Saturday, December 31, 2011

it's a wrap

I think most of us Christchurch people are so glad 2011 is almost done and dusted. I think Christchurch people have learnt that you really do require an emergency kit, lots of water and a charged cell phone. I'm hoping some New Zealanders may have learnt this too. I've also (re)learnt that the most important thing is people- friendships, community and caring. 

So 2011 was full of ups and downs but when I reflect I feel a sense of satisfaction that while its been hard my little family and myself have accomplished a lot. We have been resilient, strong, and stubborn. It feels like the kids are flourishing and as a family are starting to enjoy some time together after a very busy year. Unfortunately in the last week we've had lots of aftershocks and they are quite simply unsettling. So please Mother Earth go back to sleep. zzzzzz

Here is how December ended up in pictures. 

If I get time I'll sort some more photos out as we packed in lots. 
First 2012 goal: 1. to truly start Christmas preparations early

life is a jornery

I have some regrets about not connecting with some women I've met in 2011. 
2012 will be different. 
"Carpe Diem". 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

my creative space: Christmas Ornaments tick

Here's some photos of the process of making my ornaments. 
I loved it and made more to give to friends and family. 
Everybody seems to be enjoying them. 

In the above photo you can actually see that they are sparkly. 

Doily wrapping paper too! and ric rac another current fav. 
Merry Christmas if I'm not back before. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

things on you tube

OK, so I've tried to stay away from you tube it seems for no good reason. Since this post about picture books you can watch on you tube by Megan at mousehouse I'm hooked*. 

Since yesterday we have watched far too much but I'm so excited as I've seen some of my favourite old movie scenes/music. One of our Advent activities was to "Watch a Christmas movie with popcorn". I'd love to do an entire post on Advent Activities, which has been marvellous, but fear I shall run out of time before Santa comes down the chimney, that is unless I don't sleep and I need to sleep otherwise I'm not a great Mama). I was quite clever and planned this for yesterday, a Saturday, where hubbie and I could get some things done, although I would have liked to have sat down with them. Needless to say we didn't have a Christmas movie but I'd noticed lots of references around about for "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" by Dr Seus. So after a search of "Childrens Christmas Movies" on google I found a list of the top ten. Then a search on you tube really opened my eyes to all the goodness that can be found there. 

So since yesterday the kids have watched:
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas. To which the comment at the end was: "Christmas isn't about presents it's about being with family". Life lesson right there. 
- Mickey Mouse Christmas Carol. Same life lesson as above. 
- Hakuna Matata: Lion King. It means no worries. 
The rainbow connection: Kermit the Frog. Song still in my head. Love. 
do ra mi: The Sound of Music. Check out this flash mob clip at a train station in Antwerp. 

Next I'm going to show them The Lion sleeps tonight, aka Mbube. So many great versions, from the original by The Tokens or The Lion Kings version, or Miriam Mekeba (Famous African Singer), or Ladysmith Black Mambazo, or even the Soweto Gospel Choir. So exciting.

For a lovely version of South Africa's National Anthem, aka N'Kosi Sikeleli, sung by Miriam Makeba, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon check this out. Yes I do love Africa. 

Shame my parents have dial up for next week when we are there as I'd love to have this as a resource. I don't think any of us have been as excited to go stay with them (with all the dramas that brings let alone the on the car trip (4.5hours)). We have not been there since after the February earthquake and after having a bitter sweet Christmas last year as my MIL's last we are looking forward to the crazy excitement and shouting from my Dad that occurs with my family at Christmas. 

PS. Much more positive post today after my last post of all my random thoughts. In order to stay on top of being sometimes blue one must focus on doing the things that make you happy as then being happy is much easier. Rocket Science I know. 

* BTW Megan's blog is LOVELY and one of my favourites. You'll notice I have copied lots of her lists on the sidebar of my blog.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

random thoughts

1. I found out a family member came to ChCh last weekend and didn't drop in. Grrr!
2. Dan Carter got married to Honor Dillion in Blenhole (Blenheim) on Friday at Timara Lodge. My Dad used to supply Timara Lodge with veges and fruit from our vege and fruit shop. I was thinking about this and, along with wishing them luck, I was remembering that at the beginning of the Rugby World Cup I thought we'd be OK only if Dan stayed fit. Funny as we went through 4 number 10's and Beaver ended up the hero in his non-fitting shirt as he'd been eating all the pies and not training. Funny and happy we won. May they have lots of little Dan Carters.
3. I'm an Auntie for the second time last week. My little nephew and his family are doing well but all the way over in Perth and that is sad.
The current master pieces: the planets (including saturn with its red storm), two colours painting (ie. at kindy: painting tick, next activity), marble painting, fairy glitter painting. 

4. Master 2.5 is both adorable and annoying. I really should cut his day sleep as then he might sleep ALL night. But no sleep = disaster pm and kindy asked that he have his sleep!
5. We are all enjoying our advent activities. The kids worked out the idea quickly and we are doing something little each day which while it means we are constantly busy I'm not stressed about trying to do lots. Today we dropped off some scorched almonds (my family treat) and some crackers to the City Mission. Three homeless men were hanging around outside and my kids were polite to them when they said Merry Christmas to us.
6. I really should be making the quilts now but ... (tomorrow I have a few hours where I can with no children around so I'll get everything out then and hopefully get a bit done).
7. Next year I will start making things for christmas earlier not just thinking I will.

Sorry not all positive but these are the thoughts in my head today.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"have yourself a doily little Christmas"

Lately I've been receiving my Christmas ornaments from the swap. What a lovely feeling to receive handmade Christmas ornaments as cute little packages in the post. Check out what some of the others made here, here and here.

I really wanted to make something from a doily. So another trip off to the opp shops to hunt out doilies. A hard life.
* FYI this is our totata tree in a pot along with the placenta from Master 2.5's birth. It used to be by the fence but the neighbour (different neighbour to the earth mama neighbour comment) cut the top off. I was fuming.
1. She should have asked. 2. She should have looked down as she would have seen it was in a pot. End rant.

And tomorrow I'll show you what I did with them.
And also to come a round up of the ornaments I received. Ah the suspense.

Christmas Book Advent idea/plan/list

I saw this idea some time last year and loved it. A Christmas Story Advent. Brilliant. As I had put away our 7 Christmas books I got them out on December 1st last year and we read them ALL December. Every. Day. Every. One. So the more I thought about it the more I loved the Christmas Book Advent idea. Hence I've tracked down a few (lots) of probably good Christmas books. I don't actually know they are good but other people say they are. 
image via
Here are most of the books from babyccinokids blog's advent. 
1. Mr Snow – Roger Hargreaves
2. Little Elephant’s Christmas – Heluiz Washburne & Jean McConnell
3. Madeline’s Christmas – Ludwig Bemelmans
4. Petunia’s Christmas – Roger Duvoisin
5. A Star So Bright – M Christina Butler & Caroline Peder
6. Mog’s Christmas – Judith Kerr
7. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey – Susan Wojciechowski
8. One Snowy Night – Nick Butterworth
9. Lyle at Christmas – Bernard Waber
10. Letters from father Christmas – J.R.R. Tolkien
15. Little Rabbit’s Christmas – Harry Horse
16. Albert le Blanc – Nick Butterworth
17. Bear Stays Up For Christmas – Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman
18. Paddington and the Christmas Surprise – Michael Bond
19. Mr Willowby’s Christmas Tree – Robert Barry
20. The Little Fir Tree – Margaret Wise Brown
21. One Thousand Christmas Beards – Roger Duvoisin (out of print)
22. Christmas Day in the Morning – Pearl S. Buck
23. The First Christmas – Jan Pienkowski
24. ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas – Clement C. Moore (Illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith) 

Some other ideas also from babyccino:

  •  The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
  •  Olive the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh, J.otto Seibold
  •  Dream Snow by Eric Carle
  •  Lucy and Tom's Christmas by Shirley Hughes
  •  How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
All these winter/snow Christmas books made me search for New Zealand Christmas books (you know where Santa has a black singlet and everybodies at their bach at the beach). I found what I'm guessing is a great list on the Christchurch Libraries website. Here it is:
  • The Christmas Caravan by Jennifer Beck
  • Harvey Slumfenburgers Christmas Present by John Burningham
  • Merose and Chocolate by Clark Chichester
  • Mrs Wishy-Washy's Christmas by Joy Cowley
  • Cowshed Christmas by Joy Cowley
  • Slinky Malinki Christmas Crackers by Lynley Dodd
  • The little reindeer by Michael Foreman
  • Wombat Divine by Mem Fox
  • Toot and Puddle I'll be home before Christmas by Holly Hobbie
  • Two cans of corn beef and a manulele on a mango tree: a Pacific Christmas by Sarona Aiono-Losefa
  • The watchmaker who saved Christmas by Bruce Whatley
  • The road to Bethlehem by Brian Wildsmith
  • A Christmas Story by Brian Wildsmith
  • The Christmas mirace of Johathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechourski
So my plan was to use the books we had. Namely,

  • Dear Father Christmas by Alan Durant
  • Twelve hidden days of Christmas by Macky Pamintuan
  • A Kiwi Night before Christmas by Yvonne Morrison
  • 'Twas The Night Before Christmas' by Clement C. Moore (Illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith).
  • Room for a little one: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddel 
  • Christmas by Dick Bruna (in dutch) 
Plus go to the library and maybe put some books on hold. That was the plan. But trying to get these books at the library turned out harder than it sounds. I did find a few but most where out and really too expensive to put holds on them when most people would keep them most of this month anyway. So reading the books we have and some from the library at the moment and kids still loving so not disappointed as it wasn't for a lack of trying or time spent finding good books. And now I've created this list for future use.  
(Maybe libraries outside of ChCh where lots of books aren't still lying on the floor might be better. I kid you not the city centre library still has lots of its collection on the ground within the red zone.)

So again another lesson for me: BE HAPPY WITH WHAT YOU HAVE 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Earth Mama

So my neighbour asked me what I was doing a few weekends ago as I had pulled all of my MIL (find out about her here) clothes out of our sleepout and had spread them out in our front garden. You see I'm planning on making 3 quilts using the material for her sisters and grandaughter for Christmas. I know. I'm crazy. Even more crazy as I've never made a quilt in my life. Ha de Ha. I got the idea from the grief counsoller at the Hospice. It's important to me to make them as I've wanted to do it all year, then decided making them for Christmas would give me a deadline. I will feel great about using the material and capturing her.
 image via
Anyway's my neighbour looks at me in amusement and shakes her head and says to me "You really are an Earth Mama". Initially I took it as an offence but after reflecting about it that day then I was pretty darn chuffed.

And now a few weeks on I've been thinking about it a bit. When I was pregnant I knew I'd: have a home birth, wear my baby, breastfeed, use cloth nappies and I wondered if I'd end up co-sleeping (even though I was a bit scared about it). Once I had my baby I realised I'd be a non-vaxed (an educated one) too (shsh don't tell anyone). As from a teenager I'd been intrigued in things African. To me how African woman parent was natural. I also thought I'd bring them up greenish but I really didn't feel I had an instinct for what would or even should work. I did know I didn't want to be parent how I was parented (although as my Mum tells me I turned out OK).
So when my baby arrived into the world and turned out to be very "spirited". I used to say "unsettled". I constantly wondered about how to do this or that and over analysed everything. But after a wee (long) while, like maybe 18 months (when breastfeeding was still going strong), I realised I was always going to be an Earth Mama (a soft one at that). So I should just accept it and enjoy it. Which I did, second time around.

While I may live a greenish life. Do you wash plastic bags? Truly living and contributing towards a sustainable Earth I have not. It's funny (its not ACTUALLY funny) that 2011 and living on my husband's student allowance has led me to live cheaper out of necessity. And living cheaper is better for the environment in so many ways. It's ironical.

These are the changes that have occurred in our life this year and the reason my neighbour who sees me most days thinks I'm an Earth Mama (she's the complete opposite but that doesn't mean I don't like her):
- Handmade Washing powder
- Dishwashing Powder
- Homemade Shampoo
- Old towels for dishclothes (not just for rags)
- Homemade mayonnaise
- Making pastry (most brought pastry has palm oil in it)
- Lavendar Night Cream
- Lavendar Childrens Bath Oil
- All Cleaning supplies (tea tree oil, baking soda and vinegar)
- Using flour to make scones, muffins, bread, pancakes, waffles, piklets for everyday fare (not just as a rare occurrence in the weekends)
- Generally cooking from raw ingredients (Not much processed food in my pantry. Sometimes I open the cupboards and wish there was). 
image via
Check out this website about living like a Nana for most of the recipes I've been using. And Alison Holst cook books and recipes are awesome. Not lots of expensive ingredients, but yum and easy. 

I couple of weeks ago I made kids toothpaste. If I wouldn't brush my teeth with it I can't expect my kids too. This week I tried making rice milk yoghurt and rice milk itself (as rice milk ACTUALLY is expensive). Complete flops but they were the first flops I've had.  

What I've discovered, being the Earth Mama that I am, is you need TIME and a few simple ingredients. I wonder as I see more Mama's wearing their babies and using baking soda in Generation X and Y's has a solution been found in our use of TIME. I guess time will tell. I still have some way to go but I am gradually realising becoming green and my 'natural' parenting approach is pretty darn fun. 
image via
PS. Still only just started the quilts but have got lots of other stuff off the 'to do' lists lately so they are next. Well probably after we have pretty much everybody we know around for Christmas afternoon tea and BBQ on Sunday. I wonder if African women keep a tidy house as I can't seem too. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

what we'll be doing in december

Firstly, before I start the idea behind this is to enjoy my children's excitement of Christmas and if we do something little each day we'll be ready come the 25th so avoiding the mad rush to get everything done (which I'm an expert at). Secondly, I plan on having an unsealed envelope with an advent activity in it. This way depending on how we are feeling and the weather we can change things around. As I said here I'm combining an activities advent with a Christmas Book Advent so there'll also be a separately wrapped Christmas book (Christmas Advent book list to come).

Below is the best advent list I found from (in date order):

Deck the halls! (decorate tree, etc)
Take photos for Christmas cards
Buy a new Christmas album and listen to it
Make the house smell like Christmas (we'll just get a real tree for this)
Make Christmas Cards
Read a Christmas Story Book
Wrap Christmas Gifts
Make a new Christmas Decoration
Color a Christmas picture
Build a snowman or hang up paper snowflakes
Make hot chocolate and stir with candy canes
Make a treat and take it to a friend
Watch a christmas movie and eat popcorn
Go out for a Christmas treat
Do something nice for someone
Drive around and look for Christmas lights
Go visit Santa Clause
Do service for someone in need
Have a campout in front of the Christmas tree
Call grandma and grandpa and sing a Christmas song
Take gifts to teachers and friends
Read a story or watch a movie about the birth of Baby Jesus
Make cookies and write letters for Santa Clause
Read "The Night Before Christmas"

Not bad. Here are a few of my ideas:

Ornaments/Craft: *
Make handmade ornaments from salt flour like above for Grandparents using this recipe
Make a glass ornament hand print
Make a driftwood christmas tree like above
Make wrapping paper like this from Dee. Who is SO clever. 
* Personally I'd like to make almost all of the ornaments I've posted about lately see here and here

Take a trip to see the Christmas windows. (So glad that Ballentines is open in Christchurch CBD again).
Take a trip to the beach for driftwood Christmas tree craft
Take a trip to buy a present, wrap it and donate to children with cancer in hospital
Trip to Santa Parade (on 4th Dec)
Trip to the food bank to donate some food

Make Christmas Candy Tree Chocolate Brownies. Yum. 
Make Gingerbread men

Write a letter to those passed or visit graves (Oma)
Watch a movie (Maybe How the Gritch Stole Christmas)
On 5th December we'll celebrate St Nicholas (Dutch Christmas more about this here) by going to the Dutch Cafe and eating Chocolate letters, Pepernoten and coffee.  
Pack for the car trip to Grandparents
Have friends around for Christmas afternoon tea (serve them Christmas Chocolate Brownies)

I think that's more than enough. It is called the silly season after all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

the countdown is on

I remember once having a cardboard advent calendar that you just tore the date off. My Nana sent it and I thought it was very cool. But really the sky is the limit to what you can do with this idea. Celebrate each day of December by lighting a candle, eating a sweet, getting a trinket, doing Christmas activities (volunteering, making ornaments, singing), hanging an ornament on the tree, or reading a Christmas book each evening. I've decided to wrap up 24 Christmas books and envelopes and each day we'll read a new book and do the activity in the envelope. I'll save the activities and a list of great/classic Christmas books I've found for another day (post). 

In the mean time I found these on the interweb. 

 Top Left:
Top Right: 
Middle Left:
Middle Right:
Bottom Left:
Bottom Right:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

a green life family christmas traditions

image from                                        image from

At kindy this week the children started practising Christmas songs for the Christmas concert so today we decorated the lounge with ribbons for Christmas. So just a little excited. I imagine my excitement over the last few years' Christmas is going to be surpassed by Miss I'm nearly 5. Particularly as we are talking about going to Christmas in the Park this weekend. 

While my family have Christmas traditions: church, ham, appletiser, scorched almonds, presents after breakfast, one person chooses a gift for the next then everybody watches person open their present then they choose a present for the next, blah, blah. (Yes present opening takes a long time). And my own little family will follow these too. Including the handwritten cards from Santa (that began to look more and more like my Mum's). However I'm serious about building the following NEW traditions into our family culture too. Mostly after reading "Growing Great Girls" by Ian and Mary Grant in which they explain how traditions helps nurture feelings of connectedness and belonging. 
  • christmas stockings (with an orange, why you ask see here).
  • new PJ's the night before with a photo under the tree.
  • a christmas ornament for each child that represents something they've loved or a way of acting throughout the year. Take a photo of them with their ornament under the tree. When the child leaves home they take a little collection with them. 
  • Santa gifts a snow ornament alternately to children to also build a collection.
  • make a Christmas ornament from the trunk of the Chirstmas tree each year.
  • an advent calendar of christmas books, ornament making and activities for each December day before Christmas (post to come).
  • make presents with the children for relatives and friends.
  • presents from Mama and Papa and/or Santa include something they want, need, wear and read. I was also thinking about play.  

image from

I'll let you know how I get on organising all this. 
Do you have any traditions I should add?

Monday, November 21, 2011

a little african inspiration

images: via:

painting projects - part one - family artists

Our landlords left lots of white paint in our shed which I've used before but I'd been longing for some colour and have had ideas to repaint lots of things around the house that have just been in storage as they weren't appealing to me in their current colour/state. So this is the first of many reveals of all the painting projects that are still works-in-progress.

Remember these frames from this eco-shopping expedition well they are what inspired me to get my A into G. Resene where having a half price test pot sale. So a good excuse to finally sit down and work out what colours I wanted. Procrastination should be my middle name. I also had my Nana's $20 birthday money in my wallet.  

I was also inspired by Holly Made who had a similar idea and involved her child in the process, check it out here. So I decided it wouldn't be perfect but who cares about that right. We did x2 coats in 2 days. Sploshing paint around as we didn't pay for it. Then I was so excited I did the final coat one sunny evening. This is note worthy as I am normally shattered in the evening and do nothing. Not even watch telly. So what am I going to do with them now. 

I'd seen this quote "Every child is an Artist" by Pablo Picasso and wanted to celebrate some of the artwork that comes home from kindy. almost. every. single. day. 

I just used wooden pegs with blu tack under them so I can move the pegs around depending on the piece of art. I have been staring at the art ever since we put it up. So I think it's working. The trick will be to constant change the art so the kids can enjoy them before they are put in a box which seems sad. 

And the other frame ... stay tuned folks.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

my new old bike

My husband was undecided about what to do with his late mums bike (read going to take it to the dump). I'm so glad I convinced him to spend money we didn't really have to get a friend to 'upcycle' it (fix it up). I was so excited when he brought it around a few weekends ago I was actually jumping up and down (after he left). I am going to treasure it having come with her all the way from the Netherlands and being in pretty good condition. The best bit is its easy and smooth to ride. Much more enjoyable than my mountain bike. It remind's me of my MIL, my hubbies sister (we have hers too!), being married to a dutch man, and our 10 months living in The Netherlands (mostly Amsterdam memories). Cool eh?

To be truly awesome now all it needs is a basket.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I miss her

I want to write about my late Mother-in-Law, her creativeness and life ...she'd think I'm being SO over the top but quietly like it I think. 

My dutch Mother-in-Law died in January this year from secondary breast cancer. She was extremely creative and collected craft material, patterns and equipment all her life. I have been an extremely lucky girl and inherited it all. Including her sewing machine.  Boxes and boxes of it. She had boxes of just sewing patterns. Unfortunately we can't keep everything WE horde, along with all her things, so we have donated some of the dutch language things to the dutch club. 

I organised her casket flowers which included knitting needles, wool, buttons and cotton reels along with her favourite colour blue, orange (she was Dutch after all) and lots of green ferns from NZ.  

These are her scissors in a recent sewing adventure.

A month or so ago, I felt compelled to pen a little message to her son (my husband's twin who I have made a pact with myself to keep in touch with as he's overseas and now has no mum OR dad). I feel I wish to share it here as it relates to a few things going on in my head. 

I miss driving down Papanui Road to her house on a Saturday afternoon to go and drink her fizzy (we never have fizzy) and have her play with the kids and have a chat about nothing in particular. I do miss that. A lot. 

I miss her coming here and having a coffee with me. 

I miss asking her how to sew something. 

I miss that she never commented on how we were parenting. 

I miss not going and doing something to tidy up her place. 

I miss her not playing with the kids. Did I say that already.

... she made life better for me. 
The last bit is the thing that since she has passed I've come to realise more and more. She made life better for ME. So let this be a reminder to tell those in your life when they make life better for YOU

Pax Vorbis is latin for peace to you. We think she made this embroidery- it is beautiful. Peace be with you Gordina I shall think of you lots as I make things with your stash. You knew I wouldn't throw it away didn't you?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

random thought

I'm one of those people who thinks things have to be perfect and exactly how you imagine they should be before you do them. It's a very annoying trait and I'm trying to kick it. So for at least 6 months I'd wanted to decorate tin can telephones with washi tape (decorative tape) to play with my children. BUT I just haven't had money for necessities let alone something seemingly frivolous as the washi tape to make them. Here's a list of those frivolous things.

For some reason today I looked at my 2 sick children and thought stuff it how long is it going to take for me to walk out to the garage, grab the hammer and something to make a hole, I had the tins already and a pretty good idea were the string was. So within about 5 minutes we'd made them.

Ta Da:

Plain Jane tin cans with a hole and string. Master 2 then played with the hammer while Miss 4 and I talked to each other on the "phone". Guess what the first thing Miss 4 said to me was. 

"Mum I love you". 
I said "I love you too".
Miss 4 then said "I love it when you play with me". 

Let this be the lesson:

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