Wednesday, April 30, 2014

it's never too late to start gardening (and a spot of puppy love)

They seem like a nice bunch of folk at Mum and Dad's village. My noisy little family and I invade them on a regular basis, swimming in the pools, taking over the gym and making hot chocolates from their machine. On one occasion when I felt compelled to apologise for the noise level to one elderly couple at the pool, she said "I don't mind at all, dear. And he (with a nudge to her husband's arm) is completely deaf. So it's not bothering him" 
Just lovely....

There's always something going on there too. From yoga to lawn bowls, concerts to Happy Hour, this place is a bustling hive of activity. But it's their newest venture that's got my interest piqued. Someone's managed to take a piece unused land and turn it into a raised vegetable garden.

My mum's taken on half a bed. She's starting small, with some tomatoes, lettuces and herbs. I think this is a great starting point. From someone who said a few months ago to me "what do you use use herbs on?".....(ummm...everything!!), this is a move in the right direction! My mum's always been a gardener of the flower variety. She definitely influenced me with my love of gardening; I've gone in a different direction; favouring edible plants. Maybe I can influence her right back...

I like the way this garden looks at this early stage. Someone's indulged a creative child-like whim; a scarecrow graces the plot, adding colour and humour. Some have planted seedlings, others have started from seed. Some have planted neatly in rows, some have gone for trellised climbing plants, others have started with jiffy pots. Some beds are mulched and some aren't.

The garden is completely organic. Signs ask residents not to use pesticides or sprays. Which is all good in my book. 

I can't wait to see how it turns out.

Oh, and a few photos of puppy love from a visit to the RSPCA on Sunday. My lucky crew got to sit in with a litter of 3 week old staffy pups. Oh, the joy...

(apologies for the quality of the photos. The light is dim and the puppies are quick.)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

stills: holidays

 1.  hardy seaside plants.

 2.  my two...

 3.  holiday ear piercing (and a smattering of freckles).

 4.  softies for friends.

 5.  rock pools with family.

 6.  lettuce babies gifted from a friend.

 7.  another present from another friend..lucky me.

 8.  making anzacs...

 9.  just out of the oven...

10. tea and biscuits...delicious.

11. a "homework book" for me, courtesy of Ruby. Full of word searches and other creative tasks.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Mum and Ruby: playing Hang Man.

Dad and Stella: card tricks and Patience

I had one of the loveliest nights last night with my parents and my girls.

In order to explain, I have to detail a little bit about my past. Bear with me :-)

When I was seven,  my parents emigrated to Australia from England. For various reasons, and with everything weighed up, we arrived in Queensland in the late 1970's.  Which for me and my sisters at the time, seemed like a very exciting and adventurous thing. And I think for us, as kids, it was a great move. We had a childhood of freedom and oudoorsy-ness, we grew up in a wonderful place with a fantastic climate, a house with a pool and lots of neighbourhood friends. Idyllic, you could say.

We had Mum and Dad, and close friends who felt like family. So although we had grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins back in England, we saw them only a handful of times. It felt like we had everyone and everything we needed right here. Love and laughter and support and happiness. To us, it was normal. I guess that's just how kids feel.

My parents retained good bonds with family overseas, and as children we travelled several times to England to catch up. As adults my sisters and I have all worked in England, re-forging family ties. My parents still travel frequently and of course, with social media it's so easy these days to stay in touch with family...but I'm straying off the topic here...

Now that I'm all grown up, now I have children of my own with PK, and now that I have extended family, my girls are growing up surrounded by close family. I have my parents close by. My sisters both have lovely husbands and five children between them. PK's from a large family with parents, brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces, nephews and even a great-nephew now. Together we've got family ranging from eighty-five years of age down to five months. My girls have two amazing older cousins in their twenties and eight cousins in their age bracket. We see a lot of them on a regular basis and most of them numerous times a year.

And it's so...what? How to explain this feeling with words? Lovely, rewarding, amazing, fun, delicious, emotional and just so incredible and satisfying. I could go on but you get the picture. These are people I love and trust. They're also funny, ridiculous, hilarious, frustrating and sometimes downright annoying, but...they're my tribe.

So, last night, my parents came to dinner. It's been a few weeks; holidays and Easter has been busy. My Dad came armed with some new magic tricks; the girls were sucked in straightaway. They love that kind of stuff. After wowing them with his sleight of hand, he let them in on his secrets. My mum was drawn into Hang Man with Ruby. This is always a bit hit-and-miss if she doesn't get the spelling right! In the whole evening there was just this: family, fun, food and wine, laughter and new skills, bonding.

I guess you don't miss it when you don't have it, but when you do have it, you just realise what a blessing family is.

There are so many pictures I could put on this post. Pictures of cousins at the beach, of down-time on couches; in various pools and gardens and homes and on holidays. Of grandparents and babies. Of sisters and brothers. But you'll see all these pictures throughout my blog. Pictures of family.


For better or worse, for laughter or sorrow.  
For love and for always.

Friday, April 18, 2014

vintage recipe swap

So I signed up for this fantastic swap, knowing the deadline was my daughter's birthday and also the last week of term. 


Well, I was a few days late with my swap, but luckily so was my lovely swap partner, Zara

I had received some gifts from Zara in the past, so I really wanted to put together a nice parcel for her. In the end I made a kitchen plastic bag stuffer from a vintage sheet. My sister made me one years ago from an old tea towel and it's still in daily use. I put in some other small things and two favourite recipes. I completely forgot to photograph anything before I sent it, so there you go.

These are the beautiful items I received from Zara. Such a lovely collection and so many things. 

A vintage tea towel, a beautiful card and some washi tape. Tea towels are Zara's thing; if you check out the link above you will see a gorgeous tea towel cushion cover I received from her birthday giveaway.

Two aprons (divine) and some fish moulds....

A couple of simple delicious looking recipes; I can't wait to try them out...

(I'm thinking maybe skirts for my girls...?)

Thank you Zara, for all these lovely things. You always take such care and put so much love into your parcels. I feel very lucky to have had you as my partner.

And thanks to Taz, for the organisation and execution. This swap idea is quite new to me; this is my second such swap. I really like the way a swap encourages you to look closely at your partner's blog; to find out what they like and what they do. It feels great to put together a gift and also really nice to receive one back!

  This is the next one I've signed up for, with Lisa

Check it out here...

Have a lovely Easter, everyone.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

awesome camping

It's been a long while since we took any time off work to go away. I must admit feelings of restlessness and tedium had been plaguing me in the first term of this year. 

That morning routine was getting to me. That 6.30 alarm. Every. Single. Day. 

A cup of tea to get me going. Feed and clean the pets. Breakfast. Lunch boxes. Hair, teeth, uniforms. Schoolbags packed. Shoelaces tied. You know the drill...

Last time we went camping was three years ago. On our way back home from Tasmania. It was definitely time to dust off the tent and rediscover the great outdoors.

I wanted somewhere quiet. Somewhere grassy where we could set up an afternoon blanket in the shade; crafting and reading were high on the agenda. Somewhere on the bend of a river. Somewhere we could swim, where the kids could run and play and climb on rocks , with perhaps a walk or two, and maybe a little shop so we could get an ice cream. Somewhere beautiful, peaceful and lovely.


This is Red Rock, NSW. 

We booked it through the recommendation of a friend, and then hoped for good weather. 

We drove through a deluge on the way; not a promising start, but by the time we arrived, the sun was shining weakly through the clouds, giving us a chance to set up. For the first day and a half, a stonking south-easterly wind blew straight through our campsite, flattening Stella's new tent and driving us more than a little crazy. 

But on day three the winds eased, the clouds drifted away and we got the most perfect weather. Divine. Everything I could have hoped for, and more.

The camping ground was perfect. The facilities were sparkling clean and user friendly.  A basic camp kitchen made those small daily tasks easier. The kids roamed free, exploring and swimming and crafting and fossiking. Day trips resulted in a haul of books; a sighting of wild horses and a chance to explore some deserted coastline.

It was a opportunity to break with routine and prioritise family.

And I think we made the most of it.

I'm ready for the craziness of Easter visitors and chocolate invasion.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


our baby turned eight this week.

there was a cake for her class...

lots of presents. 
The much anticipated magnetic whiteboard for her teaching, books, 
games and a handmade dress, a soft toy, a jigsaw card...

and a small family cake to round off the day.

I know most people say gosh, eight, where did the time go? But for me, I feel like Ruby has been with us forever. Our days and weeks and years have been filled with the sound of her chatter and laughter and just general hubbub. 
Boy, this one can talk. She is here and she will be heard. 
She fills us with joy and love and hope and yes, sometimes frustration. Her personality is big, she loves with all her heart and she knows her rights.
my baby. 
But as she constantly tells me, she's not a baby any more. And as I look over these photos, I can see she's right. 

(But she'll always be my baby)

Happy birthday, darling girl xxx