Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Time for Tea

Today I bought a new kettle.

We are giving up on electric kettles which are noisy and fail, after a few years, and trying a good old-fashioned stovetop kettle, complete with whistle. This one is the perfect shape, size and colour.

I think I am in love with it!
(luckily Steve understands!)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to You!


Merry Christmas to You, dear Reader.

This was my favourite card made with my new Stampin' Up! brayer, and I couldn't decide who to send it to, so I'm sending it to you!
Just loving those snowscenes.
Today it was 35degC or so here, and some snow would be welcome!
Tomorrow will be a more mild day, thankfully.

Hoping you and your families have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Australian Christmas

Around here Santa arrives at about 5.30pm, on the back of a rural fire service truck.
Tonight we enjoyed a little Christmas dinner at home, then Emily and I visited a street nearby with lots of lights, while Laura and Daddy stayed home. Both the girls went to bed a little late, but went straight to sleep - unheard of on Christmas Eve!

By the Beach

Here are some more photos from our lovely short break by the beach.
Fortunately for us this lovely spot is only 1 hour's drive from home. When we arrived we spent some time enjoying the scenery before we could check in to the hotel.

This was our hotel room


and the view


The girls got right into the swing of hotel living and posed for some photos

(you'd never guess it was their first time in a fancy hotel, would you?)

Highlights included:
Swimming in the lovely pool
Swimming at the beach
Amazing buffet breakfasts (loved the omelettes)
Mexican restaurant
Being together and having a change of scenery and pace.

Today I have a few things to do before Christmas, but on the whole we are pretty relaxed!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jumping for Joy

We just took a short holiday by the sea before Christmas. Steve starts a new job in January and we don't know when we can take another holiday in the next few months ... so we managed to fit in a few days at a lovely hotel by a beautiful beach.

We are all feeling relaxed and spoilt ... and still have Christmas Day to look forward to!
More photos to come ....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Last-minute Christmas Crafting

Try as I might, I couldn't let a Christmas go by without making at least one felt ornament. This is for my parents, and inspired by someone's lovely blog I saw on the weekend, but I just can't find it now :-( - I did a LOT of surfing of crafty blogs on the weekend!

I'm also knitting one of these, and if I had time would make this and this which I think are both adorable!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gingerbread House

One of two gingerbread houses that Laura and I constructed and decorated on Saturday. One is for the Kids' Table on Christmas Day at my parents (9 kids!) and the other is ... ummm ... for us, I guess.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Peace

Second-last day of school, tomorrow is Emily's last day of primary school.
Two shopping trips today - 5 hours in total.
Bombarded with attractive (and some completely unattractive) products.
Groceries to unpack.
A house to tidy.
Christmas cards to write tonight, and hopefully post tomorrow.
A Christmas gift made to send to US, probably to arrive late.
Presents to wrap.
One last child-free day tomorrow in which to achieve all my hopes and dreams LOL.

I wonder what I am doing it all for, then I look at the Christmas Tree and remember - Christmas, time of peace and joy. The elusive completely peaceful sit-down with a cup of tea, carols playing softly in the background and something sweet might not ever happen (although sometimes it comes pretty close, it's never quite the way I imagine it).

But true peace with God and true joy will be ours one day to enjoy forever. And that's what I need to remember in the middle of the craziness. Jesus didn't come to earth so that we could be frantic in December. He came so that we could have peace with God.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another favourite

I have loved this ornament since I first saw it as a teenager. A friend, Erin, was returning to the States after a few years in Australia, and she and her mother made each of us girlfriends an ornament. I guess it's plaster, but not like any plaster I've ever made! After I took this photo I rubbed some more gold onto the raised bits, looks like it's rubbed off over the years.

Simply beautiful


I think my favourite Christmas ornaments are the ones in one or two colours and beautiful or simple shapes. This is one of my favourites, brought back from Europe by my parents. It is cut from thin plywood. It reminds me of a papercut, which is another favourite style for Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Handmade Christmas


I love the ornaments the girls make with Hama beads. This was one from last year.
They make me smile :-)

A Bouquet

... given to me by the girls in my Senior Recorder Group.
Lovely.

Smiley Pie


Look what happened when I asked Steve to cook the Egg and Bacon Pie from this book:

Irish Dancing Concert

As if we didn't have enough on in December already, we spent yesterday morning at the girls' Irish Dancing Christmas Concert! Actually it was a lovely concert and the girls danced about 3 times and it was lovely to see performers aged from about 4-50 on stage dancing.

Laura got to wear this lovely dress, loaned by the teacher. It's the first time she's worn a proper dress, in the past she's worn this style of dress. She looked lovely yesterday. Emily was all photo-ed out from her Year 6 dinner, so avoided the camera. Each girl received a trophy for her participation this year, the trophies this time were extra-special!

Year 6 Dinner

Here is our lovely Emily all dressed up to go to her Year 6 Dinner. The girls were all dressed so beautifully, they had so much fun getting ready! Emily's dress was a perfect mixture of girly and pretty and grown-up.


Here is a back view, showing how we did her hair.

While the Year 6s enjoyed a fancy dinner we parents went to a local bistro and enjoyed a yummy dinner together. Just one more Year 6 function to go, and 3 days of school! Life is rushing by too fast, for me!

The Trophies

Taken on our way out to celebrate the award, the girls enjoyed Triple Gelato Cones (they were huge!) and we had coffee and yummy cake ... the large trophy went back to school for the display cabinet and Emily keeps the little one.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Kindness Rewarded


We are enjoying our Christmas Tree in our living room, with its red, white, green and gold ornaments and twinkling lights. This was an ornament I made last year when I was playing with my new Nestabilities dies.


Our tree belonged to my family and I remember as a child it seemed so tall. For the last few years I've taken a photo of each of my daughters by the tree to record their height. Emily can stretch right to the top now!

I can't believe she is leaving primary school and going to high school next year. Today we had a lovely surprise at the school Presentation Day when Emily was awarded the school Citizenship Award. The Principal had some lovely things to say about Emily being a quiet person, but someone who made a difference. The teachers have noticed her over the years being kind to other children and always helpful and thoughtful towards others.

Just yesterday I noticed her quietly helping to get her classroom ready after our morning recorder concert, then outside in the playground she helped a younger boy untangle his schoolbag from a seat, before I even noticed that he was having trouble. I was proud enough of her then, and told her so, but today when I realised that her kindness at school has not gone unnoticed by the principal and teachers, I was ready to burst! LOL

Emily, we are so proud of you! You are growing up so beautifully. We love you!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas is Coming!

The first free Saturday in December - time to get out the Christmas plates, the candles, a thrifted red and white chicken-scratch cloth, and the Christmas videos, and watch Santa Claus is Coming to Town while munching on Stollen.

And then it's time to put up the Christmas Tree!

Friday, December 4, 2009

One liddle zucchini


After some anxious weeks of waiting and wondering, attempts at hand-pollinating and many visits to the vegetable patch, I present to you

... drumroll please

...


... our first zucchini!

Yes, yes, I know zucchinis are ridiculously easy to grow, but with our past gardening record we just can't be too confident!

Actually we have been picking lettuce for some time and there are tomatoes growing as well, the garden is producing something, at least. The carrots are looking healthy on top, who knows what's happening below. This morning, as I headed out on my morning walk, I found a mouse who had come to a sorry end, heading away from our vegetable garden.
Which would explain the little white bites all over the otherwise perfect red radishes.
When I started vegetable gardening I didn't expect to be quite so confronted with the whole food chain thing ... at least not before breakfast.

Now to decide how to cook our first zucchini ...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dishclothing

Unable to resist the Dishcloth Brigade any longer, I have now knitted two dishcloths. The first one was not blog-worthy due probably to my inability to read a knitting pattern. It mostly looked like a sailboat design, but the mast was definitely wonky! Anyway, it still works perfectly well in the kitchen.

This pattern seems about perfect though - some texture will help it to work well cleaning benches, and the pattern was easy and repetitive for a basic knitter like myself, perfect for knitting in front of TV.

We normally use Enjo cleaning cloths and I think they are brilliant. However they are too expensive to have a stack and so we tend not to wash them as often as we should. Now we will rotate the Enjo cloths with the dishcloths, which work almost as well in cleaning and releasing grime.

Pattern here at this lovely blog.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Broadbeans, and Other Vegetables

[In which I lament the loss of a dream]

The Dream: I visit my vegetable garden, as I do each afternoon, filling a large basket with fresh produce, and carry my overflowing basket happily to the kitchen, where I concoct delicious dinners with vegetables in a rainbow of colours. My girls rise and call me blessed (well, they eat small amounts of previously unfamiliar vegetables, anyway) and I shower my neighbours and friends with our surplus produce.

The Reality:

Broadbean Harvest
Eight plants grown from seed.
So few beans that they can fit into Steve's hand.
True, we picked about 4 more beans a week later, but that was it.
And after shelling they looked even more pitiful in number.

Thankfully they were delicious! I never ate broadbeans before and I thoroughly enjoyed them.
Steve and I ate them bruschetta-style, boiled and mashed with olive oil, garlic, parmesan and on toasted bread. We did not waste them on the girls, who continue to be fussy!
I will definitely eat broadbeans again.

But would I grow them again?
All that work for so little to show!

Perhaps they didn't receive enough sunshine. From the same bed we have eaten spinach, tatsoy, a little broccoli, lots of coriander, snowpeas and parsley. So it has not been a complete disaster. And for our first season and attempt at food gardening it was not really so bad ... I guess. And we did have the fun of watching them grow ... ever so slowly!

Our summer vegetables are looking much more promising, I'll show them to you soon!
(if whatever it is eating the radishes doesn't demolish the lot!)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sydney Harbour


On Thursday Steve and I went on a harbour cruise on beautiful Sydney Harbour.

This was a wonderful gift from some of my family for my 40th birthday in September.

We headed out of Circular Quay

past the Opera House

and explored the eastern suburbs beaches and waterfronts before heading a little way out of the Heads ...

... and then turning towards Middle Harbour on the northern side of the harbour.


The weather was perfect for the length of the cruise, and it was lovely to sit and relax, looking at the beautiful surroundings, the interesting homes and boats ... it was hard to believe that somewhere at the time my parents were picking up our girls from school and taking them home to mind ... we felt like we were on a holiday, which was just what we needed.


I especially loved the lighthouses ...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Perfect 10


Laura had a big weekend.
Friday - some friends over for afternoon tea

Saturday - a horse riding lesson with Emily and 2 cousins for a birthday treat, followed by a birthday party with my family in the afternoon (with a horse cake)


Sunday - her actual birthday - church, (on the way we stopped to visit a horse near church and Daddy produced carrot from his pocket to feed her!) then a quiet afternoon playing with new (horse) Lego and watching her new High School Musical 3 DVD (while wearing a new horse t-shirt) - what more could a 10-year old girl want?

Coriander


We have cleared out our original vegetable bed of plants that have gone to seed.

I bought a huge bunch of coriander inside and plonked it in a glass vase.


An instant and spectacular display -


- complete with ladybirds!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Christmas Crafting

Christmassy things are starting to appear around the place ...

These decorations contain a chocolate coin. I made 20 of them for a committee dinner next week. Each guest will receive a hand-decorated notebook, also, (and a chocolate santa).

A thrifty but effective favour for a Christmas table, and not too fattening, either!
Coins: about 10c each
Notebooks: 5 for $1.00
The cardstock, scrapbook paper, rhinestones and ribbon I had already in my stash.

The snowflake and label stamps are by Stampin' Up!

Oleanders



Picked up off the footpath on the way home from school,
and now gracing our windowsill in an old Italian soft drink bottle



... simple yet beautiful oleanders.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spring Card


I haven't been posting much stamping lately, not even on my Stampin' Up! blog, but this is one I taught at a class the other night.  I love the way the colours turned out. 

The week has been busy, preparing for the stamping class, piano students, Little People sleeping over and so on.  And then in the back of my mind the fact that Christmas is not so far away and there's so much to do ... but for now I'm thinking "Spring" not "almost Christmas" (so I won't show you the Christmas card we made the other night LOL) and staying in a semi-denial of the approach of Christmas.  At least until November begins .... tomorrow ...

Little People



Last night my niece and nephew came to stay.  It's been a long time since we had Little People in the house.  We all had lots of fun and last night the four children crowded into the girls room, the Little People on the floor on inflatable mattresses.

The girls loved being "big cousins" and helped their little cousins on the trampoline, read them stories and played with them.  It only took the Littlest Person about 5 hours to stop calling Uncle Steve "Grandad" but eventually he managed "Teve" which was pretty close.  At the table we were a "family" of 6, instead of the usual 4.

Out came all the kiddy toys again, you forget how colourful they are when they have been packed away for a while, and how the plastic corncob comes apart when you pick it up, and just how many pieces of duplo can hide under a sofa ...


... and then, we never had a little boy living here to say "toot toot, off to Thai _____ Restaurant chuggachugga la la la" 
Their visit was over all too soon and Grandma and Grandad came to collect them for tonight, then tomorrow they will be reunited with the rest of their family.