Thursday, January 31, 2013

D-Day is approaching...

D-Day is quickly approaching - our Disney trip is coming up next month!!!

Next month, my two best friends from high school are coming over to visit and to say I am excited really and truly is an understatement!!! Having lived overseas for almost three years now, the time I get to spend with my old friends is precious and we've all been counting down the sleeps to this trip for some time.

Technically speaking, this isn't my first Disney trip. In 2008 I went to Eurodisney in Paris - coincidentally, with these same girls :-)



Are you sensing a theme here? We couldn't get a single decent photo of all three of us the entire day!

This is my first trip however to the real deal - Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It's also Mitch and Mr Oliver's very first trip to any form of Disney park. I know that Disneyland with a toddler in tow is likely to be quite a different experience to that of three girls on a we're-having-girls-weekend-in-PARIS! high. Even though he's too young to remember the experience, I can't wait to see Ollie's reaction to the mother of all theme parks.

I'd really LOVE any tips/advice/do's & dont's those who have been here before may have for us! So far we have our hotel booked (within walking distance if we like, otherwise we will have our car to drive & park) but we're yet to book our actual park tickets. We are planning on two days at the park itself. I've heard things about breakfast with Minnie, light shows, themed restaurants but I don't know where to start! Given that we have limited time and a potentially overwhelmed toddler, I want to have some plan of attack as to what's best to see and how to organise ourselves.

Tips, anyone???

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Homemade Masala Chai

Earlier this month I mentioned my homemade masala chai. I don't often post recipes on here (in fact, this may be my first one?), but I thought perhaps I might start sharing a few of my favourites from time to time, given how much I love being in the kitchen.


This is one of my favourite things to brew up at night after little boy is in bed - it's warm, it's sweet, it's spicy and I feel like I'm having dessert but without so many calories. I first discovered masala chai when we were traveling India a few years ago. We backpacked around, taking trains all over the country and my favourite part of the long train rides hearing the cry of the chai man as he moved along the train selling small plastic cups of this sweet milky goodness.

I've tried a few different recipes I found online and after some trial and error with different amounts of ingredients, I finally tweaked them enough so that it resembles what we drank on our trip.


I'd love to know what you think if you try it out!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January Cara Box reveal

This month I was excited to participate in the Cara Box Exchange - a sweet project hosted by Kaitlyn at Wifessionals.


Basically, you are matched up with another blogger who you get to know over the month. Each month has a theme and you send your match a box with some relevant items. Personally, I love not only getting happy mail but sending it on so I was pretty excited to take part for the first time this month.

January's theme was resolutions and I received a box today from the lovely Andrea at Glam Hungry Mom. Honestly, it's been a rough morning. Mr Oliver started the day at 5.30am, I'm tired, he's tired, he had the biggest tantrum while in line at the supermarket, we found out we didn't get the house we really wanted, we thought we were running late to our first gym kids class and huffed and puffed into the wrong class, he had so much fun at the actual class he didn't want to leave *cue another tantrum*. Then we got home and I had this box full of lovely goodies waiting on my doorstep...


Thank you Andrea for making my day, the timing on this one couldn't have been more perfect! And the Speculoos - well, I had actually been wanting to try the Trader Joe's version but hadn't made it there yet and... It's up there with Lotus, yummmm!!!


I sent my box to Myranda at Pretty Living PDX - pop over and say hi :-) Interested in participating? You can find all the information here!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

4/52


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Oliver: No dropped cheerio is left untouched in this house - this boy often resembles a human hoover...

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Rock

After almost a year in the bay area, we finally got organised far enough in advance to secure weekend tickets to Alcatraz recently! Hooray!


I was pretty excited about this trip and it certainly didn't disappoint. I love history and Alcatraz has a fascinating story which was well told through the award winning audio guide. Rather then just being a historical narration, the guide features both guards and inmates and not only walks you through the various parts of the prison, but explains some of the attempted breakouts and battles. I was thankful that Ollie was napping in his stroller as it meant we could take the tour at our leisure rather then having to rush around in an attempt to keep the boy entertained.

It was a long, steep walk up to the prison itself; a walk on which the signs of the Indian occupation during the '70's became evident...



The tour led us throughout the interior of the prison - explaining various escape attempts and battles along the way...






One thing that really stood out to me was the views. The mighty Golden Gate bridge & Marin headlands were in full view from the recreation yard. It must have been a strange feeling to be imprisoned in the middle of nowhere yet with life on the outside in such plain sight...


I didn't realise that the families of the staff actually lived here during its years as a prison. Families, including small children - I just can't imagine what it would be like raising a family in such a place. The staff housing was all in ruins...



Alcatraz - it wasn't quite as creepy as I was expecting, but far more interesting...





And... It was fun playing tourist again!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

17...

We're getting closer to one and a half - Mr Oliver is now 17 months!!! This month, the little man...

... showed us what a good little traveler he is. He handled all the driving on our canyon country road trip like a champ - in fact, the worst part of the trip was the last 10 minutes when he totally lost the plot. Until that point, he was a happy little camper, much to our relief. He's passed the test - now we can plan another big road trip!

... started groovin'. He's really into his dancing nowadays - he does look a bit awkward (yep, he takes after his uncoordinated mother) but he just loves doing it. If he hears a song when we're out, he'll often stop walking to stand and dance on the spot for a moment and at home he gets the 'mote' (remote) and tries to switch the stereo on for some dance music. He'll only dance to the first 10 seconds of each song though, then he loses interest until the next one comes on.

... is still a little chatterbox. As one of the nursery workers said to me recently - Oliver has something to say about everything! New words this month include a lion noise, mote (remote), moon, hair, down, cream, don't, goat and heyyyy. We were in line at Target last week when he waved to the lady behind us and said heyyyy. She looked at me in astonishment and was like, DO YOU KNOW HE TALKS?!?! Ummm... Yes! He's my kid after all!

... doesn't like sharing his food. I've been known to grab a bite or two off Mitch's plate over the years (hey - you snooze, you lose) but Mr Oliver doesn't appreciate this habit. Try to take a nibble and you'll be met with a stern don't.

... has been perfecting his flirting skills. Ask him where his eyes are and he'll bat his long pretty lashes at you.

... refused to share his Mumma. I was holding a friends baby and although he had been playing happily, he raced over from the other side of the room in a jealous fit when he noticed my arms were full. A meltdown took place until the baby was out of my arms and he was back in them.

... grew up. I don't know what happened, but he seemed to take a big leap with his confidence and independence. Now when we go to the playground, he hops out of the stroller and is off to the equipment without a second thought. He climbs on his own. Slides down the slide on his own... My big boy.

... loves poking his tongue out. Ask him what's in his mouth and he happily obliges by opening up wide and sticking his tongue out. If he clamps shut and runs off, it usually means there's something in there he doesn't want to share (ie chewed book pages).

... decided that 3-4 hour naps were a thing of the past. Now we get 1.5hrs on a good day :-( He's also been having sleep issues in general with wanting to party every night from 10pm-ish and not sleeping through the night. He's had holidays, been teething and sick so I think it's a number of factors contributing but lets just say, it's not much fun.

... did a wee on the toilet a few times! We're in no hurry to toilet train but for the past month he had been showing signs of awareness with what he's doing. We bought a toilet trainer seat (because personally, I just couldn't stomach the thought of cleaning a potty although we'll use one if the need arises) and he's been happily sitting on there like a big boy every night since we got home. At this stage, we're just getting him used to the idea of being on there and if something happens, he gets rewarded. Nothing - we move on.

... had toothy #16 finally pop through. He now has all his teeth except the 2 year molars which are currently giving him grief (this is partly why we think he's having sleep issues). His little hand is always in the back of his mouth and I can feel the hard lumps :-( Molars are seriously hard work.

... has learnt how to give out eskimo kisses. I've been trying to teach him how to blow kisses for awhile with no success and one day showed him what an eskimo kiss was. Well, he loves it. He regularly comes up to me, wiggling his nose for a kiss and it's just so sweet!

... started playing peekaboo properly. He even has the BOO bit down pat. We often hear little cries of boo coming out from his bedroom, I go in to discover he has lined up his cars and is playing peekaboo with them from behind another toy. Cute, much?


Sleep and sickness aside, this has actually been a really good month. Until the last week (being stuck indoors + sick = cranky toddler), it felt like we've had less tantrums and more peaceful moments. Here's to another good month - happy 17 months baby boy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

$100 Amazon gift card giveaway from NYABB

The lovely Amy from Not Your Average Baby Blog has put together this fantastic giveaway!


Here's what Amy has to say:

I'm Amy from Not Your Average Baby Blog and I'm kind of completely obsessed with all things beauty. And when it comes to makeup, if I find something I love, I stick with it. But it can get really sad when Sephora stops carrying some of your favorite items. I have loved Laura Geller products for oh so long, but they aren't sold at Sephora anymore. Amazon to the rescue! Here are a couple of my favorite finds from Amazon.
This blush is AMAZING, but this color is no longer carried. Boo. But...you can find it on Amazon! Score.

Now who wants some of this beauty goodness? I have partnered with lots of amazing blogs and shops to bring you this giveaway so please take a minute to stop by and say hello to them (it will count as entries into the giveaway--see Rafflecopter form--so get commenting!) a Rafflecopter giveaway
Best of luck!

Weekend goodness - Postcard Row

Like a lot of people, I grew up watching the popular tv series Full House... So it's no surprise that the painted ladies of Alamo square aka Postcard Row have been on my San Francisco to do list for awhile. We finally visited Alcatraz a couple of weekends ago (more to come on that) and took a little detour along the way to see these pretty Victorians.





In all honesty, I think I've seen bigger rows of more impressive houses in this city BUT this was a pretty spot. The park was lovely and Mr Oliver had a blast - admiring the view...


Saying hi to the local puppies...


Smiling for a photo...


And running around happily!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Co-hosting: Tell Me Tuesday!

This week I have the pleasure of co-hosting Tell Me Tuesday - a weekly link up hosted by Tori from Lil' Mrs Tori and Ashley from Him & Her!


Here are a few of my favourites from last week:




Calico 'ghost town', California

It's taken me a few weeks to get around to this post, but Calico concludes our recent canyon country road trip. After visiting Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon, all that was between us and home was a two day drive. We had picked a half way point after leaving Arizona to spend the night back in Barstow, California - a town off the side of the highway that felt similar to the small rural town I grew up in in Australia.

Neighbouring Barstow is a little 'ghost town' called Calico. Calico was once a big silver mining town but like a lot of others, it was eventually deserted. It's now been opened as a tourist attraction so we figured we'd go and take a look.


Some of the buildings are original, some have been rebuilt. There were shops, horse rides, the mine, a church and a train ride. We arrived late in the afternoon and it was actually the perfect time of day to visit this town - the sunlight hitting the buildings & desert landscape was really quite pretty.






We all enjoyed exploring this little place & learning more about California's mining history, but I think Mr Oliver had the most fun. He danced his way down the streets, waved to all the other tourists, chatted to the local horses, and happily said cheese for his Dadda!




It felt like we crammed a lot into a week - we covered a lot of ground and saw some gorgeous national parks that I could've spent a lot more time at. But, it was a great taste of canyon country... I just wish holidays didn't have to come to an end!

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