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It’s been a while…

Real life just gets in the way sometimes… I’ve been so busy recently, one day just looks like all the others, wake up, breakfast, chores, homeschooling, lunch, more chores, errands to run, dinner, bedtime for my little ones, a well earned glass of wine, an hour of tv then finally bed… wake up and do it all over again.  I was so in need of a vacation…


Now traveling to the U.K. can be viewed in two ways… one it’s not really a vacation because you are constantly busy seeing different people or you can just take a huge step back and enjoy it for what it is, a huge break from normal life, a chance to revisit places you remember in your past, see new things and just enjoy the company of your family and friends that you just don’t see that often anymore, and this was exactly how my vacation went down over Spring break.


After 36 hours of no sleep and a 6 hour plane journey, I woke up in our hotel room in Kingston upon Thames on our second morning in England at 5am, Paul made us both coffee and we both just sat there in the quietness of the morning looking out at fantastic view as the sun came up over London… I felt finally refreshed to have had 7 hours of sleep, my babies were still asleep in our bed, still on US time I think and my three big babies were still asleep a few dorms away from us… I quickly went over the day before, arriving at Heathrow seeing my parents and my brother waiting patiently for us to come through with our luggage, then sitting dozy drinking coffee, collecting our rental car then heading to my brothers house for a while and seeing his family… wow we even fitted in a visit to our old house even though we were so tired, day one of a busy vacation.


We decided to not go too far on our first full day, we shopped, had lunch in Carluccios, my choice and then visited the beautiful Hampton Court Palace… later we strolled along the riverside in Kingston and ate a very cheeky Nandos for dinner, Jordan’s choice. Good Friday began our carpool karaoke journey of the vacation, 5 children and some iPhone music in a car… we played the sound track to Moana switched it up a bit and sang all the words in time together, maybe not that much in time or really that tuneful, but right then our family car journeys began to be a lot more fun and a lot more musical.  We headed to Brighton, one of my favorite seaside towns to visit in the U.K., it did not disappoint, despite the crowds of people, we strolled along the arches, visited the pavilion and the Lanes, ate fish and chips and had a quick very windy visit on the pier, before heading back to the car and stopping for an ice cream.  Our trip back to Kingston took far less time than our journey to Brighton as we didn’t get lost, the story of our vacation, driving in the wrong direction, despite having a GPS, we arrived at our hotel 10 minutes before our lovely friends messaged to say they were in the lobby, a quick freshen up, organize of the children with money for food and pjs, then Paul and I headed out for a lovely evening by the river, no children with us, just us and old friends ready to catch up on a years worth of gossip.


I won’t bore you with all the details of our vacation, we spent a very full three days in London, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday, we met up with my brother and two of his children on Saturday, and my parents on all three days… we walked and walked, chatted, rode red London buses, took lots of photographs, ate lots of yummy food and drank a few glasses of wine and prosecco along the way… by far my most favorite place to eat was the food festival along the south bank near Waterloo Station, the choice and quality of the food was amazing, from gourmet burgers, fresh made crepes to chicken biryani, everything was freshly made and was absolutely delicious, I had a pesto mozzarella gluten free wrap, I watched them make it from scratch from the freshest ingredients and it was superb, all washed down with plastic flute of prosecco.  I think the highlight of our three days in London has to be the Sky Gardens in fenchurch street, the weather was beautiful, up on the 35th floor we looked out over a magnificent London glistening in the slightly clouded sunshine, we had eaten in a small sandwich shop opposite the walkie talkie building, as it’s known, the food in there was phenomenally fresh and full of flavor so once we were in the Skygarden we ordered prosecco and just sat there enjoying the view… totally well worth booking and it didn’t cost anything until we decided to order a drink… thank you to my friend Diane for telling us all about this wonderful place.  Paul had a much needed few hours with old work friends, he was a little tipsy to say the least when he arrived back at our hotel, Florrie was a little worried about him finding his way home, but he managed ok without us nad much to mine  and Jordan’s surprise he joined us in the hotel bar for another beer… oh Paul you are just so funny sometimes.

The rest of our trip was spent visiting with family and friends, whilst most of us watched a local soccer/football game I met up with my Mum and a close friend and her daughter for cocktails, food and a lot of chatting, later in the day we ate Indian food at my brother house, we shopped a little bit more, we saw Pauls family, I drank prosecco and had a much needed chat with my close friend again (girl stuff) Fish and chips again was a must, we met old school friends in a local pub near my Mum, that was such a nice last evening despite the M3 being closed on our way back to the hotel and the long diversion back to our hotel… finally we just breathed in our old life for just a few hours before we had to fly home… it was a busy 10 days but in all truthfulness I wouldn’t change a moment, we laughed, we sang songs in the car together as a family, very loudly I might add, we chatted to family and friends, we all got on so well, but next time we go on vacation I do not want to pack a coat, I want to pack a book and some sun cream and sit and relax in the sunshine by the water, of course prosecco may feature a little bit again but I just want to relax.

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Baking…

I love to bake, I love making sweet treats for my family… but with a new oven to deal with it’s been difficult getting those cakes to rise and stay risen, so finally yesterday I googled the reason that cakes keep sinking in the middle, one of the causes could be the oven is too hot, the cake cooks from the outside in, so the cake is cooked and browned outside but the middle is not so it sinks… makes perfect sense, so I’m thinking a little experimentation is in order. 

With three Birthdays this month I needed to enlist my little bakers help, the first one was  this weekend, so we set about a nice easy Victoria Sponge recipe from Mary Berry, an easy mix all ingredients go in, mix together then divide equally into two 8 inch baking tins, bake at 350f for 25 minutes… both cakes looked good in the oven they rose nicely then just before they were due to come out they both sank in the middle… REALLY, I couldn’t believe it.  I sent Blu out for more eggs and started again.

I decided to switch recipes, this time a Victoria sandwich recipe from Jamie Oliver, his cake was a little more in ingredient weight and dial up the heat on the oven to 375f… this time the butter and sugar were beat together then the eggs added one by one, finally a gentle mixing in of the dry ingredients… once again both cakes looked good in the oven but just as the timer went off both cakes sunk in the middle… REALLY again!


Time to get GOOGLE working for me… ‘why are my cakes sinking in the middle?’


I had to use one set of cakes and after I added strawberry buttercream, fresh chopped strawberries and grated chocolate it really didn’t look so bad… my little helpers did a fantastic job of adding ingredients, counting the eggs, mixing, chopping strawberries, making chocolate drizzled strawberries and most importantly eating all the strawberries before they had a chance of going in the cake, that was the best part of all of this… for now I see a lot of experimentation of cake temperatures in my new oven… Happy Baking 🎂

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New Year… new food.

Meat eaters, vegetarians, gluten free or just plain picky eaters… I’ve devised a new way to plan a weekly menu for a large family there is every type of eater.


For a long, long time I’ve suffered to all the meat eaters in my family, I cook them the main meal every night, I cook the picky eaters a basic meal then when it comes to me, I just can’t be bothered, so I just grab anything that’s easy, usually it is not that healthy, I try but I just can’t cook 3 separate meals a night.  For anyone that knows me well, I love healthy eating, I make sure my family have healthy meals involving bone broth, lots of super grains and veggies, I even disguise the veggies in sauces and casseroles by pureeing them.  Well it’s time for change, I want to be inspired by food again, eat things I enjoy not just what the meat eaters in my family love, I hate beef in Guinness, I hate chicken noodle soup, or even chicken pot pie, it’s just not who I am… I love lots of healthy salads, eggs, lots of eggs, avocado toast and warm winter soups creamy and full of veggies, so I have devised a new strategy for menu planning for a large family of picky eaters, why I didn’t think of this sooner is beyond me. 

I have been researching lots of vegetarian recipes, the kind I like to eat, then I plan a meat to compliment that dish, hopefully it is plain enough for those that are plain eaters, I then add a carbohydrate for those that want it and voila… basically one meal three ways.

This weeks menu plan… 

Sunday – lemon chicken for some, Salmon for others, baked potatoes for some, baked sweet potatoes for others and salad

Monday – Jamie Oliver’s aubergine daal served with rice and salad and roasted chicken

Tuesday – Jamie Oliver’s blue cheese and sweet potato frittata served with salad, sausages and bread for those that want it.

Wednesday – Jamie Oliver’s chopped salad with a pasta bake.

Thursday – Jamie Oliver’s baked squash with quinoa and meatballs for those that want it.

Friday is always cheat day… no cooking, pizza day!

I always try to buy as much organic foods as my budget will allow or I can get, I am planning on some homemade bread baking this week too, clean eating is not always as easy as it sounds especially if you eat out, but I try very hard to keep my shopping very healthy with a large proportion of my budget going to fruit and vegetables and organic meat.

And so you have it, a menu planned for a very large family, three ways, meat for the meat eaters, grains for the carbohydrate fans, basic and plain for the picky eaters and the perfect vegetarian meal as the core of the plan… simple and hopefully delicious.

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Resolutions for a mindful New Year

Resolutions are a difficult things to keep, we start each new year with things we want to change, things we want to achieve and just things that would make a little difference, but usually we don’t last very long and easily revert back to our old ways, so that is why I started earlier this year… 2016 is the last full year I will be in my forties, something I have struggled with enormously, but it has made me very critical of who I am and what I want to change in my life… I believe in peace, love and happiness, I believe you get what you give out, if you are a kind generous person, you will get those things back in return.

I began my journey of resolutions in my life with positivity, instead of being angry at everything and everyone I looked at the positives of what I had, my family, my home, who I am as a person… I let go of anger and replaced it with love, I began to decluttering my mind and my life of things that make me unhappy, it means that I have thrown away many years of possessions that I mindlessly purchased,  I have been  decluttering my home, I have a long way to go, but if I don’t love it, or use it, I toss it, well not literally, I recycle, I donate… I do not believe in trashing this world we live in, one mans trash is another mans treasure.


I have always been a person who believes in natural remedies before anything else, I discovered my love of essential oils a few years ago, I love to rub lavender oil into my babies feet, to boost their immunity, if I have an ache or just feel blue I rub my oils into my joints… I believe in a pure life, less chemicals more nature in all things. The same can be said for the food that we eat, now don’t get me wrong we eat junk food like anyone else, pizza fridays, chocolate Saturdays… but in general 95% of the time I believe we eat very cleanly, my grocery shopping is 45% fresh organic produce, I buy as much organic, natural meat as I can find and I look at ingredients in every product I buy, pasta is gluten free, rice is organic, I make a weekly batch of my own broth either bone or vegetarian and starting the first week of January I will be making a hidden ingredients pasta sauce in bulk ready for homemade pizzas and pasta dishes.

As for my home, I have looked at a new kitchen as a new start in decluttering my life, we boxed our kitchen up months ago, before Memorial Day, I tossed a lot of old broken things, and then I evaluated whether I would want them in my new kitchen… doing this felt so good I decided to carry on through everything, the funny thing is I tossed a lot of my old things and recently I have been buying someone else’s old things… #gotanaddictiontoantiques.  I found a life changing post on Pinterest for a cleaning routine in my home, I adapted it to suit my needs and implemented it, it works for me and has changed how I view my home, I get my babies to help and they love it.

For my family… I have always been a person to want to get out there and see things, I am homeschooling my babies right now and I love to visit new places, show them new things, so I plan to continue this incorporating field trips into their learning… hopefully we will be doing a snowy winters beach trip very soon, getting back to the zoo and visiting a local museum.  I love to take photos and I have started to learn far more about what my camera can do, that is something I plan to continue with too.

Yoga and Meditation have entered my life and I love them, I want to find more time to develop them in the coming year, to have a healthy mind, body and spirit, but none of these things are my Resolutions for the coming year, I just want to do them and enjoy them… I have one simple New Years Resolution this year, once a week when I buy my groceries I am going to buy a bunch of flowers for my home, I love flowers 🌺 they brighten everything around you, so I want to fill my family home with the beauty of nature.


Happy New Year to each and everyone of you 🌟

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Christmas time…


Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yuletide  carols being sung by a choir, and folks dressed up like Eskimos… this is my vision of Christmas, growing up I loved to listen to Nat King Cole sing this song on our record player… we always had Christmas with family ate a huge roast turkey dinner, with Brussels sprouts (which I hated by the way… what was I thinking), drank snowballs, a treat as it contained a little alcohol… shhh don’t tell anyone, and opened presents all day long, or at least that is what it felt like back then.

 Now I’m an adult I love the tradition of Christmas but I also love to be different, a few years ago we took our family to Florida and California for Christmas, oh how magical it was… there is nothing like Christmas Day in Disneyland, Christmas music blasting out everywhere you go, decorations like you can only imagine and children running around in pure delight… I haven’t mentioned the torrential rain, the sea of ponchos and the crowds, because I didn’t see any of that… it was pure magic in my eyes and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Boxing Day was much slower, sunshine, swimming and drinking cocktails in an adirondack chair in Downtown Disney with Silver Bells being sang away in the distance… my brother could never quite see the vision of a Christmas not spent at home, but to me Christmas is exactly what you make it whether at home or away… I’m hoping his Christmas cruise this year will let him see my vision of A magical Christmas no matter where you are.


Santa Monica Pier, CA … Christmas 2005


Disneyland, Anaheim CA… Christmas Day 2005

This year was much more traditional for us… a few years ago we decided that we would put names of all the older members of our family in a jar, this included Paul and I, my Mum and Dad too this year… each person only bought for the name that came out of the jar, and we set a budget to spend too, this didn’t include Blu, Mabel and of course Florrie and Tate, they still got presents from everyone.  It gets harder and harder each year to think of presents for everyone, we all buy everything we need all year, life is so much more different from when I was growing up, we all have phones, laptops, clothes, toys that we just buy all year, so how do we make it special for that person we are buying gifts for… well the name in the jar gives you the opportunity to really think about that person, I must admit I was not very good this year but Jordan who pulled ‘Mom’ out of the jar really thought about what I might like, we had a little Antique shopping afternoon, he walked silently with me and just observed all the things I touched and loved… I was so delighted with his gifts he really put thought into each one… Kit Kats and mini Twix bars, because he knows they are my favorite, natural face wipes and Lush complexion soap, all natural just the way I like it, then my favorite and Florries too an old typewriter, taking me straight back to my childhood… he then gave me a card with money in it, just in case I didn’t like anything… well guess what Jord, your gift was so thoughtful, I love it… thank you ❤️

I am not usually a fan of going to the shops on Christmas Day, those poor people that have to work instead of being home with their families, but I was naughty this year, I’ve been running around so much organizing the day an hour in Starbucks with just my Mum seemed the perfect way to wind down before the festivities began, so that is exactly what we did…

Of course I can’t be too traditional, so I added a spin on the food… with our Thanksgiving feast just a few weeks ago I decided to change things up for Christmas… an Aussie style BBQ for breakfast, eggs, sauasages and warm bread, of course there was some smoked salmon too, then later in the day we had a gigantic charcuterie board, baked ham and fresh cooked dill butter salmon, cheesecake, mince pies and lots of chocolate… all of my favorite things… and as it turned out everyone else’s too!


After presents were opened, food was eaten we drank the best mulled wine I have ever had, made by Jord courtesy of Jamie Oliver and everything was cleared away, we opened the game Dom had bought us all… there is nothing like a good game of Cranium to inspire the creativity in you, or not in my case… we drew, acted, thought a little and drank more alcohol, ate more chocolate but mostly we just spent time with each other… peace, love ❤️ and happiness.

Photographic diary

The making of a Christmas card…

Well the forecast is COLD COLD COLD next week as the polar artic blast is set to freeze our socks off… but the weather has been very mild up until now, so mild in fact that we even managed a Fall trip to the beach…

The beach… that is when I decided I needed a mini Christmas card photo session… I love to be non-traditional at this time of year, I love the idea of cards set in something you would not necessarily think of as Christmas, with a little twist… so I planned outfits and simplistic prop and off we went…


It was so mild my children even decided to take a quick dip, I freaked out thinking the water would be freezing, but after a little investigation I agreed with them the water was very pleasant and kind of warm.  It was a good job I had packed several outfit changes as Tate was having so much fun at the waters edge he fell over flat on his face and got soaked… Mommy to the rescue, quick change into dry clothes before he got cold, then he was up and running around again.


I love the beach when it is quiet, the waves crashing in and the sand stretching for miles shining in the sunshine… I was expecting a very empty beach when we arrived but we were surprised to find a lot of people had had the same idea, and who could blame them, it’s not often you get a lovely day at the beach this near to Christmas… oh to live in a warm climate all year round near the beach… that’s what dreams are made of.


As I’ve got older I’ve learnt to appreciate the simple things in life… I’m in the process of decluttering my life and so with that in mind I wanted my card to be simple, no fancy Christmas colors, just shades of white to match the sand, sea and sky, a very simplistic prop was all I needed to highlight the time of year and it was done. (Gorgeous dress by Mini Boden and the cutest boys clothes by ZARA)

Now I consider myself to be very lucky to have two of the very best models around, they love the beach so I just let them do their thing and snapped away, I think it came out pretty well considering my amateur photographer status.  

Some of you may ask ‘why are only two of your children on the card?’ Well the answer is simple, most of my children hate having their photos taken, Mabel said if she was around she would have loved to have been in the photo, but she is a social butterfly these days and so she was out with her friends on this day out at the beach… you have to take what you have been given and in this case I think I was very lucky to have these two beautiful babies let me take photographs of their day at the beach.


Happy Holidays xxx xx xxx

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‘Joy to the World…’

I always feel that this time of year is chaotic, the shops are full of crazy people filling their carts with anything and everything they can find, they spend as much money as they can on their loved ones… well my friends that used to be me, but not this year, I’m simplifying my life, I have set a limit for each child, all year they get things they need, I do not need to break my bank account to prove I love them with gifts and possessions, there are more important things in life like experiences, family time and love.


I want to teach my children about giving, not just about receiving, I want them to learn that this season is not just about what they want or need.  I don’t think anyone of my children actually need anything, they are loved, we live in a nice house that has running water, heat and a new kitchen (wink, wink), each one of them has a closet filled with clothes and we eat good healthy meals, most of the time, anyway.  In addition to all of the basics of life we have phones, iPads, computers and a lot of the luxuries in life many people just dream of… so I ask myself what can I really buy each of them that they don’t already have in one form or another…


What we do need from time to time is a vacation, not just a trip away but a vacation from just our day to day life, a day trip to the zoo, an hour in a coffee shop sipping a hot drink and just talking to each other, or even a longer stay in a new place, somewhere to rewind, relax and recharge… and all these things are really what Christmas should be about, not who spent the most money.


My plan this year is not to get stressed, my two younger children have been told Santa can only give five presents to each child, big or small, so Florrie wants a Baby Alive doll, Baby Alive diapers, a kitten… and then she struggles to think of anything else, Tate wants a Tonka cement truck, that is all… so really five gifts each is more than enough.  My teenage daughter’s list is the most difficult and the longest, trying to make her understand has proved the hardest, her list of four makeup products is $200 in itself, that’s without the rest of the list, usually I would stress myself out getting every item on her list but this year she has had to prioritize the things she wants most, and Blu is easy, computer games, a couple of items of clothes, even an IOU for future games that are coming out next year and he’s done.


As for my older children, well a few years ago we all decided to put names in a hat and just buy one larger gift for the name you pulled out, at first I was opposed to this but as time has gone on it has simplified my Christmas a little so I just have to think about Lewis this year, of course he is the most difficult to buy for, I just need a few hints… now if I can ignore everyone else asking me for ideas for their person it will be truly easier for me to concentrate on my one present I have to buy.

We will also be donating a gift this year at our local library, I feel we are truly blessed and there are so many people out there who are not as fortunate as our family… whatever your plans this Christmas, just remember the most important part of this festive time of year is spending time with your loved ones, not money, and if you can’t get that most wanted gift it really doesn’t matter, it will all be forgotten this time next year and they will want something else… just have FUN 🎄🎄🎄