Saturday, December 27, 2008

Country Christmas II

At long last the waiting paid off, and, all adults suitably fortified with the caffeine of their choice, presents werre distributed.

Santa is a good listener!

Can anyone guess what the rest of my summer will be spent doing?

And listening to?
The rest of the day was spent eating, laughing, and talking on the phone with the much loved absentees. By telephone we shared Uncle Jason's London Christmas (hard to imagine, way over there in the cold!). Naps were enjoyed by a lucky few. We had a delicious dinner of steak and salads, and the grown ups enjoyed a raucus board game while children fell asleep watchin Christmas movies.
It was a joyful, relaxing little visit, and we are very grateful to our generous country 'lations. Hope those Wii-stiffened muscles stop hurting soon!

Country Christmas

A pleasant drive to my sister in law's new home in the country was the perfect way to start our Christmas celebrations. We all enjoy getting out of the city, and spent the drive spotting baby farm animals.

My in laws are Catholic, and we attended Christmas Eve Mass. The children were invited to join the choir with their country cousins, and had a great time in the choir loft while we enjoyed the service downstairs. I love this beautiful church.

Christmas Day dawned bright and early. Brighter and earlier for some than others. This picture was taken at about 5:30am, when I got up to keep 5 excited children company while they waited for the rest of the family to wake. The sixth child had far more sense, and had to woken by an over excited grandfather who couldn't wait for present time!

Isn't this cubby house fabulous! Although still under construction, it was much admired. A veritable Taj Mahal. We can't wait to see it completed, with window boxes and numerous other exciting features. Good job, Uncle Brian!

Meanwhile, inside the house, children waited ...

... and waited ...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

O, Christmas Tree!

We are having a downsized Christmas this year. Our plan was to donate our old tree to charity, and purchase a larger one, since the kids are big enough to be trusted not to maul the tree. The first part of the plan worked perfectly, and the old tree was removed from the house. The second part? Not so much.

We discovered on a foray into the Christmas sales, that our taste in trees runs towards the more expensive end of the market. Way beyond our planned budget. So a compromise was reached. As we will not be celebrating at home anyway, we decided to get a live tree, in this case a native pine tree, and keep the decorations small. It's rather pretty with the lights on at night.

We're all crammed into a small hired car at the moment. It's been one issue after another having ours repaired, and at this stage we won't have it back until January 7th. The biggest car we could get was a Corolla. We were not impressed, especially with travelling to spend the holiday with family. At least the insurance policy covers the replacement vehicle.

This will probably be my last post before Christmas, so I am wishing all of you a wonderful holiday season. Take care, and I'll see you all again soon!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A sweet little apron for a sweet little baker.
I had fun with this project, inspired by embroidered doilies rescued from a St Vincent de Paul op shop. I halved the embroidered piece, hemmed it and created the apron from a template traced from a commercially produced apron. It came up so pretty, I think. I can't wait to give it to its new owner!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

City Excursion

We caught the train into the city. This is what I got when I asked the kids to smile. Not a clue!

After lunch with Daddy we went and admired the Myers window display. Every year they depict another Christmas book. It's always a fascinating display.

We saw the city Christmas tree.

And climbed on the nearby artworks, which reminded me of gifts beneath the tree, or perhaps a bauble knocked down by a curious kitten.

My favourites are these leadlight angels, which look down on you throughout the Queen Street Mall. I am sure at night they are divine. We are going out for dinner in the city in a few days, so I will take my camera back at night.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bella demonstrates the vital importance of wearing a seat belt at all times. We often find her sleeping belly-up in bizarre positions. She's a contortionist kitty.
In other news: My data has been rescued, but apparently dh didn't have enough memory to load my enormous amount of data onto his laptop to bring home. He's taking our external drive thingy to work tomorrow to complete the transfer. He's my hero, even though he emailed me the full story during the day, forgetting that I have no email set up yet. Silly him!

I have lost my cookies. This is completely different to losing your marbles. Perhaps losing my marbles would have been preferable. I rely entirely on my smart little laptop remembering all the passwords for me. I am not even sure of my email password. But yesterday my laptop died. Complete with every photo I have ever taken (not backed up, naturally). And my precious little cookies.

Everyone cross your fingers that Darling Computer Genius Husband (who brought home the new-to-me laptop I am using at this moment) can retrieve all my data from the old hard drive and put it on this one. Until then I'll muddle through without my passwords. Sigh.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What have I been doing lately?

December has been its usual rush of activities. I have had little time for blog updates, as well as a few days there where I had no internet at all, through my own clumsiness. I knocked my laptop off the little table it sit on, and it fell straight onto the external modem plugged into the side ( I have a very well loved hand me down computer, no fancy internal modems for me!) It snapped the modem in half, and it took me a few days to get back online. Everything else is fine, and fortunately we had a spare modem, so it was not an expensive mistake.

The Christmas party was a delightful evening. Fantastic dinner and a dessert table laden with delicious little delicacies, including my all time favourite, Creme Caramel, a dessert that brings back memories from a very happy childhood holiday. We stayed the night at the Marriott in the city, and relished the exquisite linen and an actual bath tub. The view of the Brisbane River was pretty good too. We eventually retrieved our children from their ever indulgent grand parents on Sunday. It was a lovely little holiday, just what twe needed to launch into the couple of weeks since then.

We smiled back at the moon, Jupiter and Venus. Blurry picture, because heat has melted the glue in my tripod, so I need to stick it back together.

My cherished frangipani (plumeria for you North American types) finally bloomed after two years and a transplantation to a better spot. It looked good, but the kids picked all the leaves off it one day, sparking a parental explosion of epic proportions. It has recovered slowly, and finally rewarded me for my patience.

We said a fond farewell to Mr Brown, one of the most outstanding, patient teachers I know. Josh is so excited about moving on to school, but I am already feeling quite sad.

I stitched this Victorian Lace Snowflake, designed by Rosewood Manor (JCS 2007) for Christopher's teacher.

And Peace, also by Rosewood Manor (I didn't notice the coincidence until just now!), from JCS 2008 for Samara's teacher. This is the fourth year in a row that I have had a child in her class, and now I hear a rumour that she'll be teaching Samara again next year. She is very pleased with her growing ornament collection. She has more of my ornaments than I do!
Samara won the academic prize for her year level at the school awards night. Auntie Sarah was the designated photographer that night, so no pics just yet. We were all very proud of her effort. Christopher did not win a prize this year, but impressed us enormously with a solo performance at the concert. His confidence is amazing, to stand in front of a crowd and sing so well!
I have so much yet to do before Christmas!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sheer Madness
I have been planning my outfit for darling husband's work Christmas party, an event of massive proportions that I spend the whole year anticipating. Yesterday I went out to find shoes, and brought home these little neck breakers. I am not a regular wearer of high heeled shoes. In fact, I've only started wearing shoes during the day this year, and then only because the doctor made me. Sneakers are the order of the day at the moment, while I wait for a pretty good case of heel spurs (plantar fashy-something complicated) to heal. But these shoes were so tempting, higher that anything I have ever worn before. With my sore feet, dancing was never on the cards for this party, but at least now I'll feel pretty after months of sneakers.

I struggled to find a dress I liked. I searched the stores, then moved on to try and find a pattern I liked. Every pattern I chose was out of stock, so I gave up and went home. Then I remembered my favourite very simple, very forgiving black dress. It's a bit casual, so I have made this stretchy bolero (New Look 6559) to go over the top, and tizzed it up a bit with the bead fringe. That bead fringe is a pain to sew on!

So tomorrow we ship the kids off to Grandma and Pop's place, and head into the city for a night of wine and fine dining at the Mariott, followed by a fancy motel room and room service breakfast.

Thanks Grandma and Pop!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Serious Weather
Brisbane has been in the line of fire for some serious weather this week. Sunday night saw a storm front with devastating winds. Some suburbs suffered considerable damage. Homes and sadly lives were lost. Then last night (Wednesday) another storm front moved through, bringing flash flooding and more loss. Our little hobbit hole, tucked snugly in its hollow, was spared the worst of the storms. In fact we blissfully slept last night, unaware of all the strife in other parts of the city.
Tonight a third front swept through, and although much more brief, it was a big excitement for our kids, as we received hail, and plenty of it. These photos were taken after the storm. I was thrilled by them, having never taken good storm photos before.

Christopher and I stood outside with the tripod, in ankle deep ice water, to get these shots.

It turns out that our yard is the local drainage, and the water is pouring through around the house.

We were supposed to be at the final choir rehearsal of the year, but the storm was looming, and, suspecting that it would be a doozy, I elected to stay home. I am glad I did. It was scary enough at home, let alone being out in a car. I will call the choir organisers tomorrow to see if we can have Christoper's exam results, which would have been distributed tonight, mailed to us. I doubt many kids showed up at all.

We won't know the full extent of the damage until tomorrow morning, but the glass in the car held up, we still have a roof, and the rest we can cope with. I doubt there will be many tomatoes left on the vines, though.

Counting down until Christmas

Only five weeks left until Christmas, three until school finishes for the year! Where's my paper bag *gasping frantically*? Ahh, that's better! As much as I love the slower pace of school holidays, it seems we lose half our summer to Christmas preparation and celebration. I have finished the stitching part of two of the four teacher's gifts this year. I am ahead of the game, compared to previous years! The top one is a design by Little by Little Design Co., found in the 2007 Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue. This is for the first male teacher our family has had. Mr Brown teaches kindergarten, and is one of the most wonderful, caring teachers I have ever known.

And this design, by Mosey and Me in the JCS 2003 Ornie issue, is for his teaching assistant.

Keep an eye out for plenty more Christmas projects between now and December 25th. I have way more plans than hours in the day.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Kindy Art Show

In the lead up to the end of the school year, Joshua's kindergarten has organised an Art Show. We were just blown away by the effort that the teachers and children put into this exhibition. I have never seen the artwork of a collection of four and five year olds look so great. They experimented with media, colour and many different styles. The above blurry photo is of stitching buttons onto hessian.

This installation was created from twisted rainbow coloured wire.

I was hugely impressed by the pastel still life fruit. The kids were encouraged to look at shapes, light and colour, and there were some very impressive results!

And here is the proud artist, showing us one of his works. I am really looking forward to these creations coming home!
Anyone googling Ashton Street kindergarten needs to know that this place is fabulous. The effort the teachers put into every child is above and beyond what we'd hoped for. Love, love, love this kindy, and I am going to miss it so much next year.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Five Friendly Frogs

We had the birthday barbeque yesterday. After some nervous speculation regarding the weather, and a rainy preceding night, the day dawned overcast and cool. No rain fell, but the cloud cover kept temperatures pleasant, so we had no complaints.
I have two gorgeous men celebrating birthdays in my house, five days apart, so we had to have two cakes. It was a very enjoyable celebration. The kids (cousins and friends) got along so well together that we barely had to do anything except keep a ready supply of food on hand. No party games were organised (though the packet of balloons turned into an impromptu water fight), yet ten children played for five hours with barely a disagreement and not a murmur of boredom.

It's on days like yesterday that we realise, in spite of the many moments of worry, we are raising good kids, our friends and us, and we can be proud.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I am not a fan of hot days. When other people are racing out to enjoy the summer sunshine, I am busy lining my airconditioned cave and hibernating for the summer. I was not designed for summer. I wonder how I ever made it through a childhood of tropical homes and sometimes not even a ceiling fan. I have very clear memories of these places, and yet I don't remember too many really hot days. Must have been too busy playing.
Anyway, this is our backyard, lining up for summer. We have a friarbird nest in one of our trees, which is providing much entertainment. I had to comfort the kids during a wet day, saying that the baby birds would be fine with their mother acting as an umbrella.

Delicious refrigerator biscuits, a very old recipe from a very old cook book. Most of the main courses are not so useful now, with the different ingredients we have now, but the biscuit and cakes chapters are fabulous.

The swing set had reached the end of its usefulness as a swing set, but the frame is still good, so I got a hammock to use instead. A very popular decision.

Now all we need is the holidays! Only five weeks to go!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

From this wrinkly little bundle...

To this gorgeous little boy.
Five years pass far too quickly.

Happy birthday, my darling little Joshua. I hope you enjoy these!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

You may have noticed that sometimes I go missing for a while. It's nothing bad, just a need to occasionally retreat into my shell.
It's been a strange week, with Brett away for a couple of days, multiple minor injuries and a run in with another car. Well, the other car ran into me. It was nothing serious, I stopped to give way before turning and the car behind me did not. It's ruined our rear bumper and I am not game to open the back door, because it's pretty bent and I doubt it would close again. No one was even a little bit injured, Samara says that she now understands why I am so fussy about them wearing seatbelts properly. Insurance will cover all our costs, so all's well that ends well. Of course, this happened while Brett was out of town, so it was a sleepless night until he returned the following evening.
Oh, and the photo was of a 'bunch' of flowers, roots and all, presented to me by Joshua. He's a dear, but I can't afford to get too attached to my garden :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Conversation in our house this morning:
Small boy: What are these in our cupboard? (referring to freshly cleaned pantry)
Mother: They're water chestnuts.
Small boy: Oh. Why are they in the cupboard if they are for your chest?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Two Blouses
Not brilliant photos, but you get the idea. I used Simplicity 4177 for both of these garments. The first is made from a panel of fabric I found at the local St Vincent de Paul's op shop, cost a whole $2 (Aussie dollars, so about $1.50 US). I used this fabric for the first go beacuse I wanted to try making the pattern with a design running around the bottom hem, in preparation for the following version. I didn't have enough fabric for the long sleeves, so went with the short sleeved version C.

The second blouse is the 'for good' version, made with broderie anglaise and pretty ribbon for the detail. It's actually a combination of versions A and B. A had the detail on neck and sleeves, but no frills on the sleeves. With the pretty scalloped edge of the fabric I decided to put B's sleeves onto A's torso.

This one has been christened with a trip to the movies with a dear friend. We saw The Duchess, which I enjoyed very much, though now I have to drink Earl Grey tea all the time, and I'll probably never think of a Devonshire tea the same again. The costumes were spectacular. As soon as I got a moment I googled Duchess Georgiana of Devonshire. There were a few liberties taken with the plot, but in general I felt it was a very interesting movie. Life was so different for women in the 18th century.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Other school holiday fun

Our spring vacation time was a fortnight of unstinting laziness. Other than our beach day, we went nowhere further than a nearby shopping centre.

Mud pies occupied a whole morning.

The crystal garden grew in a day, though the snow covered mountain took another night.

Other than that, I did a bit of sewing, a redwork piece for a friend's birthday, a couple of blouses for myself.

Sometimes the quiet times are the best times.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Unexpected but strangely appropriate result for my Reincarnation Placement Exam.

Your result for Reincarnation Placement Exam...

Lol Cat

38% Intrigue, 44% Civilization, 63% Humanity, 43% Urbanization.

After much consideration, we have decided to make you a LolCat.

Actually, there wasn't much consideration at all. It was the easiest decision we've made all day.

Why? Because, according to your answers, you want to have your good times, but don't seem too interested in all that "other stuff." You know... civilization, adventure, that sort of thing.

We hope you like being fluffy.

I don't know... Can you has cheezburger?

Take Reincarnation Placement Exam at HelloQuizzy

Friday, September 26, 2008

More beachy photos

I love the shapes of the shells. The skeletal ones are so pretty.

Stalking little fishies.

This snail has been working hard.

Running into the wind. It was a very windy day, and once we'd left the shelter of the shoreline, we were buffeted so much. Hats flew away more than once.

I love pictures taken when they are all peering at something and totally unaware that I am watching them.