31 Dec 2014

Looking back

New Year's Eve and I've been introducing the children to the concept of evaluating your year, and setting goals for the coming year. I don't really do it myself, but it seemed like something organised people do.

We've had a pretty good year, although it has seemed a little like treading water in places.

One big event, which will probably be unique to 2014 for us, was being drawn out by the ACT government to attend a small gathering to watch a tree planting. The tree in question, an English Oak, was planted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and his wife Catherine.




We both were thrilled to shake hands with them both, and exchange a few words.

While waiting to meet the Duchess, my daughter noticed the ring on her royal and pointed it out to me. I'm so glad she did, because otherwise I wouldn't have noticed, and OMG it's Diana's ring of course. (I was 10 when Charles and Diana married, and paid close attention to every detail the Sydney Morning Herald could give me, so I knew ALL about that ring.)





We had such a nice time. I was thrilled by the warmth projected to us.


Tomorrow, I'll be setting out my goals for 2015. I think it's time to get ambitious!

17 Dec 2014

Swapping mug rugs

It's been a long time since I was part of a swap. Life's been getting in the way, and losing my sewing room has made much more effort required for sewing to occur. When Angie launched a mug rug swap though, I thought I could probably manage it.

(A mug rug is a very small quilt, just big enough for a mug of coffee and perhaps a small plate. I like using them for my water bottle.)

That was before I got my swap partner. I was thrilled when I saw who my recipient would be. Then I started getting scared, because this quilter's very talented, organised and a prize winner.

So I put off starting, although was drawing up plans, most involving fussy cutting from my large collection of Christmas prints. Last week was when I planned to actually start, but I hit a snag when I couldn't find my fabric. I still can't find it.

Obviously, I changed the plan. Instead, I wanted a create an idealised version of a camping Christmas. It's one of our favourite things to do for the festive season, but is rarely as picturesque as I imagine.

It's a very simple quilt, with the silhouetted campsite vleisofixed onto my sky background. I didn't actually stitch around the image, as I thought given the heavy quilting I landed, and the end use of the quilt I thought it would be ok.

I'm pleased with the mug rug, and hope the recipient likes it too.




I'm looking forward to receiving my mug rug from my other, as yet unknown swap partner.

21 Nov 2014

Day/night at the cricket

We like cricket.  It's our summer sport, and if Australia are playing, it'll be on our television.  Unless they've sold the rights to pay TV only, which is diabolical and thankfully doesn't happen often.

So when it was announced that one of the five Australia-South Africa matches would be played in Canberra, I was sitting at the computer ready for when the first presale tickets went on sale.  We ended up in the third row back, in a dedicated family zone.  They were great seats, primarily because they faced away from the sun. (Last year, we were in bench seats, facing the glare from roughly 2 till 8. Which was extra annoying since I took the kids home at 8.)  This time, we were in the shade by 5, and stayed until the end.


Even better, we were right near the spot where the boundary fielder would nip off between balls and sign autographs.  Much appreciated.

 The family zone specification meant no alcohol in these seats.  I don't think it was policed in any way, but the environment was very family friendly in any case.



Miss 10 didn't want to attend, so had a sleepover at Grandma's house. Instead, our son got to bring a friend.  They had a great time together. Grandpa also joined us and enjoyed himself.  Two rows back, my sister and her family were there too.  


All these things added up to a good day. The performances by both cricket teams made it a great day.

I think my favourite part was as soon as the game was over, the Aussies congratulated each other, and shook hands with their opposition, and then went directly to the sidelines, spread out and started furiously signing autographs,  Lovely to see, and much appreciated.

Our summer's got some more action in it - this morning these arrived for next year's soccer tournament.  With that and the upcoming cricket World Cup, Canberra's summer of sport is looking fabulous!



30 Oct 2014

Follow Your Arrow Knitalong

Astonishingly, it's a finished project.

In January, I joined in with another knitalong on Ravelry, blithely ignoring my 100% failure-to-complete record with knitalongs.

The pattern was a mystery, the designer clever, and the wool delightful.
I am thrilled with my shawl. I'm also very, very happy to have finished a knitalong, even if I took a few months longer than the majority of the other participants.

28 Oct 2014

1989

1989 was my first year after high school.  I was far away from home, living in a college, and studying in  the first of my years at University.  I met my now-husband, and had an all round fabulous time. I didn't know one student with a computer of their own, and our floor of 18 girls shared one phone.  The olden days, obviously.

Meanwhile, Taylor Swift was busy being born, and she's chosen to call her new album after the year of her birth.

Last year, I won two tickets to go see Taylor in her concert in Sydney through an instant win Coca Cola competition. Of course, my next step was to go buy her album and play it non-stop in the car.  I was pretty excited, and the children were arguing about who would get to go. So I entered again and again and again, and won two more tickets.  Then everyone was happy (my husband is very obliging in these matters...)

 

We had such a good time at the concert, and have been listening to Taylor very regularly ever since.


So when the 1989 album was launched today, I was down at the shops to buy it. This morning. Because we like the music, and Taylor seems like a perfectly good rock star for my kids to be paying attention to.



27 Oct 2014

Home and away

These last few weeks have been a mix of time away for everyone in the family, separately. Two school camps, a rugby trip and a quilting retreat - perfect!

Once again, I visited Russellee for my retreat, where Dorothy looked after our group of friends so very well. It's such a lovely rural setting, and delicious country food at very regular intervals. A great break.

This time, I didn't manage to get all the sewing done that I'd planned.

Still, two thirds of my quilt has been pieced, sandwiched and quilted, which makes me happy.

I haven't actually done any more on it, since returning home but hope to soon.

24 Oct 2014

Time for Christmas Lights

Long ago, we went on a giant trip around the world with our best friends.

Kim and I were both working as teachers, and together with our husbands spent a lot of time together. We'd just bought our first house, and were settling into paying the mortgage. Then came the idea of a trip. We talked about it every single weekend, and during the week as well, on the super-cool yahoo messenger.

In the end, we went overseas for the entire summer holiday in December 1999, and had a fabulous (and exhausting) trip. Las Vegas, New York, Niagara, Washington, Orlando (well, Disneyworld), London, Cairo, Luxor and Johannesburg (well, Kruger NP.)

Here's Kim & I with Walt in Disneyworld.






Happy times.

One of the things I loved about New York was the way the trees were decorated for the festive season. Of course, they were bare in winter, which showed off the fairy lights that wrapped around them wonderfully.  It was the first time I'd seen lights like this, and I thought they were so magical.

As solar lights have become more affordable, I've indulged in decorating our yard more. This year, I bought plain white strings, with the plan of dressing our yard. Not overtly Christmassy, but lovely. To my eyes anyway.

And to the eyes of my children, who helped me wrap the trunks.








This inspired a whole garden plan. We might not implement the whole thing, but I love it.







10 Oct 2014

School holiday musings

Lately, I've become an even slacker blog writer. It feels like my other roles are a little more organised though. The housekeeping side is looking fairly organised. Routines are happening to keep us in a fairly good state. Not clear bench tops or daily vacuuming or anything extreme like that, but no descent into chaos either.

The children have been enjoying their school holidays. We've managed a few days away down at the Tumut Caravan Park, which was very nice. Fishing was apparently high on the list of things the kids wanted to do, so they fished. Unsuccessfully, but still. They're having a sleepover with their cousins right now, which is why I'm still awake. (Surely they'll sleep soon.) We've done a workshop at the library on stop-go animation and seen a movie. It's a late surge of activity before school returns on Monday.

Here's a badly focused sample of what we learnt at the workshop;



I'm always excited at the beginning of school holidays, and pleased at the end.

Thinking of school returning, it's time for me to start getting serious about Christmas. My series last year of aiming to do ten Christmas crafts in 100 days was a failure, but I was pleased with everything I made. It's time for list making; crafts, gifts, and plans in general. And yes, quite possibly a Pinterest board or two as planning tools.

30 Aug 2014

Visiting


The last three weeks have been full of visiting. My sister and her three children have visited from England. We spent as much time as possible together, along with my local sister and her three children, and our parents.

So it's been busy, with meals for fifteen being a regular occurrence. We visited attractions around Canberra, enjoyed a long weekend together down the coast at Merimbula and then a last weekend together at our parents home.

It was so nice, spending time together.





31 Jul 2014

Letting go of books

Rearranging, sorting and decluttering have been major activities in our home for the last few months.  I've finally got the bookcases where they need to be, the daybed is set up (if not quite dressed) and the new computer use areas established.

Here's one of our bookcases, neatly sorted and in it's new home.



I love reading. I visit the library often and always have a book on the go.  The decluttering of my books has been really hard to do.  I'm a re-reader, so have read all of my books at least three times. Luckily, my Mum's Bushfire Brigade have an annual booksale to raise money, so there's a guilt-free outlet for my discards.  My primary school teacher Uncle has taken a large box of kids books to use in his classroom when their library isn't permitting borrowing.   These are great places for our books to be,

There's been one set though that I've hesitated about.  It's my Patricia Cornwell books.  There's 21 of them on my shelf.  I discovered these with my friend Kim .  We read devoured them simultaneously as they were published, and we scared ourselves silly talking about them.  They were CSI in book form, before it ever hit our screens.  They're the reason we were thrilled to see a Medical Examiner's van when visiting New York City.

It's time to let them go.  I don't want my kids reading this kind of book for a while yet, and I can always get them from the library. I think Kim would have approved of this refining of my collection - she used to reserve a day of her holidays from work to declutter the pantry and linen closet.

So I'm doing one last re-read, and then they'll be joining the others at the booksale.

And after all, I am just letting go of the books.  The memories are mine.

24 Jul 2014

Our Frozen Party

Disney's movie Frozen has been a big hit in our house. We can all sing "Let It Go" at the drop of a hat, and most of the other songs too. My favourite is Cowboys smell better than Reindeer, which scans, drives my children wild with the inaccuracy, and encourages me to think fondly of cowboys. All good things.

It was an obvious and pretty theme for my daughter's recent birthday party. She was hesitant at first, thinking it a little childish, but when her friends also could sing along knew it was a cool choice.

Pinterest was a great help with sourcing ideas, and the party went well.

The games included ballon racing. A little tricky to hold a balloon with your knees when wearing a complete princess costume but they managed it.

We also had a challenge of carrying smarties with the help of a straw, and a version of The Chocolate Game.

I was thrilled when the birthday girl requested a pavlova for her cake - simple to make AND decorate. And super delicious.

I enjoyed decorating for the party. One of the best things I saw on Pinterest was making a frozen hollow globe of ice as a candle holder. It turned out to be trickier than the description of just freezing a balloon of water and draining out the excess. The first few either froze completely through, or cracked when I tried to drain the centre. After this, I inserted one balloon inside another, which was quite simple by rolling the inner balloon. I then blew up the inner balloon and tied it off. Then I filled the outer balloon with water, and tied it off. It froze well, and it was very easy to remove the balloons at party time.


The downside of all this was that the freezer was full of balloons! We put them in the front garden, and some of the solid globes lasted three whole days in our wintery weather. Oh, and the candles weren't protected enough from the wind by the icy sides and blew out pretty much straight away.




And a happy face like this makes it all worthwhile.






14 Jul 2014

Term break







Nine weeks later, I find myself returning to this blog. It feels like I've missed an entire term. There have been lots of blogworthy events, but I've been  absent.  I'll catch up on the ig highlights over the next week.



For the meantime, the children have enjoyed their first week of school holidays.  We've been down the coast for a few days to stay with my parents, and go whalewatching.





Home for a couple of days, a double playdate (the horror!) and then all of us to Sydney. My main priority was the Quilt Show, which was great.



We also spent the day at Taronga Zoo, and a morning at IKEA.





Now we're home, much to the relief of the cat.



Ideally, we'll finally get this room swapping finished before school returns.





7 May 2014

Autumn is here

All over 

our unkempt garden
 are pieces of red.
  It's nice.

5 May 2014

Of homework and hankies

Our son has started receiving online homework - which seems like a great idea. Can't be lost, easy to access etc. There's a chat type option, so the class members can email each other. It's fairly slow, since their typing is fairly slow. Still.

It's reminded me of all those child internet safety guidelines - keeping the computer in a public place, and so on. Our computer lives in the 4th bedroom of our home, sharing the space with the sewing room, and general home office things.

So, we're rearranging. There's no longer going to be a dedicated sewing space, but I'll be putting all my crafting supplies into the wardrobe of this 4th room. We're removing extra cupboards out of this room, along with the computer desk, sewing table and maybe the filing cabinet.

The family room currently contains 2 large bookcases, a couch, and our gaming systems and tv. We're getting rid of the couch (since it won't fit down the hallway anyway) and moving all the rest into the 4th room.

We've also acquired a daybed with trundle which will serve as a couch for gaming/DVD watching and as spare bedding space.

It's such a big job, with so many steps. Ideally, I'd like to paint the bedroom while it's empty. I'd also like to be done by the time I start my block of work, in around 3 weeks time.

I'm trying to declutter and organise as I'm moving stuff, but it's taking time. And lots of mental and physical energy. Last week I was so annoyed with the whole process that I was driven to rationalise my underwear drawers. (Quick, useful, achievable task!).

In and under the drawers were some of my handkerchief collection, most of which I inherited from my Mama. I washed them all up on the weekend, and then they served very nicely as a calming down task for a grumpy child. Who asked if they could it again, next time they're grumpy.

And that's how my children's school homework policy has led to this lovely stack of freshly ironed hankies.





30 Mar 2014

Making Everyday Easier - breakfast sorted!

Lately, I've only been blogging when something exciting happens. Like a holiday. We've been on a few holidays in the last year, so that's helped.

Everyday life has been feeling more demanding, and I've barely done any crafting, so there hasn't been any finished crafty projects to show off. So I'm trying to think of ways of getting ahead and organised.

Pinterest has been full of suggestions, and today I've been trying out make ahead breakfasts. My children love to eat an egg for breakfast, and I'm very happy for that to continue - great protein source, sustained energy, and it doesn't take them an hour to eat. (Sadly, cereal does actually take an hour to eat. It's infuriating!)

I baked eggs in silicon cups for about 10 minutes in a moderate oven.



I brushed the cups with a little melted butter for non-stick insurance, and they slipped right out.


One child prefers plain egg, and other wanted bacon and a little cheese on their egg muffin. I cooked the bacon in the oven too, since it was already on.



Pinterest suggested wrapping the finished muffins in paper towel, since the best microwave results are achieved by cooking in it.



So the muffins are in the freezer, and we'll be taste testing in the morning. Apparently one minute in the microwave will do it.

I'm looking forward to it; easy cooking, and no washing up of that little frypan every day.

13 Mar 2014

Getting our groove back

School's back, the kids are attending art and ballet classes three afternoons a week, and it feels like we're right back into things. Not smoothly of course, since we're still tending to anxiety as the default setting, but we're showing up. This is a win.

My energy's consumed with worrying and (mostly) relief on a daily basis. Any left over is being spent on maintaining the house in some sort of order.

I'm way behind with my knitting, but am working on it. The last few weeks, I've been arriving at school to pick the children up half an hour early, and spending the time knitting. It used to be I'd get two rows done while waiting, but the shawl is growing, and I'm down to about a row and a half. Slow but steady.










I'm also thinking about a new quilt project (well, maybe more than one...) and I think these are the fabrics I want to use;




Your thoughts are welcome. I think something's missing from this combination, but since it's a round robin style quilt I might just start anyway. I can always introduce it when I figure out what's needed.

It's quite possible I should finish something rather than start something new. That's what Mum would say anyway.

2 Mar 2014

Our late January Queensland family holiday

Over the last few years, we've had our family summer holiday in the last week of school holidays. This has worked well for us, since the ACT has one of the latest school starting dates in Australia.  Typically the high prices are over, and crowds are much smaller.

I always plan out how we can drive up there... and DH always persuades me that flying is better.  This time we travelled with QANTAS, and flew in and out of Brisbane. It all went very smoothly.

We spent a couple of nights up on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, primarily to go to Australia Zoo, which we haven't visited for a long time. My parents gave us a pass to visit the Zoo for our Christmas presents, for which we are very appreciative. This time, we stayed at Novotel Twin Waters Resort, and it was lovely. The lagoon was great to swim in - and the water trampoline very popular with the children. I'm glad we found a great deal with them.






We then drove down to the Gold Coast.  We stayed two nights at the Surfers Paradise Marriott, and loved it. Their saltwater pool with tropical fish was fabulous, the beds luxurious, and the staff so keen to look after us. It was my favourite place to stay on this trip.  It also made me realise how easily I could settle into a do-nothing except swim and read type holiday.

Then it was on to the Seaworld Resort, thanks to a great deal purchased through Cudo. We used this same deal last year, and enjoyed it again.

The deal includes entry to SeaWorld, MovieWorld and Wet and Wild. We've gotten to know these parks quite well, so often split days between two, just doing the highlights. We've never visited before, but this time we also went to Paradise Country, which is set up to give an impression of an Australian farm.

The resort was very busy, with large groups visiting from China celebrating the Chinese New Year.

We also decided to splurge on a visit to the Outback Spectacular. When in the theme parks, there are discounted tickets for sale. The tickets are for the performance that evening.  I was blown away by the show.  It was truly spectacular, with plenty of horses, cattle and singing throughout.  Dinner was also fabulous, and very well organised to be served throughout the show.

The show reminded me of what I was think was the reason for the inclusion of the riders in the Sydney Olympics opening ceremony.  It might have been different if I was there in the stadium, but the intimacy of the space, and feeling the breeze as they galloped past truly evoked the romance of the outback, in a way which wasn't done in that enormous, mostly televised event.

So much fun.

We returned home, with a day to buy any last minute school purchases, and then we've been back to routine. Somewhat.

As per usual, this post is not sponsored by anyone. Except my parents, who gave us Zoo tickets for Christmas. But we had such a good time I thought I'd mention all the details anyway.

12 Jan 2014

Lazy holidays

School holidays continue, with hot days, late nights and even later mornings. The children seem to have lost the need to wake their parents early, so we've been luxuriating in sleepins.

There's been a little sewing, but not much.


A little baking, but not much.



And lots and of minecraft and audio books.

Next week, I think we'll be back to the swimming, reading and minecraft type holiday. Fortunately, I love lolling about... And I'll have a new knitting project to get stuck into.

2 Jan 2014

Looking back even further

Today is my blogiversary; on this day in 2006, I started writing this blog. At the time, I was lonely and at home with my two small children. We'd just moved to the city, away from my friends and family.

A lot has changed since then - and I no longer make new year resolutions for my children - but I'm still happy to be popping in here periodically. I'll never be a super blogger, with an agency, writing about the wonders of Woolworths for a couple of thousand dollars. Attending the Problogger conference last year cemented things in my mind, and I'm happy to be irregular, slack and unsponsored. It's okay, since it's my choice.

And since a post without a photo is like a politician without a travel allowance, here's a selfie found on my phone after our recent camping trip.