Father’s Day 2017

Father’s Day is becoming quite the event as our girls grow. Homemade presents are in abundance (thanks to School and Daycare), and the girls seem to be at that perfect age and have a wonderful time spoiling their Dad on his special day.

After a relaxing morning filled with presents and cuddles, our annual Father’s Day tradition continued with a family lunch. And, as is the case each year, we selected an international theme for the meal.

This year – it was all things Greek! Starring freshly picked lemons and rosemary from our garden to give the table a Mediterranean feel.

We actually opted for a late lunch (linner), as it works well with the girls’ nap times and means that they can join us for the meal. Although as is the case each year, linner soon turns into dinner, as we chat and eat our way through the afternoon and into the evening.

On the menu this year?

Spinach and feta pinwheels to start – that I made the day before and reheated just before serving. Washed down with a pre-lunch cocktail – of course – a Santorini Sunrise.

Made with vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine.

For the main course – we served chicken souvlaki skewers, keftedes, roasted lemon potatoes, a burghul salad and a green salad. With homemade tzatziki and a fig and olive relish on the side, along with some flatbread.

And for dessert? This rather impressive-looking baklava cheesecake (recipe here).

A lovely baked vanilla cheesecake, with a honey / nut crumble and enclosed in filo pastry. Served with a honey cinnamon syrup. YUM!

And so another Father’s Day celebration came to an end, with full bellies and lots of laughs.

Adding another country to our list of Father’s Day lunch destinations too!

2013 – China

2014 – Turkey

2015 – Mexico

2016 – Italy

 

Life. Lately.

My oh my. Where do I begin?

I feel as if we hit the ground running in 2017 and haven’t really stopped since. We knew it was always going to be a busy start to the year, but I probably underestimated just how busy. Work is hectic. Home life is busy. Our social calendar is quite full. And then there is the whole ‘growing a baby’ thing…

I’ve just come off the back of a couple particularly full-on weeks, with a few more ahead of me. I’m certainly juggling the work / life balance, and probably dropping a few, no a lot of, balls along the way. Life is feeling full, and too often – frantic, but I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been lots of fun times too. For in amongst the chaos we wedged in a family holiday and have even booked in a few more short  family trips away for next month too!

So while I’ve found myself with a spare 20 minutes until my flight boards, let’s focus on some recent happenings that have made us smile…

The girls and I headed down the Hume just before Easter to spend the week in Melbourne. After a big school term for Miss C (and a term of daycare for Little J), it was truly rewarding to spend some one-on-one time with both the girls outside of their normal daily routine, and for them to also spend some time together.  Sure, there were moments of bickering (sisters..), but for the most part they seemed to really enjoy each other’s company, while collectively, and collaboratively,  keeping me on my toes!

Ps. Number of games of Uno played? Approximately 1000…

The car trip itself went pretty smoothly – although having done it quite a few times now with the girls they are becoming quite the seasoned car travellers. A bucketload of snacks helped, as did having the Moana soundtrack on repeat (both girls are obsessed!!)

But the main reason for our trip? Celebrating my little brother getting married!!!! Both girls were flowergirls and Charlotte, in particular, took her role very seriously. Josie on the other hand….yeah not so much (aka we had to wrestle her into her dress lol). They both barely left the dancefloor once the reception started though – so needless to say a lot of fun was had by all!

Yes. Shoes were optional by this time….

(You might notice that I don’t have a lot of photos from the day. I was also honoured to be a bridesmaid and my camera was, as expected, swapped for a bouquet!)

The next big excitement on the agenda? Easter! Which after an Easter-Thursday wedding snuck up on us in no time. It was wonderful to spend the morning with my family (before hitting the road for home), and watching the kiddies run around collecting eggs and generally getting up to mischief.

And in no way related to chocolate consumption (I swear!), we celebrated another milestone with Miss C losing her first tooth while we were away. It was wobbly for about a week (so so gross), and finally fell out the day before the wedding.  A visit from the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny was, as you would imagine, pretty exciting for a certain 5 year old!

But it wasn’t all about the kids, for us ‘oldies’ got to have a bit of fun too. Namely ticking an item off our bucket list and watching our beloved Brumbies play in Melbourne. Starting with sunset nibbles on the Yarra, it was a fun night for sure – we just won’t mention the result…

Overall, this little break was just what I needed. Time with our girls and with my family, and trying to switch off from work before the next two crazy weeks begin.

Until next time!!!

 

 

2016 – A Year in Review

I’ve heard a lot of people lamenting 2016 – and bidding it a quick and eager farewell. For us, though, 2016 was a good year. Sure, there were some less than stellar moments dotted throughout (but that’s generally the case isn’t it?) but for the most part, we finally managed to strike an ok work / life balance. We also made it through the year with good health and in good spirits, such that we enter 2017 with a sense of anticipation for what the new year might bring.

But before I turn to our hopes and aims for the year to come, it seems only fair to recap the year that was. 

January 

Summer holidays continued in full swing. We celebrated a late Christmas linner, devoured a 8-course Australia Day ‘tasting menu‘, and spent time playing tourist in our home town.

February

Josie turned ONE(!), Charlotte started Pre-School(!) and we took a week-long cruise around New Caledonia (see here, here, here and here).

March

Charlotte turned FOUR, we celebrated Easter and took lots of family hikes.

April

We took more family hikes, cheered on the Brumbies, went camping and got all dressed up for a costume party!

May

We celebrated Mother’s Day, took more hikes,  and had lots of little adventures – both indoors and out.

June

With the Canberra Winter having arrived, we had lots of fun indoors. We also took a girl’s road trip down to Melbourne to catch up with family and visit the zoo!

July

We had dance classes, visitors in town and lots of good food.

August

We celebrated Book Week, took a quick trip to Melbourne and then a family holiday to Fiji!

September

We celebrated Father’s Day – Italian Style, painted, created a fairy garden and flew a kite.

October

We took another trip to Melbourne, the girls dressed up for Halloween and the husband and I went on a “Bloody Long Walk” for charity.

November

We baked, we went to the Circus, we visited the Show and we celebrated our dear friends’ wedding in Thredbo (where we played in snow!).  

December

We ate, we drank, we partied.  We took a quick trip to Melbourne to celebrate my nephew’s 1st birthday. Then we had lots of family arrive into town, and celebrated Christmas accordingly.

And so our 2016 came to a close. Filled to the brim with new memories, time spent with family and a seemingly better balance between work and play (well better than in previous years, that’s for sure!!).

Here’s to an even bigger and better 2017!

Christmas 2016

I’ve always loved Christmas, but it feels even more special now that we have children in the house. For they bring a whole new level of excitement to the season – from school concerts and daycare parties, to tree redecorating and endless requests for carols when we are in the car.

While this year was to be a “Canberra” Christmas with my in-laws,  it ended up being a combined Christmas when my (Melbourne) family made the trip up the Hume to celebrate with us also.  This meant we had 5 extra people under our roof, including my gorgeous 1 year old nephew who the girls just adore, and needless to say a lot of fun was had by all!

Christmas Eve

Blessed with warm weather and sunny skies, Christmas Eve ‘day’ was all about fun. We put the finishing touches on the tree, decorated biscuits, played in the paddle pool and visited the local playground.

Our evening was spent watching the carols, feasting on homemade nibbles (think cheeses, antipasto, homemade sausage rolls, wonton cups…) and sipping on baileys eggnog made by our resident bartender for the evening – my little brother!  Oh and the kids made sure to leave out some treats for Santa and his Reindeers too – before finally falling into bed for the evening.

Christmas Day 

As is usually the case with young children, the whole house was up bright and early on Christmas morning. The girls were delighted to find their requested presents under the tree – namely a bike for C and a scooter for J. So much so that they wasted no time in racing to find their shoes and head outside for a spin.

With the kids well and truly occupied with their Santa presents, we got to work on brunch.  Croissants, french toast casserole,  eggs benedict, ham and a fruit platter – washed down with peach sangria. Perfect fuel for the upcoming adventures of the day (or perhaps it was more of a ‘head start’ as much of the day’s adventures involved more eating!!).

That’s right, after the littlest members of the family had taken their lunchtime naps, we put on our party dresses and headed over to my sister in-law’s house for part 2 of the day – namely a late lunch (or perhaps better described as an ‘early dinner’) – which included all the Christmas trimmings. Prawns, turkey, pork, ham, vegetables, salads….yes my plate (and belly) was full to the brim. Although I did find some space for dessert – particularly when not one, but four were on offer. My favourite being the locally made plum pudding!

And just like that, the sun began to set and another Christmas Day came to pass. I returned home with my belt buckle loosened, and feeling very grateful for the day’s wonderful food, great company and lots of laughs (not to mention being able to spend the day with all of my nearest and dearest!).

And I can only imagine how much mischief the little cousins are going to get up to together in the years to come….

Life, Lately.

I feel that it is all too easy to get caught up in the day to day. Work is done, school is attended, chores are completed, dinner is cooked, TV is watched, and bed is fallen into.

Wake, and repeat.

This feels particularly more so when the skies outside are dark and grey, and a “quick” trip to the shops requires a good half an hour to make sure everyone has enough layers on.

But in these moments, when the days are feeling busy but a little mundane, and the Winter-blues have sunk in, it is always nice to pause and reflect on life. Or at least, life lately.

Travels, lately.

The girls and I recently took what is becoming our annual trip to Melbourne. I snuck C and J out of pre-school and daycare for the week, and we headed down the Hume to stay with my family. I’m not into big drives, and nor are the kids for that matter, so we stopped overnight at Albury, both on the way down and on the way back.

IMG_4967

The road trip itself was quite an adventure, filled with music and snacks that had been judiciously selected by C. We found new playgrounds to explore, autumn leaves to stomp through and ate our weight in junk food.

As for our time together in Melbourne, well what can I say. It was so wonderful to step away from the pressures of being a working Mum, and just be a Mum for the week. Even if I did feel a little outnumbered by the girls at times (hats off to solo parents out there!)

IMG_8616

IMG_4824

The highlight was spending time with my own Mum, brother, sister-in-law (to be) and my gorgeous little nephew. The girls were simply enamoured with their baby cousin, and I can’t wait to plan many more trips like this over the years to come.

IMG_4942

IMG_4873

Exercise, lately.

Since the start of the year, I have made taking a walk or run part of my daily routine. The aim is to get a minimum of 10,000 steps each day, and so far so good. And while the weather has been pretty inclement lately, I’ve avoided missing my daily exercise by taking a walk early. Like 5.30am (before the kids wake up) early. Even if it is raining I’ve been layering up and hiding under an umbrella – guided by a headtorch from our camping supplies.  Pure style, right there.

IMG_4957

Dark and cold aside, these moments are proving rather wonderful.  Just an hour or so to myself to reflect and to plan, or to listen to a pod-cast.  Sometimes both.

Charlotte, lately.

I truly love age 4. So full of curiosity, knowledge, independence and spirit.

IMG_4760

C is blossoming into quite the young lady, and it feels as if she has grown so much since starting pre-school this year. She is bright and bubbly, and never fails to astound me with the little things she picks up along the way. She loves role-playing, and making up wild stories, but has a softer and sensitive side too.

IMG_7858

And is quite the little helper in the kitchen!

IMG_8412

Sometimes I have to remind myself that she is only 4, because she seems so much older!

Josephine, lately.

Oh Josie. My dare-devil, spirited one.

I’m not sure whether it is her age (almost 17 months) or her personality, but she is not afraid of sharing her emotions.

IMG_4892

Be they huge belly laughs, or throwing herself on the floor yelling with displeasure, J is one loud girl.  She has finally started walking, and wants to explore whenever she can – particularly if she can sneak into her big sister’s room and bounce on the bed.

IMG_8501

She has a smile that lights up her whole face, and squeals like a crazy lady whenever she sees her favourite animal….a dog!  And her new favourite activity? Drawing and colouring.

IMG_4763

Life, lately? Yes its been cold and I am counting down the days until the warmer months arrive. Yes its been busy, with work and all the things that come with raising two active kids. But we are healthy and happy, and looking forward to some fun new adventures in the months to come (hint: passports required for one such adventure!)

What about you? How has life been lately?

Easter 2016

IMG_4327I feel as if Easter snuck up on us this year, even though the chocolate eggs have been on the  shelves since early January…

But despite the surprise arrival of the 4-day weekend – we managed to fill the time quite easily. Actually, in all honesty, it was rather nice to not have a lot planned. Rather, the lack of  firm plans meant we could lounge in our PJs while deciding what to do, and head off for little adventures when motivation arrived.

IMG_4341

Good Friday was, as normal, spent with Mr BBB’s family – indulging in all things seafood! A relaxed afternoon grazing on various dishes – including prawns,  tuna and salmon sashimi, calamari and more prawns. Washed down with some fruit-filled wine and entertained with a game of Pictionary.

IMG_7450

IMG_7456

IMG_7454

IMG_7453

Our contribution this year was a rather impressive side of ocean trout – that we picked up from the local fish shop. Cooked by Mr BBB on the BBQ then dressed with a garlic, parsley and chilli dressing.

IMG_7471

We followed this recipe – and the fish turned out beautifully (although we did reduce the cooking time a little to save it from being overcooked).

IMG_7470

And as for the rest of the weekend?  We pottered around – crossing a few things off our “to-do” list along the way.  We coloured, we went on an Easter egg hunt, we played and we organised. We got some exercise in too with a bike ride one day, and a family mountain climb the next!

Oh and did I mention that thanks  to family and the Easter Bunny –  our chocolate supplies have gone from ‘modest’ to ‘plentiful’?!

IMG_4399

IMG_4500

IMG_7530

pic1

pic2

Overall – it was a rather lovely weekend – with a nice balance of ‘activity’  and ‘downtime’.  Here’s to another short week too!

What about you? What did you get up to this Easter weekend?

Carnival 1st Birthday Party

IMG_4130

This past weekend, we celebrated all things Josephine. For Little J turned the big O-N-E (and therefore we too survived that hard & sleep-deprived first year). And, as is often the case when I start party planning, a rough ‘idea’ soon turned into quite the party DIY extravaganza.

IMG_4145We ended up with over 15 kids at the party + parents + family, so needless to say it was quite a full house! But it was chaotic in a fun way, and Josie is certainly lucky to have so many wonderful people in her life. As are we.

The theme

I can’t quite recall why we decided to have a carnival / circus theme, but it seemed fun and festive and a great way to keep the older kids entertained. For while we had plenty of 3 to 5 year olds, Josie was the second youngest at the party (not having met many new friends her age just yet). That didn’t stop her from trying to follow the other kids around though, albeit crawling, and generally enjoying all the cuddles from family and friends who had come to help us celebrate.

IMG_4157

The food

We set up a food table – with all things “carnival”. There was fairy floss, lolly pops, cinnamon doughnuts, popcorn, marshmallow cones, animal crackers, fruit kebabs, puff pastry pinwheels, clown noses (jaffas) and chocolate sparkles (all of which I could make ahead of time). During the party we served mini hot-dogs, party pies and sausage rolls, with dips / vegetable sticks, chips and lollies also on offer. And while I thought I may have over-catered, there was barely a cracker left by the end. And I’m pretty sure there were quite a few sugar highs being had.

IMG_4141

IMG_4139

IMG_6483

IMG_4136

IMG_6478

The entertainment

We couldn’t resist preparing a few carnival-inspired games for our guests to enjoy at their leisure. Ring Toss, Duck Pond fishing and Can Toss (made by covering some old cans in fabric). We also had a balloon darts game which was a lot of fun for the adults later in the day (ps. darts is NOT my specialty it would seem). The kids also had a ball getting their faces painted and having balloon animals made for them, and playing at the little photo booth with props.

IMG_6518IMG_6500 IMG_6498 IMG_6497 IMG_6493 IMG_6490

IMG_6503The cake

As for the cake, well it turned out to be quite the monster! My niece helped with the fondant (her skills certainly surpassing mine) and we ended up creating a two-tiered chocolate cake decorated with carnival shapes and colours.

IMG_6489

IMG_4135

IMG_6546

The idea was that Josie could do a cake smash with the top layer. Knowing how much of an ‘into everything’ girl she is I was positive she would embrace the opportunity to smoosh up some sticky chocolate cake. Alas, as is often the case with kids (who insist on proving you wrong) she wanted NO part in such frivolity and yelled the whole time. Although I must admit that was rather cute too.

IMG_6568 IMG_6581Overall, we had a wonderful time with our nearest and dearest – and I was so lucky to have my family up from Melbourne for the occasion too (including my 8-week old nephew).

IMG_4143

Happy 1st Birthday my beautiful Josie. How is it that you are ONE already??

Sky Zone Belconnen

If there is one thing I know for certain about my daughter, it is that she loves to bounce. Yes the trampoline she got for Christmas last year continues to have  daily workout. As does the couch. And the bed. So when Sky Zone invited us to a little sneak peek of its new Trampoline Park at Westfield Belconnen, we jumped at the chance. Excuse the pun. IMG_0062 I can’t say I’ve ever been to trampoline park before, but boy this place was impressive. A big colourful warehouse, filled with trampolines of all shapes and sizes – including a “slam dunk” area, foam pit and even a dodge ball arena (?!). Belco-06 (2) The big kid in me wanted to have a bounce(but sadly being in the third trimester means I am better suited to solid ground). Charlotte, however, barely hesitated when given the opportunity to test out the trampolines! IMG_0059 And bounce she did! IMG_0060 I was a little concerned how the venue would manage crowd numbers – but they tell me that the appropriately named “Sky Guards” will keep things in order. The sessions (which are an hour long) will have capped numbers, meaning that everyone ought to get a decent turn. They can also section off different areas, to safely cater for younger participants. On that note – I was interested to learn that Sky Zone hosts kids parties! They have 3 designated party rooms  – with party packages including jump time, food (party or ‘healthy’), drinks and other goodies (think t-shirts, return tickets etc).  Definitely something for me to keep in mind for the next few years! So, local Canberrans with kids (or the big kids at heart…) I recommend you check this place out. It looks like a lot of bouncy happy healthy fun! (ps. rumour has it that they are holding ‘bouncefit classes’ in the new year too….) The Details…Sky Zone Belconnen Where: Westfield Belconnen (entrance just off the new bus interchange) Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 10am–10pm
Friday 10am–Midnight
Saturday 9am–Midnight
Sunday 9am–9pm Pricing: $18 for a one hour session (or $16 if you bring your own jump socks) Website: http://skyzone.com.au/location/belconnen (for all the other details!)   —- A big thankyou to David at Sky Zone for showing us around before the official opening. We will be back for sure! What about you? Ever been to a trampoline park?

Weekend

As I mentioned earlier, I was determined to make this a good weekend. And I’m pleased to report that it was just that. Filled with family and with friends. We started with a trip “around the world” – strolling through the Multicultural Festival on Saturday… IMG_7119IMG_7125IMG_7130IMG_7138 Indulging in loukoumades along the way, and stopping for an amazingly refreshing apple and strawberry iced tea when we sought respite from the heat and the crowds. And we finished our weekend with an Indian feast prepared by my mother in law on Sunday … IMG_7201IMG_7203IMG_7188IMG_7209 I also got to bake….and bike 30ks with Mr BBB – which both made for a fantastic weekend also. IMG_7163IMG_7213 Not to mention being able to savour the quiet times with my little family too. IMG_7092 All in all – the weekend was just what I needed! What about you? What did you get up to this weekend?

60th Birthday Party Fun

IMG_6907

What a weekend indeed. Fun, frivolity and lots of laughs, with some of my nearest and dearest family.

IMG_7055

We travelled to Melbourne to celebrate my Mum’s 60th birthday, and had an absolute blast from start to finish.

IMG_6937

From making cakes, salads and pulling together the dessert table…

IMG_6914IMG_6891

(And learning the hard way that one should not stir red velvet batter while wearing a white shirt)…

IMG_6918

And gasping in awe at this beautiful teapot cake a local cake maker created for the party…

IMG_6912 IMG_6909

We had a lot of fun all-round. Not even the 38C+ days and a toddler who refused to nap could quash our spirits, as we partied until the wee hours of the morning.

IMG_6932

Hokey pokey and all!

IMG_6951

I returned home tired, but definitely grateful for my wonderful little family.

IMG_7053

Happy Birthday Mum!

What about you? What did you get up to this weekend?