Thursday, April 21, 2016

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies ever

I'm not even joking you guys. These are incredible. I ate about 57 of them in the space of half an hour and they're SO easy to make - all in one bowl. The best part - they can be in your mouth in less than half an hour all up, (pro-tip) they can be in there in less than 10 minutes if you keep a batch whipped up in your freezer.



The recipe can be found here. Go there. Make them. Thank me tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Through the eyes of Jake - #1

Preface:
Yesterday it was confirmed that our beautiful and beloved pet Jake has a fairly aggressive cancer. There's little we can do and so to with my absolute grief, to cope, I write.  A little while ago I read this account of what seems like someone going through the same thing, and that's what I've taken inspiration from.

18 - 19 April 2016
We're going for a ride in the car today. I love going for rides on the car and I love it when my mummy is home on school holiday. Mummy found a weird lump in my throat yesterday. I think it's why I've been so thirsty during the night recently and why, even though daddy tells me off, I've been drinking from the toilet.

We pull up outside that place we go to once a year. There's dogs and cats on the sign and a big cow in the window. Is it real? Better keep an eye on it just in case. We talk to a nice lady at the counter who speaks in a high voice and knows my name! We're waiting to see that man that seems friendly but smells funny. I am a good boy in the waiting room and mum scratches my ears. I love when she does that. I also get treats if I 'mat' and 'wait', so that's what I'll do... But I'll still keep my eye on that cow.




The man comes out to see us and talks to mum. I wiggle my bum to show the man I'm a nice dog. Then he takes us to that room that smells funny and closes the door. Why did he do that? Now
I'm scared. Mummy talks to the man. Gosh she's a good mum, I hope we can do some gardening when we go home, I like helping. The man wants to touch me, no thanks. I growled and mummy is upset with me, but I'm just a bit scared mum, why does he want to touch me? It wasn't a nice pat touch either, and he smells, remember mum?  I was naughty and growled and now I have to wear a thing around my nose. Stupid thing. Mummy and the man talk some more while I hide behind mum. She won't let anything bad happen.  When the man comes back he's brought the nice lady from the front with him and he has something sharp in his hand. Mummy holds me still while the nice lady talks to me. Then something sharp goes in my leg, ouch! The man and lady leave and I'm left with my mummy. I feel better now just with mum, and she's scratching my ear again, yay.

We just sit there for a while. Mummy seems sad so I rest my chin on her knee. She's the best mum. I'm starting to feel a bit weird, really sleepy. I might lie down for a bit. The man comes back, but I don't have the energy to growl now, he's a nice man really. Mummy and the man lead me to a little room with a door. There's a nice blanket in there which looks very comfy. I'm so sleepy. I don't want to go in but it must be ok if mum goes in and talks in her nice high voice. I go in and mum goes out, I should follow her but I'm so sleepy and she tells me to wait.  Mummy kisses my nose and the door closes. I might just lie down, I'm very sleepy.

I can hear mum's voice! And Leah and Willow's giggling! They're back. I sit up and wiggle my bum but I feel very sleepy so I lie back down until they get here. I can hear that nice man talking to mum. He said that all are my lymph nodes are enlarged and it doesn't look good. I wonder what that means. The man says some other words like bloods, chemotherapy and costs but I can just hear my mummy's voice. Man I can't wait to see her.  They're here! There's mum and Willow's smiley face and there's Leah, my big girl. I get to my feet but I'm very wobbly. Let's go home! Leah takes my leash from the man, pats my bum and says 'come on Jacob.' It's so funny how she calls me that, but I don't mind. The room is rocking a bit but I need to walk with Leah, I just wanna go home with my family. The man says he'll call mum tomorrow. I wonder what for? We only come once a year, maybe he means next year. There's our car! Man I'm sleepy. Mummy helps me onto the front seat. Geez I must be tired, sorry mum. It's hard to stay sitting in the front seat like normal and mum laughs when she sees I've slumped over onto her seat. She says 'come on matey, just a little drive and we'll be home'. I can't wait so I try and sit up in my seat but end up with my head down where dad's feet go. Mum puts her hand on my back and I feel better.

We're home. Leah helps me inside but I just want to lie down. I'm all confused and I'm not sure where to settle. Mum gets me a blanket in the room with the TV so I can be with everyone. She always knows what to do. I was a bit naughty overnight and made a mess in the lounge. I'm still a bit confused and I thought it was the grassy place. Mummy cleaned it up but she didn't growl like she used to when I was a puppy, I wonder why? Mummy said I can sleep all day on her bed today while she's out (don't tell her I usually creep up onto her bed once she's gone anyway). I can't wait! I'm still very sleepy. She leaves some water in the room too, I'm glad cuz I've been so thirsty lately. Bye mum, see you tonight. Zzzzzzz


Thursday, January 28, 2016

"All your dreams will come true, if you have the courage to pursue them."

I've had the 40 before 40 list on the go for about 6 months now. I added to it now and again, and the last 10 goals were quite hard to come by. I researched other's lists for inspiration and I put a lot of thought into making sure I was happy with the list.

Here is some of the thought that was put into each one.

1. Write a will
This has been on my 'to do' list for a while and we're lucky it didn't get done prior to the list starting as it's really important to have one. This is one that will be ticked off sooner rather than later.

2. Be that person that always gives great presents (and wrapped amazing too!)
We all know that person, the one who gives great gifts - thoughtful, just right, and wrapped beautifully. I want to be that person. I'm quite an efficient person and sometimes this is at the quality of the output. This goal is part of me slowing down and being more thoughtful and mindful about these sorts of things.

3. Get my masters
I love learning and this is just the next logical step. It'll help me in my career also.

4. Watch the Top 250 IMDB List
This follows on from last years, 'watch some big movies and movie series' goal. I'm planning to re-watch any that I've seen before and watch all 250. Will be tough as it changes now and then as votes are taken, but I gather... I have ten years, right?

5. Learn how to use a proper photo editing tool
It will most likely be lightroom. I've wanted to take this step for a while, but just been using picmonkey as it's easy. From what I have seen though, lightroom (which I'm told is very easy to use) can make simple changes, easily.

6. Learn how to play the guitar (better than 4 chords!) using yousician
I can play a good G... that's about it. Hah! I get by, but I'd like to unlearn some bad behaviours I've been doing for years and learn how to play properly. This is one I'm really worried about as I can hardly find time to do this blog, in addition to all my other things. I don't know where I'll find time. Plus, my nails darling! How will I play with my weeny claws?

7. Make a point of family time, AND individual Leah/Willow/Dadda time.
This is a no brainer. Making time for everyone and being the mother and wife I want to be. I'm dying to have girlie time when the girls are a bit older and I also want to make a point of spending time with Damien, without the girls. I've done some of this in the last year with Leah and it feels great.

8. Go through the 'life circle' goal process again
This was so helpful for me when I did it in 2012. It helped me shape where I was going in life and I often look back on it, read though what I want my future to be like and it refocusses me - something I definitely need from time to time.

9. Participate in at least 40 (yes 40!) events - runs, walks etc
Last year I enjoyed doing the colour run and the mauku fun fun so much that I wanted to do more and more. This puts a quantifying goal on that. 4 a year is so doable and I have a lovely group of friends who are keen to do them with me. Yay!

10. Try something completely new each year of my 30s
There were a few things that I wanted to include on the list, but for a 10 year period, just seemed too small. This one allows me to choose something completely new and different each year. It could be eating something new, a new activity, visiting a new place - Anything!

11. Take the girls (oh and Damien!) to Disneyland
This one is so exciting. Damien and I have only been to Thailand and Australia before, opting to buy a house and have our family earlier rather than do our OE thing. This is always something I wanted to do as a kid and to be able to provide this for our girls will be amazing. 

12. Go to an NRL Grand Final
Another bucket list goal. Hopefully one of our teams will be in the grand final in the next 10 years, but I think it will be an amazing experience no matter who's playing.

13. See at least one show at the theatre each year
Again, something that I love. Making sure I give myself permission to actually go, rather than just think, "oh that would be nice".

14. Finish a whole art journal
Or more importantly, have some time to relax. It's all too often I'm home at night doing school work. Even if I'm watching TV, I have my laptop on and I'm making resources or marking tests with the TV in the background. No more! I want to spend time actively relaxing and leave work at work. Art journaling allows me to have something to do while I watch TV so that I don't fall asleep lol.

15. Learn how to cook the basics AMAZINGLY
I'm not a bad cook, but I want to be a better one. I plan to make a list on exactly what the 'basics' are but at this stage I can't poach an egg - that might need to be #1.. Damien always does it for me. Hehe

16. Write my memoirs
I thought this was a cool idea for many reasons. The first being that it gives me a reason to write, something that's been falling by the wayside recently. The second being, if I was to drop dead tomorrow - how would Leah and Willow remember me? I want to write something for them to remember me by. 

17. Do the A-Z blogging challenge (Aprils) ever year of my 30s
Another reason to write. I need some motivation now and then and this provides a great idea that heaps of bloggers get into.

18. Buy a good set of cooking pans and saucepans
This one is part of me adulting properly and of course adding to improving my cooking abilities.

19. Buy a new ‘Grown up’ dining room table (when the kids aren't going to annihilate it anymore)
Which will probably be closer to when I'm 40. These children are monsters!

20. Have some inside plants that I keep alive longer than a week
Purifying the air and all that jazz. My mum used to have lots of plants in the house and I really liked it. I've tried as a housemaker myself but have often killed things. Need to put some proper effort into them.

21. Have a dish that I take to every event I'm asked to 'not bring anything but yourselves'
I admire people who do this so much. I often get talked out of it by my other half but I think I need to insist that I bring something, to make myself feel better. Making the effort and all that.

22. Throw more dinner parties for family and friends
Again, something the other half often talks me out of. I love having people over and cooking for others. I want to do it more often and for a larger range of friends and family.

23. Nail down a savings plan and stick to it
So important for things like the Disney trip. We could be saving a tonne more than we are now if we (mostly I) wasn't so frivolous with money. This all starts with making a budget then having a little bit of  self control.

24. Give back and teach the girls to give back
I've been more proactive about doing this myself in the past couple of years and it's no a cliche, it really does feel great. I want to bring the girls up knowing how lucky they are and how others aren't necessarily as lucky as them, and that they can use that position to help those in need.

25. Learn to meditate
With those black clouds that loom over me this is an important way to be more mindful and to look after my head health.  I've dabbled a bit in the last few months and I really like it, but it's hard to give myself even 1- minutes when I have reading, blogging, kids, movies etc. It's a tough one.

26. Make a dent in these one day hikes
Exercise and I have a love/hate relationship. I love when I'm doing it but convincing myself to get out and actually do it is another story. I particularly like these long walks as you see parts of the country you don't normally see...and we all know I love a list.

27. Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb
Something cool I'd like to do. I've always liked doing touristy things but often go out of Auckland to do so. With this there's no need!

28. Go Zorbing
I'd actually like to do a few of the things that they have on offer at one of the zorbing places in Rotorua. Another bucket list thing that I want to say I've given a go.

29. Go black water rafting
Damien and I went to the Waitomo caves in 2015 and I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it. This is another experience that they offer and it sounds incredible.

30. Own a spa pool 
Cool goal, right? I love our house, absolutely love it, and it would be so freaking cool to have a spa pool here - to cool down in the summer and to warm up in the winter. I can just see myself soaking in the spa and reading my nights away.

31. Read these books
I'm an adult now... 'bout time I read some books for 30 year olds, right? I guess so. Hopefully I don't have to wade through them slowly and I really enjoy what they have to offer :)

32. Do these things in my own 'backyard'
Some of these are complete piss takes, but some of them are really good. I feel like to be a real Aucklander I'll have to do them all - piss take or not.

33. Learn to love my body and treat it like it should be.
All of my previous lists have had something to do with losing weight and I don't want that to be the focus anymore. Yes I know that being a healthier weight will be a part of my future, but I don't want that to take over everything else. I also need a great skin and hair routine and I should be proud of all my body has done for me. After all, I'm gorgeous!

34. Learn how to cook vegetables in a variety of ways that I'll actually eat.
I've grown to hate myself for the fact that I don't like and eat a lot of vegetables, more and more as the years go on. Because I haven't liked them historically I've never learnt how to cook them. I like a lot of veges when I eat out. Enter: this goal.

35Explore Auckland
Refer to #32. Enjoy this beautiful city I live in. Many people pay a lot of money to come here and look around. I think I take it for granted all too often.

36. Swim with dolphins
One from the bucket list. I met and patted some dolphins in Thailand but I'd love to have an experience with them in the water.

37. Have a good, nailed down skin care routine
The older I get, the more important I find this goal. Luckily I have some friends who can make this a very awesome reality for me.

38. Ride in a hot air balloon
This goal actually terrifies me a weeny bit and that's what makes it pretty exciting. I like the idea of the views and the feeling of being up so high. I'm not so much scared of the height as I am of not being in control.

39. Wear more dresses
I look awesome in them, but I'm a big of a dag. I like wearing clothes that are easy to wear, and many dresses are not - I feel restricted in some way, or like I'm taking up too much space, lol. I always, always feel pretty in them though, so I'd like to continue to buy, and wear more.

40.  Have a wardrobe I actually like
I think between being overweight and being a tight arse when it comes to buying clothes for myself, I just hate the bulk of my wardrobe. It's comfy and it's basic. Which is great, sometimes, but definitely not all the time. I admire people who know what to wear and how to wear it and I'd love to develop a style of my own that I'm more happy with.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I present to you... THE 40 BEFORE 40 LIST!

Here it is. Keen to get stuck in. Phew - some of these are super lofty.

My 40 before 40 goals.

1. Write a will
2. Be that person that always gives great presents (and wrapped amazing too!)
3. Get my masters

4. Watch the Top 250 IMDB List
5. Learn how to use a proper photo editing tool
6. Learn how to play the guitar (better than 4 chords!) using yousician
7. Make a point of family time, AND individual Leah/Willow/Dadda time.
8. Go through the 'life circle' goal process again
9. Participate in at least 40 (yes 40!) events - runs, walks etc
10. Try something completely new each year of my 30s
11. Take the girls (oh and Damien!) to Disneyland
12. Go to an NRL Grand Final
13. See at least one show at the theatre each year
14. Finish a whole art journal

15. Learn how to cook the basics AMAZINGLY
16. Write my memoirs
17. Do the A-Z blogging challenge (Aprils) ever year of my 30s
18. Buy a good set of cooking pans and saucepans
19. Buy a new ‘Grown up’ dining room table (when the kids aren't going to annihilate it anymore)
20. Have some inside plants that I keep alive longer than a week
21. Have a dish that I take to every event I'm asked to 'not bring anything but yourselves'
22. Throw more dinner parties for family and friends
23. Nail down a savings plan and stick to it
24. Give back and teach the girls to give back
25. Learn to meditate
26. Make a dent in these one day hikes
27. Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb
28. Go Zorbing
29. Go black water rafting
30. Own a spa pool 
31. Read these books
32. Do these things in my own 'backyard'
33. Learn to love my body and treat it like it should be.
34. Learn how to cook vegetables in a variety of ways that I'll actually eat.
35Explore Auckland
36. Swim with dolphins
37. Have a good, nailed down skin care routine
38. Ride in a hot air balloon
39. Wear more dresses
40.  Have a wardrobe I actually like

Like I did in this post with the 30 before 30, I will get a post up shortly to explain some of the thinking and catalyst behind each of these. 

What are some of your current and long term goals?

Monday, January 18, 2016

I only see my goals... I don't believe in failure.

Tomorrow...it happens:

I've never really been one of those people afraid of growing old, so I'm just excited what the next wee while has to bring really. My 20s have been fun - getting married, buying houses, having babies...and now I'm looking forward to a decade of getting to know myself more and continuing to grow.

And of course, this means I bid farewell to my 30 before 30 goals, in exchange for my 40 before 40 goals (the big reveal is tomorrow). But first I want to reflect on how I've gone with these 30 goals.

I'm a huge advocate of continual self improvement and my goal challenges help me to do that. 30 before 30 is the third that I've embarked on. Typically with these type of lists you give yourself a good amount of time, but I only came across the concept a couple of years ago, giving me about 14 months to complete the list once I had compiled one I thought was worthy. With all three of the challenges I've done, I've never completed all of the goals, and I don't think that's super important, but something I like to point out. For me, it's the journey and the reason behind why I made the goal and what I've done towards it rather than being able to cross it off - although that's always super satisfying.

With that in mind, let's look at how I went with this challenge.

I did get a pass rate with 18/30 I am happy to say I completed. Some I've put on my 40 before 40 list and others I was very close to finishing but I wasn't happy to say complete.

Mostly I blogged about the ones I had completed as and when, but a few I just went through now and tidied up. You can see the ones I've blogged about by going through the 30 before 30 tag on the right.

I just today crossed off #4: be more proactive about giving Jake a great life. I think I worked toward this one well. My dog gets a good deal to be honest - he sleeps on our bed, he gets a birthday cake and presents as well as spoiled at Christmas time, he's well looked after. I made this goal mostly to be more mindful about the fact and to do some things for him - take him out when we could, not lock him away when people are over - and I feel like I've nailed that.

Another thing I didn't blog about but finished about a week ago was the 52 Lists Project which I see now has been made into a sweet book - future goals? This was a really cool exercise that got me thinking about what makes me, me. I made my templates of the lists, as you can see, but the book you can purchase now looks too good to pass up! Here are my finished lists with a close up of one of my faves - so pretty.


Today in going through I also crossed off numbers 9, 13, 18, 19, 20 and 28. All that I have either done or come so close to it's not worth mentioning where I (think I) have fallen down.

On the list I've marked some of the goals green, which means I've pretty much completed it or am waiting for it to happen. For example, #3 is learning how to apply a good face of make up and one of my friends has purchased me some lessons with a Smashbox make up artist, but the date won't be locked in until it's  not wedding season. Or #5 to get my half sleeve, which is underway, see..

Lastly, there's others in red which just haven't happened and will make an appearance in one way, shape or form in the 40 before 40. Swimming with dolphins being one of them.

And lastly, I've left two of them completely which don't push my buttons anymore. #10: Write a children's book is still something I might like to do one day, but it just 'too hard basket'. I got a few ideas down, but until I have that one idea, nothing can really take fruition. And #11: to make more money with my blog. I've looked into this a little bit. I make around $60 a month from my blog through advertising at the moment and really, without putting more effort into it, I can't. I fall off the blogging wagon from time to time and with 2 kids, a full time job, friends, family, study and all the other crap I seem to do, I can't devote more time to it. Perhaps in the future.

I'm so excited to share my 40 before 40 list tomorrow... I love a new list. So much potential self improvement! I can smell it! Haha.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body"

I'm so excited to cross this goal off my list.


I must confess that the books I have read did not in fact all come from the list I posted, although some did. I had a tonne of books on my kindle library that I wanted to read, as well as recommendations from book club. Don't you worry, the 'books to read' list is still high on my priority list...it just keeps getting added to, almost on a daily basis!

Here are the 30 books I did read. Great ones (that I think you should read stat) are highlighted in green :)

1. My sister's keeper, Jodi Picoult
2. Nineteen minutes, Jodi Picoult
3. The Pact, Jodi Picoult
4. The Curious Incident of the dog in the night time, Mark Haddon
5. Silver Shadows, Richelle Mead
6. The Ruby Circle, Richelle Mead
7. The Jigsaw man, Paul Britton
8. The Passage, Justin Cronin
9. The girl on the train, Paula Hawkins
10. Four, Veronica Roth
11. Daughter of smoke and bone, Laini Taylor
12. The tea rose, Jenifer Donnelly
13. The selection, Kiera Cass
14. One plus one, Jojo Moyes
15. The Elite, Kiera Cass
16. The One, Kiera Cass
17. The prince, Kiera Cass
18. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
19. We were liars, E lockhart
20. Play dead, Anne Fraiser
21. Big little lies, Liane Moriary
22. Throne of glass, Sarah J Mass
23. Stolen Lives, Paul Litte
24. The Elephant tree, R.D Ronald
25. The silent wife, A.S.A Harrison
26. A series of unfortunate events, Lemony Snicket
27. Unreal & Uncanny Paul Jennings
28. The cabbage patch fib, The cabbage patch war,The gizmo, The gizmo again, Paul Jennings
29. The witches and Matilda, Roald Dahl
30.  Crown of midnight, Sarah J Mass

I'm halfway through the 3rd Sarah J Mass novel in the Calaena Sardothian series, but I don't think I'll finish before next Tuesday. I had to throw in some of the novels I had read my class this year to make 30, but that's still reading right? I bunched them up so really it's far over 30 :P

Yay! Another goal crossed off.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

OH HAI!

I'm back. Bet you missed me. It's been good having some time away - I feel refreshed and have been wanting to write again for a few weeks now. Glad I took the time off though, I've done a lot of self 'blogging' read: reflecting in my head recently and it's been nice not to feel like I have to write it down anywhere. The problem with that is at my age, with my brain been ravaged by baby brain (TWICE!), I've forgotten a lot of my golden reflections. I'm sure they'll come back to me at some stage...right? Eeeeek!

I'm excited to be wrapping up the 30 before 30. Many of the goals have not been achieved, or are in the pipe line for the next wee while, or have been added to my next challenge - the 40 before 40 (more to come next week). And you know what? That's OK. Goals are for moving you in the right direction. I've been the victim of negative self talk for waaay too long when it comes to setting myself goals and not meeting them. I do know that I've consciously been working towards each of the 30 goals in one way or another and will update on all of them between now and this time next week when I turn the big THREE OH! I'm excited to unveil and embark on the 40 before 40 challenge. This time allowing myself an actual 10 years to get some big lofty things completed - trips, large purchases, habit changes - lofty lofty!

But enough of all that boring crap - how's your holiday been? The family and I have had an amazing time. Starting with an inaugural visit from a new December resident Elf of the Shelf - Heart. With being her first year here it had to be a biggie, and her little helper elves tried to make it as special as possible. Little Miss 4 thought she was super cool and was extremely well behaved through December. Willow didn't understand all of it but loved coming out in the morning and finding where Heart would be hiding for the day. The little smiles and shrieks of laughter from them at her antics were worth all the work....from Heart of course.


The girls were thoroughly spoilt all through December and of course by the big guy in red. We had a lovely Christmas, ate too much and were knackered by the end of it. Once Christmas and all of its festivities died down we got a lot of work done in the garden and have had day trips here and there. It's been really lovely having everyone home. Then for the last week it's been lovely just having some time with the other half without children. Busy, but nice. Stress free and I feel like lots is getting done - all of those things you leave 'until the holidays'.


What else did I want to share with you all? I've come across a new app that was recommended on a facebook group I belong to which I'm enjoying using. It's a bit nerdy and very 'Type A' but it works for me. It's called 'Forest' and it's basically about putting your phone down and focussing or being present which is something I love from 'The Fish Philosophy'. All you do it set a timer and the app deters you from picking up your phone during that period of time. It does so by planting a seed that grows during this time and if you are phubbing in that set time (exiting the app in the process) the tree dies. It's gimicky, it's a bit geeky, but I love it...and it's getting the job done, for me.


I won't even talk about the other app that I'm hooked on at the moment which is undoing all the great focus and being more present that 'Forest' is helping with *cough* Fishing Ninja *cough*.

Over the next few days I'm hoping to update and complete my 30 before 30 challenge (as much as possible). So stay tuned xx