Monday, 27 December 2010

Happy Birthday Jesus cake

This year's magnificent creation is a Lemon Canadian Crown. The recipe is from Rose's beautiful cakes. It took three baking sessions, four mixer loads and lots of beater licking by Lucy.

Firstly I baked the ladyfinger biscuits. This was to give the 'ethereal' taste to the cake. Then I made the lemon curd/whipped cream centre which was promptly frozen into the ladyfinger 'crust'. The final step was to whip the meringue topping and quickly broil the top.

The cake went into the freezer and can stay there happily for a month. It takes a hour to get it to the right temperature to eat (0/32 degrees).

We all enjoyed the cake immensely and there was much bowl licking by one young boy in our house.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Household chores

After a couple of falls by Fiona and Lucy on the painted concrete floor in the garage Andrew (finally!) painted the floor with some special paint with sand in it. He braved the freezing temperatures to clean the garage (90% of the time taken) and then paint the floor. Hopefully now when the floor is wet we won't have any more accidents.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Mike's Farm

We headed an hour north to back swamp, NC to a town called Beulaville to visit Mike's Farm. After a Southern home cooked meal (fried chicken, mashed potato with pork gravy, corn, beans, mac & cheese, and biscuits washed down with sweet tea) we went on a hayride to see the Christmas lights. Henry was enthralled and even started clapping (ironically when the song 'Proud to be an American' came over the loudspeaker). Despite the rain and the freezing temperatures we really enjoyed the light display.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Christmas: Baking 2

'Cookies & Cream' chocolate bark; dark brown sugar cookies; gingerbread house (decorations only)

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Christmas: Making Presents

This year Lucy and Henry are giving presents to each other. I thought it would be fun if Lucy could make the present for her brother so that she would feel some ownership of the process (she has some pocket money but really has no concept of money)

So I organised for Andrew to make a set of blocks. He bought the wood and cut it into different shaped pieces. Lucy then sanded them all and Andrew applied beewswax to them (Lucy thought it was too sticky to touch).

We found an old Walkers shortbread tin (the 5 pound size!) and Andrew spray painted it blue. All the blocks fit perfectly in it and now Lucy has the best gift to give to her little brother.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

It's a ...

Afternoon tea

Lucy has hosted a couple of afternoon teas for friends. We've hosted Miss Lyn and Miss Janet and we hope to invite a few more people soon.

Lucy is in charge of setting the table in a beautiful way, which includes flowers, serviettes and getting out all the glassware. I'm in charge of cutting up the fruit and organising the biscuits/cakes (which Lucy helps to bake).

Then we enjoy tea, food and good company.Lucy answers the front door and welcomes in the guest.

It is an easy and enjoyable way to host guests.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Winter weather

I know its boring to blog about the weather but with such extremes I'm making an exception.

2 weeks ago Lucy was running around the backyard in a tshirt and shorts. It was about 70 degrees and we were experiencing a long, warm autumn.

Now winter has arrived early and the average temperature has been about 2 degrees celsius ie 35 F. And it doesn't look like improving anytime soon.

So much for a temperate winter. If its going to be this cold then it may as well snow for Christmas!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Living Nativity Part 2

The weekend started with a full calendar.

On Friday night we performed in the Living Nativity again. This time we saw lots of friends go through!

Saturday brought constant rain so the Nativity was cancelled.

Sunday our mom's group Christmas party was also cancelled.

So what did we do? We all took long naps, drank tea and played board games. Simple.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Christmas: Baking 1

Our first baking for this Christmas season was chocolate bark. We made two kinds of bark: s'mores (with marshmallows and graham crackers) and crackly two tone bark (white chocolate, milk chocolate and rice krispies) We made up four tins for L & H's bible study teachers. The little bit that was left over was very good!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Christmas: Daily activities

Morning [At the breakfast table]:

  • Advent Calendar – odd days Lucy, even days Henry

  • Read through Luke 2

Lunch [At the craft table]:
  • Jesse tree reading and ornament hanging

Bedtime [On the blanket in Henry's room]:
  • Christmas Devotion

  • Read one Christmas book from the box

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

12th Wedding Anniversary

It was our twelfth wedding anniversary on Sunday!

The traditional gift is linen and in that regard Andrew gave me some place mats.

I ignored the linen tradition and gave Andrew a 5,000 piece jigsaw. It turns out that 5,000 pieces is a lot - a lot more than you usually imagine!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Living Nativity Part 1

Each year our church holds a Living Nativity. In fact it's more than just a stable with live people dressed up as Mary, Joseph and Jesus - its a whole 20 minute walk through. The drama starts in Herod's palace and then the temple, continues through fields of sheep into the Bethlehem marketplace, visiting at the inn, finding the stable, seeing the cross and then the tomb of Jesus.

Last year Henry was the star of the show as baby Jesus. This year he would pull the stable down as he tried to climb the walls! However Andrew got to have a major part as the innkeeper. Here he is with a gruff Australian accent. He never said the same thing twice and I missed some really funny encounters.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Decorating the Christmas tree

Note Henry climbing the ladder to 'help'

Friday, 3 December 2010

Raleigh: Shopping and playing

On Saturday our first stop in Raleigh was at the Marbles Children's Museum. It was AWESOME and we could have spent all day. So we just played some soccer, made pizzas, slid, did some art and some woodwork.

We then headed over to Neo Asia, followed by Crabtree Valley Mall. We stopped quickly in at the Lego Store and H&M (and quite strangely saw a Gloria Jeans coffee shop which I haven't seen since I left Oz).

Then we headed to the main drawcard - Trader Joes. It is our favourite supermarket and we've visited outlets in Boston, Seattle, Santa Fe and Washington DC. Please Trader Joe's open a store in Wilmington!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Raleigh: Dim sum

We enjoyed yum cha at Neo Asia in Cary. The custard tarts were a big hit! Lucy enjoyed the roast bbq buns and Henry enjoyed the noodles. We also finally(!) had bubble tea and were very pleasantly surprised at how good it was.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Christmas: The Nutcracker

Last week Lucy and I headed downtown to see the local ballet troupe perform the Nutcracker. Before the performance we enjoyed high tea at the Wilmington Tearoom. Lucy thought the pink tutti frutti tea was amazing and enjoyed all her sandwiches and cakes. We met up with 4 other mums and girls (including Alexis & Lilia) and everyone was so pretty and well behaved!

We then drove over to Thalian Hall for the ballet. We ended up with the best seats in the house - front row, center, dress circle. After two hours of magic Lucy was restless but she had enjoyed it so much.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Thanksgiving: Lunch with extended Cook family

For a couple of weeks we didn't have an invitation to a thanksgiving lunch and I was getting a little worried. I was praying that some one would randomly invite us over and that is just what happened.

Emma from Lucy's bible study class was sad that she wouldn't see Lucy during thanksgiving week so she invited us over for lunch. I mentioned this to her mum who was standing there and she repeated the invitation. It turns out that lunch was being held at Nana's house, who just happens to be Henry's new bible study teacher.

We headed up to Rocky Point and joined in with the extended clan. We had a great time eating and talking. Of course Lucy and Emma were inseparable for the few hours we were there!

I made a green bean casserole with home made mushroom soup. It uses fried onions in the bread crumb topping and it took me quite a while and some help to find them in the supermarket. Anyway the casserole turned out so well that Andrew has requested that I make it again and he bought some more fried onions from Trader Joes.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Thanksgiving: Preschool Play

Lucy dressed as a pilgrim and enjoying some pumpkin pie.

It turns out that Andrew and Henry were wearing the same polo shirt. Henry dressed as a grey squirrel for his part of the thanksgiving play.

Below is Lucy's treat for performing well in the play. It is a rice krispy turkey.

And here's the video of some of the performance

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Board Games 23: Take it easy

This should be the last board game for a while, at least until after Christmas. I can't believe it has taken this long to get through all the games especially given that the last one was given in June.

Very similar to Cities in that one person leads and the other follows. Both players play their own board. The tiles are called by the leader and then each player places the tile.

The objective is to score lots of points by creating continuous lines.

The game reminds me of solitaire. It is kind of a one person game and takes a calculating mind.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Weekend fun

On Friday night Lucy had a sleep over with her friend L. All went well until a 6am wake up the next day! The girls played noisily in Lucy's room which I tried to ignore for a while. By 7am Henry was screaming and I got up to discover the girls had unloaded Henry's bookcase into his cot and he had a bleeding scratch on his nose. I was NOT happy.

Apart from the inauspicious start the girls had a great time together.

We spent Saturday at church for a workday for the Living Nativity followed by dinner at Lucy's favourite place, Cracker Barrel.

Sunday we were back at church and Lucy attended a park playdate.

In between we had LOTS of naps.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Board Games 22: Cities

One of the funny things about this game is the egotism of the author. His name is plastered all over the box, the instructions and the back of the tiles. Yes we know you invented the game Martyn F but you have taken your obsession to a new high!

The game starts simply with easy scoring and progresses up to level 3.

One player is the caller and the other the follower. Both play their own game but have to play the same numbered tiles to completed their city. Placing followers on certain parts of the city creates scoring opportunities.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Weekend moaning

On Friday night Lucy said she had a sore throat and refused to eat dinner. After much complaining and moaning we took her to the doctor on Saturday who confirmed that it was indeed strep throat and gave her antibiotics.

By Saturday night we were all exhausted! So we spent most of the weekend and Monday having lots of naps.

Thankfully the rest of us have stayed healthy.

Lucy is feeling good again and in fact we are heading out to a birthday party this afternoon.

Friday, 5 November 2010

It's Autumn

As I mentioned the weather has changed. The days are still hot/warm but the nights are cool. It is a really good time of year which will last just a few short weeks. The leaves are red and falling, the mornings are dark and the air at night is cool. We have the air-conditioning on during the day and the heating at night.

Daylight savings ends for us on Sunday.

In the spirit of the changing seasons I've switched out the bedroom decor to be more autumnal. Gone is the new spring bird doona cover, bright green throw and equally green wall art. In comes the red. The old red striped doona cover, red cushions, new wall art and the grand canyon photos.

The only thing purchased was the decal for the wall art. I'd like to get a brown throw but am in two minds about it. I mean there are several brown throws in Culburra so do I really need another?

I've put Lucy's summer clothes away for next year and put all her jumpers into her closet.

We're bunkering down.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Hardware Store opening

At Porters Neck a new Lowe's hardware store opened last week. They had a grand opening 'party' so we headed along with our 10% off voucher.

Andrew and I both completed a scavenger hunt around the store and got $10 gift cards. The kids got to ride in a racing car trolley and Lucy received a goody bag of free Lowe's branded merchandise.

Little did we know that our insinkerator would break the next day. Andrew then had to return to Lowes and purchase the model below. They didn't tell him he needed plumbers putty. So he made a third trip at 10pm and then installed the machine.

Interestingly the insinkerator box had a brochure outlining how using an insinkerator was the environmentally responsible option as it reduced landfill. I personally would rather those things go in the garbage than in my water but who knows?

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Imagine this scenario: Sunday afternoon. Sunny blue skies. 65 degrees. Good friends. Boat. And there you have a very pleasant afternoon.

The Penny's took us out on their boat and we cruised the intracoastal waterway. A detour to Figure Eight island (a private island only accessible to non-residents by boat) and we found a small beach. Lucy was the only one crazy enough to go swimming, and boy was she cold afterward. Henry had a play in the sand before a quick dip. He enjoyed floating in his life-jacket with Andrew pulling him though the water.

After 3 1/2 years this was my first time on a boat in Wilmington! Lucy and Andrew had been crabbing with the Penny's before but for Henry and I it was our maiden voyage. Good timing just before daylight savings ends next week.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Weird mushooms

We did a little gardening on the weekend. Our pizza oven garden was updated with 3 rows of pansies (around 80 plants) and a little pruning. We also transplanted some black fountain grass runners from the front as the one we did last year is extremely successful.

Out the front under the holly bushes we found these weird mushrooms. Initially the dark brown part was olive green. Other weird mushrooms were growing all over the back lawn. Andrew had to do a quick reconnaissance before Henry hit the yard and started eating them! (yes he has tried to do this before)

Monday, 1 November 2010

Cape Fear Fair & Expo

We headed to the fair at the airport for some rides and the latest deep fried food. Henry had a fabulous time at the livestock tent. We let him out of the stroller, and despite being leashed, he loved getting up close to the animals. His favourites were the pigs and the ducks but he also enjoyed looking at the rabbits, 'dirty' goats and roosters.

As usual, what was on display in the agriculture tent was fairly meagre, a far cry from the Sydney Easter show. However we were there for the rides. After a messy chocolate ice cream Lucy couldn't wait to get on as many rides as she could manage. This proved to be quite a lot too! She is 47 inches tall and with her cowgirl boots on she managed to scrape onto the 48 inch requirement rides. This included a ride called Vertigo which was exactly like swinging chairs but about 4 times higher!

The food side of things was interesting as usual. Aside from the usual fried dough, philly cheesesteaks and hotdogs, there were NC state red candy apples and Carolina blue candy apples. And there were deep fried oreos. Whilst still warm they were okay.

Lucy was disappointed that there was no face painting as she had taken along some pocket money to pay for it. Aside from this minor hiccup she had a fabulous time. Her mother was not so enthusiastic wrangling her 15 month old brother with the additional negative that she wasn't supposed to go on rides. And the deep fried oreos in no way made up for this!

Friday, 29 October 2010

My least favourite time of the year

It's Halloween this weekend. I really hate shopping at the moment and I can't take the kids anywhere. There are witches, skulls and cobwebs for sale everywhere. Why people want their house to look decrepit is beyond me. Why do you want your house to look like a graveyard? Are people inviting evil spirits in or trying to scare them away?

This time last year we were at Disney World. Hhmmmmm!

In any case we are heading to church's fall festival on Saturday and then will bunker down Sunday night.

The one positive is that once H is over, my two favourite holidays are coming up - Thanksgiving and Christmas. Christmas plans are underway!
Bring it on.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Natural Living update

I've got my groove on going natural and over the the past four months I've tried two new things.

1. Home made deodorant. I know it sounds kind of gross and I really resisted this one. However I had been using Tom's of Maine deodorant and during the peak of summer the deodorant just didn't cut it. I'll admit that I was sweating. I heard someone say that Tom's was designed for a Maine summer which is pretty different to a North Carolinian summer, both temperature and humidity-wise. So after a couple of smelly weeks I forced myself to make the deodorant. In fact it was simple. I have enough to last 3 months and it works. It WORKS! Just three simple ingredients: coconut oil, baking soda and arrowroot flour. The coconut oil makes it smell good. And a bonus is that you can use it straight after shaving.

2. Home made shampoo and conditioner.
My motivation has always been high to stop using shampoo. The ingredients list has always scared me. However I was definitely wary of doing this, especially allowing my hair to go through the transition period. However after 3 weeks my hair and skin had adjusted to the new regime. And my hair is very good. The shampoo is baking soda and water, the conditioner is apple cider vinegar and water.

So now my challenge is converting Andrew. At the moment he is using up all the old toothpaste, shampoo and soap bars that we had in stock. Once he's run out of supplies he'll be on the new scheme.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Board Games 21: Tobago

This game was a Father's Day present from June.

The game board is an island covered in palm trees, statues and huts. There are various landscapes like deserts, beaches and mountains.

The aim is to collect the most treasure. You do this by using clue cards to locate a treasure chest on a particular tile and them drive your ATV to collect it.

Watch out for the skull and cross bones. Collect amulets. Use the clue cards to locate treasures near your ATV. Have fun!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Weekend update

A quick update:
  • Friday night swaption at church (we purchased some nifty furniture movers)
  • Saturday pancake breakfast
  • gardening in the front garden (which consisted of one adult gardening, Lucy playing and the other adult stopping Henry from running on the road)
  • eating lunch and dinner outside in the beautiful weather
  • Church and Sunday School
  • birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese for AnnMari
  • pizza party with the Pennys and Mahlows
Following the very fun pizza party Henry had a bath and his milk. He was put in bed and then 1 minute later he vomited up the milk and all the pizza he had eaten (which was a considerable amount).

He is sleeping now but it will be a quiet few days for us and he will miss kindermusik (which is his favourite thing to do each week)

Friday, 22 October 2010

Andrew's Pizza Wilmington has opened for Fall

The summer has been truly hot. Too hot to have a pizza oven burning for several hours. Now the weather has started cooling off it is perfect to host parties. On the weekend we got all the gear out and invited the Lingenfelters over for pizza. It was lots of fun until the mosquitoes came out in force. The mosquito magnet was no match for them.

Lucy had a great time playing with the kids especially Isaac who did lots of juggling tricks for her.

Note the lanterns. Purchased from Pottery Barn, along with the rest of the furniture, I was wondering why the scene didn't look like the catalog. We figured out that they put the lanterns up but WITHOUT the actual string of lights and thus there were no unsightly cables. Despite that it looked cute from a distance.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Have you been hearing crickets?

The American Correspondent has been quiet.

I've been taking a 2 hour nap everyday. Henry has his nap at the same time and Lucy colours. The kids are awesome at letting me have this time especially Lucy who is super quiet while she is working on her drawings.

Cooking has been none existent. When a friend brought around soup and snap peas for dinner Lucy squealed "Vegetables!!"

Can you guess that I've had morning sickness?

I was in the thick of it during the New York jaunt but took nausea medication to get me through those few days. I mean who wants to get a table reservation at Daniel and then spend the whole time wishing that the food would disappear!

So now I am 14 weeks pregnant and I have emerged from the cocoon of sickness and am feeling better. Not normal. I mean who feels normal whilst pregnant but definitely better.
I started cooking and I am taking a nap every third day or so. Last night I went to bed at 8:30pm.

Between Lucy's incessant talking (and not listening) and Henry's climbing (and falling) escapades, life is full. Now I've added cooking again my hours are full.

I'll blog as I can.

Baby Thoms
#3 is due in April 2011.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

New York

After months of planning, emailing and laughing our girls weekend in New York was complete. And boy did we have an awesome time. And I'm not using the word awesome lightly.

Here's the top 10, in no particular order.

1. Daniel. It took much planning and scheming but eventually we managed to secure a 7pm reservation at Daniel, one of the best restaurants in NYC. In fact it was ranked the 8th best restaurant in the world in 2010. We dressed to the nines and strutted to our table in the inner sanctum. Here's what followed. Cocktails, pre-dinner parsnip samplers, a three course menu, warm madelines, petit fours, chocolate course, superior service, synchronised table clearing, wine pairings, congratulations dessert tasting plates and a special present. No detail was left to chance. As we sat down two handbag tables arrived so that we did not have to put our bags on the floor or table. You can imagine the rest.

or the record my menu consisted of:

aspberry Purée, Orange, Pineapple Juice

Chilled Soup with Eggplant Caviar
Salad with Arugula and Ricotta Salata
Sorbet with Saffron Tomato Coulis

Braised Leg-Chestnut Cannelloni

Honeycrisp Apple
Roasted Breast with Brussels Sprouts Fondue, Calvados Sauce

2. Riding to the top of
the Empire State Building via the express line. Given our limited time in the city we made the plunge and purchased the more expensive express tickets. And boy was it worth it. We breezed past the extensive crowds by way of our own VIP lane and reached the top in no time. After a number of photo attempts at all four aspects we finally got a good one of the three of us towards the east. We expressed our way back down and ran towards H&M. On the third floor I grabbed anything purple or Hello Kitty related and I was rewarded two days later with Lucy's happy dance in her new purple ugg boots.

3. Drinks on the rooftop bar of The Peninsula hotel. Dinner finished around 10:30pm so we were still ready to head out somewhere (despite the late finish the night before). After a false start at the King Cole bar at the St.Regis we ended up at the rooftop bar of the Peninsula. It was still a balmy 74 degrees so it was perfect weather to sit out on the balcony and gaze at the city lights.

4. Wicked. Our broadway show of choice was Wicked. It is the prequel to the Wizard of Oz and tells the story of the good and bad witches. The production was superb with amazing sets and effects. The cast was incredible and boy could those ladies sing. The Gershwin theatre is perfectly constructed so that there wasn't a bad seat in the house and there are no viewing restrictions no matter how tall the people in front might have been.

5. San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy. Amy's must do was to eat cannoli in Little Italy so during our Soho we wandered over. The annual San Gennaro was in full swing so the streets were crowded with rides and stands. On the whole what was for sale was primarily junk but the atmosphere was fun. We had a quick pasta lunch before heading over to Ferrara's for their famous cannoli.

6. Afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel.
Of course we couldn't miss high tea at the plaza! I mean how many times had Amy, Alexis and I had tea together at the Wilmington tea room? We all ordered the 'The New Yorker' version of the tea as shown below. Somehow they knew it was Amy's birthday and brought us all a glass of rose champagne on the house.

Cucumber, Radish, Green Herbs

Smoked Salmon, Endive
Roquefort, Shaved Red Grapes, Watercress
utto, Mozzarella, Pesto
Roast Beef, Horseradish

Freshly Baked, Warm Seasonal Scones
Double Devonshire Cream, Lemon Curd, Preserves


Black and White Cookies, Raspberry Rugelach, Chocolate Cupcake,
New York Cheesecake, Lemon Tea Cake

7. Hot chocolate at Jacques Torres.
One of the great chocolate shops, this place was my must do. We drank chocolate beverages and ate vanilla cream filled pastries whilst soaking in the cocoa atmosphere. I was happy to secure some chocolate dipped orange peel and a tin of drinking chocolate to take home for Andrew.

8. Dinner at Trecolori. Our pre-show dinner was at a local Italian restaurant staffed by Mexicans. The food was excellent but best of all was the happy birthday singing for Amy from the wait staff. We had pre-arranged for her dessert to be specially autographed but they forgot to do it! Alexis spoke a whole of lot of rapid Spanish to our waiter and he resolved the situation quickly. Poor Amy was embarrassed but it was a really fun time. Prior to dinner we had presented her with a Kate Spade handbag and Coach wallet. Alexis and I had literally spent hours choosing the right bag and we were ecstatic that she loved it.

9. Reading the New York Times Weekend Edition. What a treat to sit quietly for a few hours and read the newspaper. Even if it is in the airport whilst we are waiting for our delayed plane.

10. Hanging out in Soho and doing some window shopping. Since we took small bags so that we could carry-on rather than check there wasn't much room for shopping. Especially since there was quite a bit from H&M for Lucy. But that didn't stop us enjoying looking.

And if I could add one more it would be getting Alexis and Amy to ride the subway.

Because we live in the real world all things in travelling are not perfect.
Boo to the small shoe department at Bloomingdales, the flight delays, crazy taxi drivers, and free Friday nights at the Moma (it was so packed out we couldn't get in).

If you want a view of New York with a 16 month in tow check out this
prior blog entry - it has a nice description of New York in the introduction which remains relevant three years later.

And there you have it, our NYC girls weekend in a nutshell. But of course you know I haven't told you everything!