Saturday, September 29, 2012

Clifton Gardens Playdate

Well, Jack has officially ended his 3rd term of Kindy- only one left! But that also means that I have both boys with no school for 2 weeks- which means each and everyday my goal is to make them as tired as I possibly can. One week down- and one to go.

Last week we were busy everyday- playdate with a friend, Max, on Monday (Henry was still at school). Tuesday we went to the gym and did activities around the house. Wednesday we did the gym again, then coffee with Dad and a park play. Then Jack had a sleepover with his friend, Daniel.

Thursday, we packed up a nice big picnic and met a bunch of friends at Clifton Gardens. It's basically a bay beach off near Manly. It's about a 15 minute drive from us. Perfect for little kids- there are no big waves. A nice bathroom, great playground area and then a little beach area. We go there all the time with the boys.

We met Jack's friends from school- Daniel, Adam & Ben (brothers), and Lachlan. I've become pretty good friends with their Mom's so it was a nice day. The boys played in the sand, the water (it was actually warm enough) and ate. Although the boys are always funny- anytime we go anywhere and they're busy having fun, they don't want to take the time to actually eat. I'm begging them to come over and have a sandwich, or some fruit, or something. Of course, when we leave, they are STARVING. SO that's how it is, we get in the car and I have to make sure I have enough for them to eat on while we make it home.

Although I have to mention this funny incident- worth mentioning. Of course, we are in Australia- and they tend to have alot of "european" tendencies. I look over at all the boys and they are hysterically laughing and running around. Much to my dismay, I notice that they are chasing a little naked girl around. And little girl, I mean, she was probably about 5, so it was inappropriate (in my opinion). I think it's fine to change your kids or maybe when they are younger, but a girl this old running around naked. It's just a bit weird. And, of course, the boys thought it was so funny. When I went over to tell them to stop, Lachlan said, "Were chasing a naked girl around". Yes, you are, and let's not do that anymore. Lord help me! :)

Fun filled day- the boys were both so tired. Henry fell asleep on the way home. Then Jack fell asleep on the couch at 4 p.m. Needless to say, Mommy got some good down time as BOTH were in bed and asleep at 7 p.m.! That is a successful day!!!

Friday, Jack and I went shopping for a bit. Picked up a small birthday gift for Nana- who is coming next weekend. Then Jack went out again- popular little guy- for another sleepover with his friend Adam.

What a week! I don't know that this coming week will be that busy, but close. :)

The boys- minus Daniel and Ben


Henry kept running down to this sign telling me there were sharks in the water. 




Curious to know what they were talking about- probably about sharks! :)
It's Sunday now- we are enjoying a nice 3 day weekend. We all needed some good rest and family time. :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sydney: Botanical Gardens & Woolomoloo

Marking things off of my list to do and things to see in Sydney! Sad, but now that we know we don't have much time left- we are off and running through Sydney. Although, it does help that it's spring and the weather has been absolutely beautiful! 

Saturday morning we relaxed (no soccer or baseball!), then left the house about 10:30. Short drive across the bridge into the city- to the Botanical Gardens. We spent about an hour and a half walking through- enjoying the "Spring Walk". Lots of beautiful flowers and trees that are blossoming. Boys ran all over the place- so good for them. 






















Then, we stopped when we got near the water (the Botanical Gardens are right along the water on the other side of the Opera House). Found a park bench and had a nice snack. Jason and I enjoyed chatting while the boys ran around and kept themselves busy chasing birds and eating their snacks. 

The Botanical Gardens are wonderful- huge open area and beautiful things to see. Great place to go have a picnic. They even have a short train ride that takes you through the entire thing. It's right next to the Opera House and Circular Quay area, as well as the NSW (New South Wales) Art Gallery. 

After our snack (it was not enough!), we walked along the water and back out through the Gardens to Woolomoloo- very close- about a 15-20 minute walk. It's such a pretty walk and so enjoyable. 











Down along the water/bay to Woolomoloo (an area in Sydney- and great restaurants!), to the famous Harry's Cafe de Wheels. Apparently it's the must place to try the popular meat pies that everyone loves here in Australia. They are basically like mini chicken pot pies- but they are famous for the minced meat/beef. The best flaky moist crust. Delicious. The boys all had hot dogs and sausage rolls, but I had the chicken pie (chicken with gravy and mushrooms). It was amazing! Apparently all sorts of celebrities come here-  to taste the famous pies.


 





After our yummy lunch outside (know that Harry's is just a big card and there is very little seating), we went to Surry Hills to meet one of Jason's co-workers. Just had a nice coffee, nice visit and let the boys play in the park.

Back home by about 3:30, and we had some very tired and exhuasted little boys! Good for us! We rented "The Lorax", made an easy dinner and had a nice evening at home. :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mini Lemon Meringue Cupcakes with Book Club!

Yum Yum! Do you know how much I LOVE lemon desserts- they are one of my favorite. So I recently found this recipe in an Aussie magazine here- and I knew I had to make them. So what perfect occasion- my American Book Club meeting that I hosted this last week.

Not only were they delicious- but deadly- because they are "mini" and I'm pretty sure along with everyone else, you just pop them in your mouth and end up eating more than you probably should. :) Just like those mini snickers. :)

Here's the recipe:

Mini Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Ingredients:
*125 grams of unsalted butter, room temp
*1 cup caster sugar
*1 1/2 T finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 T lemon juice
*1/2 tsp vanilla
*1 1/2 cups plain flour
*2 tsp baking powder
*1/4 tsp salt
*1/2 cup sour cream

Lemon Curd:
*2 egg yolks
*1/4 cup lemon juice, plus finely grated zest of 1 lemon
*90 g chilled unsalted butter, diced

Meringue:
*3 egg whites
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Line 30 holes of a 1 1/2 T mini muffin pan with liners.
2. Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon zest and vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder and salt over butter mixture and stir to combine. Fold in sour cream and lemon juice.
3. Fill prepared pans. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until done. Stand in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
4. Meanwhile, to make lemon curd, whisk egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a heatproof bowl. Place bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until smooth. Add butter, one piece at a time, whisking constantly, until melted. Cook, stirring ocasionally with a wooden spoon for 8-10 minutes. Remove bowl from saucepan. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
5. To make meringue, using a mixer, beat eggwhites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 T at a time, beating constantly, until thick and glossy. Fold in cream of tartar.
6. Spread a little curd over each cake. Place meringue in a pastry bag and pipe over curd. Using a blowtorch, gently brown meringue to lightly color.

*I used a thick whip cream and didn't brown them. I have a torch but ran out of time! :)

*I did have leftovers that Jason took to his office the next morning and he said they were devoured way too quickly.

Beautifully displayed on my cupcake stand

And my spring flowers- vases wrapped with ribbon. :) 
What a great book club as well- I hosted for my first time and there were about 9 ladies that turned out. We discussed our book for the month, GONE GIRL, by Gillian Flynn. It was a really good book- I think I had it finished in about 3 days. Easy read- very engaging- although a bit weird. Sometimes I can't quit fathom how authors come up with their stories because they can be quite crazy. Ah well, good book club, good little treats and great times with new friends. :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Been M.I.A.

Yes, I haven't been posting- in awhile. Life has been a bit crazy here and I just have not had a moment.

First off, our house (everyone but Jason) was hit with the most horrific stomach bug. Jack had it first one weekend (for about 2 1/2 days), then Henry got it the next weekend (about 3 days), then I got it- oh...and I got it while Jason was in Hong Kong. It was miserable and the worst sickness I've ever encountered. Certainly didn't help that Jason was out of town and I had the boys to myself. Luckily, I had a few friends that were able to help with taking Jack to school, but still didn't have any help at night. I told Jason that it made me appreciate him much more-

Anyway, so I've been mustering up just enough energy to do my motherly and wife duties. I'm finally eating normal food too- for about a week it was toast, applesauce and rice. :(

We've also been eagerly (and not so patiently) waiting on news about our upcoming move to Hong Kong. We've put forth our budget/package and now will wait to see if the Board will approve it next week. Lots of feelings are bustling around in my head- and lots of "to-do" lists, because it's about 95% that we are going. And...Jason's boss says "sooner than later". Nice. Nothing like rushing another move to another foreign country.

So, this means, I have to get on finding Jack a school- lots of applications and waiting lists to apply for. House hunting- finding the right area- close to Jason's work and Jack's new school. We'll have to get a new car- maybe 2- so we need to look for those. And lots of small details that go into moving to a new country. Not to mention I've never even been to Hong Kong before. ha ha! Another adventure for the Wiltshire's!

Jason's Mom is coming in two weeks. And Jack has just finished his 3rd term of Kindy- which means he is off for 2 weeks. Thank goodness the weather is turning nice- beautiful 70 degree days- so we'll have lots of picnics and park outings with friends.

Now I need to hurry and find little side weekend trips that we can do here and there- I want to take in as much of Sydney as I can before we leave. Hopefully- if we can work it out- we'll do a trip to either the Gold Coast or Great Barrier Reef before we move. I would hate to leave here and not travel outside of Sydney.

Anyway- just a little update from me. More later this week- now that I"m functioning properly and have energy!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Spring is Here!

Ah- Spring is finally here! A beautiful 70 degrees and we are loving it! The sun has been shining and flowers are starting to bloom. Weird, yes, I know for all of you in the States, as you are gearing up for Fall. Trust me, my mind knows it's football season, so we should be wearing jeans and sweaters, making pumpkin treats and gearing up for Halloween. Not here- we're starting to wear shorts and bask in the sun! :)

Today I'm home with my Jackie- he is sick. I honestly think he's just worn himself out. Last week at school, his teacher told me on two different occasions that he cried while in class (for about 10 minutes) and said he missed me and was homesick. He's never done this. Maybe at the beginning of school he cried a few times when I left, but never this. He has just been going and going and going.

So to wrap up the weekend- and where some of his "exhaustion" came from:

Friday night we went to dinner with a new family that we've met. Their little boy goes to school with Jack and he'll be playing baseball with Jack this spring. One of the few American families that we've met here. :) They are from New York, although Derk (the Father) was actually a traveling expat child- all over the world. Really fun family- and what better way to enjoy their company than good ole' Italian food. :)

Needless to say, we were out a bit late, and the boys went to bed much later than they needed to. Then, Saturday morning- Soccer Gala day- we had to be at the field at 8:30. No sleeping in for us!

Jack had 3 games on Saturday- which they won all 3 so not only got an end of the year trophy but also a medal! Happy and proud little boys.

After our morning games we headed for Warner Park (about 10 minutes from us) and had a soccer "Sausage Sizzle". (Sausage sizzle is basically a BBQ- they eat sausages instead of hot dogs- really quite good too). So lots of food, running around and by 2 p.m. we were all exhausted. Henry was all too ready for his nap.

Then, of course, later than night (after a good cozy evening in), was when the fun started! Startled by Jack at about 11- poor little guy had gotten sick all over his room. Not fun for anyone.

A late night for all- lots of washing, cleaning and making sure our big boy was okay. And even after everything is all clean- I just lay there in bed thinking they'll be another episode (which there was- 2 more times), and wishing I could do something to help him feel better. The worries of parents when their children are sick.

Needless to say, we were indoors all day yesterday because of our sick lil' guy. Spring is here- but it's here to stay, so we're not missing out all that much.

Jack and his good mate, Lachlan


The team- including the class pet, Pug

Henry's lil' babysitter, Bianca

Jack with his trophy- and icing on his nose!

And...acting like his trophy is a microphone! Always entertaining!
Looking forward to this week and the beautiful weather that we have coming our way....which also means beach days are coming soon too!!! Woooie! This Mama needs some serious sun! :)