29 December 2011

A Year in Twelve Stories

With a mere two days left of 2011 I figured it might be time for a bit of reminiscing and look-backing over the year. It's been pretty quiet on the blogging front lately as people (including me) abandon their computers for their real lives.

But when Mama Kat's Writing Prompts landed in my inbox this week, I knew straight away what I had to do...
1.) This year in blog posts...choose a favorite post from each month of 2011 and share. 

So here it comes. My year in Blog Posts...

January: This is My Life
This post is one of my all-time favourites.
It sums up the joy and the reality of my life. Plus I had fun playing with vintage effects in Photoscape.

This post records a fantastic weekend with great company in one of the sweetest spots on earth - a classic Kiwi bach with my friend Gail and family. We also got to hang out with a bunch of other fab blog-friends. One of my favourite weekends of the year in spite of storms, landslides and other obstacles.

We faced a crisis with one of our children, something which stretched us to our limits and called for wisdom and skill as parents that seemed beyond us. This post was my stake in the ground, a confession of faith that things would turn around. A reminder to myself of miracles past. I felt as if a weight had lifted after I wrote this.

Ahhh this one. The one where I finally realise (just one) of my glaring faults and admit it to my husband, my children and the world. And I discovered that there's nothing quite as sweet as humble pie.

I relaunched my party linky. Did you know I am party mad and I have a linky to match? I am and I do. I thought I'd throw this one in just in case you are party mad yourself and you didn't know about my linky. I thought you'd want to know, so you can link up your fab parties.

This was fun and pretty silly. I figured out how to do my first ever (one and only) vlog. Of course my nutso kids get in on the act and prove to the world what geniuses I am raising.

July: Tangled Party
I can't ignore this party post and the others which go along with it - the how-tos, the printables, the Tower cake tutorial... I pretty much spent all of July thinking "Tangled". The outcome was rather fab, I must say - one of my best parties ever.

August: Last Cab off the Rank (My Bloggy Meetup Post)
A rather clumsy post-title I must admit, but this post highlights one of my favourite days in August. Bloggers from Auckland, Whangarei and even Wellington met up for lunch and hours of chatter. What could be sweeter? I love my bloggy pals. Many have become real-life friends and are very dear to me. I'm hoping that 2012 will bring many more bloggy meetups.

September: 10 Tips for Surviving Travel with Kids
This was a post I had been wanting to write for some time... and it was particularly appropriate because later in September I had to take my own advice and get prepared for a marathon 30-hours of travel from Auckland to England.

October: Postcard from Ireland
While we were in the UK, I got to fulfill a life-long dream and travel  to Ireland for a romantic 3-day getaway. We stayed at a picturesque village on the Cork coast and had a wonderful time. I can tick "Go to Ireland" off my bucket list, but have to add right back in, "Go BACK to Ireland".

November: A Plain Vanilla Story
I finally shared my "faith journey" here on my blog. Gulp.

December: Simply Loving Christmas
Early in the month I found my Christmas spirit, and it lasted all December. I finally figured out how to really enjoy Christmas. This has been my favourite Christmas Season ever. I was relaxed. We did cool things as a family. We were spontaneous. I spent time with people I love. We tried new things. We ignored some old traditions that didn't fit us any more. And most of all we focused on what Christmas is really all about.

When I look back over this list of posts there's a bit of deepness going on here.
We weathered some storms, faced down some giants and lived to tell the tale.
All in all I'd say we've come through stronger.

I am ready to face a new year, with a relaxed attitude and some new insights into my blindspots.
In 2012 I plan to be led less by my unreliable feelings, and instead becoming more decided about doing things which will make me and my family healthier and happier.

So this is "See Ya Later" from me for 2011.
I hope you have a fab New Years Eve, and I'll see you all again in 2012.
When you will hear me say, Oh crap, next year I turn 44. Oh help, next year I'll be mother to an 11-year-old.
It's gonna be F.U.N.

Mama’s Losin’ It
28 December 2011

Mostly Wordless Christmas

This was so much fun! I rescued our smashed Ikea Gingerbread house by gluing it together with white chocolate. When it had set, I made some royal icing, set out some bowls of sweets and let Miss Fab and Scrag decorate the little house with no assistance from me. They had a BLAST! Then we visited our Neighbours' gingerbread house, and they visited ours. The kids also delivered gingerbread men we had made to our neighbours, wishing them Merry Christmas.

Mum and dad, my brother and his family all came to share in Our Christmas Eve traditions. The Christmas Book I wrote was a huge hit with the kids and their sweet Spanish cousins, as was Santa Claus delivering new Christmas PJs. The Mulled Wine was a huge hit with the grownups. Oh it was GOOD.

In all the craziness we forgot to hang the stockings...

But Dash remembered. He got out of bed and hung everyone's stockings on the mantelpiece...

...and put out cookies and milk for Santa...

He went to bed praying that this would be "his best Christmas ever"...

...and it was.

{Hardly any photos exist of Christmas Day. I was too busy enjoying the moments. Many beautiful moments.}

That's all I have.
I hope your Christmas was as beautiful as ours was.
22 December 2011

Simply Loving Christmas

I doubt that I will get the chance to write another post before Christmas. There's the ham to be bought (and glazed); the gingerbread house to stick together (and decorate); egg to nog and wine to mull (thanks to Meghan's recipe), and of course a suitcase full of secrets still to wrap.

But this year I am loving it all.
Unlike Last Year.
I wrote no notes for my advent calendar.
I scheduled almost nothing.
But somehow every day has brought Christmas goodness in one way or another, and this has been the most enjoyable and relaxed December in years.

I decided the other week that Christmas really is a celebration for all five senses.
Sight, taste, smell, hearing, touch.

For the eyes, there have been the sights of Christmas: watching favourite Christmas movies (like The Nativity Story, Polar Express), the spectacle of 10,000 glowsticks lighting up Vector Arena, blinking Christmas lights, decorations everywhere you look... Christmas is a visual feast.

My ears have soaked up the sounds of Christmas - new Christmas songs which ushered in the season with joy and old favourites which have moved me to tears.

The smells of Christmas filled our home - our first pine Christmas tree, the whiff of cloves hung on doorhandles. Soon there will be the aroma of baking tarts and glazing ham, mulling wine and roasting turkey. Each scent evokes the ghosts of Christmas past; reviving memories, reminding us how fast the years are flying by.

The taste of Christmas is still to come. Oh the Christmas goodies. The loosened belts, the groaning bellies {and please oh please some Lindt Chocolates in my stocking?}

But what about  the touch of Christmas? If Christmas is for the five senses, where does touch fit in? Is it in the creating, the crafting, the baking, the making? Yes, yes and yes.
Is it in the giving? Of course. Yes.
And is it most especially in the way your life touches another as you reach out and give a gift? Show you care? Share what you have? YES!

Christmas is  more about touch than anything else, I realised.
And my kids are watching me. Watching us.

Dash had his eyes opened the other day as we were driving back from dropping off the gear to the City Mission.
"Mum there were real poor people there," he said to me as he climbed back into the car.
The line had stretched out the door, people queuing up for help at Christmas.
There followed a whole discussion about why they needed help, and how we are blessed to have enough to share with those who don't, and why we give.
"Son," Mr G said, "One day you'll find out that giving is actually more of a buzz than getting. Really."

I looked at my hubby and I knew he was speaking truth out of his heart. He lives it, he's not just spouting an idea. I felt grateful to be married to a generous man, who is modeling generosity and philanthropy to our children.

They see when we give to those in need. They'll remember how we make time as a family at Christmas to collect gifts and household items and take them to the City Mission.
They'll be storing up memories of how they helped fill up a shopping trolley with Christmas treats and delivered it to friends who needed a boost.

They are learning that THIS IS JUST WHAT WE DO AT CHRISTMAS.
It's as much a part of Christmas as decorating the tree and eating candy canes.
We give. Share. Reach out. Touch.
And in doing that, we discover the real JOY of Christmas.

I Love that.

Merry Christmas to you and to your loved ones.
I hope it is a truly Blessed one.
Much love from


Joining in with my lovely friend Kristy {as always}

P.S. For all my Christmas Posts over the years visit my Christmas Page

21 December 2011

No-Sew Felt Bunting

I whipped up some bunting last night.
Do you like how I said that?
Almost like a crafty blogger.

But not really. Not a stitch in sight.
This cute-as bunting was made entirely using my glue gun.

If you haven't got a glue gun, go quickly and get one. They are cheap as chips.
My one is a basic Warehouse job for $7.99. The glue sticks cost $2 for a pack of twenty-seven.
Bargain, right?
I love my glue gun. I mean, look what it can do!

I used the felt and hessian leftover from my teacher-gift crafting.
Turquoise green & white felt. Rust-red hessian (burlap).

Here's how to make my no-sew felt bunting. No stitching. no staples, just lovely hot glue.
{mine is Christmas themed, but yours could be anything}

What you need:
A hot glue gun + plenty of refill glue sticks
Green, red and white felt, cut into triangles - 8 of each colour
8 small stars cut from the white felt
8 small christmas trees, cut from the green fabric
Gold and red glitter or beads
A roll of gold ribbon

  • Glue-gun the white stars into the centre of each red flag (on one side)
  • Glue-gun the green trees into the centre of each white flag (on one side)
  • Create a swirl of hot glue on each green flag and quickly sprinkle red or gold glitter (or beads) onto glue before glue sets. Alternatively, make a heart from hot glue. Shake excess glitter/beads off and voila! A gorgeous glittery shape. 

Roll out a length of gold ribbon from the roll but do not cut (yet). Leave a length of ribbon blank (for tying/attaching) then apply a stripe of hot glue onto the ribbon as shown, and quickly press on green flag. Leave a space, then another stripe of glue, attach a white flag. Leave a space. Apply another stripe of glue then attach a red flag.

Repeat process until all the flags have been attached, alternating which way the "decal" is facing so that you have some blank and some patterned on both sides.

Once you have used up all the flags, leave a length of ribbon long enough for tying/attaching and then trim.

Your bunting is now complete. See how easy that was?

This strand of bunting graces our dining room and brings out all the colours in my retro-kiwiana-teatowel cushioned room (I love the turquoise-green)...

I love this bunting. Love love love.

I'm wondering though, whether I should have probably ironed the flags before hanging them? They're a little crinkled from being stuffed inside a bag. But No. That might be taking things too far. 

Crafting-by-gluegun is one thing. Ironing is another thing altogether.


[Here's another version I made out of teatowels, dishcloths
and the straps off an electric blanket!]

[for a Baking Party]

The Southern Institute
19 December 2011

Christmas Party = Fun Fun Fun

Rain rain rain is all we've had for the past few weeks. So you can imagine I was relieved this morning to wake up to sunshine - especially since today was our playgroup Christmas party. With big brothers and sisters invited. At our house.

I prepared Christmas cookies (gluten free, dipped in white chocolate) and jellies - with cream and sprinkles on top. And summer fruit. Just to balance things out.

There was bunting and tinsel, dressing up and a Christmas Fairy who painted faces for free. Her name was Fairy-Miss-Fab. She's very talented and all her clients went away happy. Honest.

Christmas music played as the kids played and the mummies drank tea in the lovely sunshine...

We sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and feasted on the gorgeous Christmas goodies everyone brought...

Most impressive was this truffle mountain... Mmmmmm...

{I love how when you host, you get the leftovers}

Then we waited for Santa Claus. And we waited. And we waited. He'd promised to arrive by 11am, but by 11.45 there was still no sign of him. I spose it IS a long trip from the North Pole to New Zealand and I've heard that traffic over Australia can be really bad this time of year...

Santa Claus when are you coming to town, I txted him...

...just as he arrived, Ho Ho Ho-ing. Great timing, Santa.

We had to shush a few big kids who called out, "Hi Mr G!"
SSSsssshhhh! we said. Don't spoil it for the little ones.

The little ones were captivated by Santa's charm.
"He's a very nice Santa," one four-year-old whispered to me. Yeah, he is.

Santa is also great at games.

We were so glad that Santa could fit our little party into his very busy schedule.

{Santa did have to warn a couple of people that they were in danger of ending up on the naughty list...}

A few of the littlest ones weren't quite sure about the Bearded One, but overall our cheerful geordie Santa (bringer of sweets and player of games) was a huge hit.

In a rush we snapped a few pics of Santa with the kids before people had to rush away. Santa had to dash and feed his reindeer so there was no time for individual Santa photos, or the stories we had planned.

Never mind. You can't plan for bad traffic or hungry reindeer.

What a lovely morning we had!
All the better because each family brought gifts to donate to needy families through the City Mission.

{A few of the gifts we collected}

We'll get to deliver them tomorrow, along with food and nappies and outgrown clothes we have collected.
We hope that our little offering will help bless some other families this year... and help our kids think about others who don't have access to all the things we do. Get them focusing on giving not just getting.

A friend wrote a post on her blog recently about spoiled kids and Christmas. It got me thinking.

My kids are blessed but hopefully not spoiled.
Blessed is when they have what they need (and some of what they want).
Spoiled is when we forget to teach our children about 
generosity and gratitude.

May we all be blessed this Christmas.