Taking Stock: July ‘18 Port Fairy edition

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Hey gang! How are things? My man and I have headed to the coast for a short winter break. I love the beach at winter. The grey skies, the rolling waves, the bracing air. Blows the cobwebs away! We haven’t been to Port Fairy for years – it is a bit of a hike from Melbourne! It’s been nice to reacquaint ourselves with this quiet little town. And it’s been nice to have some time together! An interruption to the normal daily routine is the perfect time to take stock.

Making: nothing at the moment! There’s weavings at home but this week has been a ‘make free’ time for me.

Cooking: very little. Whatever is easy in our little kitchen.

Drinking: tea, coffee, cocktails!

Eating: a delicious dinner at the Merrijig Inn and yummy pizza at Coffin Sally

Reading: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine which I am LOVING! Have you read it?

Watching: Shetland season 4. We could almost see ourselves there as we gazed out at our own stormy seas and overcast sky!

Buying: coffees, magazines (an essential part of any holiday, I feel) and A Forger’s Tale

Opening: magazines for weaving inspiration.

Taking: lots of photos.

Hearing: waves, wind

Looking: at clouds, swaying grasses, sea foam

Noticing: birds are so much more interesting when you head out of the city. We’ve acquainted ourselves with the hooded plover and the pie eyed oystercatcher which my man remembered from his childhood stamp collection! Maybe we’ll become twitchers!

Pondering: the meaning of life! Breaks away always provide the space for some introspection! What brings us fulfilment? How to achieve work-life balance? What new routines could bring greater joy to life? How do we venture into a new stage of life? Not sure if we came up with answers but useful to contemplate!

Enjoying: sleep ins in a comfy bed! I find it difficult to come across a comfy bed in holiday accommodation. I often find them too soft and end up with a sore back. This one is a goody!

Wondering: why bathrooms in holiday accommodation are always so poorly lit and exhaust fans do such an ineffective job at steam extraction.

Thinking: it might be time for another cup of tea

Liking: regional holidays. There’s something very comforting about holidaying locally. It’s like pulling on a pair of comfy slippers. Not a lot of research is needed to plan the holiday nor is there the compulsion to see certain sights. There’s no anxiety about how to get from A to B, eating out customs don’t need to be understood. It’s just chill. And a reminder that there are some lovely places to see not far from home.

I hope your July has been a happy one. Maybe you are back from a break away? Or heading to one soon? Perhaps you’d like to head over to Pip’s blog and see what’s been happening to her in July!

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Soupy soup

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Well, it’s blowing a bit of a gale here! I’m looking out my back windows and watching the autumn leaves cascading to the ground, and zipping through the air, so strong is the wind. The rain has stopped for the moment but I don’t think it will be long before the plants will be receiving another soaking. It would be WRONG to have anything other than soup for dinner, wouldn’t it? Is there anything more hygge than sitting in front of the telly on a cold, wintry Friday night, feet in uggs, sipping soup in mugs?(ooh, that’s a nice rhyme!) Pumpkin soup is the soup of choice here when everyone in the family is home. This is the one I’ve made for tonight. I left out the turmeric and put some fresh ginger in instead. I always feel virtuous including pulses in my soups. I think it makes them more of a meal, and there’s something very nourishing about them. But every meal needs balance, right? So…I’ve also made the ol’ trusty Bill Granger brownie. I tell you, this is such a super easy, fail safe brownie recipe – apart from that one time when I was baking it at 7.30 in the morning in the rush to have it ready for a school morning tea and used two eggs instead of four. That was a sorry sunken mess! But when I have my sanguine mummy hat on, it ALWAYS ends up crusty on the outside, fudgy in the middle. I used white choc bits today instead of the dark chocolate. I like the butterscotch-y flavour the white chocolate adds to the gooey chocolate centre. And I sprinkled in a pinch of salt instead of the vanilla.

Keep warm, fellow Melburnians! And happy weekend to everyone!

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Taking Stock: April ‘18

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Hey gang! Do you see those two small magnolia little gems? And the statice in the front? I PLANTED THEM! Yep, I did. With a little bit of help from my dad because he has a shovel. I actually found out the day after we planted them that I have a shovel too but because I garden so infrequently, I had actually forgotten I had one! Anyhoo, since the rediscovery of my shovel I have planted three more little gems and a camellia – for some winter colour. I don’t know what’s come over me but all of a sudden I feel the enthusiasm for giving the house a good sprucing up. The STUFF in the roof is being sorted, donated and pitched, the outside light my man has always disliked is being replaced, and I’m wandering around inspecting flyscreens and cupboards and *nodding* ‘hmm, that needs to be repaired.’ Maybe it’s a reverse nesting thing that happens when the big ‘M’ hits! Aah, hormones! You do keep us entertained! So, in amongst all this reorganising and beautifying of my environment, I felt it appropriate to do a bit of a stocktake of life.

Eating: homemade creamy chicken soup. LOVE!

Making: lots of cups of tea for everyone in the house. Gosh it’s taken a bit to get my head around having the family around during the week this year! My man is working from home LOTS more, the boy is doing his thesis so not many uni hours, and the girl is in and out – but I’m trying to embrace it because I know moving out days may be on the horizon.

Cooking: chicken with basil and tomatoes for dinner

Drinking: peppermint tea

Reading: Call My By Your Name for book club. I haven’t seen the movie. Have you? What did you think? And I’m flicking through Frankie and Look What We Made

Hearing: the dishwasher sloshing, the pool filter whirring

Watching: quite a lot of Harry Styles clips because my girl keeps shoving them before my eyes! Which is fine! He seems talented, and nice, and plays a good tune. She went to the Melbourne concert and touched his suit! I asked her how it felt – ‘expensive!’

Seeing: a beautiful, blue autumn sky

Noticing: the stillness of the day outside

Disliking: the mess the corellas have been making of our streets. They have been carpeted with the pecked over remains of the pods from the plane trees. And the pods themselves! Out on my morning walks, I’ve had to be careful walking under the trees as the birds are sitting up there, pecking away, sending the pods raining onto the footpath.

Cringing: at the very thought that Trump could be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize over the whole Korea thing. I was reading in the paper this morning about how his unorthodox approach may have brought the two Koreas together and persuaded the North to demilitarise – although we do have to wait to see if this actually happens.

Wondering: whether to watch season 2 of  The Handmaid’s Tale. I loved the first season and the book but now that it is going beyond the novel’s end, I’m not sure if I risk spoiling my memories by watching season 2. I did read somewhere that Margaret Atwood gave it the thumb’s up, so maybe? Have you watched it?

Pondering: ageing! Maybe it’s because of the ‘M’ thing. Maybe it’s because lots of my friends are hitting the big 5-0, and some the big 6-0. It’s weird. My body still feels the same, and I don’t think I LOOK much different, but apparently the insides are telling a different picture. One of my friends is in the process of having her cataracts attended to. Isn’t that something that happens to old people? I look at pictures of my mum when she was my age – I’d made her a grandmother by then (we were both child brides 😉) and she looked much more mature (though not old) than I THINK I look. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe people in the street are looking at me and thinking ‘oh, yep, she’s nearing the seniors club.’

Thinking: I need to sort out my trolley full of wool

Opening: my front door a lot so that I can keep putting things on the nature strip for the hard rubbish collection

Looking: at lots of pictures of the royal family. And I don’t care what anyone thinks! Okay, William and Harry have never had to contend with living in poverty, but they had some crappy family stuff to deal with at a young age and it seems to me they’ve turned out to be pretty well-balanced people. And so I’m happy to see them making their own happy families. There’s nothing wrong for feeling happy that other people are happy, is there?

Wishing: the council would do weekly green bin collections in autumn. I have SO MANY BAGS of leaves that I’ve raked up and cannot fit into my bin. Don’t get me wrong. I love autumn, and I love my colourful fallen leaves but they can get slippery underfoot so I need to have a way to be able to get rid of them regularly.

Liking: that my man is feeling better. Bit of a tummy bug over the weekend so good to have that out of the system.

Feeling: chuffed to have sold a few of my weavings! One has even made it’s way over to New York! Love thinking that some of my work is in one of my favourite cities!

How’s your April been, chicks? Has the spring/autumn cleaning bug hit you too?

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Easter chillin’

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What are you doing this Easter? Are you heading out of town? Are you in your pjs watching Netflix? Are you drinking tea and eating your body weight in hot cross buns and chocolate eggs? I’ll probably do a little bit of all of that.

There’s something very quiet and calming about the Easter break for me. Is it the same for you? I’m not a particularly religious person but I do like to treat Good Friday as a quiet day – a day to potter at home, read, craft, spend time with the fam. Today my boy and I had a chat for a couple of hours. So lovely! Don’t get that opportunity often when they’re grown ups!

For us, unlike Christmas, there’s no fancy meals to prepare, no rush to clean the house for visitors, no preparing to take off on holidays. Easter is a nice few days to mooch around and inhale a big breath before heading forth into the coming cooler months.

Enjoy your Easter, chums, whatever your plans are!

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Taking Stock: December ’17

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‘Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Lane’. Yep, it’s that time of year again! Are you ready? I have just put away the sticky tape and scissors so I am feeling *phew*.  Let’s see how much I am consumed by Christmas at the moment by doing a quick ‘taking stock’ à la Pip Lincolne.

Making: ice cream plum pudding – and licking the bowl! My mum always makes it but I’ve never done it before. It’s part of my tweaking some Christmas day traditions. I wrote about that over here. I used chop chip ice cream to make it a bit more indulgent.

Watching: Love Actually tonight. With my girl. Because it’s Christmas.

Drinking: water

Eating: asparagus for lunch with shaved parmesan and toasted almonds. I wish lunch would magically appear before me but alas it does not. Today I was not inspired but at least it was healthy. And chocolate fudge as an after dinner treat.

Cooking: salmon for dinner? Maybe?

Hearing: birds chirping.

Smelling: faint traces of the candles I was giving a pre-burn before they take up centre stage on the table on Monday.

Liking: that it will not be too hot on Christmas Day. 22 degrees sounds perfect to me. Good eating weather, as some in my family say! And we won’t become overheated by my lit candles!

Reading: reports about the car incident in Melbourne yesterday. Tragic.

Wishing: people wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that every such act is an act of terrorism. I think it best to see what comes of the police investigation so we can understand what it is that threatens the safety of our community. Is it terrorism? Mental health issues? Drugs?

Wondering: if we’ll need to wake the kids up on Christmas morning! Gone are the days when they were asking us what was the earliest they could get up – 6am was our answer. Last year we had to rouse them at 8 so we could get pressies done before I had to start preparing the food for the day!

Buying: all of the things! Pressies, food, drink.

Knowing; tomorrow is food shop day!

Writing: a list of what I need to buy.

Trying: to work out how the food will all fit in the fridge. It is an engineering feat every year trying to squash, squish and balance things in there.

Looking: forward to holidays by the beach after Christmas. How nice is it to wake up to a view of the sea and the sand, walk along the beach, have a coffee, read a book, have dinner at the pub, leave beds unmade? *sigh*

Disliking: ironing the big white tablecloths for the Christmas table. They are so unwieldy. And I come from a line of fastidious ironers so I always feel like I am being judged if it is not ironed just so!

Pondering: what design to do for my next weaving.

Noticing: I feel a little tired. Maybe I need a nanna nap.

Waiting: for my girl to come home from her singing lesson. Always feel relieved when I hear the car pull into the drive.

Feeling: happy that everyone in the family has achieved their goals for the year! Yay! Lots of work went into that.

So that’s it, lovelies, for 2017! Onwards and upwards to 2018. I must say I find ‘2018’ to be more aesthetically pleasing than ‘2017’ so let’s hope it will be a year filled with aesthetic pleasures! Enjoy your Christmas and New Year celebrations. See you next year!

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Do I dare change our Christmas traditions?

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See our Christmas wreath? It’s the same one I’ve pulled out of the cupboard since before my man and I had our kids. And the Christmas lilies? Every year they stand happily in the same vase in the hallway. I remember one year, after I was a little tardy in my Christmas lily buying, my boy saying ‘ah, now it smells like Christmas!’ when they finally made their appearance. Traditions are important, right? They bind us to our family. They bind us to our culture. But I have a question. Well, two. What do you do when traditions start feeling routine? Are you allowed to tweak them?

Here’s our situation. We have a small family. There’s me, my man and our now-grown-up boy and girl. My man and I each have one un-partnered sibling, and then there’s my parents and my man’s mum and her husband. My mother-in-law’s family is all in the UK. With such a little bunch of us, and with no-one having to juggle competing family demands, it makes sense for us to all do Christmas together. And since our family of four sits in the centre of both extended families, and our house has the most suitable space – and a pool – we host the day. When the kids were younger this was great – no need to ferry between different houses and they didn’t need to be parted from their pressies.  The day has a routine. Everyone arrives, drinks are poured, the usual seats are plonked down into, presents are distributed and opened. ‘Thank yous’ and nods are shared around the room and the nibblies I’ve prepared are eaten before we sit down at our thoughtfully arranged places *wink*, crack open the Christmas bonbons and try to get the streamers from the poppers to drape from the light fitting that hangs above the table. There’s seafood for entree, ham and turkey with roast potatoes, various salads then plum pudding studded with the old thr’pences and shillings that belonged to my nanna. By 4pm everyone is ‘full to pussy’s bow’ and the male members of the family seem to have flaked out around various rooms in the house (not quite sure why this is when it is my mum and me doing the food prep!). But after eighteen years of doing the hosting bit, with the same crowd, I’m starting to feel like some of the excitement has gone from the day. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and I feel blessed that I have been able to spend every Christmas Day with my parents and my brother for so many years. And my man has been able to spend it with his brother and mum, and each set of grandparents has been able to spend it with their only grandchildren. How fortunate are we? But now that we don’t have the Christmas energy of little people infusing our day, I feel like we need to do something different to give the day a bit of a rev up. But how far can you break with tradition without ruining the day?

Could I throw some snags and chicken on the barbie, and as long as there are pressies and bonbons would that be enough to make it feel like Christmas? Could I change it from lunch to dinner? Could we all go to a restaurant for lunch?

Last year, I decided to scrap the entree and just go for more substantial pre-lunch nibbles. I thought this might leave a little more room in our tums so that we could actually enjoy eating some pudding! My mum seemed a little hesitant when I suggested this but I think it worked okay! This year I’m adding an ice-cream plum pudding to the dessert menu after my boy said that he finds the traditional one a little filling at the end of the meal. My mum suggested we could ditch the pudding for something like a lemon tart (we’re not a pav family) but I think for my brother and my English mother-in-law, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a pud! We only ever have turkey at Christmas so it wouldn’t feel quite the same without that on the table.

And that would be the worst thing. To have a Christmas Day that doesn’t feel like Christmas – even if the day isn’t as thrilling or exciting as I remember it as a child, or when own boy and girl were little. Maybe it’s not the traditions I need to tweak, but the way I think about it. This is what Christmas is for us and this is what holds us together as a family. One day, I assume, I’ll have to share my kids – and grandkids! – with other families on Christmas Day so perhaps it’s best that I not tamper with our traditions too much in the meantime. Maybe some extra baubles hanging around the house, an updated Christmas playlist and that ice cream plum pudding are all we need.

Have you ever changed your traditions? Did it work? Or did it make you yearn for the way it was?

I hope you have a happy Christmas Day however you celebrate.

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Taking Stock: September ’17

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I may be a crafty type and an arts lover but gee, I’m also a big footy fan and today is the AFL Grand Final! As a Hawks supporter I’ve been lucky enough to see plenty of premierships, but today it’s the rest of the family going through Grand Final anxiety! Thirty seven years since the Tigers last premiership – my man was there as a 14 year old! – and the first time my boy and girl have seen their team in a Grand Final! They’ve headed down to the Tigers’ home ground to watch on the live screen with thousands of other Tiges supporters. With the house to myself, and before the match hits the screen here, I’ll do a quick ‘Taking Stock’. Thanks Pip for the inspiration!

Watching: lots of footy preview shows!

Reading: Ache by Eliza Henry Jones and footy analyses

Cooking: pasta for dinner, I think

Eating: cheesymite scroll – because it’s yellow and black

Making: an arc-y weaving

Hearing: the washing machine beeping at the end of its cycle

Getting: over a cold

Feeling: butterflies in my tummy

Hoping: for a Tigers win, of course!

Looking: at my pile of ironing

Smelling: the lingering aroma of cheese toasties

Needing: to proof read my boy’s history research project

Wishing: that we weren’t switching to daylight savings this weekend. It’s too early for me!

Noticing: how nice and tidy my garden looks since the huge clean up I gave it yesterday

Enjoying: watching the little charges I work with developing their skills and imaginations

Thinking: it would be nice to have a holiday

Needing: a drink – tea or water will suffice. Feeling a little parched

Wearing: nothing with red or blue! Don’t want to appear to be in any supporting the Crows!

And that’s September! Hope yours has been a good one! GO TIGES!!!

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