Sunday, 20 July 2014

29/52 - school holiday hijinks


A brave girl in a bright green bonnet, traipsing down the stone wall without a worry in the world.


Working the electric sander like a Boss. 

Not fussed about the buzzing noise or swirling movement, he was right in there. Eager to help me with my little DIY project - and so confident. Grandpa will be so pleased he is right onto the tools ;)


While celebrating his beloved Nana's birthday, Miles really struck gold.

Papa shared some of his carrot cake with him... Miles' first bite of sweets since his first birthday party!! As you can see, the little nibbles of cake were very well received.... except when Papa teased him by taking a mouthful too. It was so ridiculously cute/sad to see Miles' baby bird mouth move in a hopeful arc, as the cake bypassed him and went straight to Papa!

He did get his share though ;) And now he knows who to hit up for treats - Papa!!


Rocking his new American University tee, that I secretly arranged to be delivered (via dear friends) from the US. Fun surprise :)

He is studying some Theology units through the school, so I figured it was important to look the part of 'American College Kid' ;)

Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week, in 2014.

More highlights from the week that was...

A 'school holiday' playdate with my Coast trip gals and our horde of children at
the National Museum of Australia. The kids made these hats for a school holiday craft.
'Why are we standing in front of this green screen?'

Who are those celebrity children on the big screen??! ;)
Three little darlings, running down the hill in suitable Canberra winter attire! 
'I'm talking to the man in the mirror...'
Celebrating the birthday of my beautiful, wonderful, amazing Mum :)
Miles was pretty entranced by those candles!
(Don't know what is up with the candle reflections?!)

His latest party trick is shouting 'yayyyyy' whenever prompted by L&E... with hand thrown into the air like he just don't care :)

We took a quick weekend trip to Sydney to attend a church lectureship. It got cut short
when the kids came down with a virus (ahhh, life with kids) but it was a blessing to be there
even for a short time, especially to stay with some dear friends of ours. I didn't take
any photos but it turned out Mark snapped a couple on his phone!
A fun holiday playdate at the National Capital Authority (at Regatta Point) where it turns out they have free regular Duplo and Lego club! We will definitely be returning here :)
Brothers // Soaking up the view
The reason for this playdate was to meet up with the lovely Brooke from our Documenting Delight 366 Project!
How fun it was to meet up 'IRL' with such a sweet lady, while she was on holidays from KL. Here is Miles and her adorable daughter Juniper comparing notes on what it's like to be some of the world's most photographed children ;)

Having a fine old time digging Duplo out of the box. 

The moment when you snap a cheery photo just as your daughter realises she is out of her depths and wants to get down!
The gang - Finn, Harper, Eli and Lily, digging and creating in the leaves
'I think what we need here is a really big stick'
I walked into her room during 'Quiet Time' to find her nestled in the dress up box, reading by the window. And very
pleased with her cosy little position too! She is reading... actually reading a beloved children's book. How amazing it must be for a child to return to a book known since infancy, but now able to decipher the actual words for themselves.
The joys of literacy :) 
My little DIY buddy. A girl's day at home, Lily and I had fun prepping an upcoming project!
She came to me with a stack of 'recipes' she had developed. One for a salad sandwich. So what could we do except
follow her recipe exactly to make one for lunch!!? Well, her other recipe was for a 'snake jungle' involving lolly snakes and lolly mint leaves. Unfortunately we didnt have any of those items, haha!! ;)

'Get the food. (Lettuce, tomato, cheese, sauce). This is what it will look like...'
Keeping an eye on the cheese quantity as she grates. She prepped the whole sandwich herself and was never prouder of her own lunch.
Sometimes in the early evenings after dinner, these two squirrel themselves away in their room for 'Sibling RoomTime'. They seem to amuse themselves in all kinds of creative ways. Tonight they made this adorable 'robot' together out of little pieces that click together (called 'La-Q' from Japan - it's really clever and creative). They were so proud of their joint creation :)

Ok, I can't believe I am posting a pic of myself first thing in the morning (!!!), but I had to file this sneaky snap Mark got on his phone. This image is already so precious to me. It captures my little snuggle-bug so perfectly... a part of him I have been wanting to record for ages. Well, I am *not* a morning person. After our snuggly morning feed, I am still always 3/4 asleep (groooannnnn, why, daylight, why?!). So we usually spend an extra 10 mins in bed while I try to wake myself. No, I am not someone who springs from bed before dawn, if you ever wondered. If only ;) So, while I semi-doze, Miles happily crawls all over the bed (and me), giggling and playing. Every few moments, he throws himself on top of me for a delicious snuggle (as pictured below). He will lie there quietly for about 30 seconds (bliss). Head nestled on my shoulder. Often his little hand will snake around the back of my neck. Sometimes (joy!) his tiny hand gives my back a little pat, pat, pat. Then he scampers off again, rinse and repeat, until at last I must haul my little snuggle buddy from the bed, so we can properly start the day that awaits us. That early morning cuddle, half asleep, is one of the most precious moments of each day. This kid seriously loves to snuggle and I love every second of it!

What a wonderful two weeks of holidays it has been. I'm thankful to have had all three of my babies at home with me, having time to refresh, chill out, reconnect. For Lily especially, I have witnessed how vital these school holidays are for a busy little Kindy kid. Less rushing, less schedule, less pressure. More slow mornings and quiet pottering, more free creativity and play. Fun outings, crazy playdates, a little travel and a lot of quality time. Moments of mayhem, squabbling, sickness and crankiness? Yes, those too. This is real life after all. But still... these were good days, and I am grateful for them. It's where I want to be.

"Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we
cannot take anything out of the world. 

But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content."

1 Timothy 6:6-8

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

{Delicious} Cranberry, Pearl Cous Cous & Pumpkin Salad

Pearl Cous Cous, you say? Also known as Israeli Cous Cous, if you haven't tried it before - this stuff is super delicious! Less 'fluffy/grainy' than the classic kind, the grains (?) are bigger, rounder and smoother. It's a nice change from your standard cous, haha. I first tried a similar salad to this one at a friend's barbeque  - which is how I discovered the joy of Pearl Cous Cous. Afterwards, I couldn't remember any of the ingredients except the Cous Cous and Cranberries, so I just sort of invented this one by adding all my other favourite ingredients (I seem to add fetta, roast pumpkin and baby spinach to 90% of my meals, I think it's a compulsion!?).


Friends have been asking (and asking and asking - sorry!) for this recipe, and now I am finally getting around to typing it out. I am not a 'precise' cook (a pinch of this, a dollop of that!), so this is the basic guide to what I do/use. Choose the ratios that suit your salad bowl or your tummy ;) You can easily tweak quantities and ingredients to whatever floats your boat!

Cranberry, Pearl Cous Cous & Pumpkin Salad

  • Cube (1-2cm square or so) and roast a tray of pumpkin (I usually toss it in olive oil, paprika and/or cumin first)
  • Cook the box of Pearl Cous Cous in chicken stock, according to package instructions. (You could even use Quinoa instead)
  • After the cous cous is cooked, spread it on a tray to cool and dry out. I usually drizzle a little olive oil through to help it separate.
  • Add the following ingredients to a large salad bowl...
  • Baby spinach
  • Pecans (my fave) or walnuts or pinenuts are good too.
  • Fetta - cubed or crumbled
  • Dried cranberries
  • Finely sliced red onion
  • An extra drizzle of olive oil if needed
  • A generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar (the best is Caramelised Balsamic if you can find it, or Glazed)
  • Toss it all together and..... done!

Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar is diviiiiiine on this, but can be hard to find (and expensive). We are going to try making our own, since clever Mark dug up this simple (though time-intensive) recipe!!

Anyway, very simple, very delicious and quick apart from the roasting time (though you can prep the other ingredients in the time that takes to cook).... good with a BBQ or I can easily eat a bowl of it myself for lunch too ;)

Give it a go and ENJOY!


PS I know the pic is not that pretty, I am not a food blogger, OK! It's a bit messy as I was in a rush, but it is seriously yum and I am sure you can serve it much prettier than me ;)

PPS If anything is too vague, please ask and I will try to clarify.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

28/52 - a tiger birthday // on ice!


A busy weekend celebrating her brother's birthday. 

We took a little family trip to ice skate at the temporary outdoor rink in the city. While it was not quite ice skating in Central Park, New York (now there is a magical memory I will never forget!!), ice skating with my family was pretty magical in itself - and the fresh air and winter sunshine made it all the sweeter!

She love, love, loved it.


Finally four

He had an absolutely bumper birthday weekend, and relished every moment. He was so happy, so excited, and so appreciative of every gesture of celebration. It was a pleasure to honour our boy's special milestone. 

He is four and it honestly feels like he changed over night. Just growing up so fast, a true preschooler now. 

My big, little, middle son :)


The littlest member of my trio loves to greet visitors as much as his siblings. 

When a guest is (eagerly) anticipated, they sit at the door and wait, wait, wait. (While waiting, there is often a fair bit of bashing of the screen door, I must add!)

He just loves to be in the midst of any activity :)


Super Dad, skating with ease and guiding the Birthday Boy around on the ice with a trusty Penguin for support (emotional and otherwise).

Just love how E is gazing up at his Daddy, with trust and adoration. He knows he is in good hands.

Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week, in 2014.

More highlights from the week that was....

Let it snow!
Just noticed the other Dad in the background too. Dads are awesome :)

Attempted family photo taken by the nice Ice rink supervisor!

Fun in the winter sun with my sweet girl 
Fallen autumn leaves snap frozen in the ice! Pretty 
Just amazing to see them gliding (weeeeell, gliding is a bit of an overstatement, more like sliding
and stepping!) around the ice independently! (iphone)

Let it goooooooooooooooooooo....

Our morning in the city wouldn't be complete without a ride on the beautiful 100 year old carousel. 
Yes, I was bestowed with this kind of mega-greeting on every rotation!!

A snap to remember a wonderful date night with my man. For a change, we ditched the standard dinner & movie (not that it's not a great evening too!) and visited a hip urban Food&Fashion night market (we just tried to blend in with the cool crowd, haha). It was incredible. We perused the gorgeous jewellery and fashion, then sipped mulled wine as we strolled through the frosty night into the city for a tasty bowl of Laksa. We then cruised back to Max Brenner for a serious chocolate fix. It was a beautiful night out with my love, just chatting as we walked around, seeing new things and feeling exhilarated by the icy night. Loved it :) (Thanks Amber for babysitting!)

Eli was thrilled to have Harper and Finn sleep over the night before his birthday. How exciting to share Birthday Pancakes with friends!! He was pretty stoked to be the Birthday Boy ;)
I honestly think this was his favourite moment of his birthday weekend. Mark was playing some SUPER cheesy Birthday music station on Pandora (who knew there was so much bad birthday music!?). While some boppy music was playing, the kids started singing along and pointing to Eli as they sang. He also pointed at himself for extra effect. Yes, it was his day!! They were all giggling hysterically and he mentioned this scene at least a dozen times over the next week. I think he felt the love :) The kids were so lovely in celebrating him so wholeheartedly too.

Surveying the Tiger cake he requested... (you know that moment where you hold your breath and hope your feeble efforts match a child's imagination!?!?). I think I passed ;) Phew.

I am very limited in my baking abilities, but got brave enough to attempt 'tiger stripes' within the cake. They actually turned out pretty good (well, good enough!) though this shot isn't the best as it crumbled on this slice, oops. Eli liked it!

This boy ended up with quite the birthday bounty!! A mix from us, family and
kind friends. All so thoughtful, much appreciated and being truly enjoyed around the home!
The big gift from us was the mini-trampoline - perfect for our bouncy boy!!

Sweet Lily took her own initiative to make Eli a birthday bag of goodies. Bless her dear heart. Included was a portrait of
Eli's beloved Bee, a 'Japanese doll' (the blue fabric wrapped around cotton!), a 'matching game' (top right), precious card (Dear Eli, I hope you have a good day, I am so excited about it). She did all of this on her own and just asked us if we could help her at the shops to choose something - and picked this awesome umbrella from Aldi (the white bits turn colourful in the rain!!). Chokes me up every time I look at this scene, she loves her brother so much, and I just love her good and generous little heart. 

A fourth birthday truly celebrated.... ice skating outing, birthday dinner with grandparents, friends sleeping over... what more could a four year old want!?

Happy birthday, my darling Tiger xx

'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.'
Galatians 5:22-23