Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pay it Forward.........

Well, I was going to photograph Saraya drawing the Pay it forward winner this afternoon..... and then my camera batteries went flat.  :(  But I assure you we did it all very officially, and the random winner is.....

............ my Mum!!!!!

(photo from my birthday 2 years ago)

Keep your eye on the post, Mum.  There's something special coming your way!   :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - New curtains for Saraya

Don't forget I'll be drawing the winner of the Pay it forward contest tomorrow (well, Saraya will!).  If you'd like to play along, please leave a comment here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Photo shoot with my boys

Will was a little grizzly, but I was still happy with how these turned out.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My cook-up

I sent Stuart and Saraya off with the car this morning, and Elijah and William and I stayed home for the day.  It was quiet and so nice to not have to go anywhere at all!  The days are long when we do this, but I find I get SO much more done then when I do the school runs.  

Elijah was great and kept himself busy playing, had some dvd time too.......... and I had fun in the kitchen and managed to get a fair bit done.  Anyway, Renata asked me what I was cooking today so I thought I'd take the opportunity to share a few recipes.  

Chicken Noodle Soup

Diced chicken breast
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small piece fresh ginger, finely chopped 
any vegies you like.......... today was broccoli, capsicum, carrot, peas and corn
Chicken stock, salt and pepper

Brown the chicken in a little olive oil.
Add the onion, garlic and ginger and saute until soft.
Add the other vegies and saute a further few minutes.  Cover in chicken stock and bring to a rapid simmer.  Allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, add a small bundle of noodles or small pasta shells and cook for another 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Coconut Muffins

2 cups self-raising flour (I use 1 cup white, 1 cup wholemeal)
1 cup sugar
1 cup coconut
100 grams vegetable oil (I use rice bran oil)
1 cup milk
Large handful of sultanas

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  Easy!!
Spoon into muffin pans and cook in a 180 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes or until browned and spring back to the touch.

This is a brilliant recipe- a family favourite!  Today I made 2 trays of mini muffins which are a good size for the children.  There was quite a bit of mixture left over.  So I added about 1/4 cup of cocoa and about the same of chocolate chips, popped it in a loaf tin and put it in the oven with the muffins.  This made a yummy coconut/chocolate/sultana loaf.  It's a really quick and versatile recipe.

Honey Oat Bars

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup sultanas
1/2 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup coconut
155g (5oz) butter
1 tablespoon honey

Melt the butter gently over low heat. 
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
When butter is melted, add the honey and melt.
Add butter/honey mixture to bowl and mix well.
Place in a greased square tin and cook in a 175 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden.  Wait until completely cool before cutting into squares.  Yummy!

Today I used dried cranberries instead of sultanas, just for a change.

The good thing about a cook-up is there is plenty to share with friends.   Plus you get days worth of food out of one big cooking and dishes session!  Today I also made a large batch of pasta bolognese as well.  

Remember to leave a comment below in my "Thanks Renata" post, to enter the pay it forward competition.  Friends, near and far, real-life and bloggy, domestic and international, family members, regular commenters and non-commenters......... please leave a comment so I know you are reading!  I mean, um, to enter the draw!  You have until Thursday!  :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another birthday weekend!

We've just finished a full, happy weekend.
After picking up my girl and hubby yesterday morning, and discovering how exhausted they were (Saraya had 4 HOURS SLEEP at the camp, from 1am until 5am- I couldn't believe it!!!!!), I decided showers and naps were on the agenda.  Saraya ended up falling asleep at lunchtime and slept for 3 hours, until I woke her at 3pm!  Amazing.  Stu napped for awhile as well. 
My Mum and Ray (who couldn't make it up for the party last week due to Will's chicken pox) arrived soon after she woke, and were with us until this afternoon.  We had such a great time together.

Yesterday was...........
"Happy hour" at 4pm :)
A game of boules in the backyard
Dinner at 6:30pm - Meat and vegetable pie (my 3rd pie attempt; I'm enjoying experimenting and they've all turned out so far!), new potatoes, and salad.
Bed at 8pm for the little ones
A spin around the block in our new car for Mum and I, then a spin through the McDonalds drive-through for Stu and Ray.......... and sundaes back home for us all. :)
"Ironman" for entertainment.......... and a little napping on the side.......
Bed too late to remember when it was, but boy sleep was good.

Today we all headed up to Hervey Bay so Stuart and Ray could enjoy their combined birthday present.  Mum and I sent them up for a 25 minute helicopter flight, something Stu has been dreaming of doing since he was a little boy.

Isn't it a gorgeous little one?

They flew over the bay and out to Fraser Island.  
Mum and the children and I sat at the airport and watched them take off ( a few prayers whispered!), and watched them land again soon after.

This is a picture of Fraser from the air- not one Stu took, but one I found on the net!
I'll try to put one or two on the blog in the next few days...

Elijah was adamant that he really wanted to go up for a flight too.  I talked through it with him and explained that it's something Stu has had to wait for for a long time.  This prompted much discussion, and eventually both children decided they would like to have a flight for their 21st birthdays respectively. :)   This gave us all a laugh!  Nothing like planning ahead!

A picnic by the beach followed.............. ham and cheese breadrolls, and the nicest rockmelon I've had all season.
A walk out along Urangon Pier (nearly 2km all up), and an icecream before saying our goodbyes. I always find it hard saying goodbye to them.  Hopefully we'll be together again in about 4 weeks, providing Stu can afford to take a weekend away in the madness of 4th term!  Only 6 weeks to go until the summer holidays, and loads to achieve in that time.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a quiet home day tomorrow.  We've all had a fair share of sunshine today, so I'm thinking spending a few hours in the kitchen tomorrow is in order.  No doubt Eljiah will be right there to assist - he really is a champion spoon licker. ;)

Happy Sunday everyone.  I pray your week ahead will be filled with special moments.  I pray that peace will be upon your homes and within your hearts.  
Oh, and a Psalm for today....

"The precepts of the Lord are right, 
       giving joy to the heart. 
       The commands of the Lord are radiant, 
       giving light to the eyes."  Psalm 19:8

Friday, October 24, 2008

Times, they are a-changing.............

From my computer chair I can see an empty little gir's bed in the next room.  Where is my Saraya baby?  At her very first ever sleepover.  My heart is sad!

The sleepover is at her school.  They're calling it "Jungle Camp", and the night includes dinner, dessert, outdoor games, a disco dance, an optional movie, sleep (I hope!)..... then in the morning, an exercise session and pancakes for breakfast!  Will she be exhausted?  Yes!!  Will she have an abslolutely wonderful time?  Yes!!  Was she at all nervous?  No!!  Did I really really want to put her back in the car and bring her home with me?  Yes. 

I guess it's times like these that I realise how quickly the years are fleeting by.  I remember so clearly her birth.  The first time I touched the soft folds of skin on her tiny head.  Her baby fingers clinging to my hand.  The ecstacy of those early days of being her mother.

And now she is 6 years old, and at her first sleepover.

The little boys and I had our "special time"as the sun was setting, just the 3 of us, at the nearby nature reserve.  Dinner was breadrolls. :)  A warm milo at home (with marshmallows of course), a story, a very chatty toddler, and finally, sleep.  
Home feels empty when we're not all together.  I think I'll head to bed too, and dream about all the wonderful, simple, fleeting moments I treasure so much.

Bring on 8am - pick-up time!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thanks Renata!!!

Well, I was fortunate enough to have my name drawn out of Renata's "Pay it forward" hat a couple of weeks ago.  And what arrived in my mailbox yesterday?  My lovely gift!  

Enclosed was a lavender soap, a gardenia scented candle (I love candles, how did you know?), a notebook with an inspiring quote on it, 2 little information brochures from Renata's town, and a mars bar.  Why is the mars bar not pictured?  I er......... well, I misplaced it. ;)  Yum!  Thanks so much Renata, I just love getting things in the mail!

So now it's my turn to "pay it forward".......... if you would like to enter the draw to win a little package from me, just leave a comment on this post.  I'll pop all the names on paper and get Saraya to draw one out of a hat next Thursday, the 30th October.  Good luck!

I took these photos of William yesterday.  It's never to early to start enjoying a good book, I say!  And for him that means brightly coloured pictures, and good sturdy cardboard pages to chew and dribble on!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My husband, the king of the forest.......

You may remember me mentioning that earlier this year I performed in a local community theatre production of "Oklahoma". Well our town is gearing up for next year's musical, "The Wizard of Oz" and Stu and I decided that this time it would be his turn to be involved. I'm finding life so busy with the 3 children, and this musical isn't one I've always dreamed of doing.... so I'm quite happy to oblige Stu the chance to go do a show! (though I know I'll envy him once rehearsal season starts...)

On Saturday (yes, at 8:30am before the birthday party started!) Stu scooted on down to the Theatre in town, and auditioned for the role of the lion. He got a call-back for Sunday afternoon, and later that day the cast was announced. He got the part!!!!

"If I were King of the Foraaaaast......."

...... do you remember that song? He also sings "If I only had the nerve".
Wow. I have to admit I'm really proud of him! It's a big part, and our community theatre puts on fantastic productions. And the theatre happens to be state-of-the-art. Did I mention that I really really love musical theatre?? Woohoo! Next year is going to be fun. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"I just want to sit up"!!!!!

If William could talk, I'm sure that's what he would say.  I think his little rocker's days are numbered.  Whenever he's sitting in it, he strains forward, lifting his head and trying to sit upright.  He LOVES to sit between my legs on the rug with us when the children and I are playing..... give him a little people person or even just a plastic 
 spoon to slobber all over, and he's as happy as a pig in mud.

The tricky part is, he can't sit unsupported yet.  Which means that during Will's playtimes, I've been stuck on the floor with him, holding him up!!  Lie him down or put him in the bouncer, and he'll object loudly.  
Anyway................ I think I found a solution to get us through this phase!!
Elijah's littile lounge chair is a perfect nook for William!  Now we're both happy. :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

The harvest that was.....

About 3 weeks ago, my friend Andrew asked me to blog about my garden.  In times gone by, my garden has been a place of plentiful harvest.  I've really enjoyed learning as I go, trying out different vegies and herbs and feeding my family fresh food I've actually grown myself.  Sadly in the last 10 months or so, the garden has been really badly neglected.  We've harvested very little in the way of vegies.... more in the way of a baby I guess. :)

The herbs have kept going strong, as herbs do.  And the lavender.  But that's about it.  Still, Andrew's request encouraged me to get out there and start weeding out those vegie patches.  And I'm pleased to say, I've done it!!  3 patches weeded, soil improved, and seeds sown.  I decided to be frugal and use up all the seeds I already had rather than buying seedlings (tempting as that was).  So we should have a mix of radishes, carrots, and various flowers up in the next few weeks!  It's been such a relief to get under control again.  

Blogger is driving me NUTS!!!  I can't get pictures to sit where I want them, so here they are, all out of order.....................

One of the weeded patches, minus a coriander plant which self-seeded - I couldn't pull it out!

The frangipani tree, with all it's lovely new Spring growth.

This is what my garden tends to do............ that little plant next to the pots is another coriander seedling which popped up on it's own...... the seeds tend to blow across the garden, so I'm always finding surprises!  Just this morning Will and I were walking in the front garden looking at the natives flowers when I noticed a big tomato plant which had popped up out of the compost!  It had 3 ripe tomatoes on it, which I promptly picked and Elijah and I had with our lunch!!  Gotta love permaculture-style gardening. :)

A much younger Elijah holding a basket of plenty.

Ha!!!  This is my VERY overgrown garden during the wet season of early this year.  It was completely overgrown and neglected.  In this photo you can see sunflowers, groundcovers, lots of mint, basil gone to seed, wild tomatoes, my rosemary bush, the lemon tree on the left at the back, a homemade scarecrow, corn along the back fence, and lots and lots of weeds!!

These ones are black and white because they went on our Christmas letter year before last.  Harvesting grape tomatoes and pumpkins. 

The pictured weeded garden, just a few weeks ago, BEFORE I weeded it!  Full of nasturtiams, calendula, and flowering coriander and basil.  All self-seeded.

The gardens a couple of years ago, the way Andrew remembers them.   I'll get there again.  Slowly, slowly, but surely.  

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Saraya and Stuart's 36th Birthday!!!

Yesterday my baby girl turned 6.
And today my beautiful husband is 30.

We celebrated yesterday with a big, big, big combined birthday bash for the two of them at our church.  Stu's big idea, to invite everyone who is near and dear to us, including all his Prep kids, plus all Saraya's year one class, plus the parents and siblings........ and friends, family, church family.  It was enormous, both the planning and the event itself!!!  It was by far the biggest event we have ever organised and I'm pleased to say that although we're all exhausted, it came off really well and a great time was had by all!  Hooray!!! 
Here are some pics for you to enjoy............

When the requested Dolly Varden cake was completed, I thought "this is never going to feed 50 children!!!"  so I made some cupcakes to put around her.  

I rang Mum on Friday afternoon to ask her advice - how could I keep this cake cool until tomorrow morning?  this was her ingenious idea..... put a towel down, with 4 icebricks on top, and the cake board on top!  I had it in front of the open kitchen window, and the fan on, and it stayed nice and cool.  Thanks Mum. :)

Saraya having breakfast, and opening her little baking set from us.  

Here is Stu being goofy, surrounded by his prep kids.  He's happy!

I couldn't work out how to make a cake big enough for Stu which would feed lots of people, so I ordered a slab cake for him from the supermarket.  We ended up having just over 100 people there; I'm amazed the catering stretched.......... we only had about 10 sausages left at the end, praise God!!  The loaves and fishes story comes to mind!

Both Stuart's older sisters came up yesterday with their families.  It was so awesome to have them here.  They both made speeches, and Wendy even thought to bring some childhood photos of Stu for friends to see.

Yes, we hired a jumping castle.  No, we do not normally have parties of this scale!  For the children's birthdays we usually have a few friends over for cake or afternoon tea, and that's it.  So this was pretty special.  But it was Stu's 30th after all, he wanted everyone there to help celebrate and there were LOTS of children, so it was really well used!

Okay, this is hard to explain........... basically a recent school event saw a teacher tied up to a fence and kids got to throw wet sponges at him.  Apparently all the children were disappointed it wasn't Stuart, and hence he promised them we would do a "sponge throwing" at his party.  Yes, that's my husband for you- completely mad, full of life and enthusiasm for stuff like this!  He got soaking wet and had all the kids in fits of laughter.  We had a face painting lady who did this superman symbol on Stu's arm.  She was amazing; just about everyone had something painted. 

So there you go.  Fun and games for all.  Stu also ran a treasure hunt, and a giant pass the parcel game.  And showed the trailer for his upcoming movie (he makes one each year with his prep class, and this year it's the story of Joseph) for all the families which was so exciting!   You can view it by clicking on the top image in the "Our Videos" list.

I am so tired I could sleep for a week.  No, make that a month, maybe two.  I haven't had much sleep with all the party prep, plus William being unwell.  He's doing okay, though not great.
He is STILL contagious, with a few spots still yet to scab over.  So yesterday my dear friend Helen helped me by looking after him here at home, with me coming halfway through the party to feed and settle him to sleep for a nap.  Helen, you are wonderful and I love you!!  Oh, and happy birthday to you too today!!!
Happy Sunday everyone. :)

"This is the day that the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it"  Psalm 118:24


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