Time. That old chestnut. 2

August 24, 2016

I recently had my birthday. It was really lovely, thank you for asking. But now, it’s unescapable, I am officially neck-deep in my late thirties. My mid-thirties have vanished, the late thirties are here; and they see me living a life that is quite different (and in many ways vastly richer than) to the one I might have anticipated. Case in point: this babe.

 

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While I celebrate and ponder the late thirties, B3 has reached six months old, in that cliched flash / blink of the eye. The kid is stupendously delicious and consistently delightful. She’s all instant smiles and nuzzles into the neck, which wins me over every time, I’m sure it’d have the same effect on even the coldest of hearts.

 

In case her half-birthday and my birthday-birthday didn’t drive the point of my age home enough, we went to a school quiz night fundraiser the other night. It was disorienting. Not because of the costumes (Olympic theme – there were tables of people dressed as zeka mosquitoes and Russian athletes and dope testers) but because I was the parent. At a school fundraiser. I conferred with a friend to see if I was the only one feeling ancient and discombobulated and she reassured me – “It’s weird. It’s like we’re… our parents.” Exactly. Somehow I missed the passing of the torch. I assumed I was still young.

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Peaches and Cream Scones 2

August 17, 2016

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It seems we’re on a bit of a fruit kick around here lately (about which I will not complain). Winter pears in the southern hemisphere and now peaches in the northern, where there has been a bumper crop this year, or so it seems at the farm stands. Little e wanted to help with some baking the other morning and we had peaches overflowing our fruit bowl (and nothing much else going for breakfast), so we whipped these up before the boys had finished their first course of cereal and coffee (see this about why our weird kids like their espresso straight).

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Surprise! 6

August 10, 2016

How do you give good news? Can you bear to hold it in? Do you fashion a crazy way to reveal it?

I had some good news for the girls this week, news I could barely contain it was so rad, that I decided to share with them in a memorable way. Wanna find out what it was? Come and check it out…. (Eeee!)

 

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Here we are at Shaolin Kung Fu Noodle House. I did not make that name up. It’s a great place, on Dominion Road, introduced to me during a dumpling tour run by Eat Auckland (they do really sensational, informative, tasty tours, just quietly). Shaolin Kung Fu Noodle House had been our first stop on the tour and they wooed me with their delicious lamb and fennel dumplings, cartoon covered tabletops and disdainful service. I think they’re just playing hard to get.

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Babes in the Woods 4

August 3, 2016

Stories and hiking. For me, these two go together like bread and jam. Movies and popcorn. Swimming and summer. Maybe this isn’t so shocking, but I was an imaginative kid–sometimes annoyingly so–and if there was an opportunity for me to be creative with worlds and words and wonder, I took it. (I believe this explains all the “handmade illustrations” I keep finding in my childhood books, now being discovered by Little e.)

When my sister and I were kids, our family spent a lot of time in the wilderness. There was plenty of hiking, backpacking, camping, skinny dipping and occasional human-mud-pie making. It was wonderful and dirty…and sometimes monotonous, especially when lunch was a kilometre down the trail and the snacks had run out. There was sometimes whining.

 

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I can’t claim to be the originator of the story-as-carrot hiking motivator. My mother was the one who told us the fairies were just around the corner and the bunnies and owls were listening to us as we walked. She went on ahead and planted collections of pinecones that had been “left for us” by friendly sprites and turned twisted tree trunks into horses and camels to be ridden. We played memory games and fantasized about where in the world we’d like to travel. We played the lottery game, where everyone won a million dollars and explained how they’d spend it. We imagined and wondered and plotted and as we did, we hiked, and soon enough–maybe too soon–we were there.

 

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A few weekends ago we took Little e and The Tiger backpacking for the first time. It was the first time we’d slept in a tent all four of us, and it was not the smoothest night. (Starting the morning at 3 am because the two-year-old decides it’s light enough and insists, “Daddy coffee?” was not in the plans.) But there was a full-circle moment for me that I’ll never forget, one I’ve been waiting for since the kids were born.

 

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Little e and my mother (who was along for the trip and, bless her, laughed during the 3 am wakeup) walked hand in hand along the boardwalks, pausing to ask the troll living under each one if they required a gift or bribe of some sort. Sometimes it was a leaf, other times a rock. Once it was a cashew, carefully dropped between the wooden slats. Every boardwalk had a troll, and every stretch of trail between them was hiked diligently, guesses about the disposition of the next troll keeping the pace and the conversation brisk. Some trolls were grumpy, some well-mannered. Some were asleep. All were a delight to Little e and The Tiger, who marched the whole way to our campsite without a complaint. (Thank you, Granny. Thank you a million pinecones.)

 

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The truth is, it wasn’t very far–a few kilometres–and it wasn’t steep or difficult. The success for me was the melding of narrative with nature and exercise. Reminding myself how easy it is to get sucked into magical play, even as a grown-up. Showing my kids that being in the wild can be creative on top of all the other wonderful things it is.

How do you spend your time outdoors with kids?

XO

Ria

[PS-I know there are no photos with Little e here, but she was there. Promise.]

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Pear, roasted hazelnut & caramel cake 1

July 27, 2016

The other week Ria posted a gloriously golden cake – Lavender Honeycake – which looked like summer itself. I could practically smell the thing, as sweet and fragrant as long nights, wafting through my computer screen. If Ria’s cake – tanned and dressed in florals (throw some strappy sandals on that thing!) – is summer, then this cake is winter.

 

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Paler by far, and denser, this cake is made for hot cups of tea or strong coffee. The buckwheat flour gives it nutty-flavoured heft, the roasty-toasty hazelnuts adding to the comforting weight and flavour. The pears turn to winter’s candy underneath the sprinkling of raw sugar and the white chocolate pieces buried within are rewards for all your efforts.  The Lewis Road Creamery Double Caramel Milk is a touch of genius – full of butterscotch, burnt sugar and syrupy tongue-smackers – but if you cannot get it then… move to New Zealand. Sorry, I mean, use regular milk and perhaps add a spice you like. A teaspoon of vanilla extract, some crushed roasted cardamom pods, a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, whatever tickles your taste-buds.

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