Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010 and Bring On 2011!!

I hope everyone is having a good night but I hope the hangover isn't too bad in the morning (for those of you who are drinking)! We had a glass of wine with dinner but that was it. I have learnt the hard way that the hangover the next day is so not worth it.

This past year hasn't been particularly good or bad. Riley is the one doing all the exciting things and is growing up way too fast!

  • He gave up his high chair at the beginning of the year and started eating at the table like a big boy.
  • He started toilet training in January and is now (and has been for ages) fully toilet trained during the day.
  • He made the move from cot to big bed in April with very little fuss and more recently gave up his sleeping bag and started using a duvet.
  • Hes also stopped having a nap during the day.

But the big ones would have to be him starting Kindy and celebrating his 3rd birthday!

I'm so proud of the caring, polite (most of the time) and generally happy little boy hes become.

As far as my year goes, I have made some awesome friends this year through Cheeky Monkey. I even got to meet a few of them IRL which was exciting.

I'm still happily digital scrapbooking and more recently working on mastering my sewing machine. Hopefully next year I'll have plenty more craft projects on the go.

Our cat, Zoe, went missing in March just before our first family holiday, we moved house at the end of July and of course we can't forget September's big quake!

In truth this year has gone way too fast and most of its just one big blur. I wonder what 2011 will bring .....

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Orana Wildlife Park

I did promise Riley a trip to the Zoo these holidays and thanks to our year pass (and the lovely weather that we've been having lately) it was easily accomplished. So we made up some sandwiches for our lunch (mmm left over Xmas ham!) and off we went. I tried to pick a day where it was going to be nice but not too hot as I can't think of anything worse than walking around all day (Orana is big) in sweltering heat!

Feeding the giraffes (Riley's favourite bit).

Riley wasn't very impressed by all the noise the calves were making as it approached feeding time.

Taking a leisurely stroll around the farmyard.

Annie the pig.

What better way than to end the trip with an ice block.

Aren't holidays great?! Where we actually have time to go on family outings and Riley is loving having all this extra time to hang out with his Dad.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas 2008

Heres my gorgeous boy 2 years ago ......

Gotta love those chubby little cheeks!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Recipe: Easy Peppermint Choc Fudge

This is so easy! I made it for Phil for Christmas because he loves mint. I don't particularly but even I found it really yummy and Riley did too. The red and white candy makes it look really pretty.

- 2 cups milk chocolate drops
- 1 cup dark chocolate drops
- 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- a dash of salt
- 1 tsp peppermint essence
- crushed peppermint candies (we used candy canes), optional

- Melt together the chocolate drops, condensed milk and salt over a low heat.
- Remove from heat and stir in the peppermint essence.
- Spread into a lined tin and sprinkle with the crushed candy.
- Put in the fridge to set.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day .....

Christchurch is being rocked by more aftershocks (see here). Needless to say I didn't get much sleep last night and Riley woke up terrified at one point too. What a way to end Christmas ay?!

I'm glad we didn't go to any of the Boxing Day Sales today. We spent the day just chilling out at home, watching the movie Santa brought us and playing with our new toys.

I even managed to have a much needed afternoon nap .....

Saturday, December 25, 2010 myspace graphic comments

I hope everyone had an awesome day and that the weather turned out for you!

We had a nice, quiet day today with just the 3 of us. Riley was very well behaved and kept himself busy with all his new toys. 

 We cooked up a yummy ham for tea and got our first lot of potatoes from the garden to go with it.

We have one Christmas tradition which we do every year and that is to get a photo of Riley wearing a Christmas hat. Heres the best one from this year (excuse his chocolate face):

Christmas is all done for another year. Considering how much preparation goes into it, its all over very quickly! But I can't wait to put away the Christmas tree and reclaim my lounge ...... until next Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Crayon Caddy and Pencil Case

Thanks to Renee for pointing me in the direction of this great tutorial.

I thought that a crayon caddy was such a great idea and so cute that I just had to make one for Riley for Christmas.

I am not the greatest sewer and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my sewing machine but I'm so pleased that I gave it a go and that it turned out pretty good. I learnt a lot and it took me far longer than it probably should have but its all worth it as I just love the finished product.

It has a paper pocket as well as a sticker pocket and fits 10 crayons or pencils. I've put some coloured pencils inside and some stickers. I even made a matching pencil case for the rest of Riley's crayons/felts and stamps.

I can't wait until tomorrow when I can finally give it to him!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Update: Balance Bike

A couple of weeks ago Riley finally decided to give his balance bike another shot. The first time he tried it he fell and hurt himself which put him off. Like with everything he does I didn't force the issue as I knew he would try again when he was ready.

It just happened to coincide with him learning to ride the scooters at Kindy which I think gave him the confidence to try his balance bike again. He took to it straight away this time and absolutely loves it. He doesn't even mind wearing his helmet and he loves being just like his Dad. He parks his bike up next to Phil's and hangs his helmet on the handle bar in the same way, so cute!

Ringing his bell.

Waiting for a green light.

Every day he gets it out and hes gradually getting faster. I love that we have an awesome backyard with plenty of space for him to ride around in.

Now we need to work on teaching him how to peddle his tricycle. Any tips?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tim Tam Truffles

I love baking at Christmas but this year we don't have any family to bake for and I really wanted to try out this Tim Tam truffles recipe so Phil made up a couple of batches for the guys at work.

They only use 3 ingredients and are incredibly easy to make, not to mention delicious!

Head on over to Mrs Cake's Blog for the recipe and detailed instructions on how to make them.

Find more recipes here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Start of the Holidays

Today was the last day of Kindy for 2010.

I can't believe that Riley has been going to Kindy for 6 weeks now. I am so proud of him. He has adjusted to his new routine so well and his teachers have had nothing but good to say about him. In fact hes doing so well that I've upped his days so when he goes back in Term 1, he'll be going 4 days a week. I don't think he'll be too happy about it to begin with as he doesn't 'like' going to Kindy but when we get there he practically chases me out the door so it can't be that bad right?

He was gorgeous today when I picked him up, lots of big cuddles and smiles for his teachers. All the kids were excited, yelling Merry Christmas at everyone who was leaving.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with him over the holidays though, maybe lots of trips to the park? Oh and baking, he LOVES baking.

Phil has some time off over Christmas too so I'm thinking the Zoo, the beach on New Years Day and maybe a trip to the movies. Lots of fun things for us to do together as quality family time can be hard to come by these days.

And just because I love it so much, heres the Christmas present that all the kids made for their parents. They handed them out at the Christmas Party the other day. Its been rolled up so its currently being flattened under a heavy book. Sorry the photo isn't great.

The poem reads:

Sometimes you get discouraged because I am so small
and often leave my fingerprints on furniture and walls,
but everyday I'm growing up and soon I'll be so tall
that all these little fingerprints will be hard to recall,
so at my kindergarten in early December
I printed these hands for you to remember
exactly how my fingers looked when I was very small.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kiwi Christmas Ornament Swap: Photos

I've now received all my ornaments from the swap so I thought I'd share them with you. Riley was very excited about all the little packages that came in the mail.

Aren't they great! Our tree is looking good this year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Party!!

Today we had Riley's Kindy Christmas Party.

We made apricot balls to take along, they were a big hit ......

200g dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4tsp citric acid
1/2cup icing sugar
1 cup fine biscuit crumbs
1 cup dessicated coconut
white chocolate for dipping

Put dried apricots, orange juice and citric acid in a saucepan. Cover and bring to the boil, simmer for 10 minutes. Leave until cool.

Puree the apricots in the food processor.

In a bowl mix together the apricot puree, icing sugar, biscuit crumbs and coconut.

Roll the mixture into balls and dip in melted chocolate.

Chill until set.

Find more recipes here.

The kids had been learning some Christmas songs to sing but as I knew would happen, as soon as Riley saw me he refused to take part and was clinging to me asking to go home. I almost caved .......

Good thing I didn't as once Riley saw all the 'special' food he jumped right in and began stuffing himself. He also discovered his love of fairy bread.

He had a great time despite wanting to go home at the beginning and in the end it was actually a mission getting him to leave.

Hopefully next year he'll be more settled and happy to join in with the other children.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Review: Airborne Honey

Recently I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to review some of New Zealand's own Airborne Honey. With Phil's Dad being a bee keeper I was particularly interested to try it out.

I was given 2 different products to try:
Airborne Honey for Kids which has a mild flavour perfect for kids and comes in a great 'no-mess' squeezy bottle which makes it so easy to use, and Kamahi Honey which has quite an intense flavour perfect for baking/cooking. Both are delicious and as you can see in the photo they are being well used.

There are a number of ways in which I use honey .....

1. The classic honey sandwich, which Riley is mad about.

2. My scrummy home made muesli.

3. Lemon and honey drinks, which are great for colds.

4. Baking/cooking

Recipe: Honey Snaps

- 50g butter
- 2tbsp sugar
- 3tbsp honey
- 1/2 cup plain flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1/2tsp ground ginger

- Melt together the butter, sugar and honey in a saucepan.
- Remove from heat and stir in the flour, baking powder and ginger. Mix until smooth.
- Place teaspoonfuls on a lightly greased cold tray, leaving enough room for the mixture to spread to double its size.
- Bake at 180 degrees for about 10 minutes or until golden. Keep an eye on them as they're really easy to burn.
- Leave on the tray for a few minutes to cool before putting them on a wire rack.

You can find out more about Airborne Honey and their products on their website and they also have some great recipes for you to try.

To read more reviews and to be in with a chance to win, pop on over to Kiwi Mummy Blogs.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Cards

I had originally intended to make my own cards from scratch using some prints when we did potato stamps but me being lazy and running out of time, I ended up cheating and just bought a pack of plain cards and envelopes which Riley spent some quiet time this afternoon decorating. They're not very Christmassy but I'm sure they'll be appreciated.

Kindy seems to have sparked a sudden interest in drawing and its so nice to see him starting to express his creative side. Its still just squiggles but you can see him thinking about what hes doing and even if I can't see the method to the madness, he can. I'm just glad that at 3 years old hes FINALLY showing an interest.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kiwi Christmas Ornament Swap: The Finished Product

My ornaments should have all been received by now so I can finally share with you what I made .....

Snowmen! I know, not very appropriate for a New Zealand Christmas but they are just so cute and super easy to make which is important when I only have limited sewing skills and supplies (I'm working on that). 

They're all hand sewn and Phil did the french knots for the eyes and buttons because as it turns out hes better at doing them than me (a man of hidden talents).

I have yet to receive all my ornaments but will post picks of them once I have.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas At Our House

For the last couple of years I've been making gingerbread at Christmas. It has become a bit of a tradition and this year is no exception.

Thanks to Claire for this recipe, its super easy.

100g butter
1 cup golden syrup
1/4tsp salt
1/2tsp ground ginger
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp baking soda dissolved in 1tbsp boiling water
3 1/2 cups plain flour

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees.

Boil together the butter and golden syrup until melted. Allow to cool a little
Add the salt, ginger, cinnamon and dissolved baking soda, mix well and add the sifted flour.
Combine into biscuit dough, roll out and cut into shapes.
Bake on a lined or lightly greased cold tray for approximately 10 minutes. 

It can take a while as it makes quite a few biscuits plus Riley loves to help. If the dough starts to get too stiff and hard to roll out just warm it in the microwave slightly so its easier to work with.

At Christmas I love making them extra special with some white icing and sprinkles, yum!

And I finally get to use my Christmas tin that I treated myself to a couple of weeks ago.

I have a few more things on my baking list this year, I just LOVE baking at Christmas!

Find more recipes here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review: Bakers Delight: Christmas Mince Tarts, Creating Christmas Moments

I start to feel all Christmassy when its time put up the tree and I start playing my Christmas CD's, BUT ...... its just not Christmas without mince tarts, I LOVE them!

I love them straight out of the packet or with ice cream and they're probably the one thing that I indulge in over Christmas because after all I can only get them at this time of year and I have to make the most of it.

So I was absolutely thrilled to review some fruit mince tarts from Bakers Delight.

They were good ...... melt in your mouth kinda good with a delicious oozy fruit center, are you getting the picture? I was in heaven! The icing sugar is a really nice touch and makes them extra special.

And heres what Riley thought of them, which coming from a fussy 3 year old means they must be good.

They are the perfect accompaniment to my cup of tea at the end of a long day when I can finally put my feet up and relax.

Thanks Bakers DelightAnd thanks Kiwi Mummy Blogs for arranging it all. 
You can see more reviews here.

And if you haven't tried them yet, you definitely need to.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cheeky Monkey Christmas Ornament Swap

I'm taking part in the Christmas Ornament swap over on Cheeky Monkey

Well, my ornament arrived today and I absolutely love it!

How cute is she!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christchurch Santa Parade

As we have done for the last couple of years, we headed on down to the Santa Parade ......

Riley was so good waiting for the Parade to start, I was very proud of him as waiting/patience isn't one of his strong suits.

He is really sensitive to noise and is easily frightened so once the Parade finally got underway there were a lot of .....

And blocking of ears
A nice lady behind us offered to take a photo of all 3 of us together, which was nice as I'm usually the one behind the camera (notice I'm wearing my Christmas earrings, lol).

And of course you can't have the Santa Parade without the man himself!

Riley did enjoy himself though. There was lots to see and he did lots of waving at everyone in the Parade. He sat through the whole thing on Phil's knee and was one very tired little boy afterwards.