Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sailing Away

In February we went on our first cruise - and we loved it!

I had never thought about going on a cruise until my Mum mentioned wanting to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise from Sydney to Tasmania. As she couldn't go by herself she asked me whether I would like to take my girls and go with her.

We were lucky enough to get an upgrade from an inside cabin to a balcony, though in truth we were never in our room long enough to fully utilise it. The other downside to the balcony is that Evie couldn't see over the railing so she kept trying to stand on a chair and lean over - heart attack inducing behaviour!

Before our cruise I did some internet research to see what other people had thought and I when the departure date rolled around I was really excited.

It was a wet and gloomy Sydney day when we boarded the Voyager of the Seas so we were happy to be heading towards warmer temperatures.

The highlight for us was definitely the kids club. I had planned on dropping the girls off once or twice but once they'd been they kept asking to go back. The kids club staff are fantastic and the girls loved all the staff plus the new friends they made.

Highlights of our cruise:

* Not having to cook for 10 days

* The two night time parades on the promenade deck

* The towel animals left on our bed each evening

* Meeting the Dreamworks characters that were on the ship

* The staff - everyone is lovely from the people that make up the room to all the dining staff

* Having 'me time'. Thanks to kids club I managed to read 2 books and 2 magazines while we were away

* The shore excursions

* The food

* The kids club pirate parade

* The entertainment

* The accommodation

We all really enjoyed ourselves and had a great time. As a full time carer to my Mother and single parent to 2 small children it was lovely to not have to think about what to cook or planning activities to entertain the girls.

The only downside is that one of our shore excursions was disappointing. We booked a trip which included a visit to Penfolds winery plus the Adelaide Zoo. By the time we'd been to the winery we were only given an hour at the zoo!! After much complaining it was extended to 90 minutes - still nowhere near long enough to see everything so we picked out the main animals the girls wanted to see and basically ran from enclosure to enclosure - in 40 degree heat!

I do think the zoo should have been an excursion all by itself as it's a family activity whereas wine tasting is 18+ and it was hard to keep them entertained when everyone else was participating (we ended up getting back on the bus and just waited).

That said it was a minor glitch in an otherwise fantastic holiday and we are booked on a South Pacific cruise in December - can't wait!

 Departing Sydney Harbour

 Our Room

 How cute are these towels!

Adults only pool

 Street Parade along the Promenade deck 

 King Julien and Alex - Madagascar

Awesome food sculpture

 Adventure Ocean - kids pool area

 The girls loved the kids pool area

 Meeting Puss in Boots

 The English pub - The Pig & Whistle

 Cleopatra's Needle

 The Promenade Deck

 The Promenade Deck

 with Po from Kung Fu Panda

with Shrek

Family photo

 early morning arrival into Sydney harbour

The old versus the new - a tall ship and Voyager of the Sea

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Christmas Day 2013

Christmas day was a fairly relaxed family affair for us.

Annabelle and Evelyn are both old enough now to open their own presents so I was able to sit back and enjoy watching them make a mess of the living room!

We had family join us around lunch time and spent a lazy afternoon watching the kids play.

Weeks of preparation and it's over before you know it....

Monday, January 27, 2014

Slip sliding away

Modern slip n slides have come along way since I was a child. My version was a long piece of plastic you wet with the hose, and added soap to, to make it slippery.

My girls recently got their own slip n slide, which connects to the hose raining water down over the slide.

According to Annabelle and Evie it is the best thing ever. And I mean ever!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Happy Fourth Birthday Annabelle

Due to the broken arm we had to change what we had planned for Annabelle's birthday but she still had a lovely day celebrating her birthday with her extended family.

There's a lot of presents there waiting to be opened!


 Evie was happy to help with the unwrapping

A Peppa Pig Nurse's kit!  

 'The Fairies' birthday cake

Enjoying the attention.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Broken Wing

It's amazing how one little event can change everything.

Annabelle was having fun playing with her cousins when I heard her scream.

And the screaming didn't stop.

A quick trip to the hospital, followed by examinations and x-rays lead to emergency surgery on her elbow.

Apparently the injury was unusual, I think because she managed to break 2 bones on opposite sides of her elbow and dislocate a third, but the emergency was because of nerve damage. We're hoping it will fix itself and it isn't anything permanent.

I spent 2 nights in the hospital with Annabelle, sitting in a fairly uncomfortable chair, and I was really pleased with how well Evie coped without me as it's the first time we've spent a night apart.

The elbow is now wired together (I haven't told her she'll be back in hospital in 6 weeks to have the wires removed) and the arm is in a non-removable sling.

My two biggest challenges over the coming weeks are trying to find clothes that will fit around the sling and getting Annabelle to rest the arm - I'm not hopeful about her resting.

 Before surgery

 The morning after


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Whiskey Cumquat Marmalade

The house we moved into 5 months ago has several fruit trees; apples, oranges, lemonade lemons, peach and cumquat.

At the moment there is an abundance of cumquats and anyone familiar with the fruit knows they have quie a sharp taste so eating them off the tree is out of the question.

It seemed a shame to waste so much fruit so I thought I'd try my hand at making some jam.

Cumquat Marmalade Recipe

900g cumquats
1200ml water
900g sugar
5 Tbsp whiskey

* Slice the cumquats thinly and discard the seeds.
* Add the water and soak the fruit overnight
*Transfer the fruit and water into a heavy based pan and simmer gently, uncovered, until peel is tender
* When the fruit is ready add sugar stirring to disolve
* Cook rapidly until marmalade sets. It is ready when a teaspoon of mixture placed on a cold plate wrinkles    on the surface when touched with a finger
* Stir the whiskey into the marmalade then leave it to cool for 10 minutes.
* Spoon into sterilised jars, cover and label.

There are a couple of sterilisation methods you can use:

Oven: Preheat oven to 120 C. Wash jars and lids in warm soapy water. Rinse and dry on a tray Place in oven for 20 minutes. Remove and fill with marmalade while still warm.

Dishwasher: Sterilise jars, lids and seals in the dishwasher on the hottest cycle. Dry well with a clean tea towel before use.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The (new) Wiggles

On Monday I took the girls to see The Wiggles in concert for the very first time.

When I say "The Wiggles" I mean The new Wiggles as there are 3 new members, Emma, Lachy and Simon, who replaced Jeff, Greg/Sam and Murray when they retired.

My girls know a few of the older songs but they haven't heard much of the new stuff so I wasn't sure whether they would enjoy the show or not - I needn't have worried as they had a fantastic time.

The show opened with their favourite song 'Rock a bye your bear' - and its also the only song they know all the actions to - so we were off to a great start.

Annabelle stood up to dance and then she inched closer and closer to the stage just staring at the Wiggles (we were only 3 rows from the front) completely mesmerised.

I sent a tweet to the Wiggles before the show telling them Annabelle and Evie were excited to be seeing them in concert and when Emma Wiggle read out the message I thought Annabelle was going to pass out from excitement.

We all had a lovely day, I enjoyed the jokes aimed at the grown ups and the kids enjoyed dancing and watching the show.

I am a little Wiggled out now though as we bought a Wiggles DVD on the way out, which has been on repeat for the last 4 days! Everytime Annabelle watches it she says I love Emma, I wish I could give her a hug.

A successful day indeed.