Friday, 28 December 2012


Much underrated, I've been loving masses of agapanthus on display in our new home.  Their contrast against the crisp white of our walls is just amazing.  It's been lovely to get my good vases out - made by Joe when he was still potting in Ireland - and have enough room to place them all around the house.
Even just lying on the benchtop, waiting to be arranged into the vases, the aggies look divine.  They would have made a stunning bouquet for a wedding!
And here, on the sideboard, with the beautiful shades in the pottery glaze - superb!  Not to mention the gorgeous bunny cameo which was a present from my sister - clever clogs!  We love it so much, the whole family has requested one each for a portrait wall!  I wonder who will be which animal?!  It will take the whole year to find out, as Kate works through each person's birthdays...

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

modern girl

Ever since she was a little girl, Sophie's been folding paper in half and making her own laptops!  They started with just squiggles on one side and a roughly drawn square - the screen - on the other.  Now they've graduated to having the actual alphabet on the keyboard - albeit in alphabetical order.  It would come as no surprise to hear that she's requested a laptop from Santa - and even less as a surprise that Santa is himself suffering budget cuts this year.  This paper laptop is the closest Sophie will get to owning a computer for quite some time!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

cheeky girl...

'I know I shouldn't really be up here, but now you have a bedroom door that closes, I don't have anywhere else to go...'

For the past year, Minnie has been sneaking off and napping in our bedroom - more specifically, in the bed!  The door handle didn't work properly, so there was no way of keeping her out.  She's feeling thwarted by our new bedroom door - one that actually closes!  She's seeking out new places to hang out during the day, but honestly, the couch isn't going to be one of them!

Monday, 17 December 2012

glittery things

Our tree is covered in the most divine glitter ball inspired baubles.  I spied some in a friend's house last week and she told me she'd found them at the local op shop.  They must have had a supply donated to them, as there were plenty left when I raided the stash a couple of days later.  At 50c for a bag of 6, I didn't hold back - luckily the Chrisfast rules (ie no spending!) didn't have to apply at that price!
We have the most amazing light coming in to the kitchen/living room in the evening.  We purposely chose to have this large room on the western side so we could get that late golden glow and watch the sun go down through the trees.  I enjoy the bedrooms having the light in the morning and it seems appropriate that we follow the arc of the sun as we move through the day.
Beautiful de-stamened lillies - I'm not keen on getting yellow marks on my new rug or crisp white walls!  There are little marks beginning to appear around the house - particularly smeary two year old hand type sizes decorating the windows and sliding door.  Jono's keen for us to achieve that lived in look as soon as possible!

And lest I get away with myself, revelling in my new 'houseness', we have a sickie home today from school.  Something to keep me in check and remind me of the day-to-day normalities!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

settling in

The boxes are being slowly being emptied and we are finding homes for everything.  It is amazing to go from a house without any storage to one with built in robes in the kids' rooms and a walk in robe in ours...  not that I want to encourage having too much stuff though!  Our new home offers us all space and it's wonderful!  The kids flit in and out of their rooms, enjoying having their own places to hang out, then radiate back in to the living room where a woollen rug acts as a communal play space.  This image was captured yesterday - an exhausted daddy catching 40 winks, whilst two very tired children soaked in some screen time.  Jono was meanwhile pretending to nap in his room...

We are all looking forward to catching up on our sleep, settling in and starting to live this new life in the 33rd house - our very first home.  

More snippets to come!

Saturday, 15 December 2012


There have been two birthdays here in as many days - first mum and then me, her birthday present 39 years ago!  I ended up baking mum cupcakes instead of a cake - the perils of having a new oven and not much time...  I had to turn it up to its highest setting and let it bake off any odours for half an hour, then let it cool completely before using it again...  so cupcakes it was!  They cooled down in the freezer so I could ice them and serve them for afternoon tea when the kids came home from school.

It's my own birthday today and a much more low key affair!  We have had a relatively quiet day after all the excitement of moving and Joe and I have fallen in a heap.  I am deliriously tired and can't wait til bed time.  I will post some pics of the new house tomorrow - we're having to use prepaid internet until our phone is sorted out and the internet is exceptionally slow...

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

room reveal - and the big move!

If you ever hear me saying I'd like to go on 'The Block', please stop me!  Home renovations just aren't much fun.  And without a whole swag of people helping you in the background, it's near impossible to get anything done.  We've been working hard trying to get our rental ready, whilst at the same time doing what we need to move in to the 33rd house.  This is not recommended at all, so you won't find me advocating for taking on multiple projects at once.  Any one of the many things we've been doing this year would have been enough and we look forward to some much needed R&R in 2013.
Our rental was quite the ugly duckling when we took possession, however we could see the bones were there for a beautiful country style cottage.  Our efforts are starting to pay off - as you can see by the results in the top photo.  This 'before' image shows you how we had our work cut out for us.  It's been a huge team effort including Joe, the kids and I.  We've also roped in extras including nana, pa and a very willing and able nephew, not to forget our skilled tradies who are doing the professional work.
There are just a few finishing touches now in the living room - wooden beading around the tiles in the fireplace, then windows and blinds to be cleaned.  We are still painting, having been held up due to Joe being held up helping to build decking at the new house.  I must say that I really need to learn how to slow down and allow for hold ups - anyone going in to a major project needs to factor in more time.  No matter how long you think you have, it's impossible to juggle commitments and expect everything to happen on schedule.
Thankfully this peak period is coming to a close.  Tomorrow is moving day.  I can't believe that after all this time, we will be finally moving in to our first home.  It is just so unbelievably exciting and something I had started to believe would never happen.  It has been such hard work and Joe are I can't wait to have our family nestled under our very own roof.  All is a flutter here, with boxes everywhere and two very excited children who no doubt will take hours to settle down and go to sleep, then Jono who, at nearly 2, is too young to understand.  He just knows there are heaps of things to play with and this really cool stuff on boxes that makes a great noise when you pull it off...  (sticky tape!).  Then there are the parents who are exhausted, running on adrenalin and starting to lose the plot.  Plus the afore mentioned nephew who is helping to keep it all together!

I don't know when I will next have internet, so I will see you around!

Until next time!

Monday, 10 December 2012

hydrangea season

Of all the flowers to be associated with, hydrangeas would be right up there!  I had a lovely message from a friend today who said she was thinking of me and my pending birthday as her hydrangeas are flowering.  We used to live just down the road from each other (houses 29 and 30!) and each year for my birthday, I would be presented with a beautiful bunch of hydrangeas from her garden.  They are definitely on the garden list for the 33rd house and I'm particularly keen to try a climbing hydrangea - don't know how they will go, but we have room to try...

(So relieved it's hydrangeas that flower around my birthday and not stinking corpse lily or giant birthwort - thanks google, I just searched for 'ugly flowers'!)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

the great christmas decoration mystery of 2012

I've been packing boxes over the past couple of days and there's been a distinct lack of Christmas decorations in the sideboards I've emptied.  All this time, I've been confident that they were in a particular couple of drawers, ready to be packed in the car.  I would then take them straight to the new house, thus satisfying the needs of our expectant children who see decorations going up around town and wonder why ours is the last house to 'get Christmas'.  Now, they may have to wait slightly longer...

Are they in the garage?  The trunk in our bedroom?  Or did they go to nana and pa's shed when I sent boxes down there?  (A misguided attempt to be slightly minimalistic until we moved into the new house.  It didn't work of course - the stuff in our house has bred since then and we have things coming out of our ears - despite the attempts at culling and sending things to the op shop... help!)

Anyway, I'll puzzle over this for the rest of the day - hopefully they will turn up or I'll be searching the shed this evening when we go to pick up the kids.

Oh and ps. Hi mum!  This only took a few minutes, I swear!  Hope the kids are going well and behaving for you!!!  Love you xoxoxo.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

dancing girl

In our old house, when Sophie's room needed brightening up, I turned to a very simple fix.  I enlarged a photo her on the computer, then printed it out and traced it on to different coloured A4 paper.  I glued the dancing girls on to stretched canvas at regular intervals, giving the illusion of motion.  It was a very effective, but cheap (!) way of bringing colour in to her bedroom.  The original photo was of Sophie showing her grandparents how she can do Irish dancing - no lessons, just learning from daddy!  I think she's a natural!

I'm hoping for a small window of time during the last week of term, so I can make a few quick and easy projects for the kids' bedrooms - any suggestions?

Friday, 7 December 2012

in silhouette

Sophie took Jono's hand and raced off into the shade.  I clicked the camera on and started shooting, hoping to catch them before they ran back out in to the light.  They look like little pop up characters, so perfectly defined, both trying to go in opposite directions.  I love seeing images in silhouette.  When we were younger, mum had a cousin who drew our faces in silhouette.  It involved a slightly complicated set up - we had to sit behind a glass sliding door, with a light shining on us, whilst on the other would be a piece of paper, on which the image was drawn.  We thought it was just magic!  It was the highlight of our visits and I can remember that feeling of just wanting it to be me, please draw me, please!

PS. Jono's adopted very 'shouldery' walking lately - you know that stage toddlers get to, when they keep trying to shrug off your attempts to hold their hand?  It's just hilarious watching him trying to streak off down the street away from me - thankfully he hasn't managed to gather much speed yet, but it's clear I need to get in to training!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

lucy, lucy quite contrary...

how will your garden grow?!  This is the question I've contemplated over the past 11 years, almost as regularly as having our own home!  I was sorting out some paperwork last night and came across my garden lists (note, plural!), including: sunflowers, poppies, lily of the valley, flannel flowers, tuberose, hippeastrums...  
 ... portulaca, jasmine, peonies, gardenias, roses, panicle hydrangea, liriope, clivias, sweet peas, sedum, may bush, coneflowers...
 ... valerian, buddliea, forsythia, philadelphus, hellebores, cosmos, freesias, salvias, nigella, primulas, bluebells...

... and more!  There'll obviously be much trial and error, but it's lovely to think of it all and I can't wait to start the garden.  We have a bob cat and excavator working there today, spreading and levelling top soil, plus clearing the fenceline on both sides, ready for a new fence.  We're hoping the fence will go up before Christmas, but it mightn't happen 'til February!  Argh!  That will be a fun summer holidays with three kids and nearly 50m of open space to each side of them... We'll have to rig up something temporary until then.  Fingers crossed for the Christmas miracle and the fencing crew getting to us sooner!

In anticipation of the garden being levelled off by the end of the day, I've bought some grass seed, hoses and a sprinkler!  All very exciting stuff!  Joe will broadcast the seed and be able to start watering tonight.  It's not ideal to try and establish a lawn at this time of year, however we'll be living in a dust bowl otherwise.  We need to hold our precious topsoil down so it doesn't blow away.

What are your garden favourites?  Have you any suggestions for the garden of the 33rd house?!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

sophie's newspaper christmas angel

The Christmas decorations are still in their boxes.  I hadn't planned on taking them out until the 12th anyway, so they can wait until we move.  In the meantime, Sophie's had a go at making her own - with a little help from me!  This cute angel was fashioned from newspaper and sticky tape.  We saw something (slightly?  marginally?!) similar in a homewares catalogue.  Soph made her a baby too, but it's lost somewhere in the detritus of her doll's cradle...  no doubt to reappear during the move.

Until then, this rather open-armed friendly character will remain our sole Christmas decoration - I wonder whether she realises the Easter Bunny is just behind her, ready to pounce?!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

in just three weeks...

... it will be Christmas day!  By that time, my family should have arrived from various points around the southern hemisphere, our own version of planes, trains and automobiles.  It will be the first time in ages that so many of us have been in one place and I just can't wait.  We've actually been lucky this year and had a couple of visits from those that live furthest away, but we haven't seen everybody!

About four years ago, I discovered the children's book 'The Relatives Came', written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Stephen Gammell.  It describes 'the summer of the year when the relatives came' and  I honestly can't read it without crying.  It reminds me so much of my family spread all over the place and the joy which we take from their visits.

Here are a few snippets to set you off too!

'Then it was hugging time.  Talk about hugging!  Those relatives just passed us all around their car... they hugged us for hours... You'd have to go through at least four different hugs to get from the kitchen to the front room.  Those relatives!'

'We were so busy hugging and eating and breathing together.'

'And when they were finally home in Virginia, they crawled into their silent, soft beds and dreamed about the next summer.'

Tissues, anyone?!

Monday, 3 December 2012

let me in!

Only two more weeks Jono!  Time is really ticking now, with less than a fortnight to go until the big truck arrives.  There's a faint current of panic rippling through me as I think of everything that needs to be done.  A constant 'to do' list in my mind and a longing for three weeks' time.  By then, we will be in the new house (touch wood!) and settling in to our new lives.

Until then, I'm checking things off...

Blog, check!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

succulent christmas wreath

I frantically finished my succulent Christmas wreath yesterday morning, for our homemade Kris Kringle gifts.  A now annual tradition of sharing homegrown, homemade or home baked gifts with lovely friends we have made.  I started my wreath using grapevine from the shed here at our rental.  Once it was thick enough, I twisted aptenia around it and added its flowers at regular intervals.
Mum has aptenia growing along a wall in her garden.  We've had an amazing amount grow from a small cutting I took home.  It's obviously very happy in part shade - it only gets a small blast of afternoon sun where I have it potted and it's gone mad this year.  I also have some growing in a wheelbarrow in full sun and it's done well, but interestingly the leaves are a lighter green.
I have no idea how long the wreath will last - it might just be a piece of ephemera - however I think if it's misted with water, that should keep it going for a while.  I love it against the red background of Sophie's chair - makes me think one will be perfect on our new front door.
And wreath making?  Honestly, easier than you think!  I haven't made one before, mistakenly thinking it too hard.  You just twist the grapevine around and around, poke it amongst itself to hold fast and fill gaps as you go...  too easy!  If I can do it, so can you!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

the chrisfast season

This year, money's tight in the lead up to Christmas.  No different to usual... except for the gallons of money that are leaking out of our account.  They're being spent on exciting things such as spreading top soil around our house and putting fences up to contain our wild beasts from the neighbourhood.  We've forewarned the kids that they'll be receiving one present each from us and then whatever Santa brings - and I've heard his budget is even tighter than ours!

Which all means we're on a Christmas fast - not fasting from Christmas, per se, but the big Christmas splurge.  And my birthday, right in the middle of it all, is far from exempt.  A couple of days ago, Sophie sidled up to me and said she knew what she was getting me for Christmas.  Curious - and not one for surprises - I pressed for more information.

"A new house!" she said, delighted with herself.

It seems the Chrisfast message is getting through!  We will take our presents where find them - in the building of a new house, in the new garden hoses necessary to keep our plants alive and water the remaining dust bowl, in the removalist coming to carry our possessions to the 33rd house.

All are gifts in a different form, but just as welcome - if not more - this year as any other.

Merry Chrisfast everyone!

Friday, 30 November 2012

the summer rules

When you bring your Irish husband to Australia to live and he ends up working as a gardener and endures 40 degree days, you must never, ever complain about the heat.  Especially when you are able to sit inside under an air conditioner whilst he is in the garden at work, sweltering under our hot antipodean skies.  It was a horror of a day yesterday (just between you and me) and it's only the end of November.

Summer, I love you, but really?  This hot, this early?

And technically, it's still only spring!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

midweek snapshots

On the line...  because Tom thinks there's no place for floral doona covers in his new bedroom (not so easy to explain when you're not sharing a room with your sister anymore).
The last roses in the garden... they will bloom again, but next time it will be for new tenants.
Making...  a grapevine wreath for a Christmas lunch with friends this Saturday.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

from the desk of sophie - meet colin

The AFL (Australian Football League) is big news around this house - with the menfolk anyway!  Sophie's only interest is through the acquisition of footy cards, the number of which determines who has the most bragging rights.  Tom's on a winner there, with a collection spanning the past few years (peaking at birthdays, if that counts).  He's mad on re-drawing the footy cards, which involves copying a small playing card size picture and expanding it to A4.  But of course, when he does something, Sophie soon follows.  This is Colin Sylvia, who I'm sure will be delighted to have been immortalised by my daughter.

IN other news...

* Boxes packed - 3 large, 2 small

* Hedges clipped - 1

* Roses deadheaded - can't count!

* Garden beds weeded - 3

* Worn out, tired and exhausted people - 2 large, 3 small

2013, you can't get here soon enough!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

garden favourites: wintersweet - on the list!

I could never fill in a top 10 of plant for the garden, because there would be too many to choose from.  Instead, over the years, I've made an ever growing list (pardon the pun!) of plants from magazines and books and gardens I've visited.  As it will be summer when we move in to the house, we won't jump straight in and plant out the whole garden.  Vegetables are a must, however, and I have seedlings in pots ready to move in to bigger beds.  There are also the potted plants I've referred to before.
In the meantime, I'm thinking, planning and dreaming of the garden in its entirety.  Wintersweet is a family favourite.  It's heavily fragranced and covered in stunning, waxy flowers during the winter.  There's a huge wintersweet tree in the front garden where we rent.  None of us could believe our luck and we spent the winter snipping off its branches and bringing it inside.  Mum went mad over it and I think she visited more during that time than any other!

Monday, 26 November 2012

the 33rd house... but our first home

Joe and I have had many attempts at owning our first home.  It all started in Ireland, where Joe's from and where we lived when we first got married.  Joe inherited a small block of land from his family and we set about designing our home.  We had plans drawn up and they were priced by local builders.  All of the quotes came in too high, so we changed tack.  We went to a firm who would handle both design and build us a small home.  By the time their quotes came in, the building prices had risen so high, we were back where we started - we just couldn't afford to build.
As a teenaged observer of the 1980s Wall St crash and the impact it had worldwide, I was reluctant to put all of our financial eggs in one basket.  If we couldn't build a house on one income, we wouldn't do it at all.  Buying was out of the question - the prices were even higher that way.  It was funny, because at the time everyone in Ireland was going crazy with their money.  We were told by people to put both our incomes on the mortgage application and borrow as much as we could.  Thank goodness we didn't - we all know how the story ends there!
We moved back to Australia in 2005, with barely enough money to get ourselves established.  We moved to regional Victoria.  Joe's from the country and didn't want to move to Melbourne.  We moved to a picturesque, hilly, windswept locale that was close to family and only a couple of hours from the city.  Again, we put all of our efforts in to finding a home of our own.  The houses nearby were out of reach for us on just one income.  We wanted to get a foot in the door, so to speak, so we bought a block of land.  We spent a few years paying it off and started making plans to build.
Just as we started getting quotes from local builders, Joe was made redundant.  It was a huge shock to us and - quite literally - jolted our foundations!  We couldn't believe that once again, we were so close...  yet so far away.  Luckily he found another job within days, but it put us back to square one.  We moved closer to a bigger town and lived on the farm where Joe worked as a gardener - our sole aim remaining, to own a home of our own.
A couple of years went by and the urge for home was getting stronger.  It was now clear we didn't want to return to the place where our block of land was located, so we put it on the market.  We started looking around our nearby town and found a sweet Californian bungalow for sale.  We knew we wouldn't be able to live in it straight away, so when we applied for the mortgage, we were able to add in our projected rental income.  This is what got us over the line.  Without the rental income, we still wouldn't be able to afford a home of our own.  Which brings us to the past 12 months...
Towards the end of last year, I said to Joe that I wanted to be living in my own home by the time I was 40.  From there, things moved very fast.  We started looking at other houses.  We loved the bungalow we'd bought, but felt the garden was too small for vege gardens and fruit trees and footballs and soccer balls and netballs and swings and cubbies and parties...  I drove around the town looking, searching.  One day I came across a vacant block of land with a for sale sign... and that was it!  The planets aligned and Joe found a new job which enabled us to finally make our dream come true.
As luck would have it, we will be moving in to our new home the day before I turn 39!  It seems so quick, but in other ways, it's been a very long journey.  We first looked at building over 10 years ago and here we are now after all those false starts.  When I was younger, I never questioned that I'd own a home one day.  As such, I lived for the moment and spent money like it was going out of fashion.  We have had some very hard financial lessons, but I'd like to think we know the secret - live within your means and the rest will follow.  Oh - and living in the country helps, with cheaper land and housing.  We mightn't become millionaires, but we will have our own home.

And once you have your family and have your home, what more could you possibly want?!

(Gratuitous shots of the 33rd house included - the interior ones taken through the window, as it's all locked up!)

Sunday, 25 November 2012

moving on

Can you see it in the background in all its cardboardy glory?  The packing box, my friends.  You're going to see a lot more of them around here in the next few weeks.  Whilst I'm not keen on tripping over boxes, it might actually help keep the house clean.  That's the theory anyway!

When was the last time you moved?  What are your tips for packing?

Saturday, 24 November 2012

just call me spike

On the way home tonight we saw this little creature shuffling across the road.  I jumped out with the camera, trying to get pics of the echidna before it tried to hide.  Unfortunately I didn't get its face close up - that would be the few shots of dry grass I snapped while I raced from the car.  Look at those spikes though!  And see how washed out and brown the grass is already - this time last year, it was still green in November.  

We haven't had rain for about 6 weeks - it's going to be a long, hot summer.

saved by the stake!

In the spring, I gazed up at its blossom, wondering whether we'd be gorging on apricot jam this summer.  The tree's so close to our boundary, I've been worried a new fence would mean its demise.  This week, a stake has gone up and marked the apricots as safe.  Our lifetime supply of apricots is ensured!
Yesterday I inspected the fruit, mentally calculating pots of jam!  We'll have to try and net or bag the fruit as there will be a lot of competition from the local bird life.  It's so exciting to think we have our very own apricot tree.  There's also a fig, mandarin and orange - a great start!

Jam, anyone?!

Friday, 23 November 2012

too much on your plate?!

It's such a ridiculous time of year to be moving.  My to-do list keeps growing and I'm contemplating hiring a PA.  The simple truth, however, is nobody else can do these jobs.  They all need my careful attention and I have no choice but to work through them, one-by-one.

It's that awful realisation that no-one else is waiting in the wings, ready to take the reins.

It's growing up...

a space for making

At our last house, there was a chest of drawers in the kitchen.  Every morning, Sophie would search through them for something to make or do - from dotty paints to drawing, glue, paper, scissors.  It's something we haven't had room for here and her crafting sessions have had to be less spontaneous.  As much as I'm looking forward to having my own studio/office, I can't wait for the kids to have their own as well.  We have a large kitchen/living room in the new house and there's enough room for a dresser and desk for the kids to store all their crafting materials.

I look forward to more fabulous works like this!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

counting down

It's official - we have handover booked for Friday 14 December and the count down is on!  Even though the removalists won't come that day (we need to build a decking platform and steps at the front door, a few days' work), we'll load up with our beds and other necessities so we can camp in the new house until the rest of our things arrive.  Fingers crossed, this means I'll wake up on my 39th birthday in my very own home - what a present!

One of the things I'm most looking forward to is storage - we even have a walk in robe.  This is such a strange concept to me, I keep referring to it as a walk in pantry!