About Me

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The past two years have been all about adjusting to motherhood and finding my way through it via craft. The out pouring of this came in the form of my blog Aunty Mum. Now I'm finally finding my feet, the children are growing, I'm getting some independence and my interests are morphing . . . into cooking. Join me in exploring creativity in many forms, food, fabric, frowns and laughter.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gender Unknown

DSCF0412 I’m making more baby clothes as my mum’s posh friend Ann-Marie is expecting her first grandchild on Valentines Day. Being the woman AM is, she doesn’t want to know the gender of the child until it’s born. Well, that’s all well and good for her, but when it comes to making something for this child I’m feeling very out of my depth. The pattern I’ve chosen is from a vintage knitting and crochet magazine called Stitchcraft (which, I’ve discovered you can find online and on EBay). I was fortunate enough to be given about 20 of these a couple of years ago and they’re great for children’s creations.

Anyway, having chosen the pattern above I decided that lemon would be a gender neutral colour. However, upon starting it I’m rethinking my choice.

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I am loving the pattern and have no issues with that. I’m just feeling that it’s still leaning a little toward a ‘girl’ style. However, there’s no guarantee that it won’t be a girl and then I won’t have a problem at all. Oh the dilemma.

And I have spent much time thinking of Alice from the blog Crochet with Raymond as she has coined a term “rabbiting” for when she has to back knit for rows to undo a mistake. It’s such a wonderful word because that’s exactly the sound one makes when back stitching, or even whipping needles out of a project and unravelling to a certain point. And it was during one of three rabbit sessions I’ve had on this jacket already, that I realised I missed Alice’s blog. I was going to put a link to her blog (even though she stopped writing it a few months ago), but I had a wonderful surprise . . . she’s writing a new blog called Hookknitspin. If you haven’t seen it I urge you to pop along. She is fabulous.

Well, it’s late once again and I really must head for my bed. I’ve been trying to finish Anne of Green Gables the past couple of nights, but as my days seem to be taken up with intermittent games of Skipbo, making chocolate mousse on demand, and generally entertaining the masses (i.e. the little darlings) I’m exhausted by the time I get to bed and can’t read for long. Perhaps tonight will be the night.

Catch you again soon.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Very Merry Christmas

 

 

I can’t believe it’s all over for another year, although it’s probably a good thing since I’ve been going since 5.30 this morning and it’s now almost ten at night.

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I had to share this photograph of Janae with her favourite gift of the day . . . mostly because you can see the clock and the awful hour of the morning that it is.

Ah well, we have all survived the day and now they’re all sound asleep again.

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Dad decided that the children must have been pleased with their gift haul as it was quite peaceful in our home today. He’s decided that peacefulness equates to happiness. He’s obviously not around when a serious game of “Silly Beggars” is going on (that being play fighting with as much noise as a child can muster). But, speaking of Dad, he was very happy with his gift . . .

 

 

 

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It really is a shame that it’s summer here as I’m sure, had it not been 25 degrees C when he put it on, it’d have stayed on for days. It is such a wonderful feeling as a knitter or crocheter to have the recipient love their garment isn’t it.

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As for me, this year Santa brought something I’ve been asking for for three years now. I’m sitting under it now writing this blog, enjoying the cool night breeze, hearing the fireworks going off in the distance and just loving every moment of it.

The floor is littered with the debris of 30 Christmas crackers Janet kindly brought with her and her family. She had “doctored” them as she says and the gifts inside were fabulous. My belly is so full that I’m hanging out to lay on my bed and pass into peaceful slumber, and yet going past the plate with macaroons, Christmas Jelly Slice and Lemon Tarts without picking up something is proving something of a challenge and there’s so much food left over I can’t help wondering if perhaps I over catered somewhat.

Ah well, that’s the trouble with Christmas I suppose. So I’ll leave you with some photos of the most successful gift of the year . . . Rogan’s rocket launcher. It never ceases to amaze me how the least expensive gifts are the best. They’re in their pyjamas ready for bed (actually Rogan’s been in his all day as they’re his Christmas ones and he felt that he had nothing more appropriate to wear on Christmas day) and it’s pouring with rain, but their enthusiasm was so infections I even got out in the rain and launched a few rockets.

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  I trust you have had a merry, family and fun filled day with joy and laughter. And may tomorrow be just a great.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas is coming

I’ve been so busy lately trying to finish my father’s Christmas gift that I’ve been neglecting blogging. But, this morning I managed to get it completed (all bar buttons which I’ll get tomorrow).

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I know I’ve said it before, but this was just so much fun. Every row took a small amount of concentration, which was great for me as I’m easily bored. Janae is a little worried that it’s a “girl” colour, but I don’t think so.

I got the pattern from this magazine:

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It’s old but I’m sure you’ll find it on Ebay. There are a couple of other projects I’m dying to try too, but need to get Christmas out of the way first. I must admit, it feels strange giving my father a snuggly winter jumper when it’s 25 degrees outdoors, but I know he’ll understand. One thing I must point out: the pattern was written using Aran wool, which I believe is 10ply. It was difficult to find good quality 10ply wool and difficult to find the colour I was looking for. So, on a huge and wobbly limb I went and chose an 8ply or double knit instead. I used the same sized needles as specified in the pattern and chose one size bigger to follow. It looks like it will be a perfect fit.

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Now, anyone who knits and/or crochets knows, it’s impossible to be without a project. So, once the lawn was mowed this morning I went in search of some yarn to start this:

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It’s a free RedHeart pattern that I just fell in love with as soon as I saw it. And I must say that returning to crochet after knitting for so long has been great. Again, it’s a pattern that requires a level of concentration and is quite varied in stitch requirements so I don’t think it’s going to be difficult to keep the enthusiasm going throughout.

I trust you’re all set for Christmas, or almost. My baking is in the freezer (so I don’t eat it), the gifts are all hidden away (but not wrapped) and I’m off with my Mum to get my own gift tomorrow. At last, after three years of hinting, there’ll be a gazebo under the tree for my patio. I’ll be knitting and crocheting in shaded and cool bliss this summer. Pop over for a cuppa if you’ve got time. I’d love to see you!

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Mission of Turning Five

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My baby has finally turned five and it was a whirlwind of social activities to make it there.

There was the last swimming lesson, the final Mainly Music, the last day of Kindergarten, a birthday party and then the big day. I don’t know about Janae, but I was exhausted by it all.

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We shared goodies with lots of people. At kindy Janae shared lollipops and mini cupcakes with her friends. At swimming lessons she gave her teacher a card, written by herself, and a bunch of roses out of Nanny’s garden. But Mainly Music was a time when Janae got something just for her. Her own Bible and a cupcake (as MM tradition allows). She’s been waiting for her own Bible all year and what a proud girl she was.

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Needless to say, on the morning of her birthday she was up bright and early to open her gifts. The heart shaped bead box was a hit and she had a necklace made before breakfast.

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Then off to school with us. She was most disappointed that I wouldn’t let her catch the bus, but I think she understood that Mum needed to drop her last baby off on the first day of school.

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And off she went all grown up. I will confess I didn’t shed a tear this day as it was with some relief that we’d managed to survive preschool years. I did, however, have a sniffle the next day as she left on the school bus without a kiss, hug or even a backward glance. (I’m over that feeling now too.) And her teacher tells me – after just four days of school – that it’s like she’s been at school all year, so confident is she, already displaying leadership qualities. Hmmm, I wonder where that bossy streak came in.

So you would think that I’d have had time to do lots of crafting. Alas, after one blissful day relaxing on the sofa watching six hours of Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth version of course) my eldest came down with the most horrendous cough/cold and I’ve had her company all week. Maybe next week!

Breadmaker or Bread Maker?

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I’ve been having dilemmas lately over bread. I have a bit of a conscience that my family should be eating foods that are low in preservatives and high in “my-mum-made-this-goodness”. As summer is here we’re consuming lots of broccoli, cabbage and other delicious green things from right out of our garden. But bread is something that’s just a bit scary.

I have a bread maker and have bought pre-packaged bread mixes that work well, but do I really know what all those numbers mean? Nope. I’ve tried using the bread maker to make bread from the base ingredients without much success. And, my children aren’t fond of hard, crusty bread either.

So when I found a recipe in the Watties Children’s Cookbook for pizza bread I was pleased to see it was simple and only hoped it would work well. Work well it did and I use it for all sorts of things.

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So inspired were my family that we even fired up the pizza oven at my parents place. Yum! These pizzas were delicious. And the smoky flavour was divine.

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I had my work cut out for me keeping my assistant chef in line and up to speed, but we got there in the end.

I use the recipe for calzone pizzas too, which has become a favourite “quick” dinner in our house lately.

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But the real test came when I decided to use the recipe for buns so we could have mini burgers or sliders as they’re known on all the cheffy programmes on the telly. They were a hit and were all devoured that evening (there were five kids in the house that night so we were gluttons).

The recipe? Simple.

Dissolve 2 teaspoons of yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar in tepid water for about 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile mix 2 and a half cups of high grade flour in a bowl, add salt and make a well in the middle. Once the yeast is activated, pour into flour with 1 tablespoon of oil and mix to form a dough. If it’s too wet, add a little more flour, too dry add a little more water.

You’ll need to get your muscles out, dust down your bench top with some flour and get kneading for about ten minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl and stand (somewhere warm) for about an hour or until the dough is about twice it’s size. (When the weather is cold I heat a metal bowl in the oven briefly and then stand it on a towel to keep the heat in while the dough rises.)

When the dough is ready, give it a punch to push the air out of it. If you’re using the dough for bread, let it rise again, but for pizzas just roll it out, top it and cook for about 15 minutes in a moderate oven. Yummo!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Early Summer Holiday

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Remember last week I told you we were off to Pukehina? Well, look at the weather we had. Three days of sunshine, sand and sea.

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I’ve had a dream all year that at some point I’d be falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the shore and that’s what we had. The girls are just off the deck making houses for fairies.

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We spent lots of our day chasing waves and being chased in return. In fact, during our Saturday evening after dinner walk Rogan and Janae managed to come home sopping wet as a huge waved dumped on them. No sooner had I uttered the words “come back a bit you’re too deep” along came the wave. Rogan laughs now but he wasn’t a happy chap for the walk back to the house.

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In preparation for bad weather (I mean who truly trusts the weather man) I’d packed all sorts of indoor amusements. Mum dug out the jigsaw puzzle and agonized over it for three days.

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But working together we managed to get it completed about an hour before it was time to leave. It was a tricky little puzzle for only 500 pieces.

Do you know the strangest thing? I knitted a grand total of three rows the whole time we were away. I did, however, manage to finish a book I’ve been sleeping through for six months (it was a really interesting book, I was just too brain dead to get through it) and now I’m half way through Julie and Julia. Holidays really are good for the soul.

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It was a lovely weekend and it’s set us up for the rest of the school year. I’ve made a blanket no TV rule until the end of term because I was concerned at how difficult the children found having to amuse themselves. I’ve determined that we’re going to get lots of quiz type board games for Christmas since Rogan managed to get to eight thousand dollars all by himself in the “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” game. And I’m sure we’ll be going back to Pukehina at the other end of summer.

Thank you Gwen and Ron. Your little holiday home was a huge gift to us.

Now it’s frantic preparation for one little girl to turn five and start school in just six days time!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Busy Times

Wow it’s been such a busy time lately. I can’t think where the time has gone. I have one little girl awaiting grommits, tonsils out, adnoids out and some other nasal procedure . . . added to this she starts school in two weeks. She’s tucked up in bed with a red raw throat and sore ear tonight, which strangely is a blessing as I thought she was in for a dose of “chicken pops”.

The other two are beavering away at school awaiting summer holidays with the bleary eyed look of children who have worked hard for a whole year.

I came up with the bright idea of gathering some women to do the desert for our church’s 40th anniversary dinner on Saturday night. 300 macaroons, 100 plates and lots of help later we fed the masses and had lots of fun.

And I’ve been knitting . . . thankfully as I think I’d have gone mad otherwise.

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My mum is off to the UK in January for her sister’s 90th birthday and I’ve been busy making things for her to take and to wear. My cousin is having a wee boy on new years day so I made this for Mum to give to her.

Mum has a suitcase full of warm things to wear too, including gloves, scarves, socks and shawls. And then I realised there’s one member of my family I almost never make anything for. My dad admires everything I make and, uncharacteristically, a couple of times a year mentions how great he thinks it is and how he sees my knitting and crochet as my sanity barometer. So I have embarked on a jumper just for him.

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Here’s what I’ve done so far. I cannot tell you how much fun this project is. Every row is different (well for 16 rows, and then you start from the beginning again) and you know that the pattern is coming together when you can knit and only consult the pattern once or twice in an hour. I’ve been watching a film about Sarah Palin this afternoon and busily knitting because I’m almost at the armhole and I just want the back finished so I can see it in its entirety.

There is a light at the end of our busy tunnel. I’m taking the children out of school on Friday and we’re off to Pukehina beach.

I’m told it’s quiet, it’s remote and there’s very little to do but hang out on the beach, read books, walk and all those lovely and relaxing things you need on a long weekend away. I just can’t wait. All I have to do is remember to take my camera.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Having So Much Fun

This week has been one of those that’s just flowed creativity and overwhelmed with fun.

It started on Sunday when my friend Janet took myself and another friend to a secret location for a secret workshop. It turned out to be a day making soap, hand cream, body cream and balms. Wow, I’m in love with all this and Janet and I intend to make more of these so watch this space.

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I’ve also got my cooking mojo well and truly back and have been making all sorts of delicious treats. I have churned out about four batches of macaron this week. Thankfully they’ve all left the home and been given to others so I haven’t had to eat them. However, the fact that I can now make them without a recipe is a little frightening.

This picture of Janae is priceless and was very much the icing on the cake, so to speak. She’d just got out of the bath in time to lick the bowl from my first ever chocolate mousse making. By the time she’d finished she needed to get back into the bath, but that’s all part of the fun of bowl licking.

The mousse was fabulous and will be featuring on the Christmas day menu this year.

Finally, I’ve been making a wee suit for my cousin who will be having a baby in January.

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This pattern comes from one of my vintage knitting pattern books. I have a hatred for baby blue or baby pink as I feel it’s such a cliché, so imagine my delight when I found this lovely yarn. It’s merino and the colour combinations are fabulous. I did worry how the patterned yarn would work with the seed stitch section, but it’s fine.

Now another friend, who saw this yesterday, wants me to make one in lemon shades for a friend of hers.

You know, there’s always a wee part of me that’s completely surprised when a garment I’ve made is complete and it looks like something someone who knows what they’re doing has made. Sounds silly I know, but the completed object is always just a little surprising.

And do you know what I made today??? Did you ever have that chocolate sauce that goes hard on ice-cream? It used to be a special treat when I was growing up.

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Well, I found a recipe on Pinterest a while back and I made some today. Needless to say I was obliged to test run the sauce and low and behold it works perfectly and tastes just like the stuff in the bottle. You can find the recipe here. I did use dark, unsweetened chocolate and added a teaspoon of honey when melting the coconut oil and chocolate. YUM!!

Now I’m wondering what exciting things next week has in store!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Macaroon Making

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I would consider myself a minor foodie. I love to cook and I especially love to make all things sweet and delicious (eating them comes a close second). So, way before all the cooking shows (which I also love) made the macaron fashionable again, I had made my first batch.

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When I made them I had no idea they were supposed to be very difficult to make. I’ve made countless batches now and have never had an issue so when my friends all described the disasters they’d had making them I decided it would be fun to have a “tutorial”.

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So this morning we gathered in my kitchen and I demonstrated just how easy they are to make. Here you can see the almond meal, icing sugar and egg whites all carefully folded together.

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I piped them out onto the trays. I wasn’t terrible good at this as I had a bit of performance anxiety being around women who use piping bags like experts when it comes to cake decorating. But they came out almost uniform in size and shape.

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One of the things I love most about baking and cooking is that it’s a constant learning curve. I was concerned that time was marching on and reduced the resting time of the macraoons and put them in the oven with still about seven minutes left. Interestingly these were the ones that cracked while baking and the second tray, that had sat forming a nice crust longer didn’t crack. Note to self: don’t skimp on macraroon resting.

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Then I decided I’d show off a bit and whipped up a French buttercream filling.

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Making sugar syrup is one of life’s truly fun things to do. Dangerous though as I gave myself a nice burn the other day.

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And the final result. These are blueberry. I added whole blueberries and blueberry juice to the buttercream. Yum!! I had planned on making two batches today but just ran out of time so I may do some more tomorrow as I sort of promised the kindy teachers some for their morning tea!

Thanks ladies for a fun morning and hopefully you’ve seen that not all “pastry” techniques are too difficult to attempt!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hectic Hols

It’s been a hectic first week of the school hols. I had been hoping for a quiet time, just the four of us. However, we’ve been out every day, we haven’t been to bed before eight pm and we’re all at a very grouchy, grumbly, over-tired place.

I have, however, found time to have lots of fun creating. I’m not sure where this time has come from, but I managed to give my mother three hand-made gifts today.

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I had hoped to have this finished before she left for Australia. Unfortunately that just wasn’t possible. But I did get it finished the day she flew out . . . then procrastinated on sewing the ends in until this morning.

I’m really pleased with the outcome, although I don’t think I’ll make another.

So what did I procrastinate on?

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This shawl. I was cruising through Pinterest the other day and saw a lovely shawl. Following the links through I couldn’t find an actual pattern. So I pulled apart a jumper I had started (and never finished) for myself and got started. I had a couple of false starts realising I hadn’t increased frequently enough and then I trawled through Pinterest again looking for an edging. I came across this on Ravelry. Strangely enough it’s very similar to my own shawl so I can’t have been doing too much wrong. It is my intention to write a pattern, but please don’t hold your breath because it could be some time in coming.

And now I’m working on . . .

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Gloves. Apologies for the terrible picture. If you click this link you’ll see what they’re supposed to look like. I cannot tell you how much fun I’m having. However, I’m finally at the part where I need to make the fingers and I’m so shattered I can’t understand the pattern. I’ve now put them down and will look at them again tomorrow.

Finally, I got Janae’s mermaid skirt finished.

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It’s so far from perfect that it’s almost shameful sharing it with you. However, one of the benefits of being four (I mean four and a half) is that anything sparkly, made my mum and loosely resembling a mermaid is the very best thing in the whole world. She even tried to wear it to bed. Now she has a little sarong and pretty pink t-shirts all the way from Australia (thank  you Nanny) that this skirt is all but forgotten, but it got her through the first week of the hols so I won’t complain. She will be five in eight weeks so I have a couple of projects up my sleeve to make up part of her birthday gifts, hopefully they’ll be as gratefully received.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Trials, triumphs and not really knitting

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Janae is off to a mermaid party on Saturday and I’ve had this fabric waiting for some time to make up into her little mermaid outfit. She’s so in love with the material that she almost took it to bed last night.DSCF0183

So tonight I thought, it’s all cut out . . . get to sewing. Huh. My machine just isn’t cutting it. There is something about the material that makes the needle all sticky and then the cotton gets stuck to the needle and won’t sew. I’ve tried two other types of needles with the same problem. Thankfully the tail is sewn together so tomorrow I’ll find a sunny spot and sew it up by hand. Not my favourite job, but I can’t let my girl down now.

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As for the triumphs and “not really knitting” part of my title, I did make this today. And what fun it was, even if I don’t really feel like it was knitting.

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I’ve seen these scarves around a lot and seen kits for making them etc so today I grabbed a ball as I sailed past while in Spotlight, and sat at the Lovely Carolyn’s table chatting. I knitted, she sewed. Within three or four hours (not all of that was spent at her house, we took our collective brood for a hot swim and continued with craft and conversation) the scarf was complete and ready to wear.

Tomorrow Janae and I are making our pre-school-holiday pilgrimage to the library for holiday supplies so I think I might sneak into Spotlight (no where near the library I must confess) and grab a ball of something else. I can’t quite believe I’ve got a fabulous scarf for under ten dollars and made in less than half a day. I could get used to knitting like that!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I didn’t make it

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I have been furiously crocheting when ever I got the chance but I just wasn’t fast enough to get this complete for Mum to take to Australia with her. It’s taking me about 15 minutes per round and I still have eight rounds to go. They leave for the airport at 6am tomorrow so there’s just no way.

Why didn’t I have time? Well, it’s all because of mothers.

When I was just two weeks old my Mum and Dad adopted me into their family and I’ve lived my whole life with the knowledge that I’m adopted but they were my parents. When I was about 21 I embarked on years of international travel starting with a mission trip around the South Pacific on a tiny tin ship. I was struck that if I wanted to contact my birth mother I’d better get on to it so I did.

I’m now 40 and my BM and I have been keeping in touch, having holidays together and enjoying each other’s company a lot. She arrived in New Zealand last Friday and this Friday she came down for the weekend with my biological grandmother. This is always cause for great delight and this weekend has been wonderful.

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Just one of the highlights was a walk around the reserve in Omokoroa. It’s called the Crapp reserve due to that being the family name of those who owned all the land once upon a time. An unfortunate name, but one I’ve grown up with.

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A carving has been done in one of the old Redwoods that needed to be felled as it was dangerous. This man is the Reverend somone . . . one of the first settlers in our little village. The children love to climb up and give him a hug.

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The truly great thing about this walk is that it goes in front of lots of beautiful gardens. So there’s breath taking views on one side and glorious gardens on the other. Bliss.

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The only fly in the ointment was three children all calling out “Gail, Gail look a this, take a picture of this, watch this.” Thankfully she was gracious to them and indulged them so it wasn’t stressful at all.

So now I’m alone again. Both mothers have been farewelled this afternoon and are jetting off for Queensland in Australia. Lucky them!