Friday, 13 December 2013

Please don't say cheese! A Review on how to take the best photographs of your kids PLUS a Giveaway

A couple of weeks ago I joined a bunch of fabulous Northern Beaches bloggers to do a photography course on the beach.  This was no ordinary photography course - it was one run by the lovely Robyn from Please don't say cheese and her objective is to teach parents how to take better photographs of their kids using their OWN cameras.

When I first met Robyn, at local business networking session, I jumped at the chance to do her course.  I absolutely love taking photos and might have a teeny weeny reputation for being a bit snap happy.  I think it drives my kids mad - although they can occasionally be very obliging and just humour their mum!  Most of the time I have to be so quick to get any decent shots of them in action.  It frustrates me so much when I don't have the camera on the right setting and I 'miss' that amazing moment!  It's even more frustrating when I capture that 'moment' only to discover that it's out of focus or blurry!!!
This photo of me was taken by Carolyn at Desire Empire
Ever since I've had my iphone 5 I have to admit that I take the majority of my photos with that, as the camera on it is pretty awesome (for a phone).  It's so handy because I pretty much ALWAYS have it with me.  Carrying around (or remembering to carry around) my big DSLR camera is such a pain sometimes that I don't use it nearly as much as I should.  When I do use it, I then regret not using it more often!!  One of the reasons I don't use it nearly as much as I should is because I don't actually know how to use it properly (other than on Auto!!).  I know this is a shameful thing to admit, but according to Robyn from Please don't say cheese, I am not the only one!!!

Robyn's course is 3 hours long and she takes you out 'on location' somewhere along Sydney's Northern Beaches.  We were at Dee Why Beach for ours.  She likes to go early in the morning or later in the afternoon to make the most of the 'golden hour of light', which she explains is the BEST light for taking photographs.

She taught us (using our own camera's) how to use aperture and shutter speed, how to get the best action shots and close ups and how to get that lovely 'blury' background, amongst other things. She also gave us SO many little useful tips that I would never have thought of.  Now all that's left for me to do it practice, practice, practice!!!!

Robyn also offers some great editing advice, tips and help once you have the done the course to help you make those photos you've taken even more amazing!!  She will taylor this advice to whichever editing package you currently use, so there is no need to go out an buy one.

Me in 'action' (by Carolyn again) taking close up photos of the flowers.
If you'd like to know more about this course and more about Robyn and her photography background, then you can contact her at Please Don't Say Cheese.  I think it would make a fabulous Christmas gift if you have a new camera or, if like me, you just LOVE taking photos and could do with a bit of expert advice.

Robyn has come up with a great idea for a giveaway for you.  She would like to offer 3 lucky Mrs D plus 3 readers the opportunity to do this course with me, sometime in the New Year!!  YAY - I get to do it again and get the chance to meet some of you!  Unfortunately due to logistical reasons, this giveaway is only available to Sydney based readers - but never fear, if you don't live in Sydney you can download Robyn's top 10 tips for taking better photos right HERE for FREE!!

Disclaimer:  I was not paid to write this review however I did not pay to attend the course.  All opinions are my own and all the photos I have used were taken and edited by me, unless otherwise stated.  The camera I used was a Canon EOS DSLR and the editing package I used was Pic Monkey.

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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Cicada's!! A few random facts you might not have known....

This is a bit of a random post and if you don't live in a area where there are cicada you'll probably wonder what on earth I'm on about!!
A green cicada shedding its shell.  Image credit
I am sitting at my desk trying to get some work done while Miss L is asleep, and I can hardly hear myself think!!!!  The noise of the cicadas outside is literally deafening and really distracting when you're trying to concentrate.  I think it's a bit creepy that you can hear them everywhere you go but you never see them (except for their outer shells that are laying around everywhere).  Which is a actually blessing, because I think if I ever did see them flying around I can't promise I wouldn't freak out!!

Master J told me the other day that those little drips of water (like very light rain) you feel when standing under a tree is cicada wee.  "Oh really!!" I said, humouring him.  "IT IS MUM!!!" he insisted.  I decided to google it and guess what - he was right!!!!  EWWWW I am so not standing under any big trees any more.

While discovering that cicada's do in fact 'wee' on us, I also learnt a few other random facts about these strange bugs which I thought I would share......
  1. Once their eggs are laid they live under the ground for 7 years before they dig themselves to the surface to breed.
  2. They only come to the surface when the ground temperature is above 18 degrees C, so with our unseasonably warm weather this season they are out early.
  3. They are actually large tree crickets (not locusts)
  4. They drink the sap from trees and then 'wee' it out!!! True fact!!
  5. This year in Sydney there is a huge population of up to 1.5 million per acre.  WOWZERS!!
  6. They are the loudest insects know to man and a large swarm of them can reach up to 120 decibels - which is louder than a rock concert or a chain saw!!  No wonder I can't hear myself think!!
  7. Only the males sing because they are trying to 'woo' the females for a bit of loving!  Once they've mated they only last another month before dying.
  8. There are several different species and they all have their own unique song and colours. Some of have nicknames like the Green Grocer, Chocolate Soldier, Blue Moon and Yellow Monday.
  9. They shed their shells (usually at night) and often kids, like my Master J, like to collect the shells and bring them in to show you.  How lovely (not)!!!
  10. They are known to be 'the sound of summer'.  They louder they are and the earlier they start, the hotter the summer will be.
So there you have it, a very random but true bunch of facts about these strange little bugs that are driving me crazy at the moment.

Do you have any cicada stories??  Are they deafening you too???

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Sunday, 8 December 2013

Christmas Mince Scrolls - a slight twist to the more traditional Mince Pie (Thermomix Recipe)

Possibly not the prettiest looking scrolls but they were delicious!
I made the most DELICIOUS christmas fruit mince the other day.  It was so good I had to stop myself from eating it out of the jar with a spoon.  It was the first time I've ever made it and it was surprisingly easy - so much so that I don't think I'll ever buy mince pies again.

The kids are not huge fans of mince pies so this was really a treat for me.  I was all set to make my pies (with my special mince) when I saw a Jamie Oliver Christmas show on TV and he made scrolls instead of pies!!  Genius!  So I decided to be a bit of a copycat and make them too.  I do still want to make my pies but I think I'm going to have to wait just a little bit closer to Christmas otherwise I'll just eat them all - and then have to make them again!!!

Here's my recipe:  

  • 500g apples (peeled and cored)
  • 1/2 orange (juice and rind)
  • 1/2 lemon (juice and rind)
  • 300g mixed fruit (raisons, sultanas, cherries etc)
  • 30g dried cranberries
  • 50g raw almonds
  • 30g butter
  • 50g brandy
  • 20g apple cider vinegar
  • 200g raw sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

  1. Put the orange and lemon rind into the thermomix and blitz it for about 10 seconds on speed 8/9.  Scrape the sides and repeat if you need to until it is very finely grated.  If you prefer it chunkier then use speed 5.
  2. Add  the juice of the orange and lemon, the apples and almonds.  Chop them on speed 5 for about 5 seconds until they are in quite small chunks.
  3. Add everything else and cook for 30 minutes on 100 degrees with reverse speed soft.
The smell in the kitchen is AMAZING and so Christmassy, you have to make it just for that. Once the mince is ready you can store it in sterilised jars or put it aside for your mince pies or scrolls (or just eat it as it is like me!!).

To make the scrolls all you'll need is the mince (of course) and a few sheets of puff pastry.  

Firstly pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.  Spread the fruit mince over the pastry sheet until it is completly covered and then roll it up like a long sausage.  You can use some beaten egg to help seal the ends together. 

Slice them up into 2-3cm sections (or bigger if you prefer) and arrange them on a baking tray facing upwards.  Sprinkle over some vanilla sugar over the top of them and bake for approx 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown and the pastry has completely cooked through.

Serve with custard, cream, ice-cream or brandy butter or just eat them on their own. DELICIOUS!!

I've saved some of my mince so that I can make the more traditional mince pies with my mum when she arrives from London in two weeks!!  At least then there will be more than just me eating them.

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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Happy 1st Birthday Mrs D plus 3

Exactly one year today I started blogging as "Mrs D plus 3".  It feels a bit surreal actually, as I feel like I have been doing it forever.  I did do a little bit of blogging before I 'launched' Mrs D plus 3 (well it was hardly a launch, but for want of a better word) but it was so sporadic and I think the only people that read them were my family and few friends.  I really only did it to keep everyone in England up to date with what we were up when we moved to Australia and it seemed easier than writing the same email response over and over again.

I was so clueless back then about 'blogging' that I really didn't even know what it was.  I didn't have any social media accounts - I had NO IDEA what twitter was and I had never even heard of SEO.

I can't believe how far I've come since then and how much I've learnt.  Not just about blogging and social media, but about myself too.

If you fancy a giggle you can read the first blog post I EVER published HERE.

It's been a bit of a funny old day today.  I thought I would be out celebrating reaching my one year goal, but actually I have a horrible lump in my tummy and I feel really sad.  Nothing to worry about though and it's TOTALLY my own fault.  Yesterday there was the most adorable little puppy that needed a home and Miss L (and me) fell totally in love with her.  I really shouldn't have -  but I brought her home for a sleepover while they tried to find her and home and we all fell in love with her.  She was the cutest and most placid little thing and she just let the kids carry her around the house all afternoon and then (very naughty I know) she fell asleep with me in our bed last night.  We all decided that we just had to keep her so we gave our landlord a quick call and his answer was a categoric NO!  I am sure my Dad will be reading this thinking 'Good - the last thing you need is a dog.' and he's probably right.  I just never imagined I'd fall in love with a dog so quickly.  We'll get over it soon enough I'm sure - but right now, I'm feeling a bit devastated..
Isn't she just adorable??? Why I do these things to myself I do not know!!
Anyway after that little side track back to Mrs D plus 3.  I could go on about how much I've learnt etc etc but three biggest things that pop into my head right now are:

1.  How amazing my readers are.  I didn't in my wildest dreams image that so many people would actually read what I write and I really can't thank you enough.  You are ALL awesome.
2.  How much I love blogging.  I don't earn any money from it, yet I don't think I'll ever stop.  Writing on Mrs D plus 3 makes me happy.
3.  How many incredible on-line people I have met.  Some of whom I would actually call friends.  The blogging community is so incredibly, friendly, supportive, passionate and just all round fabulous.

So there you have it


I  hope you're all having a lovely day and thanks again so much for reading.

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

DIY 'Family Friendly' Advent Calendar and a New Family Christmas Tradition

This will be our third Christmas in Australia and it's definitely the first time I am really starting to feel properly Christmasy again.  It's been a real adjustment going from a traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas to a hot and sunny Aussie Christmas.  Although there are quite a few similarities, like the colour red, great food and Santa, but they also couldn't be more different. You definitely wouldn't be having warm red wine, roasted chestnuts and roaring fires in Sydney - nor would you expect to see blooming jacaranda's, days on the beach and a symphony of cicadas in England!!

My parents (and grandparents) have always made a big deal of Christmas and now that I have found my feet again I really want to do the same for my kids.  I have so many amazing memories of the pure excitement and joy that Christmas brings.

Last week my great friend Amanda and I spent almost the whole day making a DIY advent calendar.  Thank goodness for Amanda as I would never have been able to come up with something quite so fabulous on my own.  Crafting is not something I usually choose to do - I'm just not a fan a mess and usually run a mile in the opposite direction when someone mentions glitter!!  However it was strangely therapeutic (partly because the only kid with us was Miss L and she was happy to just potter around us and leave us to it).

We only meant to spend a couple of hours making our advent calendars but once Miss L very obligingly fell asleep on the arm chair we just carried on all the way until school pick up.  It was such a lovely, relaxing day and we chatted about everything from kids to christmas to you name - we covered it!

Fast asleep in Amanda's studio. Such an accommodating little munchkin!
I was chuffed to bits with my calendar and can't wait until December 1st for the kids to start it. I've hung it up in their toy room and it's all ready to go.

Each day on the calendar there a christmas 'activity' and the idea behind it is to really get the kids excited about the run up to Christmas and to create our own family traditions. (I suggest you get your diary out before you add your activities if you want to do this as will need to make sure you can fit them into routine).

These are the activities we'll be doing this year

1st Dec:    Put up the Christmas decorations and decorate the Christmas tree together.
2nd Dec:   Get some new Christmas PJ's (for the kids - but you could too??).
3rd Dec:    Read the story of Christmas together.
4th Dec:    Get a special treat today (I have bought some little chocolate santa's).
5th Dec:    A special family dinner out.
6th Dec:    Watch a Christmas movie with ice-cream and popcorn.
7th Dec:    Play Christmas music all day.
8th Dec:    Visit Santa and get your Santa photos done :)
9th Dec:    Donate a gift to the Wishing Tree Foundation.
10th Dec:  Write you letters to Santa and take them to the post box.
11th Dec:  A special Christmas treat just from Mum.
12th Dec:  Do some Christmas baking.
13th Dec:  Have an indoor picnic by the Christmas tree for dinner.
14th Dec:  Put your Christmas stocking out.
15th Dec:  Go on a Christmas outing to see the city lights.
16th Dec:  Make/write your christmas cards for your friends and family.
17th Dec:  A special Christmas treat just from Dad.
18th Dec:  Make your teacher a Christmas gift.
19th Dec:  Go on an evening drive/walk to look at all the Christmas lights in the neighbouthood.
20th Dec:  Make some Christmas hand prints or craft
21st Dec:  Choose another Christmas movie to watch with popcorn and ice-cream.
22nd Dec:  Go Christmas shopping to buy each other a gift.
23rd Dec:  Do a fun Christmas holiday activity like ice-skating
24th Dec:  Leave out some snacks and a note for Santa and his reindeer

If you would like the full instructions on how to make this beautiful advent calendar yourself, you can get it from Amanda's blog at My Little Table Designs HERE.

Do you have any favourite Christmas traditions that your family does every year??

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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Nigella Lawson's Christmas Cake Recipe (converted to Thermomix)

I've always wanted to make a proper Christmas Cake from scratch but it's always seemed a bit ambitious for me! And besides, my mum has always made the Christmas Cake and it just seems like a 'mummy' thing to do at Christmas.  Newsflash....... I am the mummy now - eeeek!!!  Seems a bit surreal when I say it like that.  Do you have anything that you still think of as 'a job for mum' - but YOU ARE the mum??

My mum is coming to Sydney for Christmas this year (Yipeeee), so I though I had better make an effort and get this Christmas Cake baked.  I decided to go with a Nigella Lawson recipe as, well really - you can't beat Nigella at Christmas time!

I opened up the book and the first sentence said 'This cake should be made about 3 months prior to Christmas Day".  OOOOPS!!  Well that's a fail before I've even started!  I bet my mum knew that!!

The reason you have to make it so early is that is needs to be fed with a little brandy every week until Christmas.  I figured if I just fed it a little extra then I'd be just fine making it now (I hope).

So here goes...... (Oh and although I have used my thermomix, I didn't really need it this time, so this recipe can quite easily be made without it).

850g mixed fruit (currents, sultanas, raisons etc)
100g glace cherries chopped into halves
75g mixed peel
75g slivered almonds
350g plain flour
1 tsp cinnemon
3/4 tsp mixed spice
275g butter
200g soft brown sugar
5 eggs
A few capfuls of brandy (I'll let you decide how many is a few)

  1. Mix the dried fruits with the cherries and the peel in a large bowl.  Add a few capfuls of Brandy (I added 3 I think - or maybe 4??).  Mix it all together and wrap the bowl in a tea towel.  Leave it to soak for around 24 hours.   
  2. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
  3. Add the butter to the thermomix and cream is really well on speed 6/7 for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and cream again for another 10 seconds.
  4. Add the sugar and cream together with the butter until it's light and fluffy.  Speed 7 for 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides and repeat.  
  5. Weigh out the flour and put it in a separate bowl.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time with a table spoon of flour.  Beat for about 5 seconds on speed 5 for each one.  I had never done this flour trick before when beating eggs - Nigella says it stops the mixture from curdling and it really works!!  
  7. Add the rest of the flour with the mixed spice and cinnamon and mix gently on speed 5 for about 10-15 seconds.
  8. Add to your big bowl of fruit and fold it all together until everything is mixed through.   
  9. Double line a cake tin with baking paper.  This bit is not easy (for me anyway) and there were a few curses whilst I was trying to get it on properly.  Oh and FYI cellotape does not stick to baking paper!!  Once you have achieved this, scoop the mixture into the tin as evenly as possible.  Use the back of a spoon to flatten it out.
  10. Another Nigella tip, which I thought was pretty awesome was to make a little hollow in the middle of the cake with a teaspoon before putting it in the oven.  It stops the cake from rising unevenly - and it REALLY WORKS!! 
  11. Wrap another layer of baking paper around the outside of the tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 3 and 3/4 hours.  That's what the recipe said but I took mine out of the oven after 2.5 hours as I think it was ready.  A knife came out the middle clean and I could hear my mum in my head saying 'Don't dry it out!!".
  12. Allow to completely cool.  Poke a few holes into the top of the cake and tip over another capful of brandy allowing it to soak into the holes.  Repeat this 'feeding' process every week until christmas (or in my case, twice a week as I'm playing catch up).  
  13. To store the cake on the lead up to Christmas you will need to wrap it up in more baking paper and tie it up with string.  Then put it into an air tight tin and only take it out for 'feeding'. 
I really enjoyed making this cake and it was much easier than I initially thought.  Unfortunately I won't be able to tell you how it tastes until after Christmas, but I am quietly optimistic.  To finish it off,  I'll firstly put a layer of apricot jam over it, followed by a layer of marzipan (my favourite part) and then finally some white Royal Icing.

The other night I went to a cake decorating class and I made an angel out of fondant.  I was SUPER PROUD of my little angel and she will most definitely be going on top of this cake!! (and Miss H has first dips on eating her).
She's a little bit wonky but I still think she's cute :)
Have you made your Christmas Cake yet??

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Monday, 25 November 2013

Photobox! Review and a beautiful canvas giveaway

I have always loved photos!  Although I'm no expert behind the lens, I do just LOVE capturing 'moments', especially of the kids.  There is something so special about looking back at old photos and remembering those (often forgotten) moments.  The kids love it too and often ask to look at our wedding photos or their baby pictures.  Even though everything is digital these days I still love to have actual prints. I have frames up all over our house and I don't think you can every have too many.

I started using Photobox to do all my prints quite a few years ago now, when I was still living in England, and I just love how easy their website is to use.  Once you sign up and create an account you can then upload your photos straight from your computer to their website.  You can even organise them into albums to make them easier to work with.  The uploading is really simple and doesn't take long at all.  Once your photos are uploaded there is just so many things you can do with them - and it's actually quite fun :)

I've used photobox to do all my printing and there are loads reasons why I love them and will always go back.
  • They are so reasonably priced, with standard prints from $0.15 each and enlargements from $0.49 each.
  • The quality and the colours are always fantastic.  I have never once been disappointed.  If a photo is not going to come out perfectly then the photobox website will give you a little sad face next to that  image.  If you click on it, it will tell the reason - which is most often that the image is not big enough for the size print you're after.  I love that they give you this warning so you don't waste your money on a print that isn't going to be perfect.
  • You can order your prints from the comfort of your home and don't have to sit in the shop trying your best to concentrate on what you're doing, while keeping an eye on the kids (who in my case keep disappearing down the toy isle).
  • Delivery is quick and efficient and never takes longer than a few days.

The other thing I have often used photobox for are their photo books, canvas prints and photo calendars.  They are so easy to make and there are just so many options you can choose from too. I made a photo book for both my parents and my in-laws after they visited us here in Sydney for the first time last year.  They were so beautiful and personal and made such a wonderful reminder of their holiday with the grandkids.  I actually wish I'd got one made for me too.

I also make up a photo calendar for my mother in-law every year for Christmas as it makes her so happy and she loves it.  Photobox are brilliant for Christmas (or birthday) gifts, especially if you have family abroad.  I often order from the Photobox UK site when I'm sending something to my mum as it means I only pay the local postage, which saves me the stupendous cost of overseas postage (which is often more than the item you're posting).


Every time I walk into the kids playroom this beautiful canvas makes me smile.  I love it x
With Christmas rapidly approaching the lovely team at Photobox have agreed to let me run a little competition.  YAY!!  The prize is a gorgeous classic 50.8cm by 40.6cm canvas print of your favourite photo.  The competition is open to Mrs D plus 3 readers in both Australia and the UK. All you have to do to enter is follow me on Instagram at mrsdbplus3, upload the picture you would like to have printed on canvas and hashtag it #mrsdcanvas.  Good luck.  The winner will be announced on instagram on 1st December.

Don't forget if you sign up to photobox now you will get 40 FREE prints!!!  Perfect if you want to do an framing for Christmas gifts.

*Disclaimer:  I have not been paid to write this review although I was gifted the beautiful canvas print on the image above.  All options and photos are my own.

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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Some overdue sunshine with my little flower picker

The sun came out this morning! Actual, proper, blue sky, yellow ball sunshine, for the first time in ages (I must have turned into an honorary Aussie as it's only been just over a week of rain and I've been having terrible withdrawals).  After dropping the big kids at school and Kindy, filling up with petrol, getting my pink slip done (MOT for those who've never heard of pink slip) and a few other bla bla jobs, I decided not to bother going home to continue with the mountain of washing and all the other boring house jobs.  Instead I thought I'd take Miss L (who had been patiently melting in the back of the car) out for a walk.  She was absolutely delighted to be outside and ran around in circles for the first five minutes.
It was a slow start because she found the water!

Picking flowers

We saw a friend who took a photos for us x

I hope you're having a happy Wednesday.  If not, try and step out of your routine for a moment - it's awesome!!

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Friday, 15 November 2013

The next chapter in our lives.........

This week our lovely little house in England went on the market for sale.  It was a really bittersweet moment seeing it up on the real estate website this morning in all it's glory.  To us it was so much more than just a house, it was our home.  The very first home that Mr D and I bought and lived in together.  It was the very first building block to the foundation of our family. It was where both Master J and Miss H were born.  It seems so long ago now but it was where so many memories are locked away.  Looking at all the photos online this morning brought them all flooding back, and I can almost hear the voices and conversations of precious friends and family as they've come and gone, in and out of that little house.  It feels very sad to be selling up, but on the flip side we've made Australia our new home now and we have to look forward in order to really move forward.  Beside we have our very own Aussie bub now in Miss L.
This is how it appears on the web at the moment.  If anyone is interested in buying it -let me know :))))))) (but you have to love it as much as we did).  You can view it HERE
When we first bought the house it was a total wreck and Mr D and I re-decorated every inch of it bit by bit.  Well actually it was mostly Mr D!  He is such an annoying perfectionist that he wouldn't let me anywhere near a paint brush, and when I did attempt to do a bit of painting he would hover over me like a dragonfly until I handed over the brush!!  We did have a great agreement though: I would choose all the colours and the decor and he would do all the DIY!!!! Who can argue with that?? (one day I'll tell you my secret - or maybe it's being a crap painter??)

It wasn't all plain sailing though, we did have several DIY disasters along the way.  I remember the day when Mr D decided to re-tile the kitchen.  He pulled all the appliances out of the kitchen including the fridge and washing machine and left them unconnected in the middle of the dining room so he could work.  The only problem was that he was off to the USA on a business trip early the next morning, and by the afternoon he was no where near finished!!!!!!  "You can't just leave me for a week with a tiny baby and no fridge or washing machine!!!" I wailed, freaking out - mid meltdown!!!  (I had visions of having to move in with my mum for a few days for the second time since Master J was born).  Luckily he managed to finish it all on time - at about 6am the following morning, just an hour before his taxi arrived to take him to the airport!!!  What an awesome hubby!!
The garden was another HUGE project we he tackled!  Mr D took it very seriously and even put string across the lawn to make sure it was all completely level.  He was very precious about his grass (and got teased mercilessly but all his mates) but it did look absolutely fantastic when it was all finished.  My job was to choose and buy the flowers, which I loved. The whole project was a slightly stressful at times as I'm sure you can image that English weather and ALL THAT MUD was a nightmare!!!)  I have just showed Master J these pictures and he doesn't remember them at all.  It seems so strange that such a huge part of our lives will be pretty much non existent in the kids lives.
This was taken during the last summer before we left for Australia
Miss H's very first bedroom
Mmmmmmm maybe I did used to do a bit of baking!!!! (All out of a packet though - look how far I've come).
The day we had to pack up and leave happened so quickly that we didn't really have a chance to reflect or say goodbye properly.  The removal men invaded like a swarm of ants and anything and everything in sight was boxed, packaged and packed up before you could say your name backwards.  They were so thorough that when we unpacked a few months later the bin that had been in Pete's office was still full of crumpled up papers!!!  It was a bitterly cold February day and Nanny Soph (the kids nanny) brought them back to the house before the big van left so that they could see it and say goodbye to our home.  Miss H sleep through the whole thing and Master J and I had a little cry.  I don't think he actually understood what was happening and just cried because I did!!  After that we went to live with Granny and Grandpa for a month before the big trip to Aus.
When we first arrived in Sydney, not knowing a single person, I really wasn't sure how long we would last and keeping our home in England was like having a bit of a safely blanket.  I had no idea how far we would come in two years and how much we would change and grow as a family. I smile fondly when I think about the old me and how different my life was not so long ago. Somedays I miss her, but on the whole I couldn't be happier here (Just wish my family would move too - hint, hint).

The age old saying the your home is where your heart is couldn't be truer for us.

Have you ever had a big house or country move before?  How did you cope?

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