Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A cruel and heartless world

I've starting writing a number of blog posts in the last two weeks.

Posts about school holiday fun, the dinosaurs at the museum, the boat trip we went on with Grandma.

And, then, when I'm part way through - or ready to post - I find myself wondering if it's appropriate to do so.

Is it insensitive to post about our how much we enjoyed the T-Rex on the same day that the father of three little girls is convicted of killing their mother?

Is it acceptable to post about delicious muffins we made when there are so many cases of child abuse and neglect?

Is it inconsiderate to want to share our cruise on the harbour when there is continued war, wars starting up again, poverty and aeroplanes being shot out of the sky?!?

I started wondering if my posts were trivial.  Inconsequential fluff in this cruel and heartless world.

Did that make my days trivial too?  This work that I do everyday to make my children's world loving, nurturing and maybe just a little bit magical.

Then I remembered this quote...
That's my job.

That's what I do. 


That's what I'm sharing with you.

I hope you're here because you see the value in it too.

(Sending a lot of love and sympathy into the world right now xx)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

World Cup Fever!

If you follow Stay at Home Territory on Facebook, you'll know that we've been enjoying a few International Food Nights to help celebrate the Soccer World Cup.

I wrote about how International Food Night started - coincidentally with another Soccer World Cup - in this post here.

So far we've "visited" the countries that the Socceroos have faced in the pool matches.

After the match against Chile, we made a traditional stew called Cazuela...

Messy looking, but delicious, warming comfort food. You can find the recipe here.

We followed it up with some Cocadas.  These are like coconut macaroons with a caramel twists and were so delicious I didn't even get a chance to take a photo! The recipe is here.

Next, we visited the Netherlands. We followed a previous favourite recipe for Draadjesvlees - a Traditional Dutch Slow-Braised Beef.  We served with a traditional vegetable mash called Knolselderijstamppot (Celeriac Mash). In the past we have also served it with Rode Kool Met Appeltjes (Red cabbage with apples) and cinnamon glazed carrots. Did you know that carrots were originally purple?  It was the Dutch that bred an orange version in honor of their national colour.

Then, we went to Spain. I read some great tips on how to make the perfect paella here and we headed out to the barbeque to fire things up. Hamish was a great helper...

We decided to do a dessert at the last minute and I found this recipe for Polvorones - a traditional, crumbly, almond biscuit that converted to gluten free pretty well.
With the semi-finals now over, excitement is mounting for the Grand Final and third place playoffs. Why not get in on the act with an International Food Night of your own?

Will you choose to cheer on the Netherlands or Brazil for third place?  If you'd like to put your support behind the host nation, you can see our Brazilian International Food night here.

We celebrated Argentina not long ago when they played the All Blacks, so will probably buy some Knackwurst and serve it with Sauerkraut and throw our support behind Germany. The boys will most likely talk me into a Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte too!

If you'd like to support Argentina, comment below and I'll send you all the amazing recipes we used for a traditional, multiple course Asado (barbeque) with a Tres Leches (Three Milk) Cake for dessert - Yum!  

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Fourth of July

Our school holidays are turning out to be very low key.

I had a whole swag of awesome, themed play-dates with friends and excursions galore planned and it's ended up being just me and the kids chillin' in the comfort and warmth that is home. 

We've had some jam-packed weekends full of crowded parties and big adventures and I think we're all finding it necessary to stick close to home.  Just us and the occasional themed activity!

We combined a few fun things with some red, white and blue Americana on the fourth of July. Kind of like an all-day International Food Night.

We dressed appropriately...
Played some ball...
Had Hotdogs for lunch...
...and Hamburgers for dinner.  Pickles, mayo and ketchup essential.
 There were build your own red, white and blue parfaits for dessert...
They went down a treat...
Hope our friends in America had an awesome fourth x

Friday, 4 July 2014

A Fifth Birthday Ninja Party

There were a lot of ninjas sneaking about the George Brown Botanical Gardens last April.

If you're a long-term reader of the blog you may recall from my party sneak peak post that Hamish chose a Ninja theme this year. I had so much fun putting together all of my favourite ideas for this one and I'm SO thrilled to be finally sharing it with you.

We chose to have the party in the Botanical Gardens because of their amazing Children's Garden.  Along with a mini-maze, mosaics and fossils, it has this incredible tree-house which I knew would look great decorated with birthday banners and paper lanterns...

It also has this spot, on a raised boardwalk, which was perfect for the eating part of the party.
Between the tree-house and the boardwalk is a bamboo forest just perfect for little ninjas to hide in...

We set up a Japanese-style low table with cushions to sit on. This is actually three coffee table rather wonkily joined together and covered with one long roll of plastic tablecloth.

The place settings were one of my favourite things.
Each of our ninjas were presented with a special training headband. Looking back I wish I'd sewn the hems, but these are just strips of calico with the Japanese characters for ninja and a ninja star drawn on with a couple of Sharpies.

Just after we had completed the setting up of all the decorations, and all of our ninja trainees had arrived and each had been adorned with their ninja training headbands and started to play- it rained.

It rained a lot. 

Unless you live - or have lived - in The Territory, I don't think you can fully understand just how much rain can fall in a fifteen minute period.   

We got a bit wet, realised it was going to be one of those monsoonal downpours, then covered the table with some extra table cloth (I'm SO glad I decided to order the really long roll instead of two smaller tablecloths!) We then headed for the nearest shelter.  

The kids LOVED it.  I only snapped this one blurry shot on my phone, as I packed the camera away when the rain hit.  Fortunately, it only lasted those 15 minutes and it sure helped to cool us all down. April is still steamy up here.
After the rain cleared, we had afternoon tea.  

I kept it simple with three savory and three sweet options. (Excuse the dreadful photography - I was more worried about how soggy everything was!) We had Sushi rolls and Teriyaki Chicken Skewers...
"Ninja Star" Ham and Cheese Sandwiches.

Cupcakes (the origami ninja stars - along with my beautiful place settings - got destroyed in the rain).
Hamish's favourite was the sweet sushi - LCMs, jelly fish that I made and a strip of Roll-up to hold them together. (And a few "sushi" rolls with the off-cuts!)
And my personal favourite - Ninjabread Men...
Lots of contended ninjas...
The kids had a lot of fun running around crazy and getting mucky. Liam kindly let himself be the "bad" ninja that the little ones got to chase!

Fortunately, the cake survived being hastily covered in the rain...
Happy birthday, my sweet ninja xx

I love this shot! They are so keen to get a bit of cake, I was worried about fingers.  Rohan's got his tongue hanging out ready. Eyes on the prize!
Our very soggy guests went home with some takeaway bags.

They were filled with bubbles, Hello Panda biscuits (yum!), lucky candy, Chicos and Raspberries.

In the end, the rain didn't put a dampener on our ninja's spirits- it made it all the more fun.

I think this may be even be my favourite party yet!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Eric Carle's Birthday

Well, school holidays are keeping me very busy and we had a bit of fun last week celebrating Eric Carle's Birthday.

Last year, to mark the occasion, we did some collage artwork inspired by the author's gorgeous illustrations and made a sensory tub for 18 month old Rohan.

We've also been known to enjoy Very Hungry Caterpillar luncheons and make caterpillar-themed craft.

This year we decided to invest in a new Eric Carle book and we chose The Bad-Tempered Ladybird. 

We read the book together and this led to lots of discussion. We asked... Why is he so grumpy? Is he really looking for a fight? Why was the other ladybird always so nice to him? What are aphids? There would be so many different themes and activities that this book could lead to.

Time is another feature - the book has a clock on most of the pages and time is referred to throughout the story.  There are lots of age appropriate conversations and activities around time.

Rohan (2.5) was able to point to and say "Clock", Hamish (5) was able to tell me the times on the hour and Liam (8) was able to talk to me about the twelve hours that pass and how long it takes to fly past a whale - in fifteen minute increments. 

We even made a couple of simple clocks like this one that Hamish brought home from school...

For lunch we made Ladybird Pizzas.  The kids were adamant they did not resemble ladybirds in the slightest.  What do you think?

They tasted pretty good, anyway!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Back to normal: A life of bums and crumbs

I finish work today.  Seven weeks of full time teaching done and dusted.

It's been eight years - and three babies - since I worked full-time and over five and a half years since I prepared lessons, marked assignments and wrote report cards.  Needless to say I've found the experience rather challenging (I had to teach Senior Physics!), totally exhausting and a bit of a child-care/house-work logistical nightmare. The hardest thing is that I've missed my babies terribly.

There have been some good things about work - working with a great bunch of people, getting a paycheck, meeting some delightful young people, mental stimulation, the paycheck, adult conversation, external validation and, occasionally, having time to sit down and eat lunch. Did I mention the paycheck? Also, this is the view from our photocopier...

The one main thing that has resulted from this experience is the complete, deep-seated justification that my decision to stay home for the last five-and-a-bit years has been absolutely the right one.

So, as of tomorrow I'm back in the world of Bums and Crumbs. Back to being 'just' Mum.
Perhaps changing dirty nappies, wiping up yet-another-spill and reading the same dinosaur story five times in a row will be a bit of a novelty to begin with.  Hmmm... perhaps not.

Regardless, I'm really excited to be planning and preparing fun experiences for the boys - especially as tomorrow is the start of four weeks of school holidays - and taking some time to tackle a few fun projects and get the house back in order.  I'm also really pleased to be back blogging and am so looking forward to sharing all the fun here with you!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Where'd my mojo go?

I've lost my mojo. 

For those of you not familiar with the term made famous by one seriously groovy, shagadelic, secret agent here's some definitions for you. Yeah, baby...


noun \ˈmō-(ˌ)jō\
: a power that may seem magical and that allows someone to be very effective, successful, etc.
: a charm or spell. 
: finding the magic in what we do. 

So, I've lost my magic charm. 

That drive, that push, that creative little spark inside me that pushes me - pushes me to be creative with my kids, to turn everyday events into themed celebrations and to take the time to prepare nutritious food for my family is missing. 

The drive I have to keep a clean and organised house is absent without leave.

The drive I usually have to share and connect on my blog and social media is sadly lacking, and just when I was ready to really amp things up a bit. 

I think it's mainly because I'm exhausted and overwhelmed. 

The last two weeks have included two birthdays and two birthday parties. That means four cakes and two sets of cupcakes to share at school. There's also been a whirlwind trip interstate. With three children. On my own. One of whom did not sleep well the entire five nights. I don't function well on very little sleep. It makes my brain fuzzy. It also makes me bitchy a bit cranky.

We are also (still) in the process of making over our home office/library/guest room. Which has resulted in a whole lot of displaced/broken furniture, boxes of Ikea goodies (which should make me excited not overwhelmed) and a dazzling variety of other crap stuff all cluttering up the house. I don't function well in clutter. It makes my brain feel clogged. 

I'm also on the cusp of a new reality for all of us. One in which I work. FULL TIME. It's only a seven week contract and parts of me are looking forward to it (though, mainly my purse and Pay Pal account!) The rest of me is a little nervous. How will the baby cope without me? How will I cope without my babies? Will I suck? It's been a fair whack of time since I planned any lessons or did any marking. I don't function well when I'm anxious, either. It makes my brain twitchy. 

No wonder I've had a headache for three days. 

So, somewhere inside my fuzzy, clogged, twitchy brain is that spark. My mojo. 

And I need it back. 

I need it back before my two years gets addicted to television. 

I need it back before my five year old thinks LCMs are everyday foods. 

I need it back before my self-esteem and sense of self-worth disappear altogether. 

I've slowly begun my quest to relocate my spark.  I'm making those lists that used to make me so happy.  I'm ticking things off, slowly.  Then I lose interest or get distracted.  I spent 15 minutes cleaning the laundry today so the washing machine repair man wouldn't think less of me.  The rest of the house looks like a bomb went off.

I'm sitting here, taking to you when I should be cooking dinner.  Leftovers anyone?

*SIGH* Are you adept at locating missing mojo? Feel free to throw some helpful hints at me. 

P.S. When I logged on to post this I saw that my little ol' blog has had over Twenty thousand page views!  Thank you for your ongoing support.  You've made my fuzzy little brain a bit happier and my heart so very full xx