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How to Measure Christmas

Christmas Day is just around the corner.  I can’t believe how quickly it has come up this year.  I probably say that every year, but this last twelve months has whizzed by, and so much has happened.  It’s been such a strange, disturbing year, with a lot of loss and grief for so many people.  I don’t know about you, but I am praying for a much kinder 2017.

My Mum is currently suffering with a nasty cough/virus and it makes me very anxious.  I can’t bear for her to be ill.  She is always so healthy and I sometimes forget she is a senior now, and small illnesses can be potentially dangerous.  Also, being sick at Christmas sucks!  I know she feels miserable and concerned and also annoyed that she can’t do a lot – she hates neglecting her garden and other chores.  I just worry incessantly, especially as I am not just around the corner but 30 minutes drive away, and I can’t keep a close eye on her.  Luckily, my best friend’s Mum is just around the corner – in fact, she is taking Mum to the doctor’s this morning (I would have done but had no one to cover me at work). Hopefully she will get some antibiotics (even though she hates taking them, she admits she probably needs some this time) and be on the mend soon.  We’re meant to be spending Christmas Eve with my brother and his family, but I don’t know if she will be well enough at this stage 😦

It’s funny how, in the lead up to Christmas, you think about all the things you would like, and hope that Santa obliges.  This year, I just want my Mum to be well, and for us all to have a nice, peaceful, stress-free time together, with no dramas.

This week, I managed to get all my Christmas shopping done in record time.  I have less people to buy for this year, for one reason or another, and it made it much easier.  I made a few gifts too, which meant less spending (always a good thing) and less stress (a very good thing).  I also decided not to do the fancy wrapping I always do, which usually ends up with me stressed out of my brain and wrapping gifts every night until midnight, making sure they all fit a “theme” and all look decorative and pretty.  Not this year.  I used store-bought wrapping paper and did nothing fancier than tying them with string.  I didn’t even use matching tags!  *gasps*  It just made everything so much easier and quicker and reduced my stress by about a million percent.  I am wrapped and done, ahead of time.

Whilst looking for gifts for my Mum, I pretty much followed the list she had given me (an Ian Rankin book, some gardening stuff, a Michael Buble CD, pyjamas) but I always like to get her some other little extras too, so she has some surprises.  I found this set of measuring cups in an op-shop and thought she might like them.  They look vintage (although I suspect they are not) and I liked the little Wintery scene on them, which I thought would also make them ideal for Christmas decorating, if Mum didn’t want to use them as actual measuring cups.  I just thought they were sweet.  And at $5.00 for the three, I wasn’t exactly breaking the bank.

I hope she likes them, and is well enough to enjoy all of her presents.
That’s all I want for Christmas.

Best wishes to you all.  Stay well and take care of each other x

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Amanda’s Garden

Amanda’s Garden

In 2010, I had the misfortune of falling prey to Meningococcal Meningitis with Septicaemia (read HERE if you want that long story!).  I was exceedingly ill, almost fatally so, and was lucky to survive.  Very lucky.  Most are not that fortunate and many people who do survive are left with life-long health issues, including brain damage, the loss of limbs or digits, vision impairment or total loss of sight, loss of hearing etc.

In 1997, Amanda Young died from this terrible illness, at the age of eighteen.  Her parents, Barry and Lorraine Young, were given roses as gifts of remembrance from Amanda’s classmates and friends.  From these roses, a beautiful garden bloomed and the Youngs decided to open their property each year to the public, to raise funds for research into meningococcal.

Mum and I visited the garden this weekend.  I hadn’t been before but Mum goes every year – she feels that she should (in fact she went twice this weekend, mostly so she could come back and buy more plants!).  I too should go regularly, being one of the lucky ones, so I am going to try and do so from now on.  There is only a small entry fee and then you can look through the gorgeous garden, buy plants, enjoy a Devonshire tea and just spend a few peaceful moments in this lovely setting.

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Every inch of space is lush and blooming, with roses, bulbs, cottage plants and annuals of every size and colour.  The weather on this day wasn’t fabulous – we narrowly missed getting rained on – but it didn’t matter. The place was packed with people but it was such a tranquil setting, you barely heard any noise.

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Mum and I made a beeline for the plants-for-sale section of the garden.  Pots and pots of all different kinds of plants were laid out for us to peruse.  We both bought a few specimens (and Mum had already bought a boxful the day before!) and were very happy with our purchases.  It’s not often you can buy an orchid for $4 and roses for $10 🙂

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Some of the roses on display were just exquisite.  The colours were stunning and such variety!  You could smell their fragrance a mile away – not overpowering, just beautiful.  The “Amanda” Rose is the most gorgeous deep yellow.  So pretty.  I love yellow roses – they’ve always been my favourite.

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The garden also featured dense, pond-like areas with water lillies and irises in many fabulous colours.  I could hear the chorusing of lots of happy little froggies 🙂

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The entire property was like a little oasis.  I loved the more overgrown areas – it was like a proper Secret Garden. Just needed a few fawns or some robins, maybe a frolicking lamb or two 🙂

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I really liked this idea : using old garden solar lights for planting succulents!  How good do these Haworthias look?

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If nothing else, it was nice to spend some quality time with my Mum.  Time we might not have had if I had not been so lucky in 2010.  I think about it every day.  I’m sure Mum does too.  Giving a few dollars to the Amanda Young Foundation is the least we can do.  And if it means we get to add to our growing collection of plants in our own homes, well, that’s just a bonus! Neither of us needs an excuse, really.

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“Amanda’s Garden” is open to the public in October each year.  It is well worth a visit.  Lorraine and Barry have put their heart and soul into the property, turning their grief and loss into something worthwhile.  And while it will not bring their daughter back to them, it may help to prevent any future deaths from this awful illness.  To learn more about the Amanda Young Foundation, the garden and other facts about Meningitis, you can visit their website HERE.

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Books, Bargains and Freo

Books, Bargains and Freo

Aghhghghhh!  A whole month has gone by and I have to go back to work tomorrow!  Ugh!  So unfair!  Why didn’t I win the lottery in that time?  Possibly because I didn’t buy a ticket, but hey, let’s not let reason and sense get in the way here!  I can’t believe four weeks has passed and I have little to show for it.  OK, so I have new-ish boobs (or, at least, smaller ones) which are healing nicely, thank you, but not much else has been accomplished.  To be fair, I wasn’t able to do much for the first couple of weeks, being sore and ouchy and so tired (I think my body just went “Ahhhhhhhhh” and wanted to recuperate and rest and sleep) but, really, I was hoping to get a few more things done.  To be honest, it was nice to be forced to relax and NOT do anything.  I actually read three whole books.  Woo!  I love reading but never take the time these days to actually curl up with a book and spend a hour or three lost in its pages.  I read “Sufficient Grace” by Amy Espeseth (oh so good – I couldn’t put it down), “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd (also excellent – my Mum read it straight after me and she loved it too), and “The End of the Alphabet” by C. S. Richardson (Oh, such a sad but beautiful book.  I finished it in a morning.   I made my Mum read this too and she also cried ha ha.  We are a pathetic pair).

These final few days, as I went into “Oh God I have to go back to work!” panic mode, I tried to pack as much entertainment and activity as possible, so as not to waste the time.  A couple of days were spent getting my house in order, doing mundane things like ironing, tidying up and sorting out paperwork (who am I kidding?  I just ended up watching thrifting haul videos on Youtube! There was no tidying or sorting!) and trying to get ready for the routine of the working week.

On Tuesday, I met my cousin for lunch and spent a nice afternoon with her, chatting and eating too much.  We dined at Yocal, one of my absolute fave places to eat.  Their menu is excellent – lots of vego and vegan choices, reasonably priced and the staff are super friendly.  It’s hip and cute and the food is DELICIOUS!  My cousin and I shared the Mushroom and Haloumi burger – so yummy!

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On Wednesday, after having my dressings removed and surgical wounds checked to make sure they were healing ok (they were, thankfully), I did a bit of op-shopping with Mum.  We visited 3 or 4 stores but neither of us had any luck in finding anything.

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We also went to a second-hand book store and found a few bargains there.  I got some nice decorating and craft books plus a handy guide to succulents.  I particularly liked the title of one of the books :

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Mum got some lovely gardening titles and a couple of novels.  We visited IKEA and had lunch before grabbing a few bits and pieces (can’t leave IKEA without getting SOMETHING) including some awesome journals with lovely blank pages, perfect for journaling or drawing or painting or whatever! (We just like notebooks – it’s a sickness).

On Thursday, Mum and I went down to the port town of Fremantle for the day.   Lots of lovely shops, markets and places to eat.  Our first stop was East West Design  – a treasure trove of furniture and home wares from every corner of the globe.

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We had not been before, but the owner is a friend of my cousin’s, so I had heard about it and was keen to have a look.  Oh Mylanta!  So many pretty things!  And it went for miles and miles!  The stock was floor to ceiling, pretty much, in a huge warehouse-size shop, with every taste catered for.  I spotted a cute little shelving unit, white and so pretty, as soon as I stepped in the door.  I really had to convince myself not to buy it, but in the end I knew I really had nowhere for it in my little house.  However, Mum did purchase a matching magazine rack that was really nice and will look great in her place.

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She also got a Buddha head – she’s been searching for one for ages.  It’s for her garden – this one was just the right size and colour and an amazingly inexpensive price.  Perfect.  The one pictured below was a very large version – nearly as tall as me and weighed a tonne (a bit like me ha ha).  It was $900…a bit out of our price range but I would love to have had it in MY garden!  Oh well, I know where to get one from if ever I come into money!

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Afterwards we pottered around Fremantle and had a look in some little shops, including the Oxfam store, which always has some lovely things.  Mum is currently redecorating her lounge room in blue and white so her eye was quickly drawn to the goodies on display here.  She ended up buying a little candle holder – so pretty and the blue is just right (you can see it in the photo below – second from the right, top right corner).

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Fremantle itself has some lovely street art, decorating even the most mundane of items, like rubbish bins and plant boxes.  Check out these gorgeous mosaic planters :

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I noticed that the majority of shops and cafes also had these recycled wood plant boxes – so rustic and chic! :

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 Even the boring old bollards on the corner of the street were jazzed up :

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We had a lovely day just walking around and window shopping, before heading home to beat the traffic.

Wish we could have more days like this – it’s so nice to just wander around, having nowhere you need to be and nothing urgent that needs doing.  If only pesky work didn’t get in the way all the time!

So it’s back to the grind for me tomorrow.  I am looking forward to seeing my workmates but not relishing the idea of getting up when it is cold and dark.  Ugh.  I should have been practicing my “getting up when the alarm goes off” routine but, alas, I have been sleeping in super late every day.  Oh well, I’m sure I’ll get used to the daily drudgery soon enough!

🙂

Getting Something Off My Chest

Getting Something Off My Chest

When you read this, I will hopefully have had surgery and have come out of it successfully and with little drama.  I will have had a breast reduction.  That’s right, I have literally gotten something off my chest.

I have been thinking about it for years but finally got the guts to do it.  It is primarily to ease the chronic neck and back pain I have suffered for years.  Having big boobs on a little frame is not the greatest thing in the world, especially if you’re like me and self-conscious about it.  I hunch over, I fold my arms, I HIDE my “girls” and that cannot be good for my overall posture and muscle tension.  Most people I know think I am much smaller than I actually am – I am THAT good at hiding things.

Anyway, it was time.  I’m tired of being uncomfortable, physically and mentally.  I’m tired of having men never talk to my face.  I’m tired of struggling to find clothes that will fit me properly.  I tired of having to take painkillers all the time and plan my life around my discomfort.  I want to be able to exercise properly and un-self-consciously.  I want to be happy with my body for once.  I want to be rid of the ever-increasing headaches I have to put up with.  I want to be able to buy bras in “regular” shops instead of having to spend big bucks on speciality bras and be limited to ugly, Granny bras.

Mostly, I just pray that it gets rid of some of my pain issues.  Even if it takes away just 50%, that would be awesome.

It is not a procedure I have taken lightly.  It is not something I have gone into without some trepidation.  I have renal issues to consider and risks associated with any major surgery.  It’s financially draining (which is a huge deal for me because I am usually a tight wad) . It’s painful.  I will have scars and months of healing to deal with.

But I will hopefully feel better about myself.  I won’t be embarrassed about my figure.  I won’t have to cover up so much.  I can buy clothes in the right size.  I can live a bit more and maybe, just maybe, feel ok about myself enough to risk a new relationship.  Maybe, that might be pushing it.

I did struggle with the idea of changing my body when so many women have gone through breast cancer or other physically-altering health issues.  I felt a bit selfish.  Some women would love to have big boobs (I think they’re crazy) and here I am complaining about mine.  But I have thought long and hard about it and I have to just remember that this isn’t for cosmetic reasons.  And even if it was, that is my right and my decision.

I’m going to be out of action for a while, so that will mean no internet (I’ll be staying with my Mum who has the unenviable task of looking after me) and no blogging.  I’m going to try and schedule some posts if I can, for while I’m away.  But, all being well, I will be back soon enough. Just a little bit lighter and, hopefully, a little more content.

Hope you are all well and happy.  See you on the flipside! x

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Experimenting with Colour and Design

Experimenting with Colour and Design

Still suffering with a lurgy of unknown name and origin.  I have been to the doctor now, mainly because I developed a rash on top of the other symptoms (eg sore throat, fever etc) and she took some swabs of my throat and nose (yes, I even managed to get some weird bacterial infection in my nostril!) and prescribed me a million drugs, ointments and creams.  I await the results of the swabs… I don’t feel too bad – just a bit weary and “off” but I wish the sore throat would go away and the horrible rash – it’s gross and itchy!

Needless to say, I haven’t felt like doing much at all but I hate sitting about wasting time.  So I’ve doodled a bit and painted a bit and basically just played around with ideas and designs.  I’m still enjoying the watercolours with varying degrees of success!  I’ve tried them on different papers and backgrounds for different effects and I am happy with some of the results.  I’ll keep experimenting!  Below are a few examples of what I’ve been doing.  I like the flowers – they’ve turned out quite effective and the little notecards I made with them are (I think) quite sweet.

I hope to get well soon and sort my creative brain out.  It’s taking a bit of a holiday right now.

Stay well friends! 🙂

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Leapin’ Lizards & Lurgies

Leapin’ Lizards & Lurgies

I am suffering from a horrible sore-throat lurgy this week.  I’ve had two days off work and haven’t accomplished very much at all, although I did attempt some more painting on the weekend before giving up and relegating myself to the couch and bad day time TV.  Shame, as the weather was lovely (though cool) and the sun was shining.  I did manage to get a few shots of the local skink population in my garden having a grand old time in the sun, catching bugs and soaking up the rays.

They are gorgeous little critters (generally 5-15cms) – shiny and sleek and so perfect with their little miniature scales and dark eyes.  Some of my friends don’t agree, but I think they are wonderful and fascinating.  I read up on them in the week (when I was busy doing nothing but sniffling and feeling sorry for myself) and found out a few facts I did not know:

  1. The common name for these little guys that are found everywhere in Australia is Fence Skink (or Wall Skink) – basically because they are usually found sunning themselves on outside walls and fences!
  2. They lay clutches of about 5 eggs and often have them in communal nests with other skinks.  The ideal spot is somewhere warm, dark and moist eg under logs, in damp garden beds etc. 
  3. The eggs resemble perfect miniature chicken eggs.  They are soft and leathery and become enlarged as they absorb moisture from the surrounding soil.

Now I am a bit obsessed about finding a skink nest but it is pretty unlikely.  I’ve never seen one before…but then I guess I wasn’t looking for one!  I am a bit paranoid about disturbing one now or accidentally digging one up so I will be extra careful in the garden from now on.

I really enjoyed capturing these guys on film – they were quite willing participants, all things considered.  Normally shy and timid, they kept quite still and didn’t run and hide which was lovely as I got to get up close to them.  I think the sun was just too gorgeous for them to want to hide away.

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Beautiful eyes!

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So many colour variations!

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This little guy was very bolshy and jumped down (he actually landed with quite a thud) to where I was standing in order to catch a spider right I front of me.  I don’t think he could have cared less that I was there – he just wanted his lunch! 🙂

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This tiny little fellow was so shiny and handsome.  He was only about 3cm long so I think he was a new hatchling.  I nearly trod on him as he was so tiny and blended in with his surroundings.  Beautiful though.

Hope you enjoyed seeing a few of my fabulous garden friends – I love having them around 🙂

Noooooooooo! I’m not allowed to get sick!!!

Noooooooooo! I’m not allowed to get sick!!!

Ugh.  I think I am getting a cold.  I hardly ever get them and, when I do, I am quite pathetic.  Sniffly and moany and pathetic.  I think I hate the time they waste.  When you’re sick you can’t do anything constructive and you just want to curl up in a ball and die, loudly with lots of complaining and coughing.  Right now I feel a bit hot in the face and my throat is dry and scratchy.  I have loaded myself up with Vitamin C, Garlic and Horseradish.  I hate bought throat lozenges and will be making myself soup for dinner (capsicum with added horseradish and ginger and garlic – it is possible no one will want to come near me for a few days).  I am drinking lemon and ginger tea and am about to pour a jar of honey down my throat.  Ugh.  I think I am even more pathetic now I am on my own – not that hubby was particularly good at playing nursey but it is always better to have someone around to fetch you tissues and get you hot water bottles and look sympathetic.

However, I shall try not to give in to the lurgy.  I have one more day of my short holiday left and I do not want to waste it.  I have had a few nice days of crafting with my Mum and I don’t want to stop now that I am back home again.  Today we went to a big craft show at the show grounds and had a great time – but I will update you on that next post.  The days before were spent collaging and playing with clay at my Mum’s.  We had been wanting to make some clay ornaments and beads for some time and decided this would be the week we made a commitment to do so.  We soon learned we are lacking in sculpting skills and probably had visions of elaborate finished pieces that were way beyond our actual abilities.  Never mind, we had fun and made a mess which is the important bit 🙂

I made a few round beads that I want to paint once they are dry.  I also made some pendants (again, faces) and a brooch and a little “L.O.V.E” statue that I think is kinda cute.  They all need to be sanded a bit and/or painted and varnished.  Fun!  Time-consuming!  Messy!  But definitely fun.

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Little L.O.V.E statue.  (you can’t see the word very clearly here but it is near the bottom.
Speaking of bottoms, she has one.  A butt that is!..but you can’t see that either here)

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“Goddess” brooch

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“Face” beads and pendant…

Now I have to unpack all my bags (I’ve been staying at Mum’s and I always overpack) and find my house under all the rubble.  I want to be ready to get up early tomorrow, possibly go for a walk if I can get motivated enough and then do a solid day’s crafting as I won’t get to do any for a while due to pesky work commitments (so inconvenient this work business!).  I also plan on eating the fudge I bought at the craft show in a moment of weakness.  I want to get back onto my healthy eating so will have to consume the fudge quickly so as not to ruin my healthy week.  That’s my story and I am sticking to it.  Fudge is good for sore throats, right?

Hope you are having a great weekend, free from lurgies and full of fun and fabulousness! 🙂