A weekend of freedom

 Image:  The Spruce

Image: The Spruce

Hello! How has your week been? I hope you've had a lovely week, and if it's been as mad as mine has, well at least it's Friday. Hasn't this week gone so quickly?

What are your plans for the weekend? We have very little organised, which is so unlike us! H1 has booked Amelie into the crèche at our club, which will give us some fun time to maybe play some tennis or go for a swim...we often take her there but usually to take her swimming, so this will make a nice change. The weather doesn't look amazing but hopefully there'll be enough sun to fit it at least one park visit. What else is going on? Give me your ideas!

And here are a few good Fridays reads for you all, to kickstart this weekend...

How to travel with children. What would you add to this?

I never feel like I look put together. But I am quite organised, so maybe that doesn't show? How about you?

Does this mirror your phone behaviour at work?

Zara is offering online shopping in NZ now! Love this top.

The Bashford Antiques saga has drawn to a close. (Read the whole story if you haven't already – so weird, so fascinating).

This restaurant review is harsh, but I didn't think it unfair. How about you?

It's still tomato season – just – and I want to make this.

Happy weekend to you! Make it a great one.

Moving uptown

It's getting really real now...

I alluded to our new apartment a couple of posts ago, but other than that I don't think I've mentioned it once...which is madness, because it's been two years since we made the decision to buy it. It was kind of an impulse decision (of course it was, I'll wait months before buying a pair of sneakers, weighing the pros and cons, but when it comes to property I apparently have a problem) but it was a good one. We're just so excited to move – the perfectly reasonable rental we're in now seems to get smaller and sadder by the day – and put our own touches on the gorgeous design put together by the developers.

 I want our entranceway this colour, for example. Image:  Pinterest

I want our entranceway this colour, for example. Image: Pinterest

The apartment is in Newton, in Auckland's uptown. I work in midtown and H1 is not far away at the bottom of Parnell (just over from downtown, for the non-Aucklanders out there) so it's incredibly convenient for us. Amelie's daycare is close too, and so are a number of parks, including Myers Park with the super-cool playground (and good coffee nearby – as well all know it's important).

So an apartment! This is a perfectly valid decision for anyone living anywhere else but in Auckland it's still seen as slightly depraved. Thankfully, that attitude is changing by the day. We have lots of suburbs with single-family homes in them, and while I can appreciate some of them, like the beautiful villas of Ponsonby or Grey Lynn, that lifestyle just doesn't feel right for us at this point in time. We want somewhere low-maintenance – we have the country house and that's quite enough high-maintenance property for us (there's a lot of land; we city folk have no idea what we're doing but at least we keep the neighbours entertained). There's plenty of green space for Amelie, and so many other cool things nearby – farmer's markets, the waterfront, the Art Gallery, the Auckland Museum, cafes (kids loves her fluffies) – and we can get almost anywhere we want to on foot, on train, or on bike. Our jobs are demanding, and living this way gives us maximum time together, as well as freeing us up to enjoy that time together. 

It's still likely to be a few months before we move in, but it's getting closer every day. I can't wait to be an uptown girl again!

City escape

How to spend 17 hours in Auckland City

Over the weekend it was H1's birthday! We had a fantastic morning on Saturday, with a family walk over to one of favourites, Ripe Deli, for coffee, Spanish eggs and berry-coconut slice. We got it to go and ate it in Grey Lynn Park so Amelie could play on the playground. This playground is one of my favourites – it's easy to get to on foot, there are good coffee options close by (important) and it feels really safe and fun for a toddler Amelie's age – lots of playgrounds seem mostly designed for bigger kids, but this one is pretty relaxing (inasmuch as you can ever relax with a toddler).

 On the playground.

On the playground.

 Crossing the bridge – she walks everywhere else but this bridge is apparently a crawling situation.

Crossing the bridge – she walks everywhere else but this bridge is apparently a crawling situation.



We got home just as my parents were arriving, and conveniently H1 took off for a ride just before Amelie's nap, so I could get everything ready. Because unbeknownst to H1, we were taking off that afternoon...

...to a hotel a ten minute drive away.

Hotel DeBrett is this totally gorgeous design-led boutique hotel in the centre of the city, and the perfect place to celebrate H1's birthday, as well as enjoy our first night ever away from Amelie. We arrived about 3.30pm, and after checking in we headed out to Pilkingtons, just up the road, for a drink and snack. We then went shopping around Britomart and High Street, before heading back to the hotel to relax and get ready for dinner.

 Kicking things off at Pilkingtons.

Kicking things off at Pilkingtons.

 Image:  Hotel DeBrett
 On our way to dinner.

On our way to dinner.

For dinner, we ate at Euro, which is a total Auckland institution. Neither of us had ever been there before, and it was a great experience. The food was delicious, the waiter was hilarious (not actually in a good way, but thankfully he was so ridiculous as to be farcical, and we enjoyed that rather) and it's a great spot to watch Aucklanders head out and about for the night (as I noted to H1, shorts are very short this season).

The next day, we slept in until an unprecedented 7.41am, then had a relaxing breakfast before heading home to a happy, tired Amelie and her happy, surprisingly un-tired grandparents.

I'm so pleased with how the weekend came together! H1 was surprised, just as I was hoping, and very happy (also just as I was hoping). Amelie coped absolutely fine with us being away, and we coped really well too – we didn't worry about her at all. And now that first is checked off! Having children seems to be a never-ending parade of firsts, and this particular one is kind of bittersweet but also awesome. It's so important to be more than parents some of the time.

 Hanging out on Sunday afternoon.

Hanging out on Sunday afternoon.

If you're looking for a fun birthday surprise I can thoroughly recommend planning a short surprise trip somewhere – even if it's only ten minutes down the road just doing something different is a brilliant way to mark an occasion. I might have to start looking into options for the next one...


A weekend of birthday fun!

Hello! How is everyone? Have you all had a lovely week? 

I've spent all week a day ahead mentally and am just so pleased that it is finally Friday! Feels like I've been waiting a lot longer than a week...

This weekend is H1's birthday – he is an age. (35, he's 35!) A very grown-up age. My parents are coming to babysit Amelie and we're going out for dinner – so looking forward to this! And I may have a few more surprises up my sleeve. I've not bought him a birthday present – at his request. Doing something special together, just the two of us, just seems a far bigger treat than a present at this stage of life.  Do you find this too? Or are birthday presents still important to you? 

Here's some cool Friday reading for you:

This story about colour and Pantone is super-fascinating.

What if private school was your only choice?

How to create less rubbish.

Inspiring (I am planning our new apartment and can't wait for the new bathroom!)

Some good tricks to make the most of downtime.

Love the sound of this outdoor challenge – thinking it might be good for later in autumn?

Have a wonderful weekend!



How I'm getting out of my cooking rut

What do you do when something you used to love becomes a chore? This has happened to me more than once with cooking, and no surprises there really – cooking can be so fun and creative, but it's also something that usually has to be done every single day, after expending most of your time and energy on other activities. It's not the perfect context for enjoyment.

 Lamb meatballs in avgolemono. Image:  The Guardian

Lamb meatballs in avgolemono. Image: The Guardian

For me, a bit of a mental shift was required. I've mentioned before how we do My Food Bag and what we do in the weeks when we don't get meal delivery. Most of the time, I don't love cooking that way, and that's okay with me – we have to eat! But that's because I don't really count it as cooking. It is something different, and cooking is when I have fun and get creative.

I realised the difference during the Christmas holidays, when I had a whole afternoon to get into my in-laws' kitchen and cook dinner for all of us, as well as some willing grandparents to look after Amelie. I chose what I was going to make in the morning (this part is as fun as the creation itself), headed out to buy the ingredients, and spent hours cooking in a relaxed and non-demanding way, knowing I could take the time to make something new and delicious for us all to enjoy.

I can't cook that way every day, nor would I want to (what's that they say about moderation?) But as part of my kind-of New Year's resolutions – or rather, little things to change and improve to make my life better, as I'm thinking of them – I made myself a deal that I would regularly make the time to cook this way. To keep myself honest, I actually set myself a challenge of cooking something new to me every month, as well as buying the very best of everything that I could afford (no compromises!) Unsaid in that challenge is that it has to be something with a certain level of intricacy that'll stretch my cooking skills – this is a challenge, after all.

We're into March now so it's time for round three. In January I made these lamb meatballs in avgolemono, and in February I made this aubergine salad with saffron yoghurt (twice, actually). This month I'm leaning towards something that'll make the most of these last days of summer. Any ideas for me?