat off the train was like I walked into an oven and hard to breathe, I was whisked off home for a nice cool Coke which happened to have my name written on the bottle that C & H had been saving until I arrived. Well there you go everyone My amazing trip over and done with at last. 

Now I can settle into life in the Outback of the Lucky Land

Goodbye Daddy; Goodbye Bubba

Our adventure begins with getting settled into our humble abode at my Mammys in Ruawai, Northland, New Zealand. This is where the children and I will live until we head to NSW, Australia in January. But before we got too settled we needed to send our lovely Daddy and Husband off to the lucky land to prepare for when we arrive. This is the sad and funny story of that day.

Daddy saying goodbye to princess Jaybug didn't go so smoothly. Jaybug is our emotional feeler. She cries when she misses family and friends. She cries when she misses her toys. She cries when we had to let our pets be rehomed. So needless to say goodbye to Daddy for nine weeks wasn't going to be an easy one.

Quack is our thinker. He brooded over the fact that Dad has gone for a few days before he let himself be emotional. He was quick to throw himself into business so that he didn't have time to think about it. He was lost in a world of playstation, reading, lego and playing with his friends - anything to not have to have a quiet moment where he might have to think.

So after long and sad goodbyes we Bubba and I headed off down to Auckland to see some of our Naki friends that live there now. Thanks to Mrs GPS we were taken on a scenic route around some back roads to the back of Waitakere where two of our friends live.

We were greeted by grumbles and choice words coming from under their Landcruiser. S was up to his elbows in grease - literally - and not having a very good afternoon with an oil leak. T came to our rescue and showed us a little of there home. We sat and had a juice while listening to their gaming flatmates play away from their gaming hole (so glad we never had the experience of needing to share a house with other people, I don't think I could have coped with non stop shooting noises coming from the bedroom). After some time it became evident that S may need a little more time to talk the Landcruiser into submission, so we decided to head off to our motel for the evening, check in and meet in town for tea.

We arrived at the Travellers International Hotel in Mangere hoping for somewhere nice to enjoy our last night together. The pictures online look quite nice and prices were reasonable. Go check out their website here before you read any further!

We were greeted by an empty reception, where after pressing a call button we realised that a box on the desk was talking to us. After a few minutes we were assisted - well we weren't really but this is what it should have been - by an elderly Indian man. He had no idea who were where or what we wanting. He was unable to find our booking in his fancy organised check in department (printed pieces of paper clipped to boards, lying on a filing cabinet behind him). After much explaining by Bubba that we had booked and paid a deposit online he managed to find something in his inbox with our name on it. We were then handed a key and told to follow the corridor to our number. Thanks we said and headed off to find our idyllic dwellings for the evening. Well that is where the shock began.....

We rounded a corner to head to our room and found some charming young ladies (yes I am being polite) sitting in the hallway. We scanned the numbers to find we were at number 9 and ours was 93.....

Oh fun!

The further we walked the worse the smell became. We walked on and on, taking what felt like forever to reach our room. We were one of the last rooms and at the end was a door that lead to the carpark! So we could have driven around the hotel and come in from that door.

We opened the door to our room and were horrified at the state of it. I needed to go toilet (and remember thinking of Tupper mum and Guacamole mums toileting in public directions) - it was that bad. The toilet was wedged into a boxy room where the shower was also. There was barely enough room to open the shower door between the two. I came out of the bathroom and made some cheap joke to Bubba that we would be more hygienic not to shower tonight or tomorrow morning here in this place. We looked around the room and decided it wasn't what the website boasted but it was simple and it was a bed, all we needed for a few hours sleep.

We headed back down the corridor to the car and decided to drive around the back as this would be a much faster way to access our room. I tell you that in itself was an experience. It was a this point I realised I better grab my camera to document the adventure for my friends and family.

There was trash, there was flaking paint, there were weeds growing sky high. But the thing I noticed most was the smell of cigarettes and a high pitched squeaking noise as a gate rocked back and forth on its hinges - seriously horror movie, so much so I mentioned to Bubba that I can see me tonight huddled under cover in a bad horror film in this setting.....

We placed our belongings in the room, which was leaving a bad taste in my mouth and took a peak out the sliding door, which didn't slide at all.

The photo's don't do justice to how wonderful this place really was. We were looking forward to a dip in the pool or spa, if we were wanting to risk catching a life threatening disease ( one in five, I hear you Tupper mum).

We decided the much better option was to head to our friends, T & B's inner city apartment and get away from this nightmare hotel. So off we went to the city. Once at T & B's we headed up Ponsonby Road acting all touristy.

We were all quite impressed with this Mini shop and stood ooo'ing and ahhh'ing for an impressive chunk of time. T told us the the upside down mini had to be helicoptered into place (very exciting stuff)

We decided on dinner up Ponsonby Road at an Indian restaurant, that T & B frequent, Raviz.  It was really nice (not sarcasm this time). I had a Googley Korma, which was mixed lamb and chicken with a garlic naan. Bubba had Chicken Jalfrazee with a peshwaru naan. There was various other dishes had by our friends T & B and S & T had also driven in to meet us for dinner. We shared two mixed platter for starters which were amazing. Everyone was full to the brim and very satisfied with their meals. Doggy bags were taken away as there was so much food left over.

After dinner more history lessons and shop spying - Bubba and I haven't spent much time in Auckland and were enjoying the sights without children in tow. We found this really cool taxidermy store which was full of interesting and exciting things.

Gearing up for Aus
And a little more courage....
This made me picture a sinking ship with people suck trying to get out - disturbed I know!

And then some brilliant shots of the sky tower from T & B's 4th level apartment. We also have decided to call there inner city living a shoebox.

The shoebox
 Bubba really liked this display for New Zealand and has declared that we will be getting one for our wall in Australia. It was very cool, and even cooler when T & B told us it was handmade by a friend of theirs.

Then it was time to head back to horrorville. It's only somewhere to sleep until 3am when we head to the airport, we'll be fine. Or at least we thought we would.

We arrived back to a raging party in the room across the hall.
The room stank of stale smoke.

Within in minutes of being in bed everything had become a little overwhelming. The gate was creaking, the music next door was thumping, the room was so freezing that my body ached and the springs in the bed were digging into my back. Then I started to cry...... worst place to stay ever. So much for a romantic last night together. I lay there crying and crying.

I was suddenly awoken at 2.30am where I leapt out of bed, terrified that at some stage I had managed to cry myself to sleep. We prepared for the airport as we thought it would be more comfortable to just head there now.

The airport was everything usual. Waiting for staff to get ready to begin work at 4am. Bubba eventually checked in and got his boarding pass.

We headed upstairs. I had a thumping headache and managed to get myself a Orange juice and bagel from McDonalds to try feel a little more awake. We hung around, nervously waiting to say goodbye.

We check out the viewing platform

As I wouldn't actually see Bubba's plane I took this picture to show the kids of a plane like Dad would go on.
As we annoyed the airport sleepers.

And then Bubba decided he had had enough waiting around and it was time to get this show on the road. We hugged and said our goodbyes.

Again I struggle with being emotional and I'm sure this upset Bubba. I waved goodbye and headed back out to the world, alone for the next few months. $20 or so later I am out of the airport carpark and on my way back to Ruawai, arriving by 7am to get the day rolling.

I will leave the rest of Bubba's story to him to tell us all over the next few weeks and months. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Loving: Crafty inspiration

The fabulous thing about living up at Mums is that there is Mum & Pops, Shar Shar and Monkey, Moise, me and kids here at moment. Which mean plenty of sharing of jobs around the place and more time to do other things like CRAFTING AND BAKING.

1. I purchased some really interesting wool the other day with the hope of having some time to get a stash to sell leading up to Christmas. I have found a really neat headband pattern that is super quick, easy and simple enough to change the sizing.  As always my dear internet friend Ralvery is the source for all my crochet needs.

Here's Monkey modelling my first one:

I'm thinking of making a few and finally getting that Felt account started that I keep thinking about. They are super cute and I have some awesome colour ideas.

2. My next crafty is an idea I pinched from a lovely Kelly over at My Next Big Idea. Kelly had this wonderful and simple idea for plastic bag holders here. I have been meaning to get around to making one forever and guess what? I finally did. I couldn't not once I saw how simple Kelly's idea was and seeing I had this spare time on my hands.

It was so simple:

One tea towel
Sewing machine

I took elastic (which the length of is half the width of the tea towel) and found middle of towel and pinned middle of elastic to it (about an inch from top hem). Then pinned it to each side. Then zigzag stitched the elastic on, stretch the elastic to fit as I went. (Kelly used a casing and popped elastic in there which is another perfectly good way to do it. I was just saving extra sewing)

 Repeat for other end.

Place right sides together and sew a 1/4 inch seam down the length of tea towel.

Cut a piece of ribbon, fold in half and sew inside one back seam to make a hanger.

Finished! (and if you are super smart like Kelly was and I did the same buy a two pack of tea towels and make two)

3. While walking past the local thrift store here in Ruawai yesterday, I spotted a novel I liked the look of in the front window. In I went hoping to find some good summer reads and out I came with 3 novels and two sets of sheets. Yes you may be thinking I'm a little strange but I had good reason for the sheets.

Traditionally called the pillowcase dress, maybe mine should be the sheet dress? There is a simple enough to follow tutorial here at Little Big Girl Studio to give you a few ideas to get started. Mine would be the Fabric Tie casing dress with added band on the bottom if you followed this tutorial. I made my band a frill rather than a straight band to add detail. There is a printable pattern to use, otherwise if your like me and save money (hence recycled sheets not new fabric) then you can just freehand, or freecut the pattern.

Jaybug also is modelling another one of my super quick headbands from 1.

4. As it is Friday and I'm not in New Plymouth anymore I am missing Friday Morning Coffee Group. We are a group of Mums who get together in the fight against housework, literally we have a magnificent excuse to not do housework from 9am-12.30pm Fridays. We have an alphabetical fridge magnet list of our names and numbers. We turn up at whoever's house it is according to the list, thanks to list Mum, and they feed our hungry tummys with tasty treats they have whipped up and fill our needs for coffee, tea, milo or whatever else is on offer. NO HOUSEWORK is the best part for the guests who have fled their homes in seeking refuge else where. There was eight of us on the list, but there have been two new recruits with my leaving - yes we are invitation only, horrid snobs huh!

Seeing I was missing out today I had to make my own treats and coffee. List Mum makes an amazing brownie from the back of the nestle cocoa pack but seeing I didn't have a tin I went in hunt of my own recipe. I found one here at Baking Makes Things Better. It is now a blog that is going on my following list. The brownie was divine and there are many more delicious looking recipes I want to try.

Here are my brownies:

And the best part is the recipe is part of a fantastic Christmas Gift idea!

5. Here are some pictures of my wonderful Coffee Mum's who I missed dearly today. There is 3 of the yummy mummys missing from the pictures but that doesn't mean I don't love you too. I just don't have any photo's with you....

Left to right: Guacamole mum, List mum, Tupper mum, Preg mum, ME, Baker mum

Me and Guacamole mum

Watch out Australia, you're in for a special treat.

Tupper mum and Me

Tupper mum, Preg mum and Baker mum

Guacamole mum, List mum and Clean and Tidy mum
By the way coffee was consumed in the making of these photo's as well as some other liquids....
Please note ladies that I only added my own embarrassing photo and not yours!
I miss you my wonderful Coffee Mum's and I hope to be able to take my much loved Friday morning coffee routine with me to the lucky land. Was thinking that I may be able to feature some of you and your amazing recipes??

Linking in with PaisleyJade: Things I'm loving