31 October 2010

Our Bright Light Party


Best Party Ever last night.
We called it a Bright Light Night and invited friends and neighbours to come dressed as something brave or beautiful, bringing glass jars for making lanterns, and fireworks. The purpose - fun of course! And also because we are not keen on Halloween's ugliness, but we don't want to be killjoys and stop our kids having fun. So lets have a party but celebrate Light instead of Darkness.


Between us there were about twenty adults and thirty kids aged from 0-10 years. From little princesses to Superheroes they came and played.

Its on nights like this that I am so grateful for our wonderful backyard. On a warm spring evening it's perfect to spread out in, like a great big outdoor party room.



There's space for bouncing and climbing trees, racing bikes on the driveway, playing foozeball and bullrush and holding lolly scrambles. The grown ups can relax and chat while the kids race round having fun together.



In true Kiwi BBQ fashion we all brought meat to share plus a salad or dessert and drinkies. Everyone pitches in to help bring out food and tidy things away. I made my world-famous Sangria and a kids punch... which Scrag... er... loved a little too much.



{He stood at the punch bowl dipping in his cup, taking a few sips and then "recycling" the rest. Luckily most of the parents weren't drinking punch and the kids didn't care.}



Being a Bright Light Night, we strung up our Christmas lights, hung homemade coloured lanterns in the trees...


...lit the brazier and handed out glow sticks; waved sparklers and let off fireworks...

As the sun set, our backyard turned into a magical place.



I stood on the lawn looking back at the house and felt a wave of happiness? joy? All those lovely people enjoying themselves. Our friends. All those laughing kids with shining eyes. Our kids.

And all those pretty pretty lights!



It was well worth the effort.
Sigh.
I just love a good party. And this was one of the best.


P.S. After the party was over and our lovely guests had trundled off to tuck their kidlets in bed, our lovely friends Meg & B lingered long enough to sit around the brazier and toast marshmallows together. Meg took the coolest ones of these photos. She is a very clever photographer. Thankyou Meg!


P.P.S. Can you spot some Kiwi Mummy Bloggers and their kids in these pics??
29 October 2010

Blogging and Other Cool Things

HE needs me...

What an up and down week I've had!

Here's my list of the top five things I've learnt/discovered/enjoyed this week...

1. Freeing Myself from the Blog-Guilt
If I have a good blog people will still read even if I don't spend 13,541 hours a week commenting on the blogs of the world and reply to every comment. I can get off the treadmill and I will survive. I don't need to join in every bloghop and forum to boost numbers. I just need to do what I love to do: Write good stuff.

SHE needs me...

2. I can revise my bloggy etiquette and still be a nice blogger.
Here are my new Blogiquette Rules:
  • I don't have to reply to every comment. I read and love every comment but I only need to reply to comments if they need a reply. I think I can do this without anybody hating me.
  • There are only so many blogs I can read regularly. I can follow you if I "meet you" and like your style... so I can find you again. But my friends' blogs and my favourites are in my sidebar. Those are the ones I will visit and comment on regularly. This list is not set in concrete so if I start to get to "know" you via the comments... hey there's always room for new friends :)
  • I will always always reply to emails. If you really want a reply make sure you either include your email in your comment or send me one direct.
  • If you follow me I will always try to come by and see who you are... but sometimes life intervenes. And that's OK. My kids need me more than you do.
HE needs me too...

3. I Love PhotoBucket.
I love how you can play around with your photos and make collages and add borders and buttons and the generate code there... have you tried all the photo tools on Photobucket? You don't need a fancy design programme like Photoshop. You can be fancy for free right there. You should check it out, really.

This stuff won't tidy itself...
 

4. I am a Christmas Shopping Nerd.
I've done 70% of my Christmas Shopping in the last week. I have a spreadsheet and everything. Can you hear me patting myself on the back??


But the chores can wait... Fun together is essential, yes??

5. I am a new fan of Post Scheduling.
I got this tip from one of you lovely readers! I am typing this right now at night while my kids are sleeping. I will set it to post in the morning and like magic you will see a new post from Simoney in your reader/blogroll. Meanwhile I will be getting my kids to school and going Christmas shopping and seeing my counsellor and playing with my toddler and eating lunch with my hubby instead of spending all day here, hunched over my keyboard. Darn it, I might even get out in the sun!

Fun together makes us stronger {plus it's such blimmin great post material!}

So here's to a new more relaxed approach to blogging from me. My life does not depend on it. I don't imagine you sit staring at your screen waiting for a post from me to pop up, do you? That's what my hubby reminds me all the time. Chill out Simone. They won't all be devastated if you miss posting a day or two. Right?
Right.

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Here's FIVE POSTS that spoke to me this week:

So now... off to put my feet up and wait for the magic of scheduling to do my work for me...

I'm looking forward to a Friday night out for dinner with friends and a Saturday Night Bright Light Party. I'll be back with pictures next week!

Happy Weekend! {Pssst! What are your top five from this week??}
27 October 2010

Confessions of a Blogaholic

{Photo by Miss Fab - How She Sees Her Mother Too Often}

Many many blog thoughts in my head.
Here comes a cleansing release of those thoughts...

When all I can think about is blogging...
I'm blogging too much.

When I get irritated at my kids for wanting my time...
I'm blogging too much.

When I can't walk past my computer without checking for new comments...
I'm blogging too much.

When I'm hunched over my computer on a glorious cloudless spring morning...
I'm blogging too much.

When I get real-life bummed that somebody google-unfollowed me...
I'm blogging too much.

When I feel guilty that I haven't replied to comments (and worry that people will unfollow me)...
I'm blogging too much.

When I'm tired at the end of the day and all I want to do is relax on the couch but "just five minutes" blog-reading becomes hours of stiff-necked back-aching computer-hunching...
I am blogging too much!

When I get bummed after writing what I think is a really good post because I only got three comments...
When I quickly write another post in case people like that one better and I might get more comments...
When I get to the point that I don't want to switch on my computer in case I have no comments....

I HAVE A PROBLEM BABY!!!!

Have you noticed?
Have you noticed I haven't been commenting/visiting/writing as much?
Noticed the rehashed recipes and how-to posts from years gone by?
Sigh.


I think I need to get out more.
And blog less.
So I'll have more to say.
When I do blog.
So if I don't comment or visit as much, I still love you.
If I don't post as often, I'm not going anywhere.
Just pulling back so I don't get to the point of having to pull the plug altogether.
And go cold turkey.
Because anything can be addictive.
And for me... blogging is.

{This post was inspired by Shell at Things I Can't Say who read my mind and blogged about it}

26 October 2010

Best Rocky Road Ever




(adapted from the Destitute Gourmet Recipe in Parenting Magazine)

  • 1 x 375g packet of chocolate melts or buttons
  • 2 Tablespoons of Kremelta (vegetable shortening)
  • 1 1/2 cups of unsalted nuts, coarsely chopped*
  • 180g marshmallows cut in chunks
  • 1/3 cup glace cherries, halved
  • 1/2 cup rice bubbles (rice krispies)
  • 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1/2 packet of white chocolate buttons, melted, to decorate (optional)
* approx 3 x small 70g packets of nuts; I used one each of sliced almonds, cashews and hazelnuts




Melt the chocolate bits and Kremelta in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of boiling water; stir frequently until chocolate becomes liquid



Pour into a bowl of the cherries and nuts; add rice bubbles and coconut; lastly add the marshmallows.



Spread into a roasting pan lined with baking paper. Refrigerate until completely set; then drizzle white chocolate over the top if you like. (Allow white chocolate to set); cut roughly into squares.




This is the yummiest rocky road I've ever had (and so easy to make!) I add the rice bubbles and coconut to offset the sweetness which makes it extra-delicious.

Wrapped up in cellophane it makes a cute thankyou gift... and if you use Mr Mallow gluten free Marshmallows... bonus it's even gluten free!





25 October 2010

Feels Like Summer


What says summer more than toasting marshmallows over a fire?
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Perhaps laying outdoors with a book, drinking lemonade in the sunshine?

Heading to the beach for icecream?

Sand between your toes? The scent of sunscreen and mozzie spray?

It's been that kind of weekend. A nice long weekend for Labour Day.
We did gardening, played family football at the park, ate fish'n'chips.
The kids rode bikes, ran barefoot, paddled in the sea.

It was the kind of weekend where I didn't switch on my computer until now. And I didn't even want to.
The kind of weekend where I picked up my camera only twice, because I was in the moment.

It's still only Spring. But Summer arrived early this weekend. And it was wonderful.

How's the weather where you are??
22 October 2010

Fingerprint Friday


Housework, kind-of done. Me, out of PJs. Kids, at school and kindy.

Peace reigns.

Time to sit with a coffee in the spring sunshine and think about where I see God's fingerprints in my world. Sometimes I need to stop and recall all his Goodness...

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I see his Goodness in my home. It's a dream-home for me. Four years we have lived here and every time I return from being away my heart fills up with thanks for the joy that this is our home. I never dreamed we'd be able to afford to live in a house like this. In a neighbourhood I love. With a great school nearby.

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It's a comfortable spacious colourful mish-mash of things I love and memories I cherish.

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If these walls could speak... they would tell of Christmas mornings, birthday parties, family dinners and wrestling matches. They would whisper about tears and hugs, cross words and forgiveness. Babies born, battles fought and won, things lost and found. They would tell of shrieks and shouts, giggles and wails. These walls would tell that a family lives here, in all its sweat and glory.

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I see his Goodness in my Garden. So blessed are we to have such a space for our children to run free, climb and play. Even the weeds speak to me about things I must tend to in my heart, thoughts and attitudes I must guard against and uproot before they take over and choke the good things.

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In my Garden God's fingerprints are everywhere, literally. Flowers and trees, buds and lemons, fruit and flax. The birds and the bees. Even the bugs. Fingerprints. Everywhere.

PhotobucketI see God's fingerprints on me. I see what he is making. I am like a clay pot, cracked and broken in places, but he has not discarded me.

Like a Master craftsman who knows how to restore something precious which fell and smashed, he puts the pieces back together, bit by bit, filling in the cracks.

When he is finished with me I will be colourful, beautiful and useful.

Thank goodness for his patience with me, this cracked pot! Thank goodness he is not dismayed by my flaws.

I see his fingerprints in the fact that I am still here. In spite of the cracks and chips and mess, he keeps me. And I am thankful.

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Where do you see God's fingerprints lately?
21 October 2010

Collage Christmas Cards


A couple of Christmases ago we had fun making packs of collage Christmas cards and then selling them to raise money for orphan babies in Uganda - a Christmas project to help the kids focus on giving rather than getting. Back then the kids were aged six and four - and this was simple enough for them to get involved.

We printed out a little Message for the back of each card saying who made them and why. We enlisted the help of our grandparents who managed to con persuade their friends and colleagues into buying some too.
We ended up raising  over $100 just from making and selling the cards.


It was a nice sort of thing to do together. You know, crafty bonding. Who doesn't love dousing things in glitter, right??

We came up with five basic designs. You can make them to give away to indulgent family members and other unsuspecting neighbours and colleagues... or to go into "mass production" and sell in packs to fundraise for something charitable, like we did. Its pretty rewarding getting the kids focused on giving to others and thinking about those who don't have much at Christmas - helps offset the greed fest!

MAKING THE CARDS

 Here's a List of what you'll need:


BASICS
  • A4 coloured craft card (cut each sheet in half to make two cards)
  • Old "kindy" (preschool) paintings/prints - ones with large areas of colour
  • Gold and silver crepe paper
  • Shiny red paper (e.g. old wrapping paper)
  • Glue sticks (one each)
  • Scissors
  • Glitter, sequins, tinsel for decorating
  • Cookie cutters (or similar) for tracing shapes (heart, star, tree)
  • Snap-lock bags for keeping cut-out shapes sorted

SPECIAL SNOWMAN SUPPLIES
  • Plain White paper
  • Black card or paper
  • Red felt fabric or similar

SPECIAL ANGEL SUPPLIES
  • Skeleton leaves (craft supplies)
  • Small white paper doilies
  • Pink or yellow paper

HOW TO MAKE....

To make lots of cards at once, spend some time before you start glueing, cutting out the shapes. Keep the shapes sorted and easily accessible in snap-lock bags. Then "assembly" is very quick. Paste the basic shells together yourself (if your kids are young like mine were) and give to them to decorate. Hint: Draw the shapes on the back of the artwork, then when you cut them out you will have no pencil lines.



The Star Card
~ Silver Crepe Paper - background
~ Bright coloured "kindy art" - cut star shapes out of this
~ Sequins & Glitter - to decorate

Glue a rectangle of silver crepe paper onto the card, positioned roughly in the centre.
Add a star cut from the "kindy" art.
Kids decorate each one to their taste with glitter and spangles.









   
The Christmas Tree Card

~ Gold Crepe Paper - background
~ Green coloured "kindy art" - cut Tree shapes out of this
~ Sequins & Glitter - to decorate

Glue a rectangle of gold crepe paper onto the card, positioned roughly in the centre.

Add a tree cut from the green "kindy" art.
Kids decorate each tree to their taste with glitter and spangles. Make sure a star goes on top! (we cut ours off a length of old star tinsel)




The Snowman Card

~ Silver Crepe Paper - background
~ Blue-ish coloured "kindy art" - cut another rectangle out of this, slightly smaller than the silver one
~ 3 ovals cut from white paper (1 small & round = head, i middle sized = belly, 1 larger = bottom half)
~ Scarf: cut from red felt or other fabric (roughly u-shaped, one tail longer than the other)
~ Top hat: shape cut from black card or paper

 Glue a rectangle of silver crepe paper onto the card, positioned roughly in the centre, then a second rectangle of blue-toned kindy art.
Add the three white ovals, bottom first, middle second, then scarf, then head. Finish with the black hat.
Get the kids to draw on the snowman's face and buttons with coloured felt-pens.


 The Heart Card

~ Gold Crepe Paper - background
~ Shiny red paper - cut heart shapes out of this
~ Sequins & Glitter - to decorate

Glue a rectangle of gold crepe paper onto the card, positioned roughly in the centre.

Add a heart cut from the shiny red paper.
The kids decorate each one to their hearts content with glitter and sequins.







The Angel Card

~ Gold Crepe Paper - background
~ Pinky-purple toned kindy art - other background
~ Skeleton leaves or small craft feathers - for wings
~ Small white paper doilies, cut into triangles - for dress
~ Circle of pink or yellow paper - for face
~ Sequins & Glitter - to decorate

Glue a rectangle of gold crepe paper onto the card, positioned roughly in the centre.

Add another rectangle of kindy art on top.

Cut the leaf or feather in half along the spine. Glue onto position for wings as shown.
Paste the doily triangle on top. Then the coloured circle for the face. Get the kids to draw on the angels' face and decorate with lots and lots of glitter and spangles.



GLUEING TIP: Apply the glue to the background and then just position the pieces on it, rather than trying to apply glue to each item. Some are fragile and will rip if you try to apply glue to them.


  


Each set of five cards is uniquely different!

And here's our slideshow about how our whole project went, (in case you think you'd like to do something like this with your kids too)

video
20 October 2010

Can You Believe They Have the Christmas Stuff Out Already???


Ahhh who am I kidding??
Of course the shops have the Christmas stuff out already. It's October. Only sixty-six shopping days left!

It's already time to buy buy buy. Spend spend spend.

I hate the Christmas shopping frenzy.
The crowded malls filled with stressed out people rushing from store to store looking for bargains while Jingle Bells plays to get us all in the mood.

A few years ago now I decided that if I wanted to actually enjoy Christmas, I'd have to plan ahead. And spread out the shopping. And grab bargains when I spotted them. Wrap presents and hide them as I go. Yada yada yada.

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So here I am writing my first pre-Christmas post. Mostly because today I did some early Christmas shopping {and took photos of the Chrstmas displays while I was at it}.

I've been getting a lot of bargains on this online site, 1-Day.
And this site The Sniff, has a list of all the One Day deals.

Snapfish had a 40% off deal on their Calendars, so I've ordered those early for the grandparents etc. They are awesome, 12-pages spiral bound and printed on great quality card. They look amazing. I collect photos for the calendars all year. Their Photo books are amazing too. Gorgeous (if you sign up as a new customer you get 30 free prints - there's some free marketing for them!)

Then I spotted these My Story Boxes from Parents Inc. $39.90 instore or $49.90 incl p&p (down from $63). Today I picked up one each for the kids for Christmas. I plan to fill their boxes with little memory-treasures, photos & even print out some of my blog stories for their books. A worthwhile present, that. {You can get them online here}

And Omigosh I am LOVING Felt! The New Zealand crafters online store. Too lovely. So much to choose between. So many possibilities. Love that they are all unique handcrafted gifts made locally!

Someone said to me the other day they were sticking to the buying guide:

"Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read..."

I love that. Gives it all a structure and means we'll hopefully end up with less plastic fantastic throwaway rubbish.

I mean, Christmas has become all about the gifts and the shopping which is not what it's meant to be about.
Don't get me wrong - I love presents, I'm the biggest kid of all when it comes to Christmas surprises. Me and the hubby both are. I love Christmas Eve and seeing the piles of wrapped gifts under the tree. I love Christmas morning, ripping paper, happy shrieks, shining eyes and thankyou kisses.
But I hate the greed fest.

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So my list will include for each one...

  • The My Story Box & Book
  • New swimming togs, Beach towel, Sunhat & Jandals
  • Christmas Clothes
  • 4-5 Books for Summer Reading
  • A DVD or PS2 game
  • Something for their Room
  • Something to Play With
  • Our traditional Christmas Eve PJs
  • A stocking full of yummies & little bits

There. I think that's enough don't you? More than enough actually.

So what's your Christmas plan? Are you a last-minute rush kinda girl, or a planner-ahead?
Have you started thinking about gifts yet, or like me... even buying some??


Or right now are you wishing I would shut up and go away with all my Christmas talk??!!


{Remember in NZ we have Christmas in the Summer. Check out my last years' post, Christmas Downunder}