Easter Time with Lulu n Cat

Yay it’s almost that time again, Easter!!!! When I was a kid, apart from Christmas and my birthday, Easter was another holiday I looked forward too.

It meant two weeks off school and lots of chocolate! I grew up with two younger brothers and we all did pretty well for Easter.  We were brought up to wait patiently until Easter Sunday before we could open one of our chocolately treats! (My husband tells me as a child, he was allowed to have his chocolate eggs on Good Friday, to me this doesn’t seem right and I insist our kids have to wait until Sunday).

This year Little Miss is three (going on 13), she will be four in June and Mr Happy is two next month. And this will be the first year I will attempt to do an Easter egg hunt for them. I say attempt, cause I can see it being a tad chaotic. I am really conscious about how much chocolate they should eat/be given at their age, so I have been putting some thought into what they can ‘hunt’ for. I found these cool Playdoh Easter eggs, $12 for 10 eggs which I thought was prety good. The kids, are HUGE Playdoh fans so I think these eggs filled with Playdoh will be a big hit.

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I also have two of Lulu n Cat Easter Bunny Jars one in lime green and the other in blush pink. I think the kids will really like these to collect their mini chocolate eggs and Easter stickers in. Plus after the chocolate is gone and the stickers have been stuck everywhere (usually everywhere but paper!) they will get to keep the jar! They will be a great keepsake, plus they can be used each Easter.

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Emma of Lulu n Cat also lives in New Plymouth, last year I did a review of her cool creations.

I would love to know of any Easter traditions anyone would like to share.

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Dear Mrs C

Antidepressants, oh no she said that word! Yep that’s right, I said it, Antidepressants, (in case you didn’t catch it the first time). I take one daily, well actually I take two, (yep two!) in the morning with my breakfast. If my 3.5 year old asks me what I am taking I just reply ‘Mummy’s happy pills’. I don’t feel a girl of her age needs to be told antidepressant, to me they are my happy pills, they have made me genuinely happier. When my daughter is old enough I will explain to her a little more about them.

I thought I would write a letter to give others a little insight into what it has been like for me, over a year ago that I began taking anitdepressants for PND. I’m a big believer in removing the stigma around PND, I am not ashamed, I am proud to share my story.

 

Dear Mrs C

We had a love/hate relationship at the beginning, but now I write this letter to you, as a thank you.

I wasn’t very keen to introduce myself to you, I thought I could get better without you. But you have proven to me that I did indeed make the right decision.

At the beginning it was dreadful, I felt worse before I felt better. Was it worth it feeling the way I did? A few of the side effects I felt were nausea, increased anxiety, feeling disconnected to people around me and wanting to hide away from the world. Slowly but surely, over a month I felt better. I wanted to get out of bed in the morning, I wanted to see people and most importantly I wanted to be a mother to my kids and a wife to my husband again. Finally, we were getting along, you were helping me be me.

Yes our first month together was incredibly tough and I nearly told you to kindly F*** off as you weren’t working, but like most things that are tough and haven’t been done before, it will often seem worse before it gets better.

I knew the way I had been secretly feeling for months and months, no one else really knew, even I didn’t know as most days I put on my brave, happy smiley face, BUT anything had to be better than the way I was feeling. Thanks to you Mrs C, you helped me see through the fog that was distorting my vision and weighing down on my shoulders. Your support has given me the much needed clarity to see through that pesky fog and begin to bulid my life again.

We have been in an relationship for just over a year now, I’d hoped to have ended my relationship with you by now, but I’m not quite ready. And you know what, I think that is ok. I will ease out of my relationship with you when I feel ready, I will not be hasty, after all it was not an easy decision to make in the beginning.

So thanks Mrs C, you are pretty awesome!

Xxxxxx

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Little Miss

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Mr Happy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is just my opinion on taking antidpressants. I feel my PND is currently managed and I am in control of it. Along with taking an antidepressant I have also sought help from a counsellor, friends and my parents as well as my incredibly patient and loving husband, and my beautiful children.

I have still had some bumps in the road, antidepressants are not a quick fix and not for everyone. I just wanted to share my own personal experience of taking one.

If you or someone you know is struggling please help them to seek help. Having PND or any form of depression is not shameful, please speak up there os plenty of help and support out there.

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Hubby and I

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I’m a #nofiltermum thanks to TheHood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let me introduce……Clever Poppy

I discovered Clever Poppy on Instagram, I’m just a tad obsessed with Instagram. (I’m sure some of you can understand the obsession!?)

One day, I was just looking through the search option, (this is a great option to look through if you want more people to follow on Instagram, you can see what others are posting) and I stumbled across Clever Poppys DIY Kit- Easy Watercolour Art. I thought the finish of the work was really lovely and looked like it wouldn’t be too tricky. I love arty crafty things, as some of you may know (hence my blog name), I’m all about the craft. I have too many craft supplies, (so my husband says) but I dont think you can ever have too many?!

The main thing that caught my attention about the DIY art kit is it is something that can be done with kids. My Little Miss, just loves crafty things. And I really like to be able to do things that include both of us.

 

Julie is the lovely lady behind Clever Poppy, I sent her some questions, and here are her answers.

Can you tell my readers a little bit about Clever Poppy, how did you come up the name and a little about yourself:
I have always been passionate about DIY projects and have made many I love over the years. I recently noticed that DIY projects were becoming quite popular in mainstream media, but while most people love the idea, they don’t have the time spare to get sorted to make projects of their own. So I created Clever Poppy to make it easy for people to experience the fun of creating something beautiful for their home. I studied law and graphic design at uni -wish now I had chosen something in the arts field! After practicing commercial law for 4 years and pretty much hating every minute of it, I finally got the courage to completely change tack and moved into a brand experience / promotions agency. I did that for 3 years and learnt a hell of a lot about marketing and project management, and realised how much happier I was doing something creative. Then I went on maternity leave to have our little man Harvey. While I was on leave I gained a lot of perspective and realised I just had to follow my dreams and start my own business doing what I love. I still work part time in promotions but my main focus is Clever Poppy and this will hopefully become full time down the track. Very exciting and I’m loving every minute so far!!

Do you sell your kits anywhere or just on the Internet? 

At the moment I only sell online, but I’m looking into getting them into stores next year. She did feature in some markets in Auckland leading up to Christmas, lucky Auckland!

How long have you been doing Clever Poppy?

I launched Clever Poppy on 7th August 2015, so it hasn’t been very long! I can’t believe that, it feels like I’ve been doing this for a lot longer, but I guess if you take into account all the planning and prep then it all kicked off in March last year.

Where do you hope to see the business in a few years time?

I would love to be New Zealand’s go-to brands for creative DIY projects! I’ve love to have a variety of kits for sale on my website and in stores nationwide. I also would love to do more freelance work developing DIY projects for third parties.

Do you have a favourite DIY kit? 

My DIY Cooper Magazine Rack for sure.

What’s next for Clever Poppy? Are you able to share what you are planning on doing next?

At the moment my focus is on getting the Clever Poppy brand and concept into the marketplace, and testing various kits to see what gets people excited. Next year (now this year 2016) I’d like to focus on developing kits for wholesale, so you can find me in shops around the country. I’m also working on some freelance project where I am developing DIY projects for third parties, so I’m very excited about where that might lead.

I purchased the DIY- Easy Watercolour Kit for $30, I was really keen to give it a go after seeing what others had created. I loved the idea that everything you needed was in the kit and it would be something that Little Miss would enjoy too. It was money well spent in my opinion.

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After the white-out liquid has been applied

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Before the white-out liquid

The kit includes: 5x Designs- ‘Young and Brave’, ‘Love you to the Moon and Back’, ‘Welcome to the Chaos’, ‘It’s cool to be Kind’ and ‘but first Champagne’

Watercolour paper, paintbrushes, watercolour paint palette, ‘magic’ white-out liquid and DIY wooden poster hanger as well as really clear instructions, with photos to assist you step-by-step. I needed to trace the design and apply the white-out liquid but once that had dried I gave Little Miss free reign to paint away.

When we did the ‘Welcome to the Chaos’ design, Little Miss applied pink and red paint and it looked lovely, but then she discovered the black paint! I really wanted to stop her, but I knew I just had to leave her to do what she wanted and in the end the result looked FAB! I used the wooden hanging poster kit to hang it up, and now it hangs in own home.

 

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Little Miss with the lovely red and pink

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The finished result!

 

I have now bought three kits by Clever Poppy and through following her on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest you can keep up-to date with new kits she is either developing or has released. Julie also shares some great DIY ideas you can do at home with the kids or without them.

Just the other day Julie shared that she was looking to add more deisgns to the DIY- Easy Watercolour Kit, I cannot wait to see what deisgns she comes up with.

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Review for Kiwi Mummy Blogs: Kellogg’s Coco Pops Favourite Family Recipes

A review for Kiwi Mummy Blogs, who sent me a tea towel for Coco Pops as well as a small recipe book Favourite Family Recipes. The book features eight recipes which contain Kellogg’s Coco Pops.

kmb_grey-pinkWe don’t buy Coco Pops usually so receiving the book to review was a great excuse to buy a box of the childhood favourite cereal. With it currently being school holidays here in New Zealand this book is perfect if you want to do some baking that won’t take too longer and taste great. Plus, all the recipes are child friendly, so it’s great to get the kids involved.

I was tempted too make the Chocolate Crackle Balls but my three year old daughter requested the Chocolate Crackles, so we made those instead.

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The recipe said it would make 36 mini chocolate crackles, we didn’t really need that many so I decided to half the recipe. I had all the ingredients I needed in my pantry, except for Kellogg’s Coco Pops and Kremelta (vegetable fat shortening, made from hydrogenated coconut oil. It is popular used in Australia and is used for a lot of children’s foods). I hadn’t cooked with it before so I was quite intrigued as to how it would work out.

Little Miss loves to bake, and is always requesting to do so. After looking through the Favourite Family Recipes book, I thought that Little Miss would be able to make these herself, with a little of my help and supervision.

The recipe was very straightforward and didn’t take Little Miss and I long at all to mix everything together and spoon the mixture into mini paper cases. These are a quick, easy and tasty treat for kids and adults.

image imageEven though I made half the recipe we still had 32 mini paper cups filled with Coco Pops mixture. The recipe suggested adding sprinkles if you wanted something colourful for a kids party, which I thought was a good idea.

 

Along with the Favourite Family Recipes booklet I also received a tea towel. I think it is so nice I don’t want to use it to dry my dishes, don’t think it would look better hanging on a wall in a frame?

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NB: The recipes featured on this blog post can be found  via this link

Review for Kiwi Mummy Blogs: Karla Goodwin ‘Bluebells Cakery, Sweet & Savoury’

I was so excited to receive a cookbook to review from Kiwi Mummy Blogs, I love food, I love baking and I love eating, win win!

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This book is by Karla Goodwin and it is her second book. Her first book Bluebells Cakery Volume 1 focused on cakes, sweets and savouries, her new book Bluebells Cakery – Sweet & Savoury still has lots of mouth watering sweet treats to try along with savoury items which are perfect as snacks, finger foods and lunches.

The book was published on November 1st 2015, (wow that’s last year now!). To be honest, I hadn’t actually heard of Karla before, so it has been great to receive a book by someone I wasn’t familiar with. I like the fact that she has a couple of cafe’s,  I would definitely be looking them up next time I head up to Auckland. I have been checking out the Karla Goodwin website and doing my own research.

(The following information was provided with the book and can be found on the Random House website).

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Karla Goodwin is a talented baker behind the boutique Auckland café shop Bluebells Cakery. Karla learned her craft while living in London where she worked in one of the UK’s most prestigious cupcake bakeries, Primrose Bakery.

When she returned to New Zealand in 2011, Karla started selling at La Cigale, Auckland’s French market, but soon opened her own café (in Hillsborough) which quickly grew from opening just two days a week to a seven-day a week business. Due to Bluebell’s growing popularity Karla has recently opened her second store in Eden Terrace, Auckland.

I really enjoy baking and I like recipes that are easy to follow and ones where I can enlist the help of my 3.5 ear old Little Miss. I usually stick to straight forward butter cream icing to decorate birthday cakes and making ganache hasn’t been too challenging. However, this book  has pages with explanations, baking tips and advice, for any budding baker. At the beginning of the ‘Cakes’ chapter there are several ‘How to’ pages, which I really like. The instructions and photos are clear and don’t make fancy cake decorating seem too daunting. In fact, Little Miss has already chosen her next birthday cake several times from the book. There is also a chapter of ‘Condiments’ at the end of the book.

As I looked through the book, I fell in love with the photography, by Tam West. I just wanted to make everything and make it now! In the end I settled for Mini Savoury Scones and the Apple Pies.

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I made the Mini Savoury Scones first and boy were they a hit! They were super easy to make, and the recipe is really easy to follow. The ingredients are mainly things that we usually have in our fridge or in the pantry. The recipe said to include, bacon, and parmesan but there was an option to omit these and add sundried tomato and feta. I decided to add sundried tomato and feta, but I will definitely try the bacon version next time. Since they are mini, you can easily eat a couple, I enjoyed mine with some butter. But you could add some tasty relish or whatever you like really. I also couldn’t wait to sample one so I ate one straight from the oven! I ate one when they had cooled down too and it was just as good.

My parents are currently visiting from England so I had a few more taste testers in the house. My Mum loves them so much she wants to take a copy of the recipe home with her. Even my Dad really enjoyed them, and he is the biggest critic I know. Mr Happy is a fan of these savour scones and he quickly demolished several, and my hubby said he said they were really tasty. I’m thinking these scones will become a go-to snack in our house.

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I love apple pie, especially the homemade variety. The photo in the book looked edible and I thought making mini versions would be a change from making a standard sized pie. Again, the recipe was relatively straight forward and I already had the ingredients at home. I made the sweet short crust pasty myself, easy if you have a food processor! But, if you don’t I’m sure the ready made pastry will be just as good. Whilst I was cooking the apple filling it smelt amazing!!!! Mmmm cinnamon and sugar…… The end result of the mini apple pies looked great, much better than I had anticipated and they tasted delish! I made them earlier in the afternoon so by the time we ate them they had cooled down. Served with some whipped cream, it made a great dessert. The recipe suggested eating them straight from the oven, so at least we know we won’t be disappointed when they have cooled down.

They also proved to be a big hit with my parents, hubby and Mr Happy and Little Miss. I did find however that making the mini pies was quite time consuming and I think you could probably adapt the recipe to make a standard pie, since I had quite a bit of the apple mixture left over. I have put it in the freezer and it wont be there for long as I’ll be making more pies again soon.

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Other treats I want to make soon……

Savoury Muffins, Doughnut Rings, Lemon and Blueberry Scones, White Chocolate and Strawberry Cake and Sprinkle Cake (Little Miss’s current request for her next birthday)

Like the sound of this book???? It retails for $50.00 and you can purchase a copy direct from the website here

You can find Bluebells Cakery on Facebook and Instagram

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NB: I was sent a copy of Bluebells Cakery Sweet & Savoury to review, and all opinions and photos taken are my own.

 

It’s Christmas!!!!!!!

I’ve been MIA with my blog posts lately, in fact I don’t think I have written anything for the month of December. And now it’s just two days until Christmas!!!!

Life has been pretty hectic in our household, as it is in most households at this time of year (and people who have young kids, that’s actually a big chunk of the population huh?). I’m pretty excited about Christmas, I’ve tried to make our home as Christmassy as possible. I’m a big, big fan of Christmas, always have been. And of course now I have my own children to celebrate with, I’ve definitely become a kid again.

Christmas can be an extremely difficult time of year for people, financially and emotionally. This is our fifth Christmas without Alex and it has gotten easier. I’m always aware when it comes to significant events that he is missing but having Little Miss and Mr Happy makes this holiday time a little brighter.

The first Christmas without Alex, SUCKED big time. I was fortunate to be 16 weeks pregnant with Little Miss at the time, but I still struggled at Christmas, as it would of been his first Christmas. My hubby and I were in England with my family for Christmas 2011, which helped a great deal. I was on ‘holiday’ and it eased my broken heart to be around my family. We had a Christmas with some of my husbands family when we returned to NZ, bonus two Christmases and both different.

I have lived in NZ since 2004, so I have had my share of Christmases here, but  Christmas in the summer?! It still doesn’t feel the same. Give me some cold days, dark evenings, mulled wine and a Christmas jumper to rug up in and it’s Christmas! I think because my childhood Christmases were in England and during the winter, this will always feel like Christmas to me. To me Christmas is also a time about family, a time to catch up. I know this isn’t the case for some people and they would rather avoid a family together. My family are often celebrating Christmas in England and I spend Christmas with my husbands family, but this year I get both! We will have Christmas Day with some of my husbands family and two days later on the 27th December my parents arrive from England!!!!!!

Although I’m looking forward to Christmas this year, I think I could possibly be more excited for my parents arrival. I haven’t seen my Dad in 14 months and my Mum for 10 months, it’ll be great to have some quality time with them. I have a pretty good relationship with my parents, I think the distance has helped our relationship in some ways, or could be it be me as I have gotten older? I feel very fortunate to have the relationship I have with parents as I know some people are not as lucky.

I had intended to start some Christmas traditions in our house this year, but I haven’t managed to achieve it. At first I was so annoyed with myself, but I also tell myself Little Miss is only three and Mr Happy has just turned 20 months, I can start next year. Do any of you have Christmas traditions? I would love to hear about them. Here is a list of the ones I would like to implement and have tried to start this year.

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Little Miss (2012) 6 months

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Mr Happy (2014) 8 months

 

The Elf on the Shelf

I have seen some great photos of Elves in people’s homes getting up to all kinds of mischief via social media. I decided against one this year, mainly due to cost and I thought my kids wouldn’t really be aware. I have decided I am DEFINETLY getting one for next year. I just know I will have lots of fun with the Elf leading up to Christmas.

Santa Letters

This is a tradition I started last year and again I ordered letters from Santa. I let the kids see them earlier last year but this year I’m waiting till either Christmas Eve Eve (the 23rd) or Chrustmas Eve. I will be posting our letters via social media when the kids receive them.

Christmas Eve 

I have seem some friends adapt Christmas Eve as a day to give some pre Christmas treats, and to mark it as a tradition. I have a new Christmas book for my kiddies to open on Christmas Eve.

Advent Calendars

This year was the first year I didn’t have an advent calendar! My Mum has always sent me one (yes I know I’m not a kid!) but I can never resist a bit of chocolate each day. But this year I told my Mum, no calendar for me and send one each for the kiddies. Plus it’s a good bribe to get Little Miss to eat her dinner, no dinner no chocolate from her calendar!

I know some people use an advent calendar as another way to countdown to Christmas without the chocolate treats. I love that you can give the kids a Christmas themed task or treat each dat.

Photo with Santa 

Little Miss had a photo with Santa when she was six months old, she was pretty content to sit with the man in red and have her photo taken, result! The following year (2013) she was 18 months and I was 5 months pregnant with Mr Happy. She did not want to go near the man in red! So I am in the photo with her! Last year I decided to flag the Santa photo, I wasn’t in the right head space and I figured it wouldn’t matter? So this year….. no Santa photo, I intended too but it hasn’t happened. Oh well, there is always next year right?

Little Miss (2012)

Little Miss (2012)

Me and Little Miss (2013)

Me and Little Miss (2013)

Christmas Books

You cant beat a Christmas book at Christmas time, right? We have collected a few in our house. I took them out of the book collection for the kids at the beginning of the year and put them away with our Christmas things with a good intention. My intention was to wrap the books and give them a ‘new’ book every so often in the lead up to Christmas. I also wanted to get a couple of new Christmas stories to add to the collection. Has this happened, I admit with disappointment that it hasn’t! I have the books wrapped, but it is now the 23rd December and I haven’t given them any Christmas stories, geez I feel crap now I write this!

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Christmas 2014

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Christmas 2014

 

Geez now I finish listing all the Christmas traditions that are around, no wonder I feel overwhelmed! I really do put a lot of pressure on myself at times. I have been feeling rather guilty about not seeing through certain traditions but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter! My kids are happy and loved and Santa will be paying them a visit on Christmas morning!

Merry Christmas everyone

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Kiwi Mummy Blogs Review- Sir Mouse to the Rescue

kmb_grey-pinkI was sent two books to review by Kiwi Mummy Blogs. This is the second book I received, ‘Sir Mouse to the Rescue’ by Dirk Nielandt and Marjolein Pottie.

This book is published by Book Island. Book Island is a New Zealand based publishers with a focus on delivering stories for the English and Dutch market. Many of the books have been translated into English.

The author Dirk Nielandt, he is an award winning children’s author from Belgium and Marjolein Pottie is the internationally acclaimed illustrator. Translated by Laura Watkinson.

 

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The story

‘Mouse and Dragon, an unusual friendship’

“Mouse has a sword. She wears a suit of armour. She is a knight. She is bold Sir Mouse.”

Dragon and Mouse are friends, and even though Mouse is a Knight she does not fight dragon. The book discusses their friendship as they work together to rescue a Prince, outsmart a Cat and have a fancy dress party.

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Our thoughts 

My husband was the first of us to read ‘Sir Mouse to the Rescue’, it is quite a bit longer than the books we usually read so he decided to see how it went. The illustrations are lovely, colourful and nice to look at on the pages and really jump out. However, we found this book is a bit too old for our children, as they seemed to find it hard to follow the story. Our daughter is three and our son is 19 months.  I would say this book would be better suited to children aged six and over. This is definitely a book to put away though and bring out as they get older.

I too read this book with my children and I found that they did get distracted, but they did enjoy the pictures. The story is too long for them. I read the book to myself though and I liked it, I think it would be quite good for first readers to read alongside an adult.

I love that the theme running through the book is friendship, I think the message of friendship to young readers is really good.

Retails for $24.99, you can purchase a copy from Book Island

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NB: I was kindly sent this book to review by Kiwi Mummy Blogs all thoughts are my own.