Tuesday, 29 October 2013

:: moving on ::

One of the harder parts of being married to someone from another country is that, when you choose where to live, there will always be one who has to live far away from family, friends and everything that is so familiar in culture, language and ways of doing things. On the flipside it is a wonderful way to live, to experience the richness that these differences offer, but there is always much sacrifice.

One day recently I was missing the smallest things!  I think it started with the blog post written by a friend who had recently moved back to Switzerland, describing some familiar Swiss foods and surroundings. Then there was the salad I ate at dinner-time which made me miss Thomy Salad Sauce, and the recipe I had read the day before that called for gruyère cheese. As well as spotting the wonky wine bottle in a friend's early-family-Christmas photo from England that reminded me of the time that we bought the same wine simply because of the wonky bottle...which made me miss our French supermarket. These memories that lead on to others - those fond, favoured and memorable ones - gave me a pang of homesickness for my second home. I sent Eti a text that day, saying "La Suisse me manque aujourd'hui!" and he replied "I miss Switzerland every day!" Suddenly I was confronted with the reality that, as I missed my family and a lot about New Zealand when we lived in Switzerland, Eti rarely mentions it, but he misses the same things now.

I think it might also be our upcoming move to a new home this week, that coincides with the date that marks a full year of living here, that has brought up a lot of feelings of nostalgia and pangs of homesickness for all that we/I treasured in our other home country.

As we pack up those belongings that we fit into the eight suitcases that accompanied us from Switzerland, and those we have acquired since, I remember all that we sold and gave away and can't help missing it all! Yesterday, I confess, we got on a roll...
"I miss our 'Killy' car!"

"I miss our table and chairs!"

"I miss our Nespresso machine!!"

"I miss my food processor!"

"I miss our wrought iron bed!"

"I miss our wardrobe!!!"

"I miss IKEA!!!!!"

And so it went. I think, even though it was terribly materialistic, it helped us just to voice those thoughts of what we really miss, no matter how small or trivial, and then to move on. It probably would have cost us the amount of a house deposit to bring it all with us anyway (or more so to bring IKEA!), so in reality it was most likely the best option to let go of these things in the way we did. We made the choice to move here in faith that Eti will realise his helicopter pilot dream.

It has been an absolute blessing to live so close to my family again after more than 10 years of us not living in the same place. I honestly would not have wanted to live elsewhere during this past year. We're in the right place and there is so much to enjoy and be thankful for about being here. The nature of our marriage, as so many of our friends know well, is that we cannot have both and all. There will always be family, friends and treasured things several (as in 25) hours by flight away. Our children will always grow up with half of their family on the other side of the world. But they will have access to two (three, counting France) languages, beautiful countries and a wide-open option of future study opportunities and careers...if not more, as God leads them. The world is their oyster.

So, this weekend we move on. We will say a sad goodbye to this simple, wonky-edged, little kiwi house, with it's incredibly stunning view. It's been such a gift to spend the last 9 months living here! And we will say hi to our new farm cottage surrounded by lush green fields, cows, sheep and a nomadic flock of turkeys. We move with anticipation and thankfulness for a new place that holds the promises and possibilities of establishing ourselves into a small community where our girls have loved going to playgroup, Mainly Music and church (though very rarely getting there until now!), and of making new friends. We still don't know if Eti's dream will become a reality. We need to wait for his permanent residency to come through before he's eligible to take a student loan to help with the huge cost of becoming a helicopter pilot. But we continue forward with our faith eyes open. Trying not to spend too much time lingering behind at what we don't have any longer (as hard as that can be at times!) but around us in this present time that is rich and full of people and things to be thankful for, and ahead with a great hope of what's to come.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

:: operation organisation ::

When I read Simone's first post about having a professional home organiser come to her place and help her sort out parts of her home that were really challenging to keep tidy (like many of us - the pantry, laundry and linen cupboards who have a life of their own!) I had two impressions. First I thought what a fascinating job to be able to put things into neat order and have a bunch of great organisational ideas to share to help others. Second, I was inspired because having things in order and organised is something I love to do (although, you can't always tell from my home!), and often I don't feel I can truly relax or 'play' until things are organised here at home. Although, I've learned to let that go because it's not really possible if I want to sleep! (I'm admittedly one of those crazy people who gets a kick out of putting things in rainbow-coloured order whenever possible). In the weeks leading up to Théo's arrival I had, for a short moment, everything clean and organised in the house (bear in mind we'd only lived here for a few months after shifting internationally with only suitcases...so not a HUGE amount of stuff!). Anyway, over the last few weeks I've been learning how to take care of a new little person and two bigger little people, so things have got increasingly out of order, dumped and crammed into spare spaces. And we shift to a new home in just over two weeks, so I haven't gone out of my way to purposefully tidy!

But, after seeing Simone's post, I was inspired to clean and order my food cupboards anyway and, in the process, think about how I could store things differently to make better use of the space. I haven't bought anything yet because it all depends on the size and space of the new pantry we'll have. I was surprised, though, to discover several double (or triple!) ups of a few items as I tidied through the pile of spice boxes and packets. Who needs three boxes of cayenne pepper?! or two boxes of nutmeg? It's not as though we use those often, even hardly ever! So I'm now armed with a little inventory of the containers I have got already and what would help to have when they come on sale one day (soon, hopefully!). In the meantime I now know where everything is :o)

Is there any space in your home that needs a little tidying attention? Join in with Simone's Spring Declutter!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

:: mummy, it's just like a party! :: butter cookie recipe ::

These were Amélie's words, exclaimed with a wide smile and sparkling eyes, when we sat down yesterday and ate freshly baked chocolate chunk cookies with cold milk. It made me smile. For all my impatience to get the cookies into the oven and not into little mouths first (though...does it really matter!) it was lovely to share that moment together and see it through my little girl's eyes.

We've made this recipe twice recently. It's one of Annabel Langbein's that is quite a basic, butter-cookie recipe (see below) with almost limitless possibilities of adding different flavours and creating varieties, from lavender, hazelnut & chocolate, 100s & 1000s, ginger, cranberries, and so on... Ours were chocolate and hazelnut and delicious!

And here are my little helpers, waiting patiently for a batch to bake while taste-testing, of course!

:: Recipe : Butter Cookies (Annabel Langbein - Simple Pleasures) ::

Prep time     20 minutes + chilling
Cook time    20 minutes
Makes          about 7 dozen

500g butter
1 cup sugar
4 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
flavourings of your choice

Cream the butter and sugar. Stir in the flour, baking powder, vanilla and sweetened condensed milk until the mixture comes together in a ball. The raw dough can be made ahead to this stage and frozen until needed. Defrost before baking.

)At this stage you can divide the dough up into different portions and add further ingredients, i.e. chocolate bits, nuts, cranberries etc.) Taste a little raw dough as you go and adjust the flavourings to suit. Chill mixture for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. Line 3 or 4 oven trays with baking paper. Roll cookie dough into walnut-sized balls, place on baking trays and flatten slightly. Bake until lightly golden and set (about 15-20 minutes).

Allow to cool for 10 minutes on the tray then transfer to a rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container or jar. They will keep for several weeks - if they become a little stale simply refresh for 5 minutes in an oven preheated to 180 degrees C.

Enjoy! Bon Appétit!!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

:: matt & jomine ::

Our girls have always had people at different times and places we've lived in who have really made an impression on them and of whom they talk about a lot. No matter that they become incredibly shy in these peoples' presence, they testify of their love of them through their words and home-made gifts when they're in their comfort zones. For a long time it was Marc & "Lala" (Eti's aunt and uncle), who lived below us in our home in Switzerland. Since moving to New Zealand it's Julie and Steve (my aunt and uncle), "one Julie the hair-cutter" (who is the current number one, alternating with Julie and Steve, to take top honours every single day as the first response to "What would you like to thank God for today?"!) and Matt and Jomine, my brother and sister-in-law. Elise is particularly drawn to Matt and Jomine. Without fail almost every single drawing she creates or every flower she picks is for Matt and Jomine. Once she came running inside with a sweet bunch of flowers she'd just picked and gave them to me. "Oh thankyou sweetheart!" I exclaimed and she replied "For Matt & Jomine!" I think being "princesses" at their wedding back in April created such an impression on her, they will be forever close to her heart! (in fact, as an aside, tonight I was getting dressed to go out and wore the same dress as I did to the wedding. Elise was with me and said "Mummy putting tights on!" "Mummy putting dress on!" "Mummy getting married!!") She's got such a big, sweet, thoughtful heart!

We don't see Matt and Jomine a whole lot because we live a wee while away from them, across the city, and our lives are both pretty full with work and family life, so the days and weeks pass. But we do catch up pretty regularly for family get togethers. Often the flowers that are picked "for Matt and Jomine" are dutifully put in glasses of water on the windowsill then have to get discretely thrown out a few days later, wilted and not-so-pretty-anymore. So, I thought I'd take photos of the current bouquets that are adorning our windowsills for Matt & Jomine to receive virtual-style, and to capture a visual proof of the sweet and generous heart of our little girl who may just, almost-surely, have a love language of giving. Matt & Jomine, you are much loved by our family! :o)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

:: life lately ::

A bit of a collection of thoughts and happenings today! We're currently enjoying some beautiful sunny, warmer days, which make a whole lot of difference to motivation and the productivity of getting things done, cleaned and sorted around here! I've found myself unexpectedly surprised this year by the shortness of the 'winter' we've had here. I guess 9 years of long, cold, rainy/snowy winters in England and Switzerland had me used to waiting out the beautiful spring flowers and greenery that bursts forth in such a contrast to the cold, short winter days. In Switzerland there can be snow on the ground for 6 or 7 months of the year, considering we lived up in a mountain village. This year it feels like we've blinked and almost missed winter, and pleasantly so :o) Not that Auckland really puts on much of a wintery show!

Until this last week we had several days in a row that provided a scene like this one above. Combined with some bugs that the girls caught, our day time activities admittedly included a lot of the following...

Alot. So much so that I've become a Peppa Pig expert. Almost. I would guess we may have viewed each episode five times which, for the number of episodes, is quite a feat. They are only 5 minutes long each, kinda sweetly annoying as well and cover a whole range of topics from fire engines, to recycling, going on holiday and new babies. Thankfully we can switch to the French version from time to time to change the voices :o) Although, Peppa Pig has resulted in many outbursts of disappointment-bordering-on-tantrums when it comes time to switch it off, so there's a bit of a love/hate relationship with it all.

Mrs Duck persists with her daily visits, hobbling across the grass and jumping up on the concrete to sit expectantly, quacking outside the door. We've persevered very well in not feeding her or Mr Duck, who often accompanies her. Until she discovered a crust of bread that had been left behind by the birds yesterday. Sweet, but the mess left on the concrete not so...

This little man slept with us in the lounge during the cold, rainy afternoons because he seemed to settle much more easily with company nearby. He's such a sweet little guy! His sisters love to help him and initiate going to get anything he might need, including reading materials for his tummy time...

 Or just keeping him company...

Though, even with no company from us he loves to smile and talk to his mobile!

Since Théo arrived I've been often inspired to bake and create things in the kitchen. I love the thought of a warm, freshly-baked-cookie-smelling kitchen and hope that's one memory our children hold of their childhood one day. I'm slightly peeved when I read how bad refined sugar is for us, but some days just call for forgetfulness of such things and enjoyment of some indulgence! Baking, I've found, is also provides me with an enjoyable little "project" to achieve in a day, with yummy results. Although, I admit that several times I've sacrificed precious time, while the three little people sleep, completely to this form of creating, only to realise I'm unprepared for the chaotic late-afternoon-before-dinner hour. Suddenly the previous feelings of domesticated goddess-ness disappear like vapour, and I realise all-too-late that some priorities were all mixed up!

I missed out on partaking of the last half of these delicious cookies when I decided to go refined-sugar free for the month of October, curious to follow my sister's example and see if it made any difference to how I felt. It has been relatively short-lived as, less than a week in, the choice between letting the girls' icecreams drip all down their fronts or 'helping' them quickly became apparent that there was only one responsible-mummy decision to be made! Thankfully we don't eat icecream every day :o)

We have, however, enjoyed a couple of visits to our favourite local café, which is situated across from one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. The girls love their fluffies, and whenever I propose the idea of going to a café for a fluffy the first question is "and marshmallows?!" of which these particular fluffies give them two. In fact, often we no longer need to order them, the lovely café ladies bring them to us a few minutes after entering!

Superma and Megapop's house is one of the girls' favourite places to go to. Yesterday we went to see Superma's newly planted vegetable garden, and to pick oranges off the tree (which were left behind on the grass much to my disappointment!). Here they were helping make mint tea, which was delicious. I'm hoping that our next home will have a garden so that we can grow our own veges and herbs.

In the meantime I'm enjoying working my way through Tearfund's Live Below the Line recipe book which has a lot of delicious, easy, and completely affordable recipes, which are exactly what I enjoy discovering. These are some of what we've been up to lately. Life has it's challenges and joys at the moment. But we're well surrounded by an amazing family and many things to be thankful for. One of which we hope will eventuate this afternoon as we go to visit a house that we will possibly, hopefully call "home" very soon.