Thursday, 28 February 2013

the sophies - from photo, to print gocco, to machine embroidery

As well as a real, live, kicking and screaming Sophie, we have many other Sophies around the house, courtesy of my Print Gocco.  This is a home screen printing kit for smaller print runs.  I bought it a few years ago as eventually we'd like to produce transfers on it to put on to Joe's pots.  The pots, unfortunately, as still non-existent as we wait for a break in our budget to purchase a small electric kiln -  one day!  In the meantime, I've used the screens to print fabric for cushions, dinosaur softies... and Sophies!
This picture - a rare, still moment of my girl over four years ago - was traced over, then photocopied on to paper using a laser printer.  This contains carbon, which you need to produce the Print Gocco screen.
As you'll notice, this Sophie's pointing in the other direction to the original photo.  I must have had the screen upside down when I did this one!  Yesterday, to get the outline for my machine embroidery, I stuck this to the window...
...  then traced it on to a piece of recycled white linen (thanks for your old trousers mum!)...
... made an outline in black then slowly, but surely, worked the sewing machine to embroider the detail.  Much of this was done by winding the machine on by hand, as some of the details were so small.  I wondered whether it would have been quicker to just sew the whole thing by hand, but I've been wanting to do something like this on my sewing machine (Bernina Activa 220) for a long time.  I then sewed on the bias - very wonky, but lovingly handmade.

I stuck it up on Sophie's wall, but I don't consider it finished yet.  I would like to keep going with a cushion top perhaps, or something else.  I had to stop yesterday to do the school run (or walk, as we do!), so it was a swift tidy up.  It was such a lovely afternoon though - some self-imposed creativity to have a break from the list of 100 million things to do!

PS Walking in to Sophie's room this morning, I found this piece upside down - she knows it's not facing the right way, but hasn't worked out the image is reversed rather facing up rather than down...  I will have to explain it when she gets home!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

puzzles - thrifted, new, invented and age-old

How do you keep a two year old occupied when you're on the long road to organising your house?  Puzzles!  This gorgeous Dick Bruna nurse and sick infant was a thrifted find in a local op shop.  I couldn't believe my luck!
Another favourite - it has a lion on it too, the sight of which elicits scary roars from Jono, excited to help put it together.
And the invented type - old reels of cotton that he loves sorting into rows and putting on top of each other.
And the age-old puzzle is one of my own - the family budget!  Adding, taking away, projecting...  crystal ball anyone?!

PS I had to add that mum has painted an absolutely beautiful autumn scene this morning - amazing!  So delighted to see it and want to see more!!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

easy upside down cake

Upside down cake is one of those desserts that look complicated, but take minutes of preparation.  Since acquainting myself with my aunt's recipe, I've shared it with other time-strapped friends.  We're all flanked by children in moments when the clock's racing, the door bell's about to ring and we haven't had a chance to put something in the oven.  Now, today, I share it with you my bloggy friends - take the baton, so to speak, and share it amongst your own friends.  It won't let you down!

125g butter
220g sugar
150g flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar (extra) to sprinkle on bottom of cake tin
Uncooked, sliced fruit - try 1 large peach or 2 apples, 4 plums, 4 pineapple rings - whatever takes your fancy!*

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.  Grease and line a 20cm round tin with baking paper, then set aside.

Melt butter in bowl in microwave.  Stir in sugar, then add eggs and flour.  Mix to combine.

Sprinkle 1tbsp sugar around bottom of cake tin, then arrange fruit*.  Pour cake batter in to fruit-lined tin, then bake for 40 minutes, or until browned and coming away from the sides.

Cool for 5 minutes in tin, then tip on to a wire rack, or straight on to a plate if serving immediately.  The baking paper may stick to the fruit, in which case insert a knife in between the cake and the paper to peel it paper away.

This cake is delicious hot or cold and won't last longer than one sitting, as everyone will keep going back for just one more slither...

Try it out and let me know what you think!

*Actually, you could use stewed or tinned fruit.  Uncooked, though, is fine - and saves you time if you've nothing else on hand!
* This can be done delicately, or plonked somewhat, like I have in the above photo.  Try not to layer pieces of fruit on top of each other

Monday, 25 February 2013

a good cup of tea

I go from one end of the day to the other, cup of tea in hand.  I'm like the quintessential coffee drinker, needing it to be just so, however I rarely bother drinking it in cafes as it's always so bad!  It is baffling that something so easy is so hard...  yes, I know - first world problems!  But for me - as with many others - a good cup of tea punctuates a busy day, gives a comma during breakfast, a full-stop at lunch time, then marks the end of the day with a gratifying exclamation mark (Actually, there are other cups bracketed in between those times, depending on how the day's going!).  It has to be from a pot or it doesn't count.  And full strength milk, because skim just isn't the same.  Not that I'm fussy, really!

PS My favourite is Robur's Green Signal - what's yours?

Sunday, 24 February 2013

delicious anzac biscuits

Crunchy golden ANZAC biscuits are an Australian classic.  Easy to make, they're prominent amongst our family favourites - needless to say, you can never stop at just one.  Since I've had Jono and added a third child to the family, I have looked more and more to shortcuts in the kitchen.  I now melt my ingredients in the microwave, cutting down preparation time when I'm throwing together a batch last minute.  The Little Aussie Cookbook* - from which this recipe is taken - requires butter to be stirred over high heat until melted...  but who has the time?  It also recommends cooking in a slow 150 degree celsius oven, but again, that's no help when you're in a hurry.  I use a 180 degree c oven, however it does require extra vigilance in case they start to burn (and then you haven't saved yourself any time at all!).

ANZAC Biscuits (recipe from Family Circle's Little Aussie Cookbook, method by me!).
1 cup (150g) plain flour
1 cup (90g) rolled oats
3/4 cup (65g) dessicated coconut
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
125g butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons boiling water

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.  Grease or line two baking trays.

Melt butter in bowl in microwave.  Remove and add 2 tablespoons of boiling water, then use the same spoon to add 1 tablespoons golden syrup*.  Add bicarb of soda, then stir.  Add dry ingredients and stir well. 

Use teaspoons to transfer mixture to the trays.  You should get about five rows per tray, with four biscuits per row*. 

Cook for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes on trays until hard.  Transfer to wire rack and leave to cool completely...  if you can!

* I would add a link, but it seems to be out of print.  Instead, you'll have to look for a second-hand copy.

* The hot spoon will mean the syrup slides off, rather than sticks to, the spoon 

* I am so good at maths I can tell you that this will equal 40 biscuits per batch.  A bargain at half the price!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

the great lego diamond robbery

It seems like diamond robberies are rife at the moment!  Far away from the streets of Brussels, where according to news reports, $50 million worth of diamonds were stolen, another audacious robbery has occurred - this time, right under the nose of the local police station...  This brazen thief is making a run for it with a very rare green diamond.  It's a pity he's not looking where he's going as he's about to run straight in to a motorbike ridden by a fellow criminal, who is also fleeing the long arm of the law.

(Lego action courtesy of Tom who loves Lego and architecture.  He says it mixes together well, because when you want to be an architect and have Lego, you can design houses you want to make in the future.)

Friday, 22 February 2013

patchwork puzzle

Jono and I have spent the week in my office.  I've decided the only way to get the house organised is to move through it, room by room.  Tackling every single pile, instead of moving from the more difficult things to sort when I've had enough.  This has required constant ingenuity (self-ascribed!) on my behalf, trying to think of one activity after another.  He's been looking for puzzles this morning - he wanted one, he got one!  These patchwork pieces were part of a fabric collection gifted to me by my aunt.  She had concluded she was never going to make anything with them and I happily took receipt!
Even better, the animal collection soon joined in.  How did this cow know to reach for the green in the material, rather than the odd-tasting blue petals?
Instead of going after the cow, this dinosaur is heading straight for me...

Jono's calling me, needing me to draw Percy - I have lost count of how many trains I've drawn this week... and now train tracks.  I had forgotten how demanding two year olds could be!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

amateur archivist or hoarder?

My magazine collection has grown over the years as I've yearned for our own home.  I've gone through stages from the modernist homes of Dwell to homegrown classics in Country Style, Brit cool in Living Etc, bright and cheerful Real Living and 'when your heart is in the country', English Country Living.  Since moving in to the 33rd house, I've been able to arrange my magazines along the top row of my book shelf and have been amazed at how many there are - and I can't bear to throw any away.  I think of them as old friends and have to consider myself now as an amateur archivist, cataloguing trends of the 2000s, rather than a desperate hoarder who won't let things go.  How could I ever hand over those dog-eared pages, turned up at the corner with ideas to make or do?  Who else would appreciate the magazine covers styled just so?

And I'm not like the hoarders on TV, I promise!  In other areas of the home, I'm ruthless - and still have a lot to do.  But not the magazines, sorry, they're here to stay...

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

when being surrounded by things you love just isn't enough... a tale from the vault

Most of what we own has been thrifted, handed down or made by either ourselves or people we love.  These personal touches have made it easier living in other people's houses and helped make attractive even the ugliest and most unfortunate of homes.  The 29th house, for example, where maggots fell from the ceiling one night, or mice ran rampantly through the kitchen or the toilet sat on a sloping angle because the house needed re-stumping.  We rationalised that it was a roof over our heads, it was cheap (only $100 per week!) and it was a start for us when we arrived back from our disastrous few years living in Ireland as newlyweds.  And some weeks we didn't even have to pay rent if Joe checked the cattle and sheep or helped out in the shed during shearing.

It's slightly Monty Pythonesque looking back at that time - oooh when I were young - and I thank god we've moved the miles emotionally and physically to get to where we are now.  The night of the maggots certainly spurred us on to think that enough was enough and seek out our own place in the world.

Because sometimes, even being comforted by all things made with love can't quite remove the sheer horror of small, white wriggly critters landing in the sink when you're trying to wash the dishes...

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

organise / reorganise

You know you've nailed a kid's bedroom layout when they actually start playing in there!  We had a huge reshuffle over the weekend and moved everything around in Jono's room.  Inspired by that, we moved on to Sophie's room and then my office.  Instead of bringing out every single toy to the living room, the kids have had a ball setting up train tracks and the car mats - we even had train tracks running out in to the hallway!  Although there is still so much to sort out, we know we have the bones of the rooms sorted.  It's only taken two months...

And yes, my office is already proving a place for play - Jono's had the ninky nonk set up and has space to spread out with puzzles and to draw.  Just imagine how much room there will be when I have everything put away properly (I would post a photo but it's too scary!).

Sunday, 17 February 2013

the handmade bed

We picked up yet more boxes from mum's yesterday and I was delighted to find the rest of my fabric collection.  Included in the box was a beautiful white sheet decorated with large, hot pink flowers I'd found at the op shop years ago.  I bought it with patchwork in mind, but looking at it yesterday I couldn't bear to think of cutting it in to pieces.  The sheet is very much handmade, who knows by whom, but I thought of all the work that had gone in to it and just knew I couldn't repurpose it in to something else.  Instead, it seemed perfect for a little girl's bedroom - and I know just the girl!  Sophie's bed is now a glorious riot of colour - and nearly all handmade.

In a kind of spirally, clockwise direction from top left:

  • Thrifted floral pillowcase (this and the white sheet are the only machine made items on the bed)
  • Orange and pink stripe and patchwork cushion with Gocco printed grasses (me)
  • Pink Ken Done doona cover (mum - which was made for me when I was about 14!)
  • Strip sewn quilt (me)
  • Cream and pink crochet rug (unknown maker, bought by a family friend from a market)
  • Hand printed quilt with fruit trees and more (Kate - made as a present for Sophie)
  • Sleeping girl cushion (me)
  • Thrifted white sheet with hot pink flowers (unknown maker)

All so delicious it makes me want to curl up in there and have a nap!

See you later!

PS I had to edit this to add in a couple of things I forgot - that's what you get for listening to someone doing their school reading at the same time...  must not multi-task, it is very over-rated!

Friday, 15 February 2013

roode things!

Soph made herself a magazine yesterday, cutting pics from trashy mags that arrived in the house courtesy of the nana.  After sticking in her clippings, Soph went through writing little captions: 'Cool', 'Yum', 'Cuoute baby', 'Nice'.  This bikini clad starlet scored one better: 'Good and funny and roode!'  Tom and Soph enjoy everything roode - they often look up Poowong in the Vic Country Roads, have a giggle and imagine living in such a roodely named place.  When a fight broke out in the car last weekend, I knew I had to bring out the big guns to stop it...

I found the Melways and looked it up in the index.  There it was, in all its glory.

Boobyalla Street.

Yes, when I was Tom and Sophie's age, I too liked roode things.  It's great to see they've inherited something from me after all!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

establishing a lawn as a metaphor for life

As I pulled up weeds in our budding lawn this morning, I was struck with such a feeling of contentment.  There is so much to do out there in that garden of ours, but that's the thing - it's ours.  It nearly broke my heart to leave my last proper garden behind.  It wasn't much - only a couple of garden beds at the back of the 31st house, but ones that Joe and I had made together.  We'd taken cuttings up from mum's place, plus I had a couple of special irises I'd dug up at the 30th house.  I'd also planted russel lupins, zinnias, nasturtiums and stock, amongst others.  I walked away from that garden thinking I could always come back to retrieve what I wanted, but things have changed since then and I have just said goodbye to that space.

Here, now, in the first outdoor space of our own, I feel giddy bubbles of excitement.  It seems fitting that we are establishing our own house and garden at the same time as I feel we're starting to come in to our own.  I am now over 20 years out of school and finally feeling I am exactly where I want to be.  I'm not looking back wistfully at previous years or racing towards the future.  The only place I wanted to get to was here - being in my own house with my own family.  Of course there are a couple of other aspirations I have, but I feel I'm now in the right place to achieve them.

Which is where the title of this post comes in...

you will not get anywhere unless you plant some seeds
just relying on growth from grass already in the soil is not enough - you need to sow some seeds yourself - make your own luck

there will be weeds - sometimes you need to sacrifice a small amount of growth to get rid of them
don't be scared to get rid of weeds just because there is new growth nearby - the grass (ie the good stuff) has stronger roots and will survive the removal of unwanted weeds

water regularly and feed well
need I say more?!

when it reaches the right height, mow gently to allow the lawn to thicken
don't aim for continued and sustained growth - sometimes you need to let life and ideas develop more intensity rather than moving forward too fast

top dress annually and try to keep it level
as with the above point, reassess life annually and give attention where needed

be on the look out for dead patches
if it's not working, don't be afraid to start again!

There you go!  Something to ponder as you go about your day - it's certainly given me food for thought!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

out and about

Every morning this week, Jono and I have dropped the kids off at school, then taken off for a walk around town.  We live in regional Victoria in a beautiful country town transversed by two creeks.  I love taking off around the streets near where we live - many houses on lovely large blocks of land.  Beautiful lush gardens sport signs announcing the use of bore water instead of mains to keep their gardens alive.  Magnificent gums tower all around us - the two bottom images are on our lane, to the west and the east.  It's an unsealed road which does admittedly mean a lot of dust flies up, however we feel like we're off in our own little world here.  Jono and I even met an echidna on the way home the other day, but it ran into another garden by the time I retrieved my camera.  We've also seen rabbits, kookaburras, cockatoos and other bird life.  There's no time to miss living on farms, which we did for over seven years - we have all the wildlife we could possibly want living right on our door step - in town!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

daily battleground - the dinner table

As with his siblings at the same age, Jono's becoming increasingly difficult to feed at dinner time.  He's become adept at stocking up on food during the day, thus ensuring it doesn't matter where he eats dinner or not.  Lately we've had more of the 'not' and I've put my foot down.  No dinner means going straight to bed, no matter what the time!  Last night, this meant about 5.30pm, but he did actually settle down and go to sleep, so it wasn't too much of a drama.  And today, just now, he's eaten last night's dinner - not that he knows it...

I took the rejected pasta, veges and delicious salmon fillet then whizzed them up with an egg, some cheese, milk, polenta and self-raising flour and turned them in to mini omelettes.  My next trick was to sit the plate in front of me and pretend it was my own lunch.  Jono fell for it hook, line and sinker.  He claimed the plate by about the fifth mouthful and polished it off.

This round goes to mum!

Monday, 11 February 2013

sundays in the garden

 On Sundays after our tip run we've been getting in to the garden, working on some of the many projects to be done.  This mandarin tree has been looking very out of shape and sad, wanting a good deal of attention.  Joe dug up the grass from around its base and replanted that nearby, then fertilised and mulched the root base.  We thought the brick border would keep the grass from growing back too close.  We're all delighted with Joe's handiwork - Tom particularly so: "This is just the beginning!"  I would have to agree!
I also took a moment to hang my thrifted bird cage from the apricot tree.  It adds a bright flash of colour and would look cute lit up at night.  The chain is from a hanging pot plant - another tip find!  I am just loving putting our energies in to our own place.  It is soooooo satisfying and enlightening.  It was lovely yesterday - both Tom and Sophie were helping and really enjoying being part of the whole process.
Oh - and our trip to the tip revealed more of the Japanese saucers - they were in another box I hadn't looked in before.  It's funny that they were separated from the saucers I found, a lesson to really look properly next time!  We also found a couple of fold out canvas chairs for the kids and a small bike for Jono.  It was there last week, but I thought we could do without it...  and left it behind!  We do have a bike for Jono, but this one is even smaller again and will get him going earlier - hopefully!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

now that's what I call stonefruit season!

I had a phone call from a friend this week, wondering whether I'd like some peaches...  would I ever?!  Much to my delight, a huge box of even huger peaches landed on my doorstep early one morning, rescued from marauding cockatoos.  We honestly must have been given about 100 of these delicious, juicy fruits - considering that at the stage of this photo, there were still 72 left (counted by Tom and his mate in a task on estimating!) and I'd already made one batch of chutney and we'd all eaten loads.  I have more chutney on the go at the moment - ready to be bottled when I sign off - and sliced peaches in the fridge awaiting sugar syrup and being put in the freezer.

Oh - and if you've seen my preserving kit, please let me know!  I'm hoping it's at mum's, otherwise it's been lost in the move...

Saturday, 9 February 2013

more for the garden - beautiful albizia

I've been noticing the plants in people's gardens as I've walked through our neighbourhood, noticing what's growing well and adding plants to our list.  Something striking from these walks is the albizia (thanks mum for the id!) with it's beautiful almost dandelion-like flowers. 
I've looked at a few websites and it's still unclear what height it will grow to - some nurseries say 6m and others say 10m.  I will have to do some more research through gardening books.  Mum found one which said is was short-lived, which would be sad!  I did find that the flowers didn't last - this one was beautiful whilst freshly picked, but had died by the next morning...
For now, it's on the evergrowing (pardon the pun!) list of plants - wonder whether we'll have enough garden for everything?!  I hope so!

Friday, 8 February 2013

mood board - make it your own!

A few houses ago I had a mood board set up with inspirational images garnered from magazines or cards I'd been given.  As I've been unpacking the boxes in my office, I found a collection of photos I'd had printed, but hadn't put in frames.  It struck me that I had enough pictures there to make my own mood board - a reminder, if you like, of what I have done and can do.  I can now sit at my desk and look at this board, drifting away perhaps to other times or inspired to get out and do more with my camera, or put the pictures together with words, much like I do on this blog.

Have you ever made a mood board of your own?

Thursday, 7 February 2013

small harvest - corn

We grew corn this summer - only a few plants that we didn't pot on in time, so we've had somewhat stunted cobs.  I was delighted, then,  to find a ripened cob with enough corn on it for a snack!
Tom and I fought over the plate - Sophie didn't even try it, whilst Jono took a small bite and spat it out. Sacrilege I say!

Tom and I weren't concerned.  The small offering we had was barely enough for one person, let alone two or even four!  Hopefully we will harvest another few servings from the cobs that are still ripening.

Even though we haven't had much of a harvest, it was ours!  It's very satisfying to grow something yourselves and enjoy the fruits of your labour, so to speak.  One corn niblet at a time!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

the immaculate housewife - frazzled!

I've been working on a gorgeous needlepoint tapestry kit that Kate gave me, designed by New Zealand artist Jennifer Pudney.  I started it a few years ago, then put it away one day and it became lost until we moved into the 33rd house!  I think it had been squirreled away on top of the fridge, forgotten during those long days of early babyhood with Jono, then just simply out of my mind.  I was delighted when it resurfaced in a box of assortments a couple of weeks ago.  Jennifer's 'Immaculate Housewife' - as the kit is labelled - lies prone on the couch, vacuum in hand, wondering how are we meant to do... everything?!

In Jennifer's words:

Although her mother had never actually told her that the duty of a perfect wife was to keep a perfectly clean house, she felt compelled to do all that her mother had done, as well as the new things a girl was supposed to do in the nineties.


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

more tip love - salvaged japanese saucers

Sometimes you walk away from a great find, rationalising that even at the tip things need to be categorised in to wants versus needs.  After I left these saucers behind, I spent the next week thinking about them, envisaging them on my walls.  It was a long wait to return the following Sunday and I made a beeline for the box they had been in, hoping they would still be there.  Thankfully thrifted saucers from the tip aren't as popular as I had thought and I was able to scoop them up for purchase.
I haven't yet put them on the wall - in fact, now I quite like just being able to use them.  On the weekend, we had mum and MSF for dinner and served them up heart-shaped sushi on these sweet Japanese saucers.  I can hear the cogs of your brains working and wondering on the heart-shaped sushi, but that is a story for another day!
Whichever way you look at the saucers, they are lovely - the chips on the sides of the red Mikasa plate, the gold rim of a floral one, which hid underneath the others in the top image, or the smooth white edges of the Jankie saucers.  Such simple beauty, somehow so evocative.  Whatever it is, it reminds me that when I go to the tip and fork out between $5-10 for a bootload of goodies, I don't have to separate my wants from my needs.  At those prices, even I can have it all!

Monday, 4 February 2013

the tip is the new op shop

Most of the things I've been finding at the tip fascinate me.  The Japanese saucers I brought home last week (still to feature), bikes of all sizes (none for us, we already have enough), paintings and other household effects.  Apparently, when people have estates to clear, they sometimes just bring everything to the tip, rather than having to drop some stuff at the op shop, then trek out to the tip on a separate journey.  Some things, however, are unsurprising, but still shocking en masse - the rows and rows of televisions and outdated computer screens.  Such a terrible waste!  We talk carbon tax on one hand, then allow planned obsolescence by manufacturers, not making them responsible for the end product once it dies after a year or two of use.
We're trying to make treasure from other people's trash.  The rusted baking tin now a planter, filled with geranium cuttings.  Minnie's kennel, now cleaned and de-cobwebbed, the perfect place for our little dog to hang out and shelter from the sun.  She even has a car to play with!  I wonder why you would take a kennel to the tip?  Perhaps the dog had died, or its master.  Sure, it's faded, in the way plastic gets after being in the sun, but a quick spruce and it's fine.
The two wooden planters in the foreground were from yesterday's pilgrimage to the tip.  They both had lids which I unscrewed, then just filled them with some soil and potting mix.  I've planted plumbago, butterfly irises and aptenia.  The plumbago will eventually get too big.  It's actually intended for planting out properly in the garden, however we don't have a bed ready yet.  It needed potting on in the meantime, so these new pots are ideal.  My little row of plants is heartwarming alongside the sand, dirt and weeds of our garden!  Each week, we find these little cast-off pieces that are starting to give our garden its own stamp, putting our personality in to a place of our very own.

PS Thanks for checking Verity, the tip, for overseas readers, is the dump - the rubbish dump!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

garden inspiration - more from the butter factory

Our front garden remains a dust bowl - a few straggly weeds growing, granted, but otherwise a harsh, compacted barren place sloping down to the road.  I feel like I need to stage a garden intervention on myself, but there are so many other things to do!  The paving needs finishing!  My office needs clearing!  Our pictures need hanging!  The deck needs oiling!  There are 60 million and one things to do and I just can't do everything at once.  Instead, I will continue to get vicarious pleasure from other people's gardens - whether in my copious supply of magazines or in real life, such as that of the Butter Factory.  Imagine just having one of those roses, above, to make such a beautiful handful of petals!
Or an old panelled sliding door, paint chipped and worn, featuring outside your bedroom window?  I flagged this idea with Joe, but he wasn't as keen!  Isn't it beautiful though, propped against the tank, roses growing up its side?  And the gaura in the foreground - stunning!  It's what I'm missing at the moment - those layers and elements that add to a home and mark them as your very own.  I really am not a blank canvas with a dirt patch out the front for a garden!  I feel like putting up a sign out the front - garden on its way, just need a bit more time!  Feel free to drop me off some of your favourite cuttings!
And these creatures - don't they look great outdoors?!  More flowers for Jono - I will have to send him back there to get his fix as I don't have many left in my pots.  I have had dahlias slowly growing in an old wheelbarrow, watching and waiting for their flowers to open.  One was getting closer and closer until Jono did some early pruning...  I just hope the other flowers remain safe!

Now, it's time for our weekly trip to the tip - we still have packing boxes to drop off for recycling and I'll be scavenging through the shed to see if there are any goodies to bring home...

Friday, 1 February 2013

must read - good in a crisis

It's been too busy here and I am forcing myself to slow down.  I've found it hard to read over the past couple of years and it's always been a standby relaxant for me - a few pages before sleep have always done me the world of good.  I don't know whether it's become harder to find a good book or whether it's just the distractions I've had recently, but even starting a book has been hard, let alone finishing one.  I needn't have had any fears about 'Good in a Crisis' though - I was hooked after page one.  Margaret Overton takes us through a particularly heinous period of her life, beginning with the breakdown of her long-term marriage, then back in to the workplace and new romance - discovering at the worst of moments that she was suffering from a brain aneurysm.
Margaret's humour and deep insight give her memoir just the right ingredients for a great read, one of those books you just simply have to read!  It's not often I've written to an author to congratulate them on their work - in fact, I'm just wondering now whether I have...  I know I wrote to Adriana Trigiani once, looking for a torrone recipe (!), but I think that's all!  Anyway, I was so taken by this book, that I whipped off an email to Margaret yesterday - wonder whether she will reply?!

Please, beg, borrow or buy yourself a copy and have a great read - and let me know what you think!

PS Unrelated image above, beautiful artwork by Tom created at nana's house, then she framed it for him for Christmas.  It's just got the most fabulous colours in it - I wish he would give it to me!!