Friday, 27 December 2013


  A portrait of my children every week for a year.

Sunday, 15 December 2013


A portrait of my children every week for a year.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Kebab sticks and smoothies - dreaming big

Reuben and I were looking through a child-oriented recipe book the other day when he spotted a picture of meat and bread on kebab sticks. The bread, as I recall, was crispy little cubes, but Reuben wasn't worried about the details and was ecstatic about the idea of bread on kebab sticks.

I suggested that some fruit with the (buttered) bread might be quite nice, but he wasn't worried about those details either, and raced off to the kitchen to whistle up some afternoon tea. I remained on the sofa and kept quiet.

Monday, 2 December 2013


A portrait of my children every week for a year.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Garden photography

I escaped the house while waiting for the kids to chatter themselves to sleep last night, and it was good to be outside. If you must know, I was actually emptying the rubbish and the compost when I found something that made me want to get my camera out, and once it was out I didn't want to put it away. It's a really good feeling - finding something I really enjoy doing and don't want to stop. That doesn't seem to happen often, and needs to be recorded here if I'm talking about things that make it good to be alive.

These photos are achieved through a combination of my great new camera, the extension tubes I bought a while ago, and my very shabby but still lovely garden. I'm really going to miss it.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Glucose chocolate

I couldn't possibly tell you how I got there, but you know what it's like. A while ago I was reading something on the internet and then I clicked on a link and then I followed something else and somewhere along the way I ended up at Wild Patch Chocolates. And hoorah! What a great place to land. Wild Patch Chocolates was set up by chocolatier Linda Komesaroff who found herself on the possibly awkward journey of becoming sugar-free. But rather than having to find a new vocation, she started making glucose-sweetened chocolate. What a brilliant idea. And lucky for us!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

New items, same old subjects

Hoorah! I have two recent acquisitions to let you know about. No, neither of them is a house. But the next best thing. I received a delivery of some glucose chocolate the other day, and...bought a new camera. A Canon EOS 1100D, for those of you who are interested. Here's a sneak preview of the choc, and a few of my first pictures -

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


  A portrait of my children every week for a year.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Book Summaries - "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen..." Chapter 1.

Book Summaries are summaries of books I have been reading about bringing up children. They're not book reviews. Their purpose is to help me clarify what I have been reading, and you, too, may be interested in the main points of some of these books. I intend to use them as a useful quick reference, and you may like to as well. Not everything that I read (and therefore write here) will be my own point of view, though it's highly likely that the books I've chosen to read will be on par with my own ways and views. Though perhaps not always. Sometimes learning about different approaches can really cement my own views. These summaries are not me suggesting to you how you should bring up your children. Take what you wish from them, or if you don't feel the need to have any further input on how you do your job, pass this post by and I'll see you on another topic.

Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish 

This book is packed with information and includes loads of examples, including many cartoon strips! My summary will include a lot of their examples (including some paraphrasing for brevity), and many direct quotes.

My bed companion

Gosh it's been a while. I notice that none of you are keeping me accountable. But then I don't suppose you will tell me that I'm slacking. I don't know if you have noticed that my Portrait a Week has been slipping a bit, and I'm now 2 weeks behind. I tried to remedy it a few days ago, only to discover that my camera is broken. I'm hoping like crazy that a quick trip to Wellington Photographics will fix it fast, and trying to decide whether to use an inferior camera or just take a brief break. The kids are growing fast, but not that fast.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Intro - Book Summaries

I read a huge amount as a child and a teenager, and I read quite quickly. Well - I don't whether or not I'm a quick reader, but I got through books fast because I could never put them down. Once my head was in a book it could not be dragged out. I remember reading books and brushing my teeth at the same time... I must have had some awareness that life had to continue, but not at the expense of the book. I think my Mum, obviously pretty happy with my choice of pastime, sometimes despaired when I had a good book going because, you know, sometimes a kid just has to set the table for dinner or do something.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


A  portrait of my children every week for a year.

Busy People's Bread

A few of you have recommended Annabel Langbein's "Busy People's Bread" and as it happens I have the right recipe book on my bookshelf, so I have made it a couple of times.

Morepork in the trees

There's a morepork in the trees
When I go for my night time wees
It's making quite a racket
Across the evening breeze.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Buying chicken (and wrapping it)

A couple of times recently I've come across the idea that buying whole chickens is the most cost effective way of eating chicken. That sounded appealing to me, so I thought I would look in to it.

For me it wasn't quite as easy as just buying a whole chicken. The point is that I want to be able to eat my chicken in different ways, not just whole roasted. This means chopping it up in to pieces, which is a bit off-putting. I'm not really a wuss when it comes to raw meat, but I don't love handling raw chicken, and the truth is that slicing up a whole chook would require some serious knife work, a serious knife and a bit of time and energy.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Fed up with eating

I've been trying out this remarkable way of eating. Well, trying it as often as I can manage over the last couple of weeks. It's quite radical; you might call it a diet, if you must, but it doesn't really have a catchy name. Maybe somebody should come up with one. At the moment I call it "eating when you're hungry and stopping when you've had enough."

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Seeing red

Reuben's had a couple of pretty rough moments this week. Things have made him really mad, and I have watched as his body and mind explode with frustration. How can such a small body deal with the amount of anger that is coursing through it?


 A  portrait of my children every week for a year.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding in a mug

In July last year I wrote about chocolate pudding in a mug on The Cook's Sponge, and I have to say I still feel the way I did then:

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Family pics at Point J., and 12/52

Our trip to Point Jerningham yesterday resulted in photos of more than just Point Jerningham. Humour me while I show them off...

Point Jerningham - favourite places

I've had another good idea for my blog, and my life, thanks to a brief comment from my friend and blog reader Sara. When I wrote my list of favourite things, I included a number of places. It was getting in to awkward territory, I must admit. There are so many places on this earth that I love, where do you start and where do you end? It's a topic that really requires its own list. The places that I listed were places I have loved for a long time, have been to many times, have feasted on over and over through many years. There are other places that I hold dear for all kinds of reasons... and I dare not even begin to list them. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Parmesan, oregano and chia crackers

I can't quite get over the fact that you can make crackers at home. I don't know why this is so surprising to me, but I lived for about 36 years not knowing it was possible. So it's taking me a while to catch up.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Healthy options?

In a world that bombards me with information on how to be healthier (much of it true, I might add), I am very happy with the decision I have made that drastically reducing fructose in my diet is the best place for me to start. It's an idea that's sort of new and radical, but it's gaining more and more momentum and credibility. And it's sort of not new and radical at all - our fructose intake has exploded over the last century or more, and maybe some of us are just trying to get back to "normal." There are many people, professionals and amateurs, who believe there is not enough evidence to suggest sugar is harming us, and there are many people, professionals and amateurs, who believe there is. Unusually for me, I'm happy to decide where I stand, for now, rather than be a fence-sitter, while the debate continues. Present me with some convincing evidence and I'll happily climb over to the other side of the fence. In fact, given that the norm in fructose intake, up until the late 19th century, was a few pieces of fruit and some occasional honey (approximately one kilo per year), I think I'd want someone to present me with evidence that increasing this amount by 22 times is safe.

Truth and cowboys. Finding your way through the information maze.

It's a very big world out there. The world wide web I mean. If I had a dollar (or perhaps the minimum wage ) for every hour I've sat here and read about sugar and other sweet things, I'd probably have enough money to buy a house with a double garage.

Saturday, 12 October 2013


 A  portrait of my children every week for a year.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Finding a home. Finding your head.

What does one do when one doesn't have a house to tidy?

Write a blog post about it.

Our beloved little house has gone on the market today. I'm stepping off the cliff and hoping to land in a larger, sunnier, more-storage-space and with-a-garage home. I'm following the plan. Life has not gone to plan at all in recent years and this is one thing I am hanging on to - we always planned to move before Reuben started school (and before Esther needed a bed to fit in her bedroom), so move we shall. But enough about that, I need to talk to you about cleaning.

Monday, 7 October 2013


A portrait of my children every week for a year.

Olive and Parmesan pull-apart loaf

There was a phase in our lives when we used to visit Brumby's Bakery pretty often, usually on a post-church Sunday. It must have been when we were in our early 20s, as it reminds me of those days of picnics with friends when you pick up what you need from the supermarket; usually bread, brie, ham, lettuce and something sweet. However, Kent and I quickly developed a favourite at Brumby's, the olive and parmesan pull-apart loaf. And that didn't require any additions.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Rice Syrup and Chocolate Sauce

It's time I let you know the great news about rice syrup. You may remember my post Food play... what's coming up where I let you know that I had discovered rice syrup and was looking forward to, well, playing with it. And play indeed I have.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

What's the time Mr Wolf?

Testosterone. We're swimming in it here. At least I think that's what's happening. I've mentioned a couple of times that things haven't been easy the last few weeks, particularly with Reuben, and I've been doing a lot of talking and reading about it. There's a little secret that nobody ever tells you until you're in the thick of it - little boys get a massive testosterone surge around the age of 4. In fact the hormone level doubles (!!), and it makes life pretty challenging for all until things settle down again at the age of 5. Argh.

Saturday, 28 September 2013


A portrait of my children every week for a year.

Good afternoon

Thursday was a particularly bad day in the middle of a very bad week of an extra hard month. But I managed to pull us together for a part of the afternoon, and head out for a wonderful hour or two in the sun by the beach. I can't describe how hard it is to make something good happen in the midst of bad. But I did it!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Sugar free chocolate

You've no idea how hard I've been working for you. Chocolate tasting is a job you wouldn't believe. Come and have a read of what I have been learning about sugar free chocolate...

Sunday, 22 September 2013


 A portrait of my children every week for a year.

The best thing (is) sliced bread

Kent and I were given a bread machine as a wedding present. I don't know if that gives away the era in which we were married. We were certainly very pleased to receive it, and used it off and on over the years. But high usage only really went in phases, and I must say it really does produce a certain kind of bread. I liked it, but couldn't eat it every day for breakfast and for lunch. I really like the idea of making homemade bread but am not up for making it regularly from scratch, so quite awhile ago decided to experiment a little more with the bread machine.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

My little beauty

In this quest for beauty that I am on, I think I have found something beautiful. Her name is Esther, and she is my daughter.

Sunday, 15 September 2013


A portrait of my children every week for a year.

Cocoa nibs and an update on orange cocoa balls

I've just written a brief update on the Orange Cocoa Balls post, with a few different options for those of you who are interested, and I'll copy it in below to save you clicking through. And you may (or may not) be excited to hear about cocoa nibs.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Making a Pirate Ship

Well, we have finally had another event that can be filed under the category "Kids' Activities." Not that the kids haven't been doing any activities of course. They've actually been quite good at entertaining themselves recently (though the cutting obsession creates quite a mess). But Uncle David brought us some milk the other day, at my request, and it came in a cardboard carton instead of the usual plastic bottle, and suddenly a whole new world opened up.

Friday, 6 September 2013


 A portrait of my children every week for a year.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The low down on glucose

You know that feeling when you're sure you've turned the last corner before the brow of the hill or the end of a long bush walk and you discover there's another (and another) still to go? That's what my sugar alternative journey has felt like, but I think this time I really am close to the summit.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Fun Chocolate Mousse

The thing about trying to eat a little healthier, sugar-wise, is that you discover a whole world of healthy eating that you never intended to delve into. I don't have any particular desire to be dairy free or gluten free or anything else free to be honest, but I am certainly reading a lot about it and know it works well for many people.

Finding beauty - Bought flowers iii

 This week's flowers. Anemones this time.


 A portrait of my children every week for a year.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Doing it different

I was sitting on the floor picking up some old spoons that I use in food photographs (someone had pulled them out of the sideboard and made a mess) when I was struck with quite a revelation. I'd much rather eat with old cutlery - like those lovely sets they have in the second hand shop up Cuba St, you know, white bone handles, the kind your Grandparents had - than the run of the mill "modern" Briscoes kind of cutlery.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Making quiet times happen

Hi Parents. I wrote recently about having a quiet time for kids each day, and I've had a few comments from you (outside of the blog) so thought I would follow it up. The big challenge for many, of course, is how to get our kids to participate!

I've done a bit of thinking, reading and asking around (thank you so much those of you made suggestions) and I'm afraid there's no simple answer, but perhaps you can be encouraged with a few ideas.

Orange Cocoa Balls

You're a tough crowd you lot. I'm very excited about some of the sugar alternatives I wrote about recently, but wasn't greeted with a long list of rapturous responses. Being mostly Kiwis, I'm thinking you're probably just excited on the inside. So. Keep up the excitement everyone...

The challenge with many of these sugar alternatives is how to swap them for sugar when a simple straight swap won't work. I see my experimenting with them in two ways. 1. -  using them in new and different kinds of recipes where other people have done the hard work or swapping in the new ingredient is an easy swap, and 2. - fiddling around with favourite, standard recipes to include the new ingredient but still getting the consistency right.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Finding beauty - Bought flowers ii

Ranunculas this week. We could get quite used to the florist that is conveniently next door to the supermarket.

Lessons in party planning

We had a party at our place a while ago. You will have seen somewhere along the way that Reuben had his 4th birthday recently. I didn't write a post about it because, well, just because I had a fun time, that doesn't make it an interesting read for you. And let it be said, I don't write this blog and include pretty pictures just to try and make you think I have a beautiful life, but to remind me that there is beauty in this life.

But as it happens, I do have something interesting to say about the party. Lucky you.

Friday, 23 August 2013


A portrait of my children every week for a year.

My list of Favourite Things

I think I have done it. Here it is, my list of favourite things. It's *really* long and very precious, I feel like I'm revealing a big piece of my insides. Thank you so much, all of you who had a go at this too, you helped to unblock my blockage! And I loved reading about you. I love your lists! Some things that you wrote down I already had on my list in exactly the same words, others helped prompt me of similar things.Thanks for really understanding the angle I was getting at on this too, it's a broad topic but you got it just as I meant.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Food play... what's coming up.

Well there is so much to learn! I've been poking around the internet and the supermarket, discovering all kinds of new food to try. Here's a round up of what's on the boil in my kitchen at the moment, and what you can expect to hear about from me in the near future. If you're excited about any of these, grab some for yourself and let's get in to it...

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Preschooler dressing mat

I don't know what the deal is in our household when it comes to getting dressed. Well, it's probably the same in your household if you have a preschooler. As soon as the clothes are out and ready to go on, Reuben turns in to some kind of gymnast/monkey/bouncy ball/disappearing act/actually-totally-normal-four-year-old.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Savoury snack inspiration

With all this talk I've been doing over at The Cook's Sponge about eating less sugar, I've been thinking for a long time that we need to put together a list of savoury snack options. It's great to find some sweet alternatives to sugar, but really, it would be good if we ate a little less sweet sometimes. I've always thought that the key to eating less unhealthy food is to find some appealing healthy options.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Sugar and alternatives

Welcome to my summary of all I have been learning regarding sugar. This has been taken directly from my old blog, "The Cook's Sponge," for quick access here at The Sponge. My updated stance on sugar alternatives can be found at the end of this post, and I'll be continuing to experiment with these on The Sponge. I'm so excited by all the good alternatives available that I've highlighted them so you can find them easily.

Cashew Nut Butter

Hi Cook's Spongers, this might be a relief for you. Let's duck the question of sugar alternatives for the moment. I've discovered a great savoury snack. Actually "discovered" is not the word, and you probably all have a version of it that you use every day.

Friday, 16 August 2013


A portrait of my children every week for a year.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

My overflowing fruit bowl

Here's a little beauty. I've really been trying to keep my eye out for some, and this arrived on my porch yesterday. "Oh wow" said Esther when she saw it all piled in to the bowl.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Being alone

I've been thinking a bit lately about children - and adults - having the ability to spend time in their own company. I think it's such an important skill for children to have, when they are young and when they are older.

I have noticed for years the way so many of us can't stand at the bus stop without putting our heads in our cell phones, or, it seems, do almost anything at all alone without turning to technology (or quickly grabbing a few friends).

Friday, 9 August 2013


A portrait of my children every week for a year.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Muesli Bar

I had some great news about glucose for Cook's Sponge readers recently, but it was tempered somewhat by the news that glucose eaters really need to stop eating sugar - the two don't go well together. However, if you're doing the glucose thing, it is great news!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


I've created a Facebook Page, so do join us if you can. There'll be more opportunity to chat, links to interesting and mostly relevant articles, and I'll let you know when I've put up a new post.

If you make a comment on a post, you can click to the bottom right of the page on "subscribe to email" to be notified of any replies.

If you don't like the way clicking on "read more" jumps you down the post to the next line, you can instead click on the post title which will include the first paragraph. If this makes no sense, try both and see what you like!

Favourite Things

 I sang "My Favourite Things" to Reuben the other night, as I have been doing a bit recently. You know how it goes, "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with string..." It's pretty cheesy stuff actually, but we've been doing a lot of 'Doe a Deer" lately, so it seemed like a natural progression. And he loves it.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Thursday, 1 August 2013


  A portrait of my children every week for a year.

Botanical Gardens, late July

I had a little seed of an idea a couple of weeks ago and it was a nice one, so I thought I should really run with it. Reuben and Esther and I were in the Botanical Gardens, it was mid July, and I was aware of how they were sitting quietly (the gardens, not the children), on the brink of spring, when they would burst in to colour and life. How nice it would be, to document the bursting. So that's what I am doing. It strikes me as a project that will not only be interesting, photography-wise, but good for the soul. Aren't I a good girl, for following it up? So may I present to you, Wellington Botanical Gardens, in Winter:

Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Soaking up life. It's a big call for a person who life has treated so badly in recent times. The world became my enemy when Kent died, and it has occurred to me that I would like to be friends with it again. The Sponge is a place for me to see if I can learn how to do that. A place where I can look with fresh eyes, and point my camera at, the beauty that I think is around here somewhere. A place where I can commit to living in a way that is intentional and positive. A place where I can turn the fogginess in my brain in to clarity. A place where you can join me and share your ideas.