Wednesday, December 23, 2009

At last I have a big Christmas tree! We've had tiny trees everywhere we've lived, firstly for financial reasons, then because the kids were little and the tree had to fit in the playpen. Last year we had a pot plant tree, but this year the kids were adamant that we needed a decent sized tree. They call it a 'real' tree, but that's because they don't realise that fake trees are not the norm everywhere.
The wreath is made from Kaffe Fassett yoyos and ribbon. I am very satisfied with how it turned out.
I have stolen this meme from a good friend, Kristin. I thought I'd do it because Australian Christmas celebrations are so different from northern hemisphere celebrations.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper, gift bags if it's a hastily bought gift on our way to someone's place.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial. It's hard to find a real tree in our sub tropical environment, and they don't really stand up to the heat.

3. When do you put up the tree? December 1st, unless unavoidably delayed.

4. When do you take the tree down? January 6th

5. Do you like eggnog? Never tried it, though it sounds like something I'd like.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? It's a tie between the chemistry set and the teensy Kodak camera. Or the wooden ornaments the Christmas we spent in Germany.

7. Hardest person to buy for? DH, he's so darn contented with what he has, it's hard to get good ideas for him.

8. Easiest person to buy for? Pretty much every female on both sides of the family. We share our good taste ;)

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Not at the moment. The last one was too popular with the kids, and the ones I love are a little too spendy.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I am a Christmas card failure.

11. Worst Christmas ever? None have been disastrous, though we still miss Dad every Christmas.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie(s)? Does Love Actually count?

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?Not soon enough!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don't think so ...

15 .Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? The whole turkey roast thing. It's the best dinner of the year!

16. Lights on the tree? Yes, multicoloured led's. The kids had them set to random flashing, but I really hate that!

17. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night, though Christopher's choir has restored my love of carols.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? One or the other, some years we travel to Mum's, some we go to inlaws. This year we will drive down to the inlaws just for the day.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes, because it impresses the kids.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning, but not before the coffee and tea are made

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The number of gifts people feel obligated to give their children. Also how everything seems to hinge on the illusion of Christmas Day needing to be perfect.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? I lean towards gold.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Turkey, roasted potato, pumpkin and carrots, greens (usually brussel sprouts), stuffing, plum pudding and custard for dessert.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Peace and quiet!

Our room decorations are made from magazine pages this year. The older two made the stars while Josh created a mile long paper chain. Fun and it looks great!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Please forgive our absence. We have been ...

swimming ...

posing with cousins ...

watching our uncle wed his beautiful bride ...

winning an academic award for best marks in Year 3 and ...

graduating Prep!
We managed to squeeze a bout of gastro into our busy schedule without missing any of the important stuff. Now that's multitasking for you!

Monday, November 16, 2009

November is turning out to be a productive month.

Shrug This, made from Nepalese recycled silk. It's turned out too small for me, but I am on a weight loss journey at the moment, so I will leave it and try to shrink into it. The silk feels so gorgeous, and I can't wait to fit it! The colour is a bit iffy in this picture, it's actually a peacock blue / green. And I haven't woven in the ends yet. I hate that bit.

My second teacher's Christmas gift has been started. This is one evening's worth of stitching. Once more the colour is dodgy, the thread is a gorgeous silvery blue.

The first teacher's ornament is all over bar the shouting. It will be a biscornu, so I have yet to do a plain square (with names and dates, I think) for the back. I adore this one, and will be making it again for my own home.

And today I made a beach tote to take on holiday while we travel to a gorgeous beachside resort for a family wedding. The pattern came from a newly released book, The Crafty Minx, by Kelly Doust. It was a simple plan to follow, and only took a couple of hours to make, factoring in two phonecalls with my bff and a snack break.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Field Trip!
The younger two kids have been studying space this term. Today both classes went to the Planetarium, followed by a picnic lunch in the Botanical Gardens. I didn't get to photograph inside the planetarium, but I took plenty of pictures in the gardens.

The Japanese Garden is always gorgeous. I think the intention is that it is a peaceful place, but I have never been there without children intent on falling in the water features and generally explore every square inch of the garden.

The water features are so darn tempting!

These swamp hens were fun to watch. The two chicks just about went mad peeping when they noticed the turtle swimming beneath them. The turtle had no evil intentions, but the chicks fled anyway.

I can't resist photographing water lilies. It's all to do with my Monet fetish.

The tropical dome is filled with the same plants I see when I head north to Mum's place. The geometry of the dome, and the huge leafy plants are so lovely together.
But I do have a headache from spending the better part of the day staring at the ceiling.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Happy 6th birthday, Joshua!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Weekend Fun

A week ago I went to the local craft fair. I took Samara with me, and we both indulged in exploring our favourite things. Samara had a great time spending her savings on beads. She'd originally said that she was going to only spend a small portion of her money (mostly earned with chores and tooth fairy payments), and save the rest for a toy she wanted, but halfway through the day she announced that from now on she was only going to save for craft fair spending money.

I spent most of my 'allowance' on knitting yarn, mostly silks. I have so many projects in mind at the moment. The knitting above is the first of a pair of socks I am knitting with Noro Silk Garden sock yarn. It feels more like painting than knitting. I am loving every second I get to work with these wonderful rich colours.

I have also started the teachers' Christmas gifts for the year. We have only a few weeks left in the school year. I did the above stitching last night watching tv. I like it so much I think I'll be making a second one for me. The teacher this is intended for has taught one or another of my children for the past five years. She has quite a collection of ornaments I have made. She was telling me last week that she no longer hangs them on her tree, but has a special stand for them. Sadly, this will be the last year we have her. Samara is moving into the next classroom next year, and Josh will not be old enough to move up. The following year our cherished little school will be closing, and we will be moving on to another school, with a whole new set of teachers. It's going to be tough after the close relationships we have formed with all the staff at our current school.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jumble Sale

After a stressful morning I deserved a little pleasure. Thrifting was the pleasure that ticled my fancy, so I detoured past every charity shop I could thin of between the kids' school and home. I was looking for linens, but came up empty handed. Then I remembered the church jumble sale that is open until midday on Fridays. It was 11:15, so I leapt into the car and made a mad dash across a couple of suburbs to get there in time to have a browse. I found a couple of very pretty aprons, but the real treasure was this tablecloth.

Hand embroidered, smothered in exquisite flowers, in immaculate condition.

And the cost? Five dollars. I cannot imagine how many hours of work went into this tablecloth, but I promise the stitcher, whoever she was, that I will cherish it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This sweet little thrifted wooden kitty found his way to our house recently. He's currently lurking with my most recent batch of soap - coffee flavoured.
Soap making suddenly got easy when I discovered hot process soap making. It's perfect for a family with a tiny house, with no real room for the long curing times required for cold process soap making. I made this batch in the crock pot, and it was an absolute breeze. It seems to have set nice and firm, and passes the tongue test, so, after a couple of weeks sitting on the cake stand, it's ready to hit the showers. Now that I have found my favourite way to make soap it's time to start perfecting the scents I use.

My current knitting project has received the Bella Seal of Approval. It's particularly soft and squishy, and has been a fun, fast knit. I'll be showing and telling more when the time is right.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Kitchen Garden

I have been longing for a kitchen garden, but have been short on the time required to dig and maintain extensive garden beds. The perfect compromise is to plant up pots with some of the yummies I long for. Now I have tomatoes, lots of lettuce (vital as I am also working on healthy eating and salad has become a staple of my diet), and a plethora of herbs (my passion). There is dill and mint in the above pot.

And a second pot with lemon balm, peppermint, pineapple sage and chamomile. I am looking forward to all the delicious teas and meals I will be creating with this little crop.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Uncles are cool!

Especially ones who'll keep the kids amused between practising his chef training in my pokey little kitchen. How awesome is my 'little' brother!?

It's been a busy week, filled with knitting, craft shop hopping, soap making, cooking, eating, tea drinking and laughing. I have planted a couple of pots of vegies and herbs, produced most of a sock and made a couple of craft book purchases which are bringing delight to my 'spare' moments.
Photos will follow when I get time to take any!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lazy Lizards

On an excursion into the city we took a stroll through the Botanical Gardens. Most of it was fenced off for an event, but we lingered by the ponds for a while, because Christopher had seen eels there during a school trip a few weeks ago. He was right about the eels. They were huge and hung around hoping that we'd feed them. They were not, however very cooperative to photograph.

The water dragons, on the other hand, were very keen to be photographed. The little one above was so cute!

This one was huge, and swam across the pond to check us out. Isn't he just gorgeous! Those spines make him look positively prehistoric.

I love that we find something new and interesting to look at every time we travel into the city.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is this the same city?

We woke this morning to spectacular images of Sydney in the grips of a dust storm. We murmured about how awful it looked, and went about our morning, washed the dogs and dried them in the sunshine, and went to a friend's house for a cuppa. As we were sitting on her verandah, admiring the views of the city and the river they started to disappear. The photo above is taken in our back yard, looking over the neighbours' shed. The dust storm has covered most of the east coast of Australia.

And this is our sky. The floors feel like there is a layer of talcum powder, even though all the doors and windows are shut. I am not looking forward to the clean up.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Today feels like the first day of summer. We packed kids and Gran into the car and dragged them down to Cleveland, about 1/2 an hour away, to see the set of the Dawn Treader. How exciting, that they are making a Narnia movie right here!

Being Sunday, they weren't filming today, but there were a lot of people around having a look, and many stressed out security guards.

We loved the detail, especially the lantern hanging from the tail of the ship. It is entirely built on dry land, with no hull, but the filming is done in such a way that our beautiful bay will be visible in the background.

She's beautiful, isn't she?

And these cockatoos were squabbling nearby. They are such cheeky birds. As we were leaving we saw one hanging from a powerline by its beak. They are so much fun to watch.

Sunset and the Brisbane River. We picked up Daddy from the Citycat, because we were in a hurry to be places.

We enjoyed the last of the sun while we waited for the boat to arrive.

It was my Grandmother's 90th birthday, and we took her out to celebrate. In spite of the fact that she'd spent the entire day making excuses not to go, she seemed to enjoy the event. She loved seeing her great grandchildren, and we all enjoyed catching up.

The boys have really taken to Uncle Rohan, my 'little' brother. Circumstances have meant that we haven't seen a lot of eachother. He and Mum are down for a couple of weeks, and we are having a ball.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Socks

Though to be honest, they actually took a couple of weeks. My very first pair of home knitted socks (that aren't the unbearably sweaty acrylic bedsocks my sweet Nana knitted for me decades ago). I am so pleased with them, my first effort at knitting with double pointed needles.

They fit me perfectly. I have horribly wide feet, possibly a consequence of going barefoot until age 11, so I did the larger size, but shortened them to suit the length of my foot. The pattern was easy, with loads of links to explain techniques.

Then I got distracted by a bee. We have not had many bees around yet. We have a lot of clover in our back yard, and everyone got stung at least once last year. This year, as soon as the clover started flowering, the kids have been saying "Watch out for bees!" every time they step onto the grass. Even though there haven't been bees to avoid until the last couple of days.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It has been beautiful here. We had a brief storm on Monday, which watered the garden up nicely, and temperatures have been less hot than last week. It's a funny sort of spring, and the jacarandas are so confused that they are attempting to flower a whole month earlier than usual. My new geraniums are happy, as you can see above.

We spent Friday afternoon in the back yard. The cubby house is like a bower at the moment, and is the perfect spot to catch the last rays of sunlight.

Look at my new toy! It's not much bigger than the book next to it, but it is oh so clever compared to the dinosaur I have been using. Hubby went to a Microsoft conference this week, and so I even have the shiny, new, not-even-beta-tested Office 10 on it. Oh my, it's so exciting.
Don't you love my tea mug? Josh bought it for me at the school Mother's Day stall. He presented it triumphantly "I picked it 'coz you like green, Mummy!". I do wonder, however, what he really thinks of me, every time I look at the crazed grin on the side of it!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

If you have to be at home sick it's nice to have friends who love you. Poor Christopher has been suffering the turmoil of a stomach bug, and the dear animals recognise a boy who needs a cuddle. They are usually hovering around my feet, but today they are ignoring me completely. They make excellent nurse maids!
Update: After a full day of violent illness I took Christopher to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with his first migraine. He spent the night in hospital, with a saline drip and some potent medications to settle him down. I spent the night on a chair beside him. He's home now, much happier and once more ensconced on the couch with the kitten.