Thursday, 28 March 2013

another pic on the wall (or two or three)

I saved another you from another gratuitous 'pictures on walls' post last week and am using it this week instead!  Now don't look at that middle picture in the second row from left, ignore the too-wide gap between the middle picture in the last row and the ones above and below.  Done?!  Instead, gasp at the genius mathematician who lined up these pictures and put them into a box kind of layout...  amazing!  Now we just need to get another 16 frames to do the same thing on the other side of the roses.  Or else we'll just do something different - who knows?  What I do know - I love seeing our pictures on our walls.  But I think you might have already realised that by now!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

a little something for the kitchen

In the excitement of hanging our pictures, curtains and paintings on the wall last week, I could see that there was something missing.  Not much, but those little sculptural pieces that add 'good fun' (thanks mum!).  Our apricot tree prunings have some deliciously straight lengths and were perfect for this piece above.  I cut them to size (using the side of the trampoline as a guide!) and tied them together with a thin gauge wire.  A wonky heart at the top completes the picture.  It's hanging next to the sink and will be a little make-do for now - but again, it's all a start...

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

about the house

I've finally had some dahlias make it inside!  Jono's enthusiasm for flowers means they're nipped off - just out of the bud - and find themselves planted in dirt in the garden.  I'm just mad about dahlias, but I find I can't get cross as they're so sweetly and enthusiastically presented to me, prior to replanting.  These lucky dahlias have made it to full size and are joined by mum's Paul Cezanne rose - stunning!
More roses from mum - David Austin this time.  Mum thinks they're the Children's Rose.  I have bravely put them in a vase on the hall table (refer to above!).  I've already found them strewn on the tablecloth, surrounded by petals.  I've returned them to the vase and crossing my fingers that Jono leaves them alone now!
Fresh picked basil waiting to be shredded down into pesto for lunch.  I'm having a friend over for lunch and looking forward to a simple meal of mushrooms with thyme and goats cheese on toast.  I thought the pesto would be nice to have on the side...  delicious!

Monday, 25 March 2013

trouble brewing...

I don't think Tom will be interested in what I had for lunch today - or how much I enjoyed it.  I did wonder - as I sat at the table intently eating my pear salad - why it had been ages since I sat down for lunch.  Why do I always rush through what can be such an enjoyable meal?  It seemed slightly luxurious, for I even had the weekend papers spread in front of me and managed to read a few articles.  I couldn't remember the last time I'd eaten like this during the week - usually it's a sandwich gulped down at the bench inbetween one job or another.  And when I went down to check on Jono, finding him in Tom's room instead of his own, with a pulled apart Lego aeroplane in his hands, I remembered - this is why I don't sit down for lunch!


PS No investigation required for this air disaster, but Minnie thought she'd try and sniff out some clues anyway!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

happy days

Content.  I guess that's what you'd call this feeling of being...  just being...  Such big, but little things all adding up.  Our home filled with family and friends.  Pictures on the walls.  Curtains hanging.  Knowing that this place is our very own.  I had underestimated how much that longing for home affected me.  I lived in the same place until I was 11 and since then, that's when those other 32 houses appeared.  It's tiring and unsettling.  Yesterday we worked out that even our cat has had five homes - 'He's had five because I've had six' said Tom.  It's too many.  I said we wouldn't move again.  Even if I find myself with a job in Antarctica, I will commute there - every day!  I know - yes, I know - that this is impossible, but you know where I'm coming from, don't you?

PS Another plate on the wall - a sweet, hand-painted memento to mark Sophie's birth.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

and now an official welcome to our home...

It really, really is our home, this 33rd house of mine.  We've had another busy day hanging art on the walls - those nervous first taps of mine last week certainly made it easier over the past couple of days.  And the hammer mark I made in the ceiling on Tuesday meant I was ready for anything to happen - and also knew not to try pulling misplaced hooks from the wall with the hammer pointing at something it could hit...
We've hung up our tools for the day.  I have some contracting work to do and have to head out into the cold, bitter day - such a contrast to last week's relentless heat.  We have strong winds forecast and hail - not a nice afternoon at all!  But the garden is very happy to receive rain, hail, whatever!  But back to the inside - it's amazing how tiring all of this is.  So many decisions about what to go where and if we put that there, what about that one?!  Then there's all the maths - working out how far apart to hang everything, how low down from the ceiling.  Then once you have the level of the top of the painting, you have to work out how far down the hook will go, plus work out the middle.  I have pages of figures scribbled on them and somehow I seem to have managed to get most of my calculations right - changing between metric and imperial, whichever gave the more exact measure.
This sweet shelf unit was a steal from the local op shop nearly four years ago.  It's been shunted around and kept in the garage until now.  The collection I've put in there today isn't quite right, but it will allow us to change things around as we please.  I can see it being great fun and can't wait to have some time to put it together.  I had been planning on painting it, but think it will remain white with the light greeny-blue for now - there's too much else to do!  Joe's home again tomorrow and we will keep sorting more things out.  Into the garage if we run out of pictures to hang.  It's so lovely having him here to work these things out.  We have the benefit of being in the house for a few months now and now what we want where...  finding our way and making our home.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

good hang ups

There are good hang ups and bad hang ups - these curtains are the former!  Soft, floaty white cotton Ikea curtains that have been good on the budget and are even better on the eye.  Joe and I made a continuous run of the white metal curtain poles (using elbow joins).  This saved having to stop and start the poles between the larger and smaller windows.  Closed, they give the room a beach house feel - Joe thinks very Mediterranean, although I will just have to go along with him, not having been there myself...  In fact, I don't think he's been there either, so we can just pretend!

And open, they give the room depth and warmth.  It's amazing to finally see them up, having thought about them for the past few months since we moved in to the 33rd house.  I wasn't sure whether they would work at all, but they're a lovely long 2500 drop and our ceilings are 2580, so I haven't even hemmed them.  I know they won't stay white for long, but at least they're machine washable, so that's easier than having to get something dry cleaned.  And they won't be as warm as a fully lined curtain, but we keep coming back to the dreaded budget - if we waited until we could afford proper curtains, we might never get them.  These will more than do for now, these good hang ups of ours!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

happy are the homemakers

Plates from the tip + plate hangers make for a very happy homemaker!  Thanks to my trusty (!) stud finder - which also highlights electrical wires - I had to choose a different wall than originally intended. These Janke plates are now on top of the fridge and the cupboard above it - but just as striking as they would have been elsewhere.
They're joined by a bright new clock that was a housewarming present - I think the blue is fantastic against the white of our walls and even contrasted with the black of the pendants above the island bench.  These photos don't show you our new hammer mark which is on the ceiling above the plate on far left - woops!  Do you ever have those moments when you break something - or make a permanent mark! - and think 'Thank goodness that was me and not my partner'?  This was one of them!
And now in context to last week's picture hanging efforts...  I have been very conscious of putting our own things up on the walls.  The house - as I've mentioned previously - was built through a large Victorian building company.  Although we'd had our hearts set on a very modern house design - which we were having drawn up by an independent draftsman - we had to go with the building company as their homes were such good value.  We would have never been able to afford something else.  Anyway...  I find that these display kind of homes are often bereft of art and other homemaking touches - something I've been desperate to remedy.  It looks like I've made a start!

Monday, 18 March 2013

things that grow when you're not looking

We have lawn!  And grass that's now been mown twice - very exciting!  Seeing it every day means it's easy to lose track of how far it's come.  The bottom photo was taken just over a month ago, so you can really see how it's edging its way closer to the house.  We'll need to throw out some more grass seed in the bare patches, but there seem to be less and less of them.  It was lovely to have a much needed night away (with a group of lovely friends who also left their husbands and children behind!) and return to my family, home and garden.  Right where I want to be - but with time off every now and then of course!  Refreshed and recharged, ready for a week of homemaking.  Curtain hanging, here we come!

PS Can you see our pumpkin vine, getting bigger and bigger?!  Only tiny pumpkins that I don't think will come to much, but the bees seem to be loving the flowers so much - and I keep hearing how they've been suffering with the ongoing heat - that I can't bear to just pull it out...

Friday, 15 March 2013

hanging it up - preparations...

Woo hoo!  We're nearly ready to put those finishing touches on the house!  Next week, Joe's taking a few days off work so we can hang pictures and curtains and do some work in the garden.  We can't really call it a holiday per se, but it will be easier to do everything with just Jono in the house, rather than Tom and Soph too.  And even with just Jono around, it will be challenging enough!  To ensure we don't waste any of that precious time next week, I've started putting screw eyes into the backs of pictures and will wire them up ready to go.  Can you tell how excited I am?!  Pictures on walls!  Imagine!

NEWS FLASH!  I did more than just start getting the pictures ready - I've even hung some myself.  MSF (my step-father rather than Medecin sans Frontieres!) would be so proud!  I have actually taken in all of his steps for hanging pictures - amazing!  Have only started with smaller pics as I need Joe for the larger ones - but it's included 2 trips to the hardware shop, purchase of a very small drill bit, a stud finder and some screw eyes, plus spray gloss enamel to whizz up some more white frames...  much excitement!
I ended up 'borrowing' a few of the kids' paintings that had been destined for their bedrooms.  I hope they don't mind but they look so perfect on that particular wall!  From left to right, top row, Sophie's cat, my cherries, Sophie's family portrait.  Bottom row - Tom's middle eastern picture. Sophie's people and a hare print by Julie Allen.

Ta da!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

365 x 250 - an achievable goal

That little bit of writing is really starting to add up!  Over the past week and a half, I have written over 5000 words - 2500 more than my goal for the same period of time.  Sure they're not all golden, Pulitzer prize winning sentences, but the thoughts are there.  It's the getting it down on paper that counts - editing comes later.  In all, I am up to over 12,000 words in total - this includes the existing story I had started writing a couple of years ago.  I'm a long way off giving sneak peeks, but the basic gist is of a fiction novel that covers the first year of motherhood.  The main character struggles for some time before being diagnosed with post natal depression - the reader will be privy to both before and after that period of time.  The trick for me, as the writer, is to ensure that I produce something that's engaging, realistic and - most importantly - something that people want to read.  Fingers crossed!

PS Flowers a housewarming present - lovely bright colours against our white backdrop!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

the clothesline or the plants...

There used to be a tv program where they asked 'the money or the box' - which would you choose?  Our budget is like that at the moment - the clothesline or the plants?  The fence or the gravel to complete the driveway and paths?  Topsoil for the lawn or mushroom compost for the garden beds?  As I type, Sophie's making the first budget decisions of her own- finding something from book club for under $5.  Quite devastating to realise that the picture of the Lalaloopsy doll was actually for a story, rather than the toy itself.  Here she comes again - yes, success!  A Lalaloopsy painting book for only $4 - she's done very well!

Fingers crossed I have the same luck in the budgetting decisions of my own!

PS Blackwork embroidery washing line stitched by me as a present for a friend a couple of years ago - pattern from the Made in France series - can't remember exactly which one, either Red, Blue or Black!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

landscaping made easy!

I've been dreaming of fences, trees, flowers, topsoil, gravel, trellises, shade, cool... autumn.  The building site aspect of our front garden is finally getting a bit dreary!  There are so many decisions to make and how will we know we're making the right ones?  The answer, of course, is to just do it - or cheat - use a photoshop type program and see what works!  I have Preview on my Imac.  You can extract a shape from a photo and essentially do a photofit of your garden design to see how your plans will come together.  We've been angsting over the front fence in particular - from lattice, to pickets, to mesh...

But this morning I saw exactly what I thought would work - a fence made from dark-stained timber sleepers.  They have been slotted in to metal posts, kind of like a modern take on post and rail.  I found something similar on internet, took a screenshot and pasted it in on my photo of the house.  I then found (from L-R) Bradford pears, a Chinese elm, crepe myrtle, albizia and a lilac, all of which I'd like to feature along the front of the house.  And whilst you can't really see the front of the house anymore, that's entirely the point!  We need shade and we need to soften the red bricks from the front.  I think we've finally found the answer!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

keeping score

The word counts are building!  Yesterday, I was so tired that thought I'd sneak away for a sleep while Jono was having his own nap.  Then somehow I rallied.  I would just do my quick 250 words and sneak off after that...  1065 words later!  Wow!  I was talking to Kate yesterday about how she has always heard about writers blocking hours of time for writing.  For her - and me - it seemed as though it was the only way.  I felt the same thing too, so to see how much I'm getting done is just amazing.  I am up to a total word count of 9707 now and still have some existing material to type in to this document.  Very exciting!  There remains much editing to do, but that will come.  For now it's about allowing that writing just make it to the page.

It's too early to scare it all away!

Friday, 8 March 2013

is there a doctor in the house?

When Tom and Sophie were quite small, I worked as an administration assistant / ward clerk in the local hospital.  They didn't really understand what I did, so they started to think I was a doctor.  We thought it was cute that they awarded me doctor status (without all those pesky years of study!) and left it at that.  I had certainly watched enough medical programs to earn an honorary degree - House, Grey's Anatomy and the like - so I could deal with that.
But then, a couple of years ago, I was in the supermarket and ran in to a nurse who I'd worked with at the hospital.  When introducing her to Tom, I said we'd worked together when I was a doctor.
Melissa was horrified.
'But what if there's an emergency and they need a doctor?  Tom will tell them his mother's a doctor!'
Hmmm, I hadn't thought of that!
So between us, Melissa and I explained what I really used to do and Tom kind of understood.  Melissa and I had a good laugh about it, because really, she did think it was very funny, in a horrified kind of way.  And Tom and I?  We still refer to that time as when I was a doctor... It's much more fun than thinking mum just used to do lots of typing on the computer and finding medical files for the real doctors.  

Just don't tell Melissa!

PS Don't you love the adorable doctor Hugo and his ailing patient Sophie?  This was a long time ago, when they were very, very little.  Now, of course, they are much, much bigger - but just as adorable!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

there was actually more time than I realised...

Now that I've allowed myself 250 fresh, new words each day, I'm amazed at how quickly I achieve my goal.  I realise I'm only a few days in on a long term project, however I've even had time to write up my existing pages in to my manuscript.  I have over 7000 words and there is still more material to add in to the file - pages I had in that pesky bottom drawer that had got shuffled in to other writing projects - woops!
Yesterday I liberated roughly half of my various writing efforts from the bottom drawer.  They've been put in to a folder that overflowed so quickly I was almost embarrassed.  Why, you might ask.  Because there is so much that I've sat down to write - tens of thousands of words and more - then lost confidence and shelved for some reason or another.  It seems like I need to give not only the words, but myself, more respect than that.  Starting from now!
And I've also been amazed that I can achieve my goal without completely neglecting my family, or general household tasks - yesterday I even managed to fit in a cup of tea with a friend!  Amazing!  And I came out of the writing closet with her and it was easier than I thought.  I prefaced our conversation saying I still can't help feeling slightly delusional saying that I am devoting my time to writing.  As someone with great passions with her own, she understood the need to follow them.  Phew!  It wasn't as bad as I thought it might be.

Onwards and upwards!

PS Unrelated pics - some of my favourites...  they've been somewhat neglected too....  I have over 20,000 photos on my computer and they need to be sorted out as well!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

thrifted foosball

Even a cracked foosball set can find another home!  We found this on our last trip to the tip - no ball and a 15cm crack on the base, but lots of potential for fun.  Tom pulled it out of our garage on the weekend, delighted with his find.  The ball (can you see it above, top right - the yellow and red of it are showing) comes from a clown mobile, itself a thrifted find from the op shop.
The kids have all had a turn.  It provided them with some new entertainment as Joe and I worked on the patio on Sunday.  I love Jono's little face, concentrating on making the players move!  It still amazes me what people throw away - this crack can be fixed and the set will be as good as new.  I do understand, though, the need to move things on!  Every single room in this house needs to be gone through and culled.  But finding the time!  And doing it with my little helper by my side isn't always easy...

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

white noise and other distractions

I'm determined to find more time in the day for writing.  I figure if I aim for 250 words of my manuscript, then I could finish it in 12 months time.  Goals are simple to make; so much harder to follow through.  So I'm not promising anything, not making a public statement for which I'll be accountable.  I'm honest enough to accept that some days can go completely pear-shaped, from the moment my foot hits the floor as I crawl from my bed.  But I'm going to try.  And in my efforts to try to find more time and write more, I'll do a monthly check in with you to let you know how I'm going.

The extra time each day will come from identifying the white noise and other distractions.  These include stopping looking for a couple of days' work outside the home.  Our budget has been quite scary lately, but I keep reminding myself that we've had some pretty major, one-off expenses with moving in to our new house.  These won't be continuing and we're hoping that things will settle down, money-wise.  If things are still tight in 12 months time, I'll have to look for work.  Otherwise, we can stay as we are, living on one income and my casual freelancing.

I think the main thing is to make the commitment to writing and follow through with my goals.  I talked to Joe last night and he's very supportive.  He's also sick of hearing that I want to write, so that could be his motivation too!  I'll try to not do the same thing to all of you - less talk, more action!

And so the first month begins - I'll give you an update on April 5th to let you know if I've reached my target!

PS  I just realised that if I take away the words I've already written, I may not even have to do the 250 words each day.  I will have to do the maths and get back to you!

Monday, 4 March 2013

as I see it - the truth about writing

I love writing.  There!  I've said it!  I guess being the author of a blog may be proof enough, but just in case it wasn't, I needed to get that out in the open.  For the past few weeks, I've been enjoying Allison Tait's posts on the topic of writing, ranging from the actual process to the ultimate goal - publication.  This series has made me consider my own approach to writing - how I feel about it, why I write and where I'd like to see myself, maybe 10 years down the track.  In order to do this, I need to confront some of my writing truths...

Time is not on my side
I struggle with setting aside time for my own writing.  It's hard enough to schedule my casual freelance work (mainly grant writing, publicity and graphic design), let alone doing something just for me.  I end up thinking that the time I write would be much better spent on money-making efforts - it seems self-indulgent to do anything else.

Augusten Burrough's mother worries me
I don't have a lot of confidence when it comes to my own writing.  Yes, I enjoy what I write and I write things I'd like to read.  But do I really think I write well?  Maybe for about two seconds out of every five hours.  Then the self doubt sets in.  I am reminded of Augusten Burroughs' mother in Running with Scissors, who was seen as a crazy, deluded, talentless woman who wasted her time trying to write.  I worry that person could be me.

Get a haircut and get a real job
Writing is not seen as a real job.  I have therefore spent many years trying on many other jobs.  Administration, accounts clerk, waitress, marketing, jillarooing - all great fodder for a literary career, but not really what I set out to do.  Ever since I left school, I've dreamt of writing.  I wanted to publish a book by the time I was 30.  This year I will be 40 and I still don't have one finished manuscript to my name.

An agent - found and lost
Actually, the truth of the last sentence is that I do have a finished manuscript.  It's for a children's book.  I sent it away to an agent in the mid 2000s.  I was signed up and it was sent off to a publisher.  During this process, the person who had signed me left the agency.  The owner of the agency then let me go.  She told the truth when she said she didn't have any other children's writers on her list.  It didn't stop me from suffering a broken heart.  Or experiencing another blow to my confidence.

My bottom drawer is a stereotype
The above-mentioned manuscript now sits in the bottom drawer - really it does!  I guess I should move it one drawer higher, if only to stop it from becoming a stereotype.

The truth about motherhood - apparently no one wants to read it
I have another project.  It is a fiction novel for adults and concentrates on the first year of motherhood.  It is a work in progress.  The former mentioned agent put me off writing this story. She said that publishers shy away from stories about post-natal depression.  Well, let them.  If I ever finish my manuscript (!), I will find another way to publish.  But only if people give me some good feedback first (please refer to my second point!)...

Sure anyone can have a blog and hit the publish button...
Mediocre writing can be easy but good writing is hard.  I start typing then I go back and edit straight away, trying to compose the perfect sentence.  This happens not only with my fiction writing, but on my blog as well.  I need to remember to write first, then edit another day.  Otherwise nothing, I repeat, nothing gets done.

The thief of time...
Time moves ever forward.  As I race towards my 40th birthday, there are things I need to do.  One was to finally move in to my own home.  Tick.  Next, commit to writing.  Tick.

Wise things my husband says
Passion.  The truth about finding it and following it, to make it happen.  I was talking to Joe about my writing late last year, saying I finally wanted to take that leap of faith and commit to writing.  After 12 years together, he's heard me say I want to write, oh about one or two....  billion times.  Which lead to one of the best things I've ever heard him say:

'You have to have your passions, Lucy, because where else would we be without them?'

Thank you, Joe, I will leave it right there!

a place for dreaming

There is nothing better than sitting outside and enjoying the fruits of your labours.  Late yesterday afternoon, Joe and I sat down with drinks in hand admiring our handiwork in the patio.  This is easy if you don't look from the western side (at the big dip in the middle) or the ends of the rows where I inexplicably raised the bricks too high.  But for amateurs, as we are, and a temporary fix, we are very pleased with the results - not to mention stiff and sore - but now we have a place for dreaming.
It's obvious though, that if we can scrape up enough bricks we need to add two more rows to the western side (the right, as you look at this photo).  Last week's rain saw water gush into this area and we're keen to keep it out as best we can.  When we finished building, we had a bob cat come in and scrape the site clean and flat.  We cleverly (!) left the sections around the house lower as we're planning on laying gravel paths.  We didn't realise that the budget wouldn't automatically allow for further landscaping.  It could be some time before we can afford to finish the paths.  In the meantime...  trenches perhaps?!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

ducks on the doorstop

The recent rain has covered a small section of our road, bringing a dozen ducks to visit.  Yesterday afternoon, they edged closer to our house, walking up past the mail box as though they were on their way to dinner - to eat rather than be eaten, though!  Other visitors have come too - last night we went to bed with the loud frog chorus, taking us back to the 30th house where that was a regular occurrence.  A large dam and run-off near the house meant we were often serenaded by amphibious friends.  Again, as with our echidna sighting recently and the array of birds and other wildlife, I don't feel as though we're missing out by not being on a farm anymore.  Here, we have nature right on our doorstep - or at least the front garden, in the case of these wandering ducks!

Friday, 1 March 2013

happy autumn!

Summer's attractions have faded for us over the past few weeks.  It's been so hot and often humid, that we are all worn out!  Even Sophie said the other day she wished it could be just autumn and spring all the time - I kind of know how she feels now!! Except then we wouldn't have the stonefruit and where would we be without that in our lives?!
I'm looking forward to seeing the trees changing colour in our own garden and around the neighbourhood.  I first fell in love with our town during the autumn - it's one of those places you come to at this time of year and can't imagine leaving.  Mum, Tom, Sophie and I had come to buy some craft supplies and took a wonderful detour to the playground along the creek.  It was the first time I contemplated living up this way.  Little did I know that a short time later, Joe would have a change of jobs and this would become our local town.
I've already started dreaming of hearty soups and tasty curries.  I'm looking forward to the softening of the light and the shorter days.  I know in six months time I will be yearning for sunshine, blue skies and day light savings!  It just seems to have been a very long summer.  The nights have been hot and the long days have left us with very tired children who need a decent sleep.

PS Three inches of rain have seen an early start to the autumn break - arriving the last couple of days of summer.  It's very wet around where we live, however everyone is delighted to think their gardens have been saved!  I don't think many would have coped for much longer without rain.