Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for 'zadnji' & 'zooloski vrt'

"Zadnji" for all those that don't know, the word is Croatian for 'last'.
And yes, today is the last post of the A to Z Challenge for April.

"Zooloski vrt" is also Croatian for 'zoo'

We have a zoo in Hamilton, a very nice one too.
I visited a few times when we first moved here but had not been there for over 4 yrs.
They never did family annual passes and so therefore it cost us direct money everytime you wanted to attend.
In Auckland we were able to buy an annual pass and then you attended as many times as you wanted throughout the year. Much better as you didn't require money everytime, just pack a lunch and some drink and away you went for 2 hours or 4. With the boys being so little at the time, we happily lost an afternoon watching elephants and tigers!

However during the school holidays my cousin asked if she could take the boys to the zoo?
Yes, take them all day, even over night if you want? Which she sadly didn't!
However due to vehicle trouble on our part I ended up going with them.
It was great, I thought we would only be there for 2 hours or so, so was quite surprised when 5 hours later we decided we had completed the zoo, seen all we wanted and were ready to leave!
They have even started to do annual family passes as well, so we have decided that we will attend as a family soon and secure ourselves a pass, as we know that once we have it we will happily use it.
So what follows is some pictures of the animals we saw on our trip to the zoo.

hello are you looking at me?

this little green bird was very friendly

not sure on this species, but couldn't find the cage they came from to return them either! Who lets animals roam freely like that anyway!

This one happily talked to us

Fun day had with family (Alex took the picture)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Holiday Programmes

What do you do with your children during the school holidays?

We have always sent our children to afterschool care and they in turn run a holiday programme.
Ok the care is done through the YMCA and their holiday programme is huge.
Their age groups are split into 3 due to the numbers.

Ben has always thrived in this enviroment and we had no worries adding Alex to it, however I was aware that he didn't enjoy it as much.
Now I am aware that I will never find somewhere suitable for both of them, nor could we ever handle having to send them to different places!
They always enjoy the activities on offer at the Y, but we do feel that they spend a lot of time sitting and watching movies. Ben again loves this but Alex doesn't. He doesn't mind watching movies but on his terms not by being forced to sit and watch something. However it came to my attention a  few times that over the lunch period, the kids all had to stay in the kitchen room and watch a movie whilst the leaders split themselves for meal breaks. Which in turn meant that if you didn't like the movie on offer you were stuck there.
Now we have always explained to our boys that if there is a movie on that they are not enjoying then they are not forced to sit there and watch, they can do something else, but turns out they can't, and I was not sure if I agreed with this?

At the end of last year someone mentioned another holiday programme they had come across, there are loads of them by the way!
This was an art based programme, now before you start thinking we have budding artists in the family, let me assure you that this is by far Ben's worst subject, but turns out this programme is art based, therefore encompassing all areas of art, not just drawing or water colours!
So we investigated further and decided that we could only give it a go.
So this Easter holidays they spent a week at Artmakers. And guess what....they loved it.

They came home each day covered in paint! Despite having painting shirts with them.
We got pages and pages of different patterns on paper that just had to stuck up on the wall for all to see. We gained models made from egg cartons, bongo drums and toilet roll shakers.
They spent the first 2 days doing art related activities (no movies or tv insight) and then the last 3 days were spent organising, planning and creating a production for the parents to view on the Friday. Suddenly they had to work as a team designing sets, writing lines and planning characters. They had to paint sets and design and make costumes.
Each morning they were raring to go and eager to attend. I never once heard "I don't want to go today mummy!" or "I don't like it I am bored mummy!"

When having to make that decision to put your children in care it is an awesome feeling to know you managed to do something good and right for them, at least once.
I will be happily sending them again, not sure if it will be all the time, as I feel they will enjoy a mixture of both places, Artmakers v YMCA, but nice to know I can mix it about a bit and get satisfaction on somethings!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Young

I am young, well my head thinks I am young, my body has unfortunately reached that stage that they call 'Middle Age' although occording to most magazines nowadays this age is now the new '30's' so I should be jumping around the world having so much fun!!

But just to keep me feeling young here are some pictures of when I really was young....

about 6-8months maybe

2 years old

10 1/2 yrs

about 6-7 yrs old

about 9-10 yrs old

today at 41 years old

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for ....... X

X is for well X

There are several words like x-ray, xerox and xylophone that we just can't seem to live without.
There are sadly not too many more that that we can live with. The only X word that I found interesting was Xenium - which means a gift given to a guest or stranger. So the next time you stay in a hotel and find a mint on your pillow then you have been given a xenium.

However I am going to use a few words of my own - experiment, this is the word for all the seeds that we have just grown and have now planted in the garden. We are attempting to grow carrots, red onions, brown onions and spring onion. We brought some leeks but they were not from seed and we will see how they grow too.

X-stitch - my new favorite pass time, cross stitching, although having said that I haven't done any in the last 2 weeks as I have been completing my essay for my degree.

Excited - how my boys felt after the weekend just gone when we had time away in Auckland to watch "How to train your dragon". It was an amazing show and had some extremely awesome special effects in it with the radio controlled dragons.

Exercise - what I should be doing to assist me with my current weight lose plan!!!

So those are my X words for today.
Will have to travel the blog world today to see what others came up with for this extremely, excitable, extraordinary sexy letter, which can mean so much to someone when received at the end of a card or letter x x x x x x
Do you have any good ones?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Wedding Day

How did you choose the day you were going to have your wedding on?

Was it a special day already?
Was it your birthday?
Was it the only day the restaurant you wanted was free?
Did you choose it 2 years in advance?
Was it because of the time of year you wanted to get married?
Was there a limitation of time for you to get married and this date just fitted your time frame?
Did someone else choose it for you?

This has always fascinated me....why people chose the day they did for their wedding!

I got married in September.
Was this my dream time to marry? No I always envisaged myself being a summer bride.
Although we were very lucky and ended up with the hottest day in September.
We got engaged in the March and knew we wouldn't be waiting too long to set the day.
In fact we ended up setting the day to coincide with ......wait for it........the school holidays!
Yes there I said it, we planned our wedding day around when the school holidays were!

Our oldest son was just turning 5 and had just started school. We were going to Dubai for our honeymoon / family holiday to visit my parents and so we decided to go when we knew it wouldn't effect Ben's first few weeks at school.
I actually chose the date in September...the 20th, which had to be an even number date (don't like odd numbers!), so that took out the week before and the week after. I know September is an odd number month, but sandwiched between number 20 and 2008, then I was happy with it. This sat nicely with the last week of term and flowed nicely into the 2 week school holiday.
Then it just started to transpire that this date was significant throughout Steve's family and suddenly we knew we had chosen the correct date for us and that it was never going to change.
Steve's parents had gotten married on Sept 20, Steve had joined the navy on Sept 20th and there was one other coincidence as well which I can't remember now.

So there you have it, why we chose our wedding day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Valient

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, originally commemorated by both countries on 25 April every year to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
It now more broadly commemorates all those who died and served in military operations for their countries.

There are services held all over the country. The first is usually a dawn service and then the more popular attended service at about 10am.

Lest We Forget

It is at this time of year that New Zealand wears poppies, this has taken me a while to get use to , as in England poppies were used in November for remembrance day on Nov 11, so to me it is odd to see them all about and being worn in April.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Useful

I wasn't sure what to do for 'U' then I heard someone talking about something useful they did and then it struck me, I could talk about something useful to my blogging.

Someone once told me that it was always a good idea to keep a pen and notebook beside your bed.
You never know when a great idea or post will come to you or you might remember something that you need to sort the next day etc, so always good to have something to be able to jot it down on and with.

It seems that blog posts come to me as I lay drifting off to sleep. These wonderful ideas spring to mind and suddenly I am layed there with my eyes closed writing the post in my head. The words are flowing and they sound good too.
So I have started to turn my light back on and write down what I was planning in my head, then I don't have to try and remember it the next day or forget the wonderful words I used in the original draft of the post.
Steve doesn't go to bed until much later than I, so I never disturb him as he is usually not in bed at this time!

I find this useful because once it is written down on paper then I find I drift off to sleep much easier as I no longer have all these words racing round in my head, which is great because I love my sleep.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Twilight

What....... you mean out of 1600 people in this challenge you didn't expect at least 1 person to do "T is for Twilight"?
That is like saying that out of all these people you didn't expect someone to do "E is for Easter"!

But anyway back to T is for Twilight.... I have read the fact I own the books and because of that I have read them twice, back to back, end to end, so much so that when I finished them all I was brain drained for a few weeks! I loved them.

They were some of the best written books for their intended age group, her (Stephenie Myers) style of writing and her way of describing was just enough for someone of that age to totally understand and relate to what she was explaining.

However, that brings me to the movies.
Very well done, well portrayed, well represented from the books but I hated (too strong) I did not like them.
I have watched all 4 of the movies, yes I will go and see the last part in November when it is released but give me the books to read anyday.

Oh and by the way....I vote for Team Jacob! I can not stand Robert Pattinson!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Soccer and Stitching

Aside from Judo, the other sport to start getting part of our life is soccer.
Ben played last year and this year they are both playing!
So after the Easter holidays are over we need to sort out the following gear for them both:
  • Socer boots
  • Red or black socks
  • Black shorts
  • Shin guards
Although my sport for the winter is starting to stitch again.
I have been a cross stitcher since I was Ben's age. I have tried embroidery and quilting but I always seem to come back to stitching.
To see some of my first ever pieces from when I was little go check out my quilting page.
I am starting slow this winter as it has been many years since I last stitched anything due to growing my boys, although now I don't have that as an excuse as 1 of the boys has decided that stitching looks like fun and is currently taking an active role in my fun too.

Yes Alex has started stitching too.

Grandma taught him how to sew and even drew him a spider web on some material. he has eagerly finished this and is now onto a new project.
Which leads me onto my little tip for you.
If you need to put a design on fabric and don't have a light box then just use what is readily available to us all.....Natural Light!

Take one window, several pieces of tape, the picture and the fabric. Took me 5 minutes to trace the design Alex wanted and I don't have any fancy dangled light box to use but you would never have known!

Oh the last thing before you go....apparently, occording to all the books I have read, I stitch backwards, well on cross stitch anyway!
Yep, all the books show you stitching from bottom left to top right and then bottom right to top left.
Muggins here goes top left to bottom right and then top right to bottom left!

At the end of the day as long as all my stitches go the same way who cares!

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Big Old Mummy Laugh

If you are a mum and want 2 minutes of a great giggle and the ability to sympathise then click on over to see my friend at Twins Happen.

I guarentee you will giggle and it will make you feel good on a Friday morning.

R is for Recipes and Replying

I am one of those cook who must follow a recipe.
I am not able to create something on my own, I just manage to get things mixed up (in a wrong way) with too much of 1 ingredient and not enough of another.
I have no inspiration with flavour so am always looking to recipes to see what flavouring they use and then maybe I will adapt slightly, but that is as far as it goes. Odd for someone who actually has an O'Level (High School Diploma) in Home Ecomomics (cooking)!

The latest thing to come into my line of vision that I want to try and make is Macorons.
Yes I have spelt it correct, we are talking Macorons here, the little biscuit cakes made with egg whites and almond not egg white and coconut which are Macaroons.

Now please don't fall over at my next statement....but I am new to this beautiful cake snack. I have never come across them before this year. Just goes to show how much I do not frequent coffee shops!

Anyway thought I would look for a recipe online to see exactly what was in them and how they were made. For some reason I ended up on You Tube watching several different people show you how to make them and include their recipe for them. Simple thing to make but what got me was the difference in recipes......!
  • 1 recipe told you to beat the dry ingredients into the egg whites as you wanted to knock all the air out so the end product was not too high.
  • Another told you to fold very very gently as you wanted to keep the air in.
  • So am I wanting the air in or out?
  • 1 recipe told you to leave them to form a skin prior to cooking for 10 minutes.
  • Whilst another told you to leave them for an hour.
  • And another told you to place them in the oven straight away
  • So am I leaving them for 10mins, 60 mins or not at all?
  • The other major difference was the amount of dry ingredients compared to the amount of egg whites. Most used 4 egg whites but the dry ingredients varied from about 225g to 300g, some used just sugar whilst others used a combination with cream of tartar as well.
  • I know I want it to be stiff and thick but how thick?
I know most of this is my own fault for checking out too many recipes but I can not believe the variance out there for 1 simple recipe!

Happy cooking all.


If someone leaves you a comment on your blog do you reply to it?
I do, I think it is so important to answer any questions that get asked, to clarify anything that may be stated and to generally be polite and friendly to anyone who has taken the time to comment on my blog.
I love getting to know new people out in blog world and I like to let them know that I am greatful they stopped by and please come back and visit again soon.
It has been a busy month this month with the challenge on but I hope I have managed to reply to everyone who has left me a comment to say 'thanks for stopping by' but then it is slightly easier at the moment as I only have about 17 followers and only get 1 or 2 comments a day not sure how I would cope if I had 700 followers and got 50 comments a day!?

Happy commenting folks!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quack Quack

My cousin seems to have set up an annual duck race for her birthday.
We held the event last year and even though we missed the year before that (2010) this year would be the 3rd time it has been held.

I cross stitched this for Lucy's Birthday
After reading the post from last year you get the drift of the day.
A BBQ lunch by the lake, followed by a manic family duck race down an inlet to the lake.
Decoration and dress up of the ducks could get you added bonuses or it may even hinder you floating abilities in the race.

What ever happens, a lot of fun is had by all.
This last weekend was the momentous date in time and once more we gathered as a family to have mad antics and joviality.

This years birthday cake was cupcakes with ducks on


Then it was on to the racing....

The ducks get thrown from this bridge

float down this water

mad race to the end

Nephew at the end rescuing ducks before they disappear out to the lake!

Ben's got stuck in a bush and never finished so mummy to the rescue

Go mummy

At the end, Ben got a little too close to the edge of the lake and managed to slip in, so here he is in a towel and my cousins shirt!
Luckily it was a glorious day and it didn't bother him too much.

Great fun was had by all, roll on next year, more rivalry and mayhem to ensure.