Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 4 recipes of 2014

I can't believe that the end of the year is upon is- it seems so cliche but time really does fly when you have little people to run after.

We have been busy cooking up a storm this year, so I have rounded up my four most popular recipes for 2014.

At number four is the Raspberry Lamington Cake I made for my husband's birthday. Layers of cream, fresh raspberries and sponge make this into a decadent giant lamington.

The third most popular meal is Meatball Pizza, a combination of two of my son's favourite foods.

The second most popular recipe is a delicious Rhubarb Spicetrail Shortcake, which is great served warm or cold.

Number one is Roast Pumpkin and Cashew Chicken Curry- still a family favourite!

Thank you to all of you that have left comments, supported my blog posts and given feedback this year, and also a huge thanks to those of you who have made these recipes yourselves and let me know! I can't wait to share some more tasty dishes in 2015.

Linking up with Wow Us Wednesdays and Best of 2014 Link Up Party.

Monday, December 29, 2014


The last week of the 52 project, capturing my children in photos every week for a year.

I love some of the images I have captured of my children, and I leave you this year with one of my favourites from Christmas Day. So much love, laughter and happiness in this shot, it truly does warm my heart.

Joining in here.

Monday, December 22, 2014


A portrait of my children, once a week, in 2014.

Lucas celebrated his fifth birthday during the week, and loves his new electric toothbrush.

Adam is so cheeky. here he is trying on Lucas' hat.

Joining in here.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Childhood Christmas Memories

Every year since 2010 I have been arranging a day where my children see Santa. I dress them in their best, but unfortunately my husband and I have had to be in the photos too! This year we finally got a great one, with two big smiles and no parents.

I started thinking about my own Santa photos as I couldn't recall ever visiting Santa for photos as a child. However, a look through my family photo albums shows a love of Santa that started for me at an early age!

This photo is of me and my Dad- my fist time seeing Santa at the Plunket Christmas Party. I was 14 months old here, and obviously unsure of Santa! Plunket is a local organisation that looks after new mums and their babies, and is a huge part of growing up in New Zealand.

Santa features prominently at Plunket Christmas parties- here I am with my twin sister. We always had matching outfits growing up, and my mum sewed some amazing clothes for us to wear.

This photo made me smile when I saw it- this was taken again with my twin sister (I am wearing the blue headband) at the local supermarket. The reason I love this photo so much is that now my boys have had their photo taken with Santa at the exact same supermarket this year. I was hoping to post that photo but I have not received it yet, but will update when I do! It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to know that some of my experiences with Christmas will be replicated with my children.

This photo is another Santa in a shop with my twin sister- do you sense a theme here? While we may not have had many professional posed Santa photos, we did have a lot of opportunities to get Santa photos in our local community. That's what I love about living in my childhood town- the spirit of Christmas comes alive locally and all of our neighbours, teachers and friends come together to make sure the children have some amazing experiences.

It was so much fun to walk down memory lane and see how much of my love of Christmas came from my childhood. Now that I have children of my own, I want them to experience the magic of Christmas. We do fun things each year such as meeting Santa and choosing an ornament for the tree, and I recently came across a beautiful website called Patience Brewster. Her ornaments, paintings and handmade gifts are breathtaking, and have so much detail. This rooster ornament will look perfect on my tree as I love all things poultry related, and the Chicken Teapot is on my wishlist! My boys loved the Mini Candy Cane ornament, as my oldest son declared it was the coolest candy cane ever due to the glitter shoes! This website captures the magic of Christmas so well for both children and adults, and would be perfect for gift giving or as a feature for your own tree or holiday decorating.

Christmas for my children this year is quite bittersweet as my son turns five today, and already the magic of Christmas is being lost on him. Doing family and Christmas related activities is a great way to keep the excitement in December, as well as create my own family memories so that one day I can show them photos for them to also have fantastic Christmas memories. Local events, retailers in our area and beautiful Christmas themed items help me to bring Christmas into our lives each year.

Do you have any favourite Christmas memories? What type of things do you do with your children to create memories? I would love to know!

Sunday, December 14, 2014


A portrait of my children, once a week, in 2014.

It has been a week of events, most of which involved some type of face painting!

Lucas chose to be Batman at his friend's birthday party yesterday.

Adam was very excited to be a dog at his playgroup Christmas party.

Joining in here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Shop What You Got Challenge Review

Whoops, somehow I forgot to post the last week and a half of my Shop What You Got outfits! I was quite busy with weddings, birthdays and general life, and I had these posts scheduled but still in draft mode. I am combining them so that you can see how I did and read my thoughts on the month.

Day 22- my new tucking in method was used for a monochrome look.

Day 23 going neutral with colour blocking.

Day 24 was back to my basic navy look, with some fun paisley print.

Day 25 was very hot but I glammed up for an evening out, accesorising with a gold clutch.

Day 26 was my first chance to wear this white top!

Day 27 was another navy day- have you guessed my favourite colour to wear yet?

On Day 28 I had a wedding- it was supposed to be a garden wedding and I had planned to wear my pink and black dress, but unfortunately it was pouring with rain, with thunder and hailstorms. I managed to put on my black pants and drape bolero, but broke my 30 items to wear a yellow blouse underneath. It was way too cold to be in a dress and the venue was changed to indoors, so I had to go with my options at the time. No photo either- my boys kept me busy and my husband was working since it was an afternoon wedding.

Day 29 I felt very glam and put together in this leopard print dress.

Day 30 I did a 10k run organised by our local council and so I only wore this outfit for the afternoon.

Overall, I think I did pretty well. I discovered that tucking in my shirts is a great way to smarten up my SAHM outfits, and I also rediscovered my love of plain t shirts.

My four favourite outfits from this month are:

Week One:

Week Two:

Week Three:

Week Four:

For my first week recap, click here.

For my second week recap, click here.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Shorts on a Shoestring Budget

When I saw that The Fashionable Mum and Agent Mystery Case were featuring #shareyourshorts and embracing their legs for summer, I went to my wardrobe and was a bit embarrased to see that the only shorts I owned were three very similar pairs of denim shorts.

Thanks to these two ladies, I have been inspired to find some shorts bargains for summer!

I turned to one of my favourite websites, Boohoo, as they have great prices and a fabulous selection.

Shorts on a Budget

All of these shorts are under $25, and are fun enough to wear during the day but can be glammed up with heels and a black shirt for any evening event. I love those lace tailored shorts so much that I want them in lemon and navy! I

 have included both short and long styles, as I am aware that some occasions call for less leg on show. I can still get away with shorter styles (I think!) but the checked long shorts with the sipper detail would be great for evening occasions or dressier events.

I have also featured a playsuit that comes with leopard shorts- so cute! I can see myself wearing this outfit on playdates with black sandals and a gold chunky necklace. In fact, I can see myself wearing all of these shorts! One of them is even called the Lauren Geo short, so it must be a sign.

Which of these shorts is your favourite pair? Let me know and give me some suggestions on how you would style them.

NB: This is not a sponsored post, I just love Boohoo clothes!

Linking up with Fashionomics Friday.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas books for Children 2014

Christmas books are always popular stocking stuffers, or a great idea to add to a Christmas Eve box. Here are a few books that my sons have enjoyed at Christmas time, as well as a few new titles that have been released this month.

Christmas Book Ideas for Children

Christmas Alphabet is a beautiful story that this year celebrates it 20th anniversary and comes complete with a gold collectible ornament. A great gift idea for those who know a child who loves Christmas.

Stick Man is a funny, whimsical story that my boys discovered this year, which happens to feature Santa! 

The Smallest Gift of Christmas is a beautifully illustrated story that will be in my son's Christmas Eve box this year. The illustrations appeal to most ages, and older children will be able to appreciate the message behind the story.

The Christmas Stick has been described as a "fun little picture book" but it also has a powerful message behind it. 

Merry Moosey Christmas is a hilarious tale of a substitute reindeer, sure to get a giggle out of anyone. This book is a new release and I have already heard some great things about it. 

The Nutcracker is a Christmas classic that has now been released in paper-over-board format. The lavish illustrations bring a new level to the story, and event the font is whimsical and appealing.

The Runaway Santa is another book that my boys will look forward to this year, as Fireman Sam is always popular in our household! 

Lego City: Save This Christmas is another book that will be immensely popular with any Lego loving children- my nearly 5 year old loves Lego books and this one looks to  be the same high quality and as well thought out as the other Lego books we own.

Another Lego book well worth getting is the Christmas Caper Activity Book, which comes complete with a minifigure. These books are amazing- we have three other versions of these activity books and they are used over and over again. Plus, the minifigure adds that extra excitement!

Lynley Dodd's book are a classic New Zealand read, and Slinky Malinki's Christmas Crackers is a book that would make a fantastic gift from grandparents or other family members to a young child. This book will be treasured for years, and I know all of my Lynley Dodd books are still going strong after 27 years!

Lastly, another New Zealand classic is We Wish You a Kiwi Christmas. This book would be lovely to send to New Zealanders living overseas, or to people who have relatives or friends living in New Zealand.

I hope these books have given you some great ideas for expanding a child's library this Christmas. Reading is such an important part of my life, and I love that now I can share my love of books with my children. 

Linking up with Motivational Monday, Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop, Wow Me Wednesday and Time For Mom.

Time for Mom

Sunday, December 7, 2014


A portrait of my children, once a week, in 2014.

Lucas had his preschool Christmas party at a steam train park, and enjoyed playing in the trains.

Adam loved the trains too!

Joining in here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Candy Cane Gift Tags- Made by Kids!

My kids love to give presents to others, and part of that fun is wrapping the gifts. They are also very sensory, so I have found a way to combine the two to make a fun scented gift tag!

Firstly you will need some sort of To: From: image stamp, I am using this Sweet Salutations clear stamp set. A stamp means that you can create multiple and using black ink makes the image stand out when finished. Stamp the required amount of tags onto some white cardstock.

Now you need to make the candy cane marbling foam. To do this, mix shaving foam with peppermint essence and then add some drops of red food colouring.

Kids always get a kick out of adding colour to foam! Swirl it around until you have a marbled candy cane type pattern.

Place your cardstock face down into the foam, then place on plastic or scrap paper.

Wipe off excess foam with a damp cloth and leave to dry.

Now you can cut or punch out each individual tag to use on your Christmas presents.

Here is a completed tag on a wrapped gift. Such a cute handmade tag and it looks and smells like candy canes!

My boys loved making the foam as well as the gift tags, so you could just make the candy cane foam as a sensory activity. However, these tags require minimal effort and supplies, but kept the boys entertained for ages. A great craft idea for ages 2 and up, but please make sure that the foam does not get eaten and you may want to put plastic sheeting down as the red food colouring can stain.

Linking up with the Time For Mom Holiday Craft Challenge! If you liked this post, please could you spare a moment to vote for this entry here, I would love for my post to be featured.

Time for Mom

Winter Wonderland Choc Peppermint Cake

I know a lot of my readers celebrate Christmas during winter, so today I have the perfect recipe for you!

This chocolate cake is light and fluffy, with a hint of peppermint and a rich chocolate glaze. The addition of snowflake sprinkles make this the perfect Christmas showstopper cake, or you can substitute any other type of Christmas sprinkles. If you are in the Southern Hemisphere like me, you could use a mixture of red and green sprinkles instead of snowflakes.

You will need:
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup dark cooking chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint essence
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 3/4 cup dark cooking chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup butter, cut up
  • 1 tablespoon light-color corn syrup
  • Christmas sprinkles to decorate
  1. Allow 3/4 cup butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together flour, 1/3 cup milk powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a small microwave-safe bowl microwave chocolate in 30 second bursts until melted. Cool slightly.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat 3/4 cup butter with both sugars until well combined, Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in melted chocolate and peppermint essence. 
  4. Alternately add flour mixture and 1 1/4 cups water to chocolate mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Pour batter into a bundt cake pan, spreading evenly.
  5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove cake from pan; cool completely on wire rack.
  6. Meanwhile, for glaze, stir together 1 tablespoon milk powder and the boiling water until milk powder is dissolved. Add the 3/4 cup chocolate, 1/3 cup butter, and corn syrup. Mincrowave on medium power for one minute until melted and smooth. Cover and chill for 30 to 40 minutes or until glaze is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.
  7. Drizzle glaze over cake. Top with sprinkles and serve.
As you can see, the cake was very popular!

Linking up with Fall Into the Holidays and Wow Me Wednesday.
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