All I want is you

Posted May 9th, 2011 by Penny Wise

Do you remember years ago U2 wrote a beautiful song called 'All I Want Is You?' I never thought of it as a frugal anthem before but it became stuck in my head all last week. You see, Noel and the kids had planned a huge surprise present for Mother's Day. They wanted to get me tickets to see Katy Perry in concert and the boys were going to stay with their grandma while their dad and I stayed overnight in Auckland. An awesome idea and I was very touched - but I turned it down. Thank goodness Noel decided to check with me first before going ahead and booking or I would have been horrified. 'Are you MENTAL?!' Ali looked at me in disgust. 'Who the heck would turn down something like that?!'

Um, me. For all sorts of reasons. For starters, when you've just forked out more than $3,000 in poxy tax and are already worrying how you're going to pay all the bills, spending $400 and upwards on tickets and accommodation for the sake of a few hours' entertainment doesn't sit well with me. I would have spent the whole time thinking 'we shouldn't be doing this, we can't afford this'. Not to mention we would then be joining the ranks of 'we're broke but...' people. You know the ones. Always pleading poverty but still manage to whiz off to Fiji for a fortnight and change their car at least every two years. As far as I was concerned that $400 would be far more help paying off some of our bills. And then there's the teensy fact that I'm not actually that keen on Katy Perry...

Forgive me if I sound ungrateful, I really was quite overwhelmed at the thoughtfulness of the males in my household! But the only thing I really wanted for Mother's Day was to hang out with my family. It just wouldn't have felt right spending it without my boys while I gallivanted about the big smoke. To me Mother's Day is about spending time together as a family. I don't have to go anywhere or spend anything to feel spoiled or appreciated; I'm just as happy curled up on the couch watching a DVD - preferably something with Colin Firth in. Or my ultimate indulgence, the Twilight saga! Although I have a feeling I would be watching that on my own, for some reason nobody else in our house appreciates Edward Cullen and Jacob Black the way I do&

The boys however were still determined that we were going to do something special and planned a surprise kayaking trip along the beautiful Whangamata estuary, followed by dinner at the Ocean Sports Club. Kayaking is one of my favourite things and whilst not as extravagant as Katy Perry, it still isn't cheap. I loved them for their thoughtfulness but still couldn't escape visions of me sploshing along in my kayak thinking 'we shouldn't be doing this, we shouldn't be doing this, with each stroke of the oar.

As it turned out, fate stepped in and I ended up spending almost the entire day in bed with a dreadful tummy bug. 'Thank goodness we didn't go to Katy Perry!' we agreed. But you know what? I still had a wonderful Mother's Day. The boys gave me a beautiful 'Evolve' bracelet, which is similar to a Pandora bracelet but is very New Zealand-ish (if that's a word!) Minnie the spaniel reminded me that I was also HER mother and spent the day happily curled up by my side as I lay in bed feeling sorry for myself.

The boys were under strict instructions from their dad not to bother me or wake me up but around 3pm I heard voices and couldn't resist getting up to peek out of the window. There on the lawn were 10 boys trying to have a game of rugby as quietly as they could! It was a lovely sight and one that made me smile so much I could stay in bed no longer. As soon as they realised I was up and about they traipsed indoors and for the rest of the afternoon it sounded like a herd of elephants were having a party upstairs but I thought it was great. For some reason I felt extremely touched that it was Mother's Day and all these wonderful kids were choosing to spend it at our house!

A long walk along the beach with Noel and the dogs made me feel better still and although curry was no longer on the menu as originally planned, Noel had everything under control. For some strange reason I had been craving spinach for days, so he ferreted through the recipe books and found a recipe for spinach soup with meatballs. Sounds a funny combination but it was sooo good! 'EUGH!' the boys said when their dad first told them what we were having. 'EUGH!' they said again when they peered into the steaming bowls of bright green soup but& 'Oh YUM!' came the surprise verdict when they sampled it. 'This is definitely my new favourite soup!' said Liam. If you would like to try it and amaze your family too, here's the recipe!

Spinach and Meatball Soup (45 minutes prep and cooking)

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 large potato, chopped

500g spinach, chopped

1 litre chicken stock

cup cream

Grated fresh Parmesan cheese


250g minced beef

cup breadcrumbs

2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

1 egg yolk

cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Oil for shallow frying

Heat oil in medium pan, add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring until onion is soft. Add potato and cook another 5 minutes, then stir in stock. Bring to the boil, simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach, simmer uncovered another 5 minutes, then stir in the cream. Blend or process the soup until smooth.

To make the meatballs, combine your mince, breadcrumbs, herbs, egg yolk and cheese in a bowl and mix well. Shape rounded teaspoons of mixture into balls. Heat a little oil in a frypan, then shallow fry your meatballs until browned on all sides and cooked through. Pop meatballs into your soup, reheat all together until bubbling. Serve and sprinkle with extra Parmesan if liked. Enjoy!

I wasn't sure if I was up to eating anything but this soup was just what the doctor ordered. With a full and slightly happier tummy I turned on the TV to find to my delight that my favourite tacky game show was on - Don't Forget the Lyrics! Which prompted much noisy singing from us all, including a fabulous rendition of 'I Will Survive' by Ali and yours truly. I didn't even realise he knew the song! Still, I guess I should know by now that my children never fail to surprise me. A perfect end to a wonderful Mother's Day. I got everything I could have possibly wanted - and it didn't cost a cent!

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