Autumn Leaf Threading

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Mila and I have loved watching the beautiful trees around our house change colour from green to yellow, then to many pretty shades of red. Here is a creative invitation to play that gives the opportunity to practise the fine motor skills of punching out shapes and threading.

You will need:

  • Play-dough
  • Leaves
  • Twigs
  • A hole punch

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We had fun punching out pretty stars in our leaves. Mila loved sticking these onto the play-dough but they would also look really pretty if you glued them onto a picture.

Through this play Mila was working on developing her fine motor control. It took a lot of concentration and perseverance to carefully thread the leaves onto the twigs. As she explored we talked about colours, size, shape and textures of the leaves as well as counting them and singing ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ many times! There is so much learning that can take place through simple activities like this.

Setting up an invitation to play doesn’t have to be complicated and it is always lots of fun to share this special uninterrupted time together. What better way to spend an afternoon than happily playing and exploring with my best little friend.

 

Feijoa and Almond Loaf

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We love feijoa’s here in the Marshall household! Our trees have had an amazing crop this year so I have been trying out lots of different recipes to use them up. Feijoa Bliss Balls, Muffins, Cakes, as well as Pies and Crumbles but this delicious Feijoa and Almond Loaf has to be my favourite.

This lovely moist loaf is super easy to throw together and can be made gluten and dairy free which is really handy. I like that it has minimal sugar in it too so feels like a healthier choice even if it is still a sometimes food!

I am sure I will be making a few of these to put in the freezer to enjoy later on or to whip out for some surprise visitors.

FEIJOA AND ALMOND LOAF

1 Cup of Flour (I used a store bought gluten free baking mix)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup of almond meal

2 eggs

1/4 cup of milk (I used coconut and almond to make it dairy free)

1 1/2 cups of mashed feijoas

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Then add the sugar and almond meal. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and milk until they are fluffy. Pour this into the dry ingredients and mix until they are combined. Stir in the mashed feijoa and pour into a lined loaf tin. Bake at 180 degrees celsius for around 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

 

Enjoy with a cup of tea.

xxx

Dinosaur World Playdough

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What a great birthday party theme ‘dinosaurs’ is! Earlier this week Mila went to a friends 4th birthday where we had a fun time celebrating dinosaur style.

I decided to get a little creative and make his present so off to the Warehouse Mila and I went on the hunt for dinosaurs. We found these cute little ones in a packet for $3 and then the compartment sistema container for $8…winning!

Next Mila and I went on a nature hunt to collect all the stones, sticks and natural materials that we thought would be perfect for adding to a dinosaur world.

We then made 4 colours of playdough which fit nicely under the compartment that was in the top of the container.  I will write my never fail cooked playdough recipe at the bottom of this post. What we included in the container was probably a third of each colour so it is a decent amount per batch.

When we were finished Mila was itching to play with this present but reluctantly agreed to help me wrap it up. I must admit it did look like a very cool invitation to play and create so I don’t blame her for not really wanting to give it away! I hope our wee friend enjoys making his own dinosaur world, we certainly had fun putting it all together.

 

Quick and Easy Never Fail Cooked Playdough Recipe

  • 1 TBsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • food colouring
  • 1 cup flour

Add the first 5 ingredients into a pot and stir to combine. Then add the flour and mix it in well. Place the pot on the stove top and heat over a low temperature, stirring to prevent it catching on the bottom until it forms a dough consistency. Allow to cool slightly then knead it until it is smooth.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

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faithful

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A friend asked me recently how I know that God is real? My first response was, “well I know God is real because I have a personal relationship with Him, He is not some far off distant figure to me but a very real, present and loving friend”. Our conversation finished and as I reflected on it later I went over in my head what we had discussed. Many questions were raised in our discussion such as well if God is real why do bad things happen? If God is real how do you actually know?

These are such big questions as well as really important ones to ask. I know I don’t have all the answers and to be honest I fumbled my way through answering the questions as best I could at the time. I would describe myself as a slow-cooker thinker. I don’t always have the answers quickly or on the spot, I usually need time to process and to reflect (slow cook them), I can then more clearly express what I believe or want to say.  So after some thought I decided I would like to share one of the reasons why I believe that God is real, this is my personal experience and some of the journey I have been on.

When I think of God the word ‘faithful’ comes to mind. During my first year of working after graduating as a early childhood teacher I started to develop some back pain, at first I just put it down to using muscles I hadn’t before and made efforts to be careful about how I lifted children and went about my daily tasks. But as the year progressed I developed increasing stiffness in my spine and experienced almost constant pain. I began to realised that this was much more serious than just sore muscle back pain. Over the next two years I saw what seemed like countless specialists and doctors who eventually diagnosed me with a form of rheumatoid arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a form of arthritis that mainly effects the spine but it can effect other areas of your body too. It also can lead to ankylosis where new bone formation occurs in the spine causing sections of the spine to fuse in a fixed, immobile position. So basically my spine was developing little boney spikes that were fusing together causing me to find walking and moving very painful and difficult.

I remember a specialist telling me that it was very likely that in 4 years time I would not be able to walk, I would probably be confined to a wheelchair and experience constant pain for the rest of my life. Thinking about this now, it may have seemed like a pretty gloomy prediction for a 22 year old to be told but at the time I was not fearful I knew God was with me. In Him I had hope and the assurance that whatever I faced I did not face it alone. He was always right there beside me, He did not send this to me, in fact His heart was actually breaking to see His child go through this sickness.

During the following year I was put on lots of different medications (many which had nasty side effects), I received physiotherapy, hydrotherapy (water based physiotherapy at the hospital) and I was on countless medications, including morphine injections.

When the pain was really bad it felt like knives or glass being stabbed into my arms and spine. It was tiring to keep going but I tried to remain positive, even if I was having to roll out of bed and crawl to the shower each morning as I waited for my joints to warm up lol. There are always things we can be thankful for even when daily life is so challenging.

During this time I felt God’s hand strongly on my life, I never doubted that He had a plan for this season and I believed He could heal me, it was just a matter of when He chose to do that. I was supported and prayed for by many family and friends during this time which I am forever thankful for. Never underestimate the power of a prayer, it can support someone in so many ways that may be unseen to you.

After persevering as long as I could I had to make the difficult decision to stop working as a preschool teacher and move back to my hometown where the climate was a bit warmer and I could be with my family.

There are heaps of details I could include but I don’t want this post to turn into any more of a novel so I will try to just keep it brief! After returning home to Nelson, I continued to trust God, He knew what my future held, He was looking out for me. I was prayed for by a lovely couple up here and I am so excited to share that I have been totally healed of my arthritis. After just over 3 years of constant pain and stiffness, in an instant I was fully healed.

I no longer have to take any medications, I no longer have any of that pain, I no longer have to struggle just to walk and move everyday. It is hard to believe it is now 8 years ago that I was healed, I still struggle to comprehend the enormity of it. If God had not chosen to heal me then I would most likely be in a wheel chair, unable to walk and in a lot of pain right now. Instead I can walk, I can run, I can dance with my 2 year old totally pain free.

I am so grateful to God for His faithfulness through my every season. He was there in the tough, when I cried by myself alone in my room because the pain was so much, He was there when I was given such a bleak outlook for my future, He was there when I was healed and set free from pain and He continues to be my strength and hope in every situation or circumstance that I face.

I know God is real, because of Him I have strength for each day no matter what it brings and hope for my future. Because of Him I am never alone, I don’t need to be afraid because He has my back. His plans for me are always good, yes bad stuff happens but God is always faithful, He has never let me down and I don’t believe He ever will. I know God is real because He healed me, there is no medical explanation for my healing, only God. In Him I know who I am and in knowing Him I am set free to live a life where I experience His goodness, His love and faithfulness everyday.

In writing this I appreciate that everyone will be at a different stage in their journey. Perhaps you have not had any health issues, maybe you are facing some right now. Perhaps you are currently in the middle of a challenging circumstance, whatever the case I hope my story encourages you. I love this promise found in Jeremiah 29:13 (Message translation).

“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed” – God

This snippet of my story is just one of the many, many reasons that I believe God is real. Thanks for taking the time to read about my journey and listen to my ‘slow-cooker’ answer to some of the questions my beautiful friend raised.

Sophie xxx

 

 

 

Photograph credit: Jake Givens

And just like that our baby is 2…our simple party fun

Over the last week we have enjoyed celebrating our beautiful Mila’s 2nd birthday. It is incredible how fast the last 2 years have sped by! I agree with the quote that says “the days may be long but the years are so short,” how very true this is!

When Mila was a baby, Luke and I had a discussion about how we would like to celebrate birthdays and what we wanted the focus to be about. For us we decided that we would alway make sure birthdays were very special day where we celebrated together. There would be certain years that we had big parties, turning 1, 5, 10, and 13 (thats as far ahead as we were thinking at that stage) were some of these. On the other birthdays we decided there would always be some sort of celebration but there were some things we would definitely do and other things we would leave out.

The first non negotiable thing that we plan to do every year is have a family celebration. This year we chose dinner as the meal that we shared together as Luke was away over the weekend and it was going to work in best with other family. Mila loved this special family time where the focus was all about celebrating her!

As Mila gets older we will let her invite one or two of her friends to join our family celebration but this year we decided to have a small party in the garden the following weekend where two of her friends could come for a play.

I love to be creative and decorate but on the smaller party years we agreed to do simple decorations rather than big fancy ones. On her actual birthday this year we hung balloons and bunting and wore hat party hats. Mila came out into the lounge in the morning all smiles as she exclaimed with her hands held high above her head, “because it is Mila’s birthday we have balloons!”. Reminding me that it is the simple things that she found most exciting and made her day that extra bit special.

Having a birthday cake is another tradition we will do every year. This year I followed Mila’s current interest in ducks and made a duck pond for two of her rubber duckies to swim in. Mila requested her cake had “two candles, because Mila will be two years old”, so they were stuck in the top of the cake too. It was so much fun for me to be able to involve her in the decision making this year and I could see she loved being able to participate in the planning process too.

For us birthdays are all about being together as a family, having fun and celebrating with the ones we love.

For Mila’s small party with her friends the following weekend she chose to have a Belle and Boo (her favourite books) themed party which was very simple to achieve (which was wonderful for a mummy who works part time and didn’t have too much time to prepare for it!). What is even better is the only thing we bought for the party were balloons (rainbow coloured ones chosen by Mila) and party hats (also picked from “Mummy’s favourite shop, spotlight” lol) the rest we borrowed or dug out of cupboards!

This years party proved to me that birthdays don’t have to be an expensive exercise, they don’t have to be full of activities (this I realise will change as she gets older), they can be created and made very special without all the fuss and and pressure there sometime is around them.

Mila and her friends had a wonderful time playing, dancing, running and enjoying a few simple treats to eat. I enjoy setting up environments that promote exploration and create an invitation to play. Our simple picnic party set up (inspired by the Belle and Boo books) was perfect to encourage this type of play.

So now we have a 2 year old! What a wonderful little lady she is too. We could not be prouder to be her parents, she is so kind and caring, full of cheeky grins, laugher, chatter and songs. We look forward to the coming years but for now choose to celebrate and embrace the present, enjoying all the snuggly cuddles and cute things she says, dancing through our days like ballerina’s as we navigate the challenges and joys having a 2 year old brings, for I am sure these days will all to quickly become a memory too.

Here are a few photos of Mila’s Belle and Boo picnic party…

 

I would love to hear how you celebrate birthdays in your family. What special family traditions do you keep?

 

Photography by Luke Marshall Images

 

 

 

Petal Pocket Happenings…

I’m sitting here in front of my laptop with so many thoughts in my head but feeling unsure of how to articulate them! This is often the way when I start to write a blog post! I have around 8 nearly complete posts sitting in here at the moment that I just need time to finish!

Over the last two years I have been sharing various things on this blog. Sometimes regularly but more often than not sporadically as I have had the time and energy.

This blog started off as a way for me to inspire myself  (and hopefully others) to make time to be creative, a way to share my passions and some of my world. Over the years it has been a mixture of craft, Mila, my thoughts, passions and life.

I’ve been having a wee break from social media over the last few months and this headspace has made me question what the important things to share in this forum are. Don’t get me wrong social media can definitely have a positive role to play in our lives but when it becomes a huge distraction, overwhelming and what we turn to in every spare moment it can become unhealthy, for me it certainly did!

For a wee while I have been questioning what the main purpose of this blog is and where I see it going. It’s not fully a typical ‘Mum blog’ or a ‘lifestyle blog’ or an ‘educational blog’ or a ‘craft blog’. In reality it is a mish-mash of all of these topics!

I was considering stopping it all together and focusing on other things but I just keep coming back to it and feeling like there is so much I still want to share.

In no way is my life perfect, I hope that I can through my words and images share an honest and real picture of my world. 

No matter what my intentions are I most probably wont be adding new posts every week lol but what I can commit to is sharing when I can about the things that I value most in this world. I will be sharing about my relationship with God, my experiences being a mum and wife, I will share about things I feel passionate about like early childhood education, and I am sure there will be some creative aspect too!

In my opinion blogging should be an uplifting, challenging and encouraging space, this is my aim for this year. 

When I chose Petal Pocket as a name for this blog I wanted it to be about adding a little pocket sized bit of pretty, inspiration or encouragement to your day. Petal Pocket includes those pretty moments, the inspiring, the challenging, but also includes the not so pretty, natural, real stuff that happens. I hope you choose to continue joining me on this journey.

Sophie

My Word for 2017

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For those of you who have been following my blog for a wee while you may recall a post I wrote last year on my decision to throw away making New Years resolutions (which I never really followed through on) and to instead choose one word to shape my year.

My word for 2016 was ‘purposeful’. Here is a small snippet of what I wrote in that post:

“Purposeful means ‘having clear aim or purpose’. After brainstorming all the things I want to work on and develop in myself this word stood out as the one which tied them all together. I want to be purposeful in the way I develop meaningful connections with others. I want to make purposeful choices about what I invest my time in, celebrating the simple moments by slowing down and being present rather than rushing and constantly being ‘busy’. I want to focus on being authentic and real which comes from a deeper understanding of my purpose in God and understanding my gifts and personal area of influence. I want to be purposeful in how I care for myself and those around me.”

In the last days of December I found myself reflecting on the year that has been. I am happy to say that I feel I have lived with purpose, I know I have made purposeful choices, connections, and been more purposeful about how I have spent my time. Of course there are always things I could have done better, but overall I am really excited to see that choosing that one word at the start of January 2016 has positively influenced the way in which I have lived this past year. 2016 has bought with it joy, special memories as well as challenges and hard times, however I am so thankful that throughout it all I have been able to live with purpose and having this word as my focus has really helped this.

Would I recommend choosing one word instead of often making numerous New Years Resolutions? Absolutely! For me personally this has worked so well. If you are interested in learning more about One Word 365 check it out through this link.

I really love the freshness and the hope that a new year brings. There is a sense of a new beginning, a chance to wipe the slate clean. No matter what has happened in the past year (and for so many I know it has been a tough year) it is time to leave that behind and move forward into what this new year holds.

My word for 2017 is ‘Flourish‘. I love the meaning of this word which is ‘to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favourable environment’.

I don’t know what lies ahead in this coming year but I know that I intend to flourish in all aspects of my life. I plan to be intentional about the environments I am part of and am creating around myself. I want to see more growth in the way I pursue, follow and share my passions and giftings. This year is going to be full of growth, new adventures and many blessings I am sure!

I am confident that the best is yet to come, 2017 I am ready for you!