Tuesday, 31 December 2013

happy are the tea makers...

Making a cup of tea for mum must be one of life's essential lessons, don't you think?!  I don't remember the first I made, but know how lovely it is to have my own young tea maker on board.  Such concentration on that 10 year old face!
Making tea from scratch requires much patience - waiting for the kettle to boil, then the added delay while the leaves brew in the pot…  and all worthwhile for a very willing recipient, I can tell you.  Thank you Tom, can't wait for the next one!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

christmas 2013

Christmas 2013 photos are pretty light on - but perhaps it's not too surprising to find that it's hard to host dinner and take one million and one pictures…  Even without the photographic evidence, I can attest to a very successful day - more than enough presents and food for everybody - phew!  Joe and I feel as though we're grown-ups now we've finally hosted our first Christmas.  Luckily I was very organised, having pre-prepared a lot of food, which made the day all the more easier.  A great first run through before next year, when our numbers will surely grow with extra family around.
Perhaps my greatest relief was not being woken by Tom when he went to the toilet around 2 o'clock in the morning and decided to go through his stocking.  I don't know whether I would have recovered from that one…  Nor the early start at 5.30am when he woke again and pulled his sister from a drowsy sleep, enticing her to check her own stocking…  Don't you just love these cheesy grins prior to opening their main presents from us?  And below, the intense work that followed - putting the Lego sets together…
Tom was given a building on fire and Sophie, a cargo plane - both very well received gifts.  Jono now has a Lego starter kit - the beginning of quite an obsession, if his siblings are anything to go by!
 Can you believe this is the state of the table once the dishes were all cleared?  As one of my friends said, it looks too clean!  Lucky for me though, as I'm not too keen on spending hours in the laundry removing stains...
My Christmas miracle is the beautiful gardenia bloom - my older sister's family gave me money for my birthday last year and I bought gardenias.  This is the first of them to bloom - and on Christmas day!  It made a sweet smelling centrepiece on the table, along with my homegrown roses.
One of the most exciting recent additions to our house is our childhood piano.  Both Tom and Sophie are now learning little bits and bobs from me - we're on to Hot Cross Buns and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star at the moment.  Along with the beautiful tunes, we're loving its dual purpose as a stand-in mantelpiece.  I've always loved a well-cluttered space in the house for family photos and assorted memorabilia - not so much the dusting, but I think it's worth the effort - don't you?!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

on the day before christmas...

Christmas finally arrived in our house when the tree went up on Friday.  I was lucky to buy the last one in our local supermarket, with the added bonus of home delivery.  The kids were delighted to find it waiting for them when they came home from school - what a way to start the holidays!  They were beginning to think they were living with the grinch with no decorations around - there just hasn't been a spare moment to do anything.  I'm just as happy as they are to see a tree in the house - and nothing beats the smell of a real Christmas tree!
We're hosting Christmas here this year - after mum and Errol's big move, it is far the easier option.  The kids are very excited about having Christmas in their own home and not having to budge on the big day.  The menu is planned and I started on food yesterday - an unintentionally boozy ice-cream Christmas pudding.  I soaked the dried cranberries and apricots in brandy and may have added more than was needed.  Lucky I am so good at tasting as I work, so I was able to round out the flavour with a bit of vanilla, cinnamon and sugar.  With the honeycomb, chocolate and slivered almonds, this will hopefully be a hit!
This morning I've been roasting vegetables for our gravy and separately roasting beetroot for a salad.  Our menu is looking pretty tasty and I'm hoping to get a lot of the preparations knocked over today.  There's cleaning to do as well, I don't know how long my efforts will last with three kids, two dogs (babysitting mum and Errol's dog Bear) and a cat around, but we will keep our fingers crossed...

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

winterfold: saying goodbye

I didn't mean to step away for so long, in fact I didn't even mean to step away...  it's just been one of those ridiculously busy times where something has had to give - and my poor neglected blog has been the very thing...  A few months ago, my mum and step-father made the very hard decision to sell their farm.  This started off a chain of busy-ness - much like a whirlwind, maybe even a tornado - from which I haven't yet been put down. 
 If I think of the months since then, it's been one of those busy times at home anyway - kids' sport on weekends, establishing new garden beds, running around after three children, my Poppies project coming to fruition... add in the sale of 'Winterfold' and there's not been a moment to draw breath.  Mum and Errol bought it in 2000 and it's become a much loved home.  Set in rugged granitic ranges in some of Victoria's most beautiful scenery, it's been the place of many adventures for our family.
The garden is just stunning and I spent many hours taking hundreds of photos of it and the house to add to the real estate agent's images on the internet.  There was much mowing, pruning and sprucing and we did the best to help with that as we raced around with our own commitments.  When the property sold, it went with a five week settlement - that time is up today!  All of a sudden the sheds had to be cleared and this meant the huge pile of belongings we had in storage had to be dealt with - and to do that we had to make room at home...
We've had a lot of family come home to say goodbye and even pulled bon bons in lieu of a final Christmas on the farm.  Family and friends have been terrific and my mum and Errol are blessed to surrounded by such lovely people.  The support they've had has been tremendous.  Thirteen years in one place doesn't sound long, but this is the place they've put their hearts and souls, much love and effort has made 'Winterfold' what it is today.  It was the place where Joe and I made our commitment to each other, marrying under an ash tree in December 2001.  The place we returned to having spent the first years of marriage living in Ireland.  The place where we have welcomed and farewelled beloved family members.
The stunning crepe myrtle has created a backdrop for beautiful family photos - this one a few years ago, with a preschool Sophie and a young looking Tom!  Joe has dug up a few suckers from the tree's base and we're doing our best in this heatwave to nurture them through.  We've brought home many cuttings from the garden and will grin and bear the season's high water bill to get everything going!  Hopefully we will keep it all alive, adding to the plants we moved up here earlier in the year.

I kept planning to come back here to this space - my blog - and document these last moments as they occurred, but it's been impossible to finish a thought, let alone put finger to keyboard.  There hasn't been any writing - the only work I've sat down to is the paid kind, much needed at this time of year!  With school holidays commencing on Friday, it doesn't seem likely to quieten down anytime soon - and if it wasn't for Avril's kind comment this morning, wondering how I was getting on, I may not have returned for a while longer.  But as a blog reader as much as a writer, I, too, have pondered on people's absences and unexplained ones can be troublesome.  It's with much pleasure I can report all's well, if only ridiculously chaotic...  Stay tuned over the next little while for a catch up of what we've been doing around the house and garden...

Until then, thank you for reading - and Avril, thank you for asking!