Tuesday, 28 January 2014

My Bucket list for 2014

Ok, so we're almost at the end of January and I STILL haven't put together a list of goals for the year ahead.  It's not been easy trying to use my brain concentrate with the kids still at home on school holidays.  I can almost guarantee that the minute I sit down in front of the computer or grab my ipad, this actually (in kid code) means "Quick, ask mum for food, or a movie or lets tell her we're bored or maybe just climb on her lap and bash at the key board a bit!"

I've got them all (my goals that is) scribbled down somewhere in my head, but after reading so many other great bucket lists online this month, the most important message I've picked up is that for any of them to have any chance of actually materialising YOU HAVE TO WRITE THEM DOWN!!

In my experience having things written down makes me so much more likely to remember them and I also get a real buzz from 'ticking' things off my lists.  It's very motivating and things often look a lot different when they are written down and you SEE them, to when they're just floating around in her head.

So without too much further waffle and procrastination - here is my list (and it's in no particular order of importance)!
This is one of my favourite places to just sit and think!

  1. To double my current number of lovely blog readers.  This is going to involve me having an actual proper blog plan for the year - something which I have never done before.  I got one from Bloggers Bazaar and I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed putting it together so far.
  2. To stay sugar (fructose) free.  I quit sugar on 29 December last year.  After doing loads of reading up about it's effects on the body I've decided that it's just not for me anymore.  
  3. I will not being using my phone/device for any form of 'work' or social media between 3pm and 7pm.  This time will be for the kids.  (I have a feeling this might be another form of detox!!)
  4. Read!  I don't think I read more than one book last year, so this year I plan to read at least 4.  (I know that doesn't sound like much, but it's a 300% increase!!) I also want to read more to the kids, so if anyone has any good book suggestions for a 5 and 7 year old please send them my way.  We're currently on "The thirteenth Story Tree House".
  5. I know I've said this SO many time before but I WILL loose that extra 5kg of weigh that is STILL hanging around.  My exercise routine last year was pretty sporadic (and rather pathetic actually), but this year I have teamed up with my neighbour and we are doing the OPERATION MOVE WALK 400 challenge.  We go out for a walk together 3 evenings a week and I so look forward to them. Walking + catching up = winning!!  I've also 'ahem' re-joined the gym and that starts today - eeeek!!
  6. Camping.  This year Mr D and I have decided to bite the bullet and invest in some camping gear (and then actually use it).  The kids are desperate to go on a proper camping holiday and after A LOT of resistance I have finally decided to give in!  But if just one snake (or spider) makes it's way into our tent...................that might just be the end of me!!  Oh and I've also decided that we're going to be glamping, not camping - it just sounds so much better don't you think?? (baby steps).
  7. Visit England to see my little niece for the 1st time and all my friends and family who I am missing heaps.  Unfortunately it will most likely have to be a solo trip this year as taking the whole family is just too expensive.
  8. I would LOVE to do a creative writing course.
So there it is, in black and white and about to make it's way into the world wide web.  I'm going to print out this list (and add some washi tape to make it pretty) and put it up on the wall next to my workspace so that it can stare at me every day to make sure I stay on track!

Do you have a bucket list for 2014??  What's on it??  I'd love to hear from you.

Oh and good luck to all those kiddies who are starting Big School this week (and a big hug for the mums too - I swear it's harder on us!!).

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Monday, 27 January 2014

What a Sunday looks like these days and a few Instagram snaps

I know it's Monday today but being a post Australia Day Holiday it totally feels like a Sunday to me  - and mine has looked a bit like this:
  • Washing was sorted, washed, hung up and then re-sorted and put away!!  Three loads I might add, as I've for some reason I decided to wash all the bed linen today too!!  The kids followed me around (bored) pretending to help, but actually not helping AT ALL - except to laugh at me when I jumped around like a mad women after finding a spider in a pair of underpants.  It's like a jungle out there in my Aussie back yard - I can't tell you how many horrible creatures seem to hang out on my clothes line!
  • Vacuumed the whole house, only to wonder why I bothered as five minutes later Miss L emptied a whole packed of rice bubbles all over the floor and Miss H 'accidentally' opened up her pencil sharpener dropping tiny bits of rainbow all over the carpet.  Yep, deep sigh!!!
  • Made bolognese sauce with the mince I took out the freezer two days ago and still hadn't done anything with.  Oh and I made some pesto too, with the basil that I bought a few days ago to make said pesto, and is now looking very very sad!!  Only be told by Miss H.. "Mummy, whatever you're cooking in the kitchen smells SOOOO gross!!"
And that was just my morning!!  I still had to think about lunch box baking for school next week (silent happy dance coming up).  It seems like a hundred years ago when Sundays were all about staying in bed until almost mid day, reading the papers, sipping hot coffee and then drifting back off the sleep again for another hour so before getting up heading to the pub for a big Sunday Roast!!

Anyhoo, I was just thinking that I haven't done a round up off all my instagram photos for absolutely ages, so I thought I would leave you with a few from the last couple of weeks.  Happy Monday!!
Date night with Mr D.  We were sipping Mojito's and co-ordinating our diaries in an attempt to do some yearly planning.
Dad's little helper!  She is such a Daddy's girl when he is home that I don't even get a look in!!
Dad's building bunk beds!!  First night was a complete disaster but it's been plain sailing since then (hope potty training is as easy when we have to tackle that!!)
Rocking the one shoe look.  It's off because she can take it off - simples!
My two girls are finally actually playing together.  It is the cutest thing EVER!!
Shade glorious shade!  We've had such scorching hot weather recently that this beautiful, huge shade tree in the park was just AMAZING.
These kids are having the BEST summer!  Aahhhh life as a kid, hey!
I don't normally take food photos but this brunch was so delicious I thought it would be rude not too.  First time I've had an avocado smoothie too and it was YUM.
It's the little things :)))
I have joined in on the #100happydays challenge on Instagram where you have to post something that makes you happy for 100 days.  It's awesome - you should try it.  
Man I love this motley crew!
More school holiday fun
Cheeky x 2
Riding a camel on Australia Day - as you do!

How is your Sunday/Monday looking??  Did you spend the day in bed with the papers?? (If so don't tell me) or have you been baking for the return of the lunch boxes this week??

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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

What Australia means to me and a Sugar Free-Anzac biscuit recipe for Australia Day

Image Source
In the short time we've been living in Aus we've never actually celebrated Australia Day before. In fact the first one we spent at Northmead Children's hospital while Miss H had emergency surgery on a tooth that had come through without any enamel, causing her to get blood poisoning. My poor little mouse was so sick, that the last thing on my mind was celebrating - in fact I don't think we even realised it was Australia Day until the staff mentioned it.

This year I'm really looking forward to celebrating all things Aussie.  I love how enthusiastic the whole country gets about 'their' day.  Australians are one of the many things I love about living here.  In the short time we've been here I really feel like we've been taken in and welcomed into the community (both locally and online) and I'll always be grateful for that.  Moving countries is not an easy thing to do, especially with a family but I don't have one single regret.  Australia is everything I imagined it would be and more and it is also somewhere we are now very proud to call home.

Here are a just few things that make me think "Ah yes - I'm in Australia"

1.  The smell of eucalyptus trees
2.  The beach
3.  Glorious sunshine and HUGE blue skies
4.  Sausages wrapped in white bread
4.  Nippers
6.  Crazy, stalking magpie birds
7.  Sunscreen
9.  SPIDERS (and all other kinds of creepy bugs/lizards and snakes)
10.  Cockatoos and pelicans
11.  Camping
12.  The way no one uses the letter 'T' for example, taddoo's (tattoo), scooders (scooter), wader (water)
13.  Jacaranda's and Frangipanis
14.  Thongs (flip flops) - worn all year round
15.  Banana bread and flat white coffee
16.  Ocean swimming

My little contribution to Australia Day baking will be some Sugar Free Anzac biscuits.  Oh how I would love to bake the real deal, but I am very much still SUGAR FREE and I have to tell you, these are a pretty damn good alternative.  I dare you to try them!!!!
250g butter
100g rice malt syrup
1.5 tsp bicarbonate soda
3 tbs boiling water
2/3 cup stevia
120g desiccated coconut
180g oats
300g plain flour

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and line two baking trays with greece proof paper.
2.  Add the butter and rice malt syrup to the thermomix and set it to 90 degrees for 3.5 minutes on speed 2.
3.  Mix the bicarbonate of soda into the boiling water (in a separate cup) until it fizzes and dissolves and add it to thermomix.  Mix for 10 seconds on speed 2.
4.  Add the dry ingredients and mix for 1 minute on speed 3-4 until it forms a dough.
5.  Roll (squeeze) into balls and flatten each one with a fork.
6.  Bake for approx 8 minutes until they turn a golden brown colour.  Allow them to cool and harden before enjoying them with a lovely cup of tea.

For a sugar free biscuit these are actually so delicious that the kids haven't turned their noses up at them - which is always a bonus right!!  They are definitely not as sweet or as chewy as traditional Anzacs, but for a something that is completely guilt free (and yummy) I am definitely not complaining.

What's your favourite thing about being Aussie - or living in Australia??

Happy Australia Day everyone and I hope the sun is shining where ever you are (and you're near the water if it's one of those ridiculously HOT days).

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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Exxopolis, moving statues, blue skies, the harbour bridge and the Sydney ferry - all in a days work for mum!

I was going to post all these cool colourful photos for Wordless Wednesday but my iphoto has gone crazy and is starting to test my patience!!  I should add that I am not very technical and when things don't do what they're supposed to do and Dr Google is no help, I start to get very cranky (stamps left foot!!).  Anyway Mr D sort of, somehow, managed to get it half working so todays post is just going to have to be a bit more of a wordy not so Wednesday post.

I decided the kids (plus one extra) into the city the other day to wear them out for a bit of school holiday fun and it turned out to be the most specular day, and I even had fun.  I sound like a bit of a pessimist here, but after nearly 5 weeks of school holidays the kids are just bored, bored, bored at home and I'm finding it sooo much harder (quite exasperating actually) to keep them entertained.
Sydney Harbour twinkling in all it's summer glory.  It always 'wows' me no matter how many times I see it.
Going into the city in the school holidays with four kids has it's challenges - like making sure they don't get run over (which nearly happened), making sure they don't fall in the water (almost nearly happened) and not losing any (actually that did happen - but only for a second!!).

We got the bus straight in and then took a slow walk around Circular Quay.  I would have been happy to have sat down and watched the view for hours but they kids were far too excited. "Come on mum, look at this guy - he has no head!!!" shouts Miss H.  "Yeah he has, it's hiding under his shirt" replied Master J sarcastically, as only a big brother could.  Aaaah, wouldn't things be so much easier if sibling rivalry didn't exist!!

Master J soon changed his tune though, when one of the 'statues' we were staring at suddenly grabbed his arm and pulled him in.  He jumped so high that even I had to giggle.  After regaining his 'cool', he and his little buddy did their absolute best to get the 'statue' to talk, but he never uttered a word.  It reminded me a bit of the Beefeaters outside Buckingham Palace in London.  I don't know how they do it!!

Miss H is her element - if only she could have worn those sparklies ALL day!
We finally made it round to the Opera House where the Exxoplis Exhibition is set up (just in front of the main stairs).  It's HUGE balloon like structure is quite impressive and the kids couldn't wait to get inside.  We'd pre-booked our time slot though (which I highly recommend as it means a LOT less queueing in the sweltering heat), so we had an hour to kill before we could let them loose inside.  Only one way to deal with that .......... FOOD!!
Once inside it was like being transported to different world.  There are all sorts of different tunnels and rooms all glowing with different colours.  It was like being tapped inside a gigantic balloon.  The kids absolutely LOVED how each room made their skin and clothes change a different colour.  The shapes on the ceilings and the walls were pretty cool too and it was like being inside a really pretty rabbit warren (the kind I'd like to live in if I was a rabbit).  The kids ran, crawled, rolled, laid upside down just soaked it all up like little sponges.

Lots and lots of coloured tunnels.  I'd love to know what it must look like through her eyes!
Me joining in on the fun!!  It's pretty cool watching your feet change colour as you walk (or maybe thats just me, lol)
It's called the Festival of Air and I must say is was strangely relaxing walking around.  They didn't let too many people in at once, so it wasn't over crowded and there was a really subtle, gentle music wafting around.  If I didn't have four kids with me I could have laid down and had a nap.

Anyway, if you are in or around Sydney for the next week I can highly recommend you check it out!  Anyone of any age will love it and you can either book tickets online or just buy them when you get there (but I would get them online if I were you).

After we rolled out the balloon and back into the real world, there was only one thing left to do and that was head straight back home to the beach for a cooling dip in the Ocean.  The ferry ride home was just spectacular too (apart from almost loosing two boys overboard)!!!  I do love Sydney in the summer.

How are you school holidays going??

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Friday, 10 January 2014

It's 2014 and I'm back!!!

It's quickly creepy towards the middle of January already and I have not written a post since mid December!!!!  I've gone from rushing around like a headless chicken (pre-Christmas) to being so laid back and in the holiday zone that I don't even know what day I'm on at the moment.  I've been itching to get back into the blogging swing, but procrastination has sucked me in whole and my house has never been vacuumed so many times in one week!!

The best place to start, I think would be to wish you all

Christmas was very relaxed and quite understated in our house, which actually made it the perfect day - apart from the fact that it poured with rain ALL DAY!!  My mum and dad were with us from London which made it extra special and the kids were so super excited, it made all that the mad pre-Christmas prep worth it.  It was the first time that Mr D and I have hosted a proper Christmas lunch (even though it was only the seven of us) and if I can be totally honest it was bloody hard work!!!  You spend ages doing the shopping, preparing the food, cooking (most of the day) and when you finally sit down for that long awaited Christmas lunch the kids
a) don't like most of it,
b) eat up in the less than 10 minutes and can't understand why we're STILL sat at the table and
c) want to know whats for dessert before we've even got half way through our starters!!
Luckily Santa's haul kept them all occupied and I loved sharing the kitchen with my mum!!  Dad and Mr D made awesome cocktail makers and washer upers too!

I hope you all had a fun and fabulous Christmas.

Mum and dad have now headed back to London (sob) after a fabulous three weeks together, and Mr D is heading back to work on Monday.  This means that I will soon be back in charge - and need to find some kind of routine FAST!! It's amazing how easy it is to slide into days full of impromptu plans, beach mornings, afternoon cocktails and nana naps!! (yep that is pretty much all I have achieved in the last month and it's been awesome).  I've not taken this much 'time off' in a really long time ('time off' as a loose term of course as we all know that there is no such thing as real time off until the kids leave home - or so I'm lead to believe) and it's been really good for me.
I love this one of my three with my parents!!
However - reality check is here and I need to blend myself back into the real world again - which can't be too hard ...... can it??

I often find New Year a little over rated and I've decide not to do 'resolutions' as such but rather to make a plan with an end goal and stick with it.  Which I'm still working on by the way - so will have to keep you posted on that one I'm afraid!!

I did have a sneaky look back at last years resolutions to see how well I did and it did give me a bit of a chuckle!!!  Here are some of them.

1. Give up ironing.   Mmmmmmm still working on that one - although I have significantly cut down - does that count.
2.  Lose weight.   Mmmmmmmmm still working on that one too.
3.  Get more organised.   Mmmmmmmmm possibly still working on that one too.

I did however learn not to take on too much and to be a lot more selective with the things I decide to do.  I've also learnt that there is a balance between working (in my case blogging on Mrs D plus 3) and looking after the kids, and it is so important to keep that balance just right because the tinniest tilt can seriously offset family life.  Everyone's 'balance' is difference and I think I have finally worked out what mine is.  I just need to put it into action in 2014.

I've got SO many ideas for this year, and I would love it if you would stick around.  Your support in 2013 was amazing and I'd just like to thank you all again for that.

And to finish off my FIRST post of 2014 I'd love to know what you learnt in 2013 that's going to set you up for 2014??

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