Overcoming Fear


Fear is a funny old thing – everyone feels it, and while it can be a powerful motivator or alert us to danger, it can also inhibit our lives.  Fear of something specific can be a HUGE block in your mind, something you can’t see a way past, but if you can confront it, somehow you manage to overcome it, or at least live with it.

There’s been a bit of fear around recently.  My son has an Anxiety Disorder as a result of the earthquakes here in Christchurch.  But it’s morphed into him being fearful of whole load of things – big buildings, loud noises, his little brother jiggling on the sofa, wind, heavy rain, the dark, being apart from me, earthquakes…..you get the picture.  We went on a course last year specifically designed for kids affected by the earthquakes, and it helped a lot.  But, we’ve had a couple of aftershocks recently which have set him back and he’s had panic attacks again.   Confronting this fear is tricky.  Learning to deal with it helps hugely.  I defer to the experts on this one and we’re heading back for help.


A good friend of mine developed a fear of flying.  She’s a very sensible woman, has travelled the world, but a few years ago a variety of factors combined to trigger this fear of flying.  And as she put it to me “If you won a trip for two to New York to see Pink in concert, I’d have to decline”.  So off she went to a week long night course at the airport run by a psychologist, culminating in a domestic flight.  She’s conquered it – unpacking the fear, learning techniques for relaxation and putting them into practice worked.  So, if by chance I win a trip for two to New York to see Pink in concert – she’s my plus one!

For me it’s dentists.  Never liked the school dental nurse, nor my orthodontist, and managed to steer clear of them with no pain.  But after six years it’s all coming back to haunt me.  This week we had to come home from holiday as I was in agony with dental pain.  There was no choice, my fear had to be faced.  With my two sons in the waiting room I was forced to put on a brave face.  As it turned out a root canal needed to be done and it cost a bomb!  But, as the injections (six in the end) numbed my pain I realised that they weren’t any worse than the iron or B12 injections I’ve had regularly at the GP.  The Dentist, who was incredibly kind and gentle, tells me it’s all about the head.  Apparently very few people are happy with their head being interfered with.  No problem with other parts of their bodies, but not their heads.

If you can, confronting your fear will enable you to overcome it, sometimes it’s just grabbing the bull by the horns (or a LOT of pain) and other times seeking help from professionals is just the ticket.



British accents and Superhero kid – two fun videos

Have you seen these two videos?  They’re fun to watch, one more for adults and the other for adults and kids alike

We lived in London for six years and I loved the melting pot of culture and accents.  It amazed me that in a small country there was such a diverse range of accents, and languages.  Here in New Zealand we generally sound the same,  there are about three regional twangs but nothing like the UK.  This video is by dialect coach Andrew Jack – Enjoy!



This is like looking inside a child’s imagination – my two boys were impressed.

Fashion trends: Autumn/Winter 2014


As part of Riccarton Style Week I popped along to Westfield to hear fashion stylist Stephanie Rumble talk about the latest fashion trends and how we can incorporate them into our wardrobes.

Trends are a new way to wear fashion, and this season’s main trends are floral grunge, heritage, urban punk and sports luxe.  Some of these I can definitely relate to, and others not so much.

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Stephanie Rumble
Paint colours and fashion colours
Paint colours and fashion colours

A revelation for me was that fashion colour trends follows paint colour trends, and that designers work closely with colour experts at Resene.  It was fascinating for me to see how trends for interior colours and fashion colours follow so incredibly closely.  I had no idea!

With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Stephanie expertly showed us how to put together outfits from a rack of clothes she’d chosen (impressively quickly) from nearby shops in Westfield.  She passed on her tips and tricks for colours, patterns, our shapes and sizes and embracing new trends and new shops.  I for one saw garments from shops I always walk past, but now I’ll be in to browse. It’s inspiring to have someone show you how to wear trends that you see but aren’t quite sure how to wear.

Putting an outfit together
Putting an outfit together

Floral Grunge

This I can do, I have a bold large patterned floral top which I bought when floral grunge first came out a couple of seasons ago.  This isn’t  pretty floral, instead think bold and assertive prints.  Combine floral and leather or denim, both of which are very on trend.


This is very much me.  Think English country estate and chunky knits and away you go.  Tweed, herringbone, muted colours and lots of texture.

Urban Punk

I remember tartan the first time it was fashionable and have a vivid memory of choosing my first pair of tartan trousers and wearing them with great pride.  It’s back, but I don’t have the trousers… Stephanie had on a fab tartan jacket, and as she pointed out tartan has son many colours in it, it’s pretty versatile.  Team it with ankle boots or whose with a bit of patent, or metal trim.  Leather jackets fit in this trend well, with the biker jacket style being very popular.


Think trendy trainers and comfy weekend wear or dashing to the school run.  Baggy t-shirts, anoraks, boxy crop tops and add a touch of metallic.  A bomber jacket is a key piece for this look.

We all loved this one!
We all loved this one!

Check out Riccarton Style Week for yourself at Westfield Riccarton.  Free seminars and advice, workshops and colour consultation.

Riccarton Style Week, 7-13 April:

Tuesday: 12.30pm, 2pm & 4pm How to buy the Wardrobe Essentials

Wednesday: Colours Day – I’m booked in with Stephanie for a colour consultation, but it’s booked out now sorry 😦

Thursday – Sunday: Style Lounge – free one-on-one style sessions

Saturday: In-Store Styling Day – stylists will be in different stores to help you shop

Stephanie Rumble has her own image consultancy Flair Image


The beach in autumn

Solo sandcastle
Solo sandcastle

I don’t know about you but I find the beach in summer is often hot, and sticky, sandy (of course), FULL of people and the last straw is often trying to find a car park.  We tend to surf in summer and walk in winter and in autumn we play.

Hanging houses and arty shipping containers
Hanging houses and arty shipping containers

We’ve had a stunning run of autumn weather these last couple of weeks with chilly mornings and sunny days and marvellous afternoons.  So on Sunday we headed to our favourite playing beach, Sumner.  Sumner has been hit pretty hard by the earthquakes and the raw damage is still evident to some beautiful homes once perched on the edge of the cliffs, now literally hanging off them.  Lines of shipping containers have been brought in to protect the main road to Sumner, and these are now the site for an art exhibition in the form of canvases stretched over a container.  Clever, as they’re pretty ugly.

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The boys and I took their best buddy and headed across town.  The aim of the afternoon was to make sandcastles, well that’s what I wanted to do, but boys being boys, were keener to dig holes and ‘quarry’.  The littlest one and I made a small sandcastle, then I left them to it, digging happily away.

The littlest one and the ball
The littlest one and the ball

Being autumn the wind soon became chilly so after a while we headed back for ice creams – there’s always such a good selection with cones, and licked away watching the kite surfers.

Next time you’re wondering what to do on an autumn afternoon try the beach – it’s often better than the height of summer.

Seashore treasures
Seashore treasures
Three friends
Three friends

Hunting for…The Big Egg Hunt NZ

Have chocolate and bikes - will hunt!
Have chocolate and bikes – will hunt!


The Big Egg Hunt NZ is fun event is being held down under for the first time, here in New Zealand.  100 eggs have been hidden in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and on Saturday the boys and I set out to find a fair few of them, and consume some chocolatey goodness at the same time.

The Big Egg Hunt was first held in London in 2010 and combined fun and fundraising for charity.  Next year hunts will take place in London, Dublin, New York and New Zealand.  The Big Egg Hunt NZ is to raise funds for Starship Foundation (a charity which supports our national children’s hospital here in NZ).  Each egg has been designed by top NZ artists and at the end of the hunt they will be auctioned off on Trade Me (our version of E-Bay), with 20 of them being auctioned at a gala evening.

With a host of sponsors, the principal one being Whittaker’s Chocolate, the aim is to find as many eggs as you can and enter the competition.  Prizes range from peanut slabs through to a gold slab (rumoured to be worth in the region of $300K).  You can do this by either texting in the unique code found on the plinth of each egg, downloading an app (this is what we did) or follow the directions on specially marked blocks of Whittaker’s chocolate.

The boys and I decided this was the perfect activity for a gloriously sunny autumn afternoon and set off on our bikes from the Botanical Gardens, in the centre of town.  To make it even more fun, we took along a specially marked block of Whittaker’s chocolate, and for every egg we found, we ate a square.

The first eggs we found were handily in the Botanical Gardens and I think Egg #82, Insecta Egg, with the butterflies and insects has to be my favourite.  I would happily have that sitting on a plinth in my garden.  Each egg is mounted on a plinth which has a biography of the artist and some talk about the inspiration for their egg design.

The app turned out to be a little temperamental, so at our next stop at the Museum, the helpful guide offered us a good old-fashioned paper map for the egg hunt which turned out to be much more reliable, but she wouldn’t give any clues as to the locations of the two eggs hidden in the museum!  We hunted, and found them.  Despite being large, they were surprisingly easy to miss amongst all the other exhibits.

The next eggs were at Cathedral Square which was the heart of our city, but is now dominated by the ruins of our now fought over Cathedral.  My eldest son struggles to see the remains of the earthquake destruction and didn’t enjoy the cycle through the empty streets, but the youngest one didn’t mind a bit, and in fact enjoyed the traffic-free streets.  Cathedral Square turned out to be quite lucrative as there were four eggs there, therefore four pieces of chocolate!  We followed the map and found the eggs and stopped and played and looked inside buildings.  The new Transitional Cathedral, commonly known as the Cardboard Cathedral provided a warm welcome and another egg.

Our last stop found that two of the eggs had been thoughtlessly damaged and were being removed as we tried to check in with our app.  Despicable damage to such a fun event for a worthy cause.

All chocolate consumed and happily tired boys we cycled back to the car.  They boys reckon it was loads of fun and are keen to do it again next year.

The Big Egg Hunt will run 21 March until 22 April in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.  Until the app is reliable, I recommend using the paper map (available online) and texting in your entry.

Parenting the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

My two lovelies
My two lovelies

The tricky business of parenting has cropped up in a few conversations I’ve had recently.  Each person sharing a very different story about their parenting journey.

Today I was on the phone to my TelCo and the woman on the other end of the line was telling me about her 20month old, and how she’s all of a sudden developing likes and dislikes that she’s expressing loudly.  I pointed out that I remembered at about that age my own parenting changed from mainly meeting the child’s needs (food, comfort, sleep) to shaping their behaviour with boundaries.  “This is where you really start to parent and it gets tricky” I said, “And you’ve got to try and stay one step ahead of them from now on” I counselled.  “You’re right!” she exclaimed, “I’ve never thought of it like that.”  We happily ended our conversation, and she went home to ponder how best to tackle this next stage of her parenting journey.

Waiting outside the classrooms at that end of the day I was chatting with a school-mum whose daughter’s ninth birthday is this weekend.  She happily told me about how delighted she was with the person her daughter was becoming and how much she was enjoying her.  She said that the hard years of parenting were paying off and she was looking forward to the years to come, with understandable apprehension about the teenage years.

And at the swim meet another mother was having a hard time with her youngest; a pre-schooler with a huge amount of energy who did not appreciate being curtailed to the edge of the pool to watch his older brother race.  She and I were chatting about how kids can drive you mad at times, and that she was looking forward to him growing out of that difficult to please, full of energy, don’t want to sit still phase.  We went on to talk about disappointment (in that not everyone can come first in a swimming race) and how actually it’s not such a bad thing.  We all have to deal with it in our lives, and kids need to learn how.

Later, she emailed an article she’d read called  ’10 Common Mistakes Parents Today Make’ and having read it, it got me thinking that Kari Kampakis might be on to something.  I’d discussed this very thing at camp with the teachers and their observations that kids these days are over protected from life’s disappointments and aren’t as resilient or as independent as they could or should be.  They’re building a lot of life skills into the curriculum as parents just aren’t teaching their kids these vital skills anymore.  When the ice-cream falls on the ground, don’t buy another, but share in their sadness.  It’s hard, but it’s life.

I realise now that the disappointments and hard life lessons my boys are currently experiencing, I cannot protect them from, but I can help them live with them, because you know what, sometimes, like for Alexander it can be a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and his wise mother says “some days are like that”.

Here are Kari Kampakis’ 10 common mistakes, but I do highly recommend reading the full article.

1.  Worshipping our children

2.  Believing our children are perfect

3.  Living vicariously through our children

4.  Wanting to be our children’s BFF

5.  Engaging in competitive parenting

6.  Missing the wonder of childhood

7.  Raising the child we want, not the child we have

8.  Forgetting our actions speak louder than words

9.  Judging other parents…and their kids

10.  Understanding character

The wonder of childhood
The wonder of childhood

Foodie Heaven – International Cooking Classes

I’ve never been to a cooking class, but I’ve always wanted to.  The Argentian aka Carolina, is world famous in our neighbourhood for her fabulous cooking and passion for food.  Now she’s taking her passion to the wider community of Christchurch with her friend and fellow Argentinian, Andrea.  Andrea and her husband have recently moved into a house perched on the hill above Taylors Mistake from Barcelona where they’ve lived for the past ten years.  Having been to and loved Barcelona, I can tell  you this is quite a contrast.  But, their new abode makes the PERFECT location for a cooking class with dinner or lunch.  Andrea and Carolina are charming and delightful hosts and their passion for cooking is catching.  Their chosen recipes for the evening were not only genuinely delicious, but very easy and easy to accomplish for any home cook.

Two neighbours (also fans of Carolina’s) and I headed over the hill and joined Carolina and Andrea for the launch of their International Cooking Classes last week.  This particular night was making Italian Sorrentinos – filled homemade pasta.  The first thing that hits you, is the incredible view from Andrea’s home.  And whilst on the deck admiring it, a friendly paraglider flew past on his way down to the beach.

The friendly paraglider
The friendly paraglider

The cooks started with pasta, making sorrentino’s for us – very similar to ravioli, or tortellini.  They showed us how to make the pasta dough, sharing their tips and tricks along the way.  We all had a turn with the pasta machine and turning the handle, making it thiner with each of the six runs through.  I’ve always thought it looked time consuming, but surprisingly it wasn’t, more therapeutic.  Andrea and Carolina demonstrated how to make two fillings for the sorrentinos – salmon and homemade ricotta with dill, and pumpkin and mozzarella with basil.  We all followed along on our recipe sheet, making extra notes here and there. Each filling was served with a different sauce, cream sauce for the delicate salmon and ricotta, and an earthy puttanesca sauce for the more hearty pumpkin and mozzarella.  Both were beautiful and worthy of any restaurant.  The thing about cooking classes is not only do you get the smell (or should I say aroma), rather than the picture, but you can interact with the cooks, and in fact it’s encouraged.

We sat round the table and ate in the fading sunset and enjoyed both the food and company of others whom we didn’t know but, joined together with a common interest, food, we had a really good night.

After the main course Andrea and Carolina showed us how to make their version of Tiramasu.  Now, I should confess here to never having tried Tiramasu, always being put off at the end of a meal by layers of cream and sponge and topped off with coffee, seemed sickly to me.  But this Tiramasu was amazing – light, delicate and left me wanting more.  Super easy to prepare, we were all delighted to have this gem of a recipe in our repertoire.  Next dinner party, that’s what I’m serving.

Three hours later, happily full and armed with tips, tricks, new tastes and inspired to make sorrentinos myself, we headed back over the hill to home.  We all agreed we’d had a great night, having thoroughly enjoyed learning something new, the location, the food and the company.  We’ll be back for another class.

International Cooking Classes cost $50 which included the three hour class with dinner and dessert.  Carolina and Adrea hold classes each month with different themes.  To book: Email: cookingfoodclasses@gmail.com, Facebook: here , Mobile: Carolina 0210783841 or Andrea 0211735514.

PS.  Here’s Carolina’s recipe for Palmeritas from a previous blog post.


Life and style in New Zealand