Thursday, 18 December 2014

A Quick Break

Some schools finish really really early in December. And if you are not one of those parents who proclaim loudly and solemnly, "Oh No. Eight weeks holidays with my children is just not long enough", then this  L O N G summer holiday can be a challenge.

The main problem with this very long holiday is that during it children are not allowed to go to school. 

That's it really.

I think I'm somewhere in the middle. It is lovely to have a break from the sometimes manic school routine. It's great not to have to make lunches and find four pairs of matching socks each day; and spend hours in the car driving back and forth to school. Replacing that with a more relaxed pace, some fun outings and even occasionally the odd hour of relaxation to be experienced. 

But it is also a long time to keep four children with a wide variety of interests, happy and harmonious. Did I say harmonious? Cue manic laughing on my part...

So last week on a bit of a whim, we left the wild weather of Sydney, and exchanged it for very wet weather down the coast. My parents were joining us while Husband stayed behind to work - it being early December and all. I haven't done that drive by myself before. Jesse, who has been carsick a couple of times was resisting the thought of hairpin bends on Cambewarra Mountain. I wasn't keen on the idea of cleaning sick from the car, so we took a different route. One I hoped might be a short cut. 
Which it wasn't.

Has anyone else ever driven for an hour with the time-till-destination on google maps not changing?

Finally we arrived in a little coastal town that appeared to have more kangaroos than people. 
My mum was keen that the kids should feed them and that we should film it on our phones and become youtube sensations. When one roo that must have been close to six foot high when standing attempted to come inside our house in search of bread, I kind of went off the idea. No one wants to be internet sensations for filming their small children being eaten by kangaroos. 



So after a few days of torrential rain, in which we were able to fit in one hour of tennis and several hundred games of Monopoly Empire (a particularly nasty strain of the game, which brings out the Gordon Gecko in even the most mild-mannered child), the sky cleared enough for us to race to a nearby beach. 

It was just as I remembered from childhood: idyllic.



We went back again the next day (our last morning) and cheered as the sun and blue sky appeared! Beach cricket gave us some happy memories and the wet weather was all but forgotten.

We were all happy we'd made the effort to get away. 




And now we've returned to the speedy run down to Christmas. Digging feet in to snowy white sand is no longer an option.

I'm trying to stay on top of things, and trying not to wake up in the night in a cold sweat about to-do lists - cause that would be silly, right?

Decorating has continued apace, and I may even have everything just the way I like it by mid-January. 
We'll see.



Thinking too of the poor families who have lost loved ones in Sydney this week. It was a time in Sydney where for a while time seemed to stand still as we waited (and dreaded) the outcome of an act of violence and terror. Our hearts are breaking for the young children left without a mother and the families left without their wife, daughter, partner, son…

Hard to imagine Peace on Earth.. but praying they and everyone will know Jesus' love and true peace.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7670CXvPX0

Thursday, 11 December 2014

What's Your Christmas Decorating Style?

Here is the link to my latest story, published on HOUZZ.com.au

I'm really excited about this one - it was hard to narrow Christmas decorating styles down to just ten, but I've attempted to capture a range of looks that people will like and relate to.

I hope you'll click on the story and comment on your preferred style. Do you have a definite look for Christmas (traditional red and green; monochrome and metallics; shabby chic or rustic?) style or do you like to mix it up a little?

http://www.houzz.com.au/ideabooks/34166269/list/whats-your-christmas-decorating-style

Here are some of my favourite pics from the last few years,  illustrating how I like to mix it up a bit by using different festive accessories and styles:

Crafty - pom poms in glassware make for a softer look than baubles.


I love collecting embroidery hoops for framing fabric remnants.


A blue and white theme is not my usual style, but these hand-painted wooden hanging ornaments didn't have to go on the tree to be enjoyed.


Larrabee platinum spot by Kate Spade makes a perfect Christmas setting.


These little pink trees from the $2 shop were too cute to be tacky.


Loved the contrast of the hand sewn heart in the mercury glass. These were my best find from the Reject Shop last year.


My adored found-by-the-roadside chair suits a Christmas scene to a tee.


Decorating with letters.


Baking fun.


Sometimes a simple wire ornament is all you need.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

December So Far....How to get Christmas spirit, and quickly!

The month of December felt like it would never get here.

We put up the tree in early November, as part of a carefully orchestrated plan to squeeze the most Christmas cheer out of the (extended) holiday season that we could... and we even managed to, all on the one magical Saturday, attend a friend's wedding, see a wonderful performance of the famous Dickens play, A Christmas Carol, and get the kids' photo taken with Santa. (Previous Santa photo post)

It felt like all of our Christmases had come at once, and it wasn't even December yet!!


So if you find yourself stumbling, abit dazed and confused every time you spot a Christmas decoration and the sound of faint carols seems to be getting louder by the day.... that's because it probably IS getting louder by the day!! You can't fight it. You have to get with the program!!!

CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!!! Aghhhhhhh!


And now the first week of December has passed, I have gone from feeling smug ready to panicky like everybody else! 

Here are some quick ways to get instant Christmas cheer (in no particular order - panic does that to you..):

Christmas drinks - Okay, this is my version of getting Christmas Spirit, without the "spirits". It won't cut it for some, but for me, it's calming, it's festive and it can be drunk out of a sparkly glass. What more could you ask for?

Am loving Bundaberg's Spiced Ginger Beer (4x pack in Woolworths - go silly!). I'm drinking mine out of my Target glitter goblets (75c after Christmas sales last year) with fresh pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top. Splendid!


Squeeze baubles (cheap ones are fine as everything looks better under glass) into as many glass jars, bowls and cloches as you can find. Place one on each table/spare surface and you have instant decorative wow factor! Much quicker than hanging the blighters on the tree!


Start buying/baking/eating mince pies. They suit any meal or snack time and are great to have on hand if in-laws decide to suddenly drop in, unannounced. Piles of dirty washing will be ignored if you pull this domestic goddess pleaser. My grandma used to make them ith suet - her special ingredient. This one above was in a pack of 6 for $1 from Woolies. There was definitely no suet used here. Remember, drenched in brandy custard ANY mince pie is edible.


The very edible Heston Blumenthal's Christmas fare is in Coles again this year. I already tried this - and it was fab!



The lovely fete /holiday issue has a great sounding recipe for mince pies if you're looking for one. 

Get out your sparkly stuff in readiness for party season. Okay, maybe the preschool concert is all you have to look forward to on your calendar so far (or is that just me?). But every festive occasion deserves a little bling! Just try not to let the three year old near you whilst finger painting demos are on.

Found this glomesh purse for $4 in an Op Shop!!

Branch out and do some fun stuff! 
Letting your hair down is highly recommended this time of year. 


How are you getting festive?
I'd love to know..

Monday, 24 November 2014

Nicking Stuff from Nana's - Vintage Finds

I can't imagine decorating a room without it including some vintage finds. There is something about integrating old stuff in with your stuff that gives your decor a feeling of depth, of history, hmm, maybe even of a little mystery.

No one wants to be boring, right?

Now if that old stuff once belonged to someone you know, like say a family member, well all the better! Not only do the vintage pieces represent history, but it might be a history that directly relates to you. It's the sort of feeling and vibe that you won't find in a flat pack. Trust me.

So what are we talking here? Big pieces or small?
Well that's the great thing - it doesn't matter. Big pieces are great if you can fit them in, have access to them and want to make a statement. If you don't have any de-cluttering relatives (and there's no harm in asking, or paying them something!) then check out your local op shops, garage sales and online.

This Art Deco dresser, which came from a friend of mine who needed some more practical family-friendly furniture in her small house, had been passed down by her grandmother. Having used it for a time, she no longer felt emotional attachment to it. I however, took one look at it and felt instantly emotionally attached. We had just moved in to our Art Deco era house, and had a back room extension that was entirely empty.

This dresser, for me, has presence. It made a new room look instantly cosy, lived in and kind of grounded with the rest of the house. It has also become a mega-decorating centre - I change the displays regularly and we even managed to fit our stereo system into the centre cupboard (drilling a small hole in the masonite back for the cords). Perfect!


I have posted previously about the starburst mirror here.

Painting old furniture can be a great way of reusing old pieces and making them your own. I love following this talented lady, Fiona - who paints and restores old furniture for a living. Take a look at her blog if you're interested, she also holds classes and has many how-tos on her blog site: http://www.lilyfieldlife.com

Another piece of vintage furniture I love is this chair I picked up from beside the road (go to post here). I could have got the matching set if I'd been faster. But one chair was realistically all I could fit in, so I don't lay awake gnashing my teeth about what I missed. Well, not much anyway…


So many people told me after I blogged about this chair last time, that their grandparents had had a similar set. I see them in op shops regularly. They are super comfortable to sit in - and if you want to give them a modern update, here's a fabulous example I came across in a South Coast quilting shop. Isn't it superb?!!


If smaller vintage or retro pieces suit your space or style better, then there's no limit to what you can find/do. Old kitchen ware is easily integrated into existing collections - and can be as practical or decorative as you want it to be.

Tins on open shelving add instant flair and can lead to other pieces of a similar time, colour or style grouping together. Before you know it you'll have a cool display that others will be wanting to copy!


Floral china is timeless and sometimes under appreciated in this age of modern white crockery (although I am seeing more patterned china in the shops of late. Thank goodness). Mix it all up I say - add some fancy pieces to your plain set and see what kind of look you end up with. It may not be dishwasher proof, but pieces like these below are, quite frankly, a joy to wash up.

If you don't believe me, just try it. Yes it will take longer to clean up. But sometimes we need an excuse not to rush about.



You might find yourself taken with the idea of adding a little bit of vintage to your life.
It doesn't have to mean you'll suddenly be putting doilies under your teacups and serving jam rolls for afternoon tea.
But then again it might.
And that could be a good thing!

Oh YUM!!! This was NOT a supermarket bought jam roll. 
The real thing with real cream weighs a tonne and is so yummy you will be in raptures. 
WARNING: Weight gain is likely after consumption!


Tell me about your vintage pieces - big or small? Where have they come from and what do they mean to you? Have you modernised an old piece or successfully integrated something with a history into a more modern setting?

I have started writing for HOUZZ Australia! This is a fabulous website on everything to do with architecture, design, renovating and decorating your home. 

You can read my article by clicking on this link:
http://www.houzz.com.au/ideabooks/34018939/list/shopping-for-vintage-finds-at-grandmas-house


Join the site and download the app for all inspiration, advice, products and ideas - you won't be sorry!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Following Your Dreams

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Following your dreams is something that the world tells us we should all just do. Whatever it takes: the challenges, hardships, sacrifices, efforts and pain are all going to be worth it.

Well, maybe that's true and maybe it isn't.

Either way, the earth is made up people willing to give it a try. Who don't give up at the first sign of hardship, or aren't put off by obstacles. And that's kind of encouraging.

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I talked with a friend this week who is putting in a superhuman effort at following her dreams. She doesn't know yet whether it is going to turn out the way she hopes. She exchanged security and stability for an existence that is at times tentative and a little bit scary. Doing stuff without a safety net can be that way.

Another friend is following her dreams and so far it has been a hard slog. She is working hard at achieving her goals and has made inroads in to her chosen path that are impressive and substantial. Infact she's probably achieved more already than many who have gone before her with similar dreams. And yet. She doesn't know how far these efforts will take her. There are no guarantees of success.

I so admire these women for their bravery and wit and wisdom and flair and daring.

Where would we be without creative and courageous souls who leave the safe path and branch out in to the unknown?

Wouldn't the world be a sad and boring place if people only ever strived for well, nothing much?!


I saw this cute canvas in Kmart (below) and instantly wanted to buy it to put on the wall in the girls' room. I think the silver dots were what I liked about it most. The fact that it was only $9 may have had something to do with it too.

Then I stopped myself. Was it okay to tell my ten and seven year olds to dream? My cynical adult self was somewhere in my head telling me that the best way to save them from possible future disappointments would be to avoid the dreaming of unobtainable, unrealistic and just plain unreachable goals.

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Then I got annoyed at myself. That cynical adult self is not me. I don't want to be that person.
Ever.

I'm thankful for the inspirational people I know. For the carers, and the encouragers. For the creative hearts who bring a little sparkle in to the every day. For those who work really hard at doing some good.
And maybe others notice them.
And maybe no one does.

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Here are the things I wish for those of you who are daring to hope. Who are chasing dreams. And yes, for those who have ever dared to ask themselves, "what if my dreams are crap?" but who can still laugh at themselves, and maintain perspective.
But who also keep on going. Because it is worth it to dream a little, or a lot.

Flowers:
Peonies are in season at the moment. Roses appear to be everywhere. Everyone should have at least one bunch.
Stop. Smell them.

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ART: Something beautiful and inspirational to hang on the wall. Settle for a print if an old Master is out of your range..Visit a gallery even. It's a dream centre.

Charles Edward Perugini (1839-1918), "Girl Reading"
And take the opportunity to sit somewhere quiet, to stare out at something beautiful and to enjoy the moment. Hopes and dreams take time. Surely you can spare a moment? :-)


There are a lot of inspiring people out there. And they are not usually the loudest, or the showiest, or even the ones plastered all over the covers of magazines… Just saying!

Tell me, who inspires you these days? Have you found your dreams to be a helpful part of your life? Or something that hinders you from dealing with reality? Do you have a cynical self that tries to tell you cute motivational posters aren't worth $9? Or do you find inspiration even in the little things?

Saturday, 1 November 2014

October Is Over Folks

Is that a shark out there? It's always safer on the sand..
This last month has turned in to a blink and you miss it kind of blip on the calendar. Now I know there is lots to love about October - Anne of Green Gables said it best - but as Spring seemed to last all of five minutes before the heat of summer elbowed it out of the way… I'm kind of ready for November now any way.

Last Saturday we trekked up the coast and made it to the beach for an extended family get-together. Didn't know whether to be fascinated or appalled to watch the kids dodging sting rays in the shallows (mantra rays? sand rays? are they all the same? Somebody needs to google this and get back to me..)
I heard the same conversation going on all over the beach:
Are they dangerous?
Ask Steve Irwin…

At the end of the beach was a house. Not my ideal beach house. It was semi haunted hidden amongst the trees. Such a great spot. I couldn't stop looking, and wondering, and imagining myself up there, traipsing through the pines. Maybe even sipping drinks on that lawn.

Not the most glamourous of beach houses,  It looked a little haphazard, possibly in need of a big makeover. Suddenly I was thinking of oversized white glass lanterns, those oval shaped hanging chairs and lots of sea grass matting. Who could I get to reinstate verandahs? And new windows would work wonders.
Just saying..



In case the owners were searching for some inspiration, I'd make them look at this, just to get an idea of what they could do....

http://www.countryliving.com/homes/beach-house-decorating-0409#slide-1

And I'd get them to buy this. It would look so great in an entrance way.

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Here's the lantern I was imagining. Maybe about 50 of them scattered around.

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And here's a cute toddler to live in the seaside house. With his mother. And family, obviously.


And we have ventured forth in to Department Store land to check out the Christmas decorations.
So the Myer Christmas Bear this year is called: ARCHIE!! Because I am a mean (and miserly) mother, I told my Archie we'd wait till these Archie's were on sale before buying him one.