Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Australia Day Celebrations

We celebrated Australia Day on the 26th January - by dressing up, enjoying a BBQ and communing with family.
red, White and blue were the order of the day - in clothing, decorating and culinary pursuits. The kids went mad (okay, and the adults weren't far behind) with temporary tattoos, blue sparkly hair spray, flags and hats.

My Aunt and Uncle are great entertainers. They hardly need an occasion to justify getting together with friends or family, but when there's a theme to hang an event on, out comes the appropriate bunting, and then some!

Damper bread
My cake pops - freckles and red/white/blue.
They started dropping off the sticks - I blamed the humidity
My cousin Nick's fabulous salmon and Camembert
spring rolls w/raspberry sauce

Hot dogs for the kids
Red, white and blue jellies and ice cream
Arch fell in the fishpond, but recovered quickly; everyone ate way too much; cousins rediscovered the joy of chasing each other through the house and garden; cricket was happily played until the ball rolled down the drain; everyone took turns holding the newest baby and talking about the imminent arrival of the next one (not mine, thankfully); and the day was a great success.

Made me realise anew, as some parts of our country battled with fire and floods, that we have a lot to be thankful for...

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Pride and Prejudice celebrates 200 years!

Can you believe it is 200 years since Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was first published? (January 28 is the official anniversary)It is a truth universally acknowledged that this book provokes reverence, swooning and undying declarations of love from many of its readers/fans for Mr Darcy its wonderful storyline, Mr Darcy adored characters and Mr Darcy timeless appeal.

Austen's characters remain contemporary and at times, painfully familiar - who hasn't had the misfortune to come across a "Mr Collins" in their travels? Or perhaps tousled with a haughty Miss Bingley once in a while?(No? Okay maybe that was just me.) And while Austen's plot lines may have altered in the finer details (Let's face it, $10,000 a year is NOT going to cut it for most women these days..) it has not in any way detracted from their universal relevance and popularity. Austen's mixture of pure wit coupled with subtly cutting social comment is delivered with a lightness of touch that delights with every read.

Newer takes on the story via literary and movie versions, together with spin offs such as Bridget Jones (love this) or Lost in Austen (yes, loved this too), Bride and Prejudice (Bollywood version, I haven't seen it) or the latest Lizzie Bennet Diaries (current youtube hit apparently) have only added to the appeal of the original. Countless sequels have been written, many of which are quite good too; but nothing can seem to better the original!

Who over tea and cakes, hasn't argued over who their favourite or most hated movie portrayals of Elizabeth, Jane or Mr Darcy are? While I loved the justly famous BBC's version of Pride and Prejudice, and let's face it,0 who didn't with the stupendous Mark Darcy Colin Firth portrayal of Mr Darcy!? I was initially disappointed in their choice of Lizzy as a brunette. To my mind Jane was always the dark one, and Lizzie blonde. However, I came to terms with this and came to love Jennifer Ehle as the humorous, clever and at times misguided Elizabeth Bennet.

I'm sorry but I'm going to be controversial here and say that the Keira Knightly version did not do it for me. Matthew McFaddyn (he'll always be Tom in Spooks to me) was a wooden Mr Darcy at best, and I had to force myself to watch him all of the way through. And much as I like Keira Knightly, she seemed to have majored on Lizzie's impetuous qualities rather than her intelligence to get her through the role. Hmm, your thoughts? 

On to happier matters. Here is a selection of my favourite Pride and Prejudice spin-off ephemera, and after two hundred years of providing swooning inspiration, there is a lot to choose from!

Lizzie at the Dance Earrings by PerspephonePlus
Darcy quote stamped on a vintage teaspoon by thepurediva
Clutch Purse by ChickLitDesigns 
And I love this poster - put together by two Italian illustrators who have their own shop/website called: Pemberley Pond - dedicated to all things Austen.
Okay it seems kind of wrong to be writing about Pride and Prejudice WITHOUT (re)stating that Mr Darcy is obviously fabulous. Yes he was mean and hopelessly arrogant in the beginning. I mean calling Lizzie "tolerable" has incensed generations of sympathetically-slighted women. But he did rally and became infinitely fabulous. Did I mention that already? Maybe I did..
Anyway, I know many women (yes, some even happily married) who would probably kill for one of these bags.
Mine's on order.

Monday, 21 January 2013

To Do List: 2013

I wrote last year about how I'm not in to new year's resolutions, and I'm not, truly. However, I do start each year with a vague idea about some of the things I'd like to attempt/undertake/achieve/complete in the upcoming twelve months. So I thought I'd put this year's airy fairy ruminations in to a post, just to you know, capture it as a permanent record of my intentions. Who knows, maybe I'll even succeed in one some!
  • Learn to use my NEW SEWING MACHINE! (Thank you Mum! This was a great Christmas gift, and I'm sorry if I ever said or inferred that you were not a good gift giver, because after Dec 2012, that is like totally untrue.)

Ellie is wearing an outfit Mum helped me sew from an easy peasy pattern.
My hopes of replicating this project on my own are not high, and I've already watched the Singer DVD about 3x!

  • Enter at least THREE short story competitions, not with any expectation of winning mind you. I just need a few deadlines in my life to increase my blood pressure levels. Low blood pressure is a constant worry of mine..
  • Get new bookshelves for the girls room and paint them in pinks to match their room.
  • Make something seriously crafty so that I can sell it on Etsy. (Do you need more than one item to open an etsy shop?)
  • Re-read the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis; Harry Potter (all of them) by J.K. Rowling; and re-watch all of the Lord of the Rings movies (sorry J.R. Tolkien. I know my limitations.)
  • Paint a decent picture and hang it on a wall in our home.
  • Get brave enough to hang a collage of pictures in our TV room. Here's my inspiration (thank you pinterest):

Country Living UK via Pinterest
  • Sew new curtains for the cubby house that the kids will be proud of.
  • With Martha Stewart as my guide, sort out the Tupperware cupboard, once and for all!
  • Teach the children to read music and learn some basic piano (well maybe ONE of the kids, more than one might be pushing it..).
  • Master a new form of technology/social media (no I can't be more specific).
  • Grow some stuff in the garden - the possibilities are endless here, and now that I've opened this Pandora's box, I'm far too tired to look at what's inside!

My Christmas petunias miraculously didn't die on the 45degree day we had last week.
The hydrangea bushes were pretty fried though.
  • Take Arch to the park once a week (maybe more than once, but I'm trying to be realistic here) and not spend the entire time wishing I was somewhere else.
  • Attempt the 15 minute workout several times each week, that I saw on the Real Simple program on cable in Dec 2011. Yes, it's taken me a full 12 months to reach that resolution. I feel better already.
  • Finally finish my Christmas bunting (started in 2012 and now aiming for display in Dec 2013 - yeah!)
I could go on, heck I feel like I'm just warming up. However today's resolution was to pack up the Christmas tree, and as the box is still buried somewhere under the house and only half the decorations have come down, I'd better move on.
So many goals, so little time.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Hot and happy days

We left the Christmas detritus behind, hoping it would magically be cleaned up while we were away (that didn't happen by the way), and headed down south. Our annual pilgrimage to the coast is located near to where I grew up and to where Jonathan holidayed as a child. We mix happy memories of the past in with new made memories of us, our children, and our friends loving life, our surroundings and (most of the time) each other. Returning to the familiar sights and sounds of the sea crashing in our ears, and basking under big blue skies and sparkling sunshine made us relish every day.

"We have so many happy memories here Mum!" Eleanore exclaimed on our first day. That raised my happiness levels most of all!
This was Arch's first year at the beach when the surf and sand became his natural playground. He loved it.
Mim's an old hand at the beach - she fitted right back in, no worries.
Peas in a pod.
Arch comes from a long line of beachcombers, I think he'll be one too.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

freshening up

Sometimes the new year brings about the urge to freshen things up. No I'm not talking about re-decorating.
That would be SERIOUS, and require planning, a colour scheme, mood boards and worst of all, a budget! So time consuming! So 2012.
I'm talking about when you come home from having a not-particularly great day, flop on the bed and suddenly think: "I hate this quilt", or "This room depresses me". Do not despair, new years' decorating (sorry, I mean freshening up) ideas are here!

Quick ways to freshen the look of your bedroom (when budget is tight, as in, there really isn't one):

1. Use the sales as a chance to branch out and buy a new quilt cover. I look on the 'throw out tables' for bed linen that is massively reduced. While vibrant colours and wild patterns can be dazzling - even me, a colour enthusiast, can admit that neutrals/white is often best. But if a wild design is 85% off, then maybe it's worth a try - you won't have wasted much money if in six months you realise the fabric would look much better chopped up and used as a decorative budgie cage cover..

Or if the wallet is tight, visit op shops and fabric stores for remnants.  A new throw/blanket/panel of great fabric folded over the end of your bed can be a great way of introducing new colours and textures.

etsy, via

2. Get a lamp. Lighting can make all the difference in changing a gloomy bedroom or one that resembles a laboratory (if your overhead light is harsh or glaring) to a space that is relaxing, cosy and inviting. I see heaps of lamps in op shops - if the base is good, ditch the shade and look for a new one in the colour you want at a KMart, Target or fabric store. If you don't have the space or $ for a lamp, try re-using your christmas fairy lights. Drape them around a mirror or picture - it won't be enough light to read by, but it will give your room a warm, romantic look that can lift any mood.
Or here's another great idea - suspending lanterns (maybe left over from your Christmas decorating, or on sale post-Christmas) to be lit with candles or tea-lights when the mood takes you. via
3. Painting your existing furniture can also change your room's look without adding extra expense. You usually will only need to pay for a sample pot of paint - and you can use a favourite colour you wouldn't be brave enough to put on the walls!

Just a few ideas to start you off.
Do let me know how you go!