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How to Have a Happy Birthday

Birthdays have always been a bit tricky for me.  For a long time I believed that something bad would always happen on my special day (mostly because, for several years in a row, I had disastrous birthdays where loved ones became gravely ill, pets died, people got in car accidents and general chaos and doom reigned) and so I tended to try to just get it over and done with as quickly as possible.

As I got older and, particularly after surviving a life-threatening illness, I starting believing that having another birthday was actually pretty good.  Bad stuff could still happen, but then it could on any other day, so why worry about it?

Usually, I try and organise a dinner out, or a get-together of some description with friends or family or both.  This year, I just wanted time on my own.  I didn’t want to involve anyone else, which sounds really selfish and unsociable, but I just wanted to spend my day pottering about by myself, doing as I pleased and not having any schedule to follow.  I highly recommend it 🙂  I don’t get lonely and am quite happy with my own company.  I wanted a stress-free, restorative, recharging kind of day.

So, my idea of a good birthday goes something like this…..

1. Dress in a comfortable outfit, in your favourite colours.  
Makeup and hair done for no one else but yourself.

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I don’t feel blue wearing blue!

 

2. Take yourself out for a delicious, hearty breakfast…….

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Field Mushrooms on Sourdough, with Goat’s Cheese and Poached Eggs…

3…..and eat it all up.  Don’t feel guilty at all.

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All gone!

4.  Visit a favourite, gorgeous shop.  Wander around for an hour or so and don’t buy anything.  Feel good that you didn’t spend unnecessarily (even if it is because you’re a bit poor right now and couldn’t afford to even if you wanted to).

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Antidote in Mount Hawthorn
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Hammered and stamped recycled spoons at Antidote – Love them!

 

5. Make yourself a birthday cake and share it with loved ones at dinner time.   It doesn’t matter if the cake is a bit homely looking.  People will be polite and eat it anyway.

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6.  Drink vast quantities of tea, preferably out of pretty china so you feel like a lady.

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Tea for one!

 

7.  Go op-shopping.  Buy shoes for a ridiculously low price (in this case $4.25).

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New shoes! (well, 2nd hand new!)

 

So, for me, a perfect birthday is one in which I spend time doing things I enjoy, with no schedule or plan.  I ended the day with my brother and his family, which was lovely – I even had candles on my cake and everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me.  Delightful. Maybe spending a day on your own isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it was exactly what I needed and I’m so glad I did it.

So how do you spend your birthday?  Do you like to ignore it, go all out and spoil yourself, or plan a quiet day of solitude and reflection?  Whatever you do, I hope you always feel loved and appreciated on your special day.

Thanks for dropping by x

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Pottin’ Up

As mentioned before, I am quite a neglectful gardener.  I go through phases where I am all about gardening and taking care of things, and then I fall into a state of meh.  Translation : I forget to water things, allow plants to become root-bound, let things die, and basically just get really slack where anything plant-related is concerned.

Moving house is a time in which you forget all about your garden and focus entirely on more pressing matters.  Your garden does not get a look in.  It withers and crumbles in front of your weary eyes as you stumble about looking for boxes.  When you’ve actually moved into your new place, you notice how sad and near-death everything looks.  Then you pretend you didn’t notice and avert your eyes.  Or, if you’re a crazy person like me, you apologise to your plants on a daily basis and promise them the sun and moon if they will just stay alive until you can sort them out.

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This weekend I did lots of re-potting.  Many of my succulents had outgrown their pots and were trying to escape by falling over and/or sending out roots into the air in the hope of finding new ground.  It was a sorry spectacle.  My kalanchoes were so pathetic they barely resembled kalanchoes at all, and I had a couple of cacti that had definitely seen better days and probably wouldn’t see many more if I didn’t attend to them soon.

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I have a very sunny, enclosed outdoor area which is pretty perfect for succulents.  It’s warm and protected from the weather.  It also means that, when I am little Miss Green Thumbs, I am also warm and protected from the weather.  I have some fears that, in Summer, it will be like a hothouse/sauna, but for now it is useful and perfect fro my needs.  I have my little citronella candle a-burnin’ near my potting table, so I don’t get eaten alive by mosquitoes (they love me) and it is suitably near to the kitchen so I can make tea (very important).

Anyway, I re-potted kalanchoes and echeveria, pelargoniums, haworthias, cacti and aeoniums and gave them all better homes.  Some will need re-potting again soon but at least they can have a bit of respite in the meantime.  And I can feel less guilty.  I have some other plants that need my attention too, so will try and get those done this week.

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So, my plants and I are settling in to our new digs and trying to make sense of a different environment and lifestyle.  I was starting to feel a little bit root-bound myself, so it is good to start afresh and make plans for the new growth, instead of letting rot set in (did you like that little analogy there? 🙂 )

Hope you are blooming wherever you are planted x

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Op-Shopping 101

It’s a known fact that I enjoy op-shopping (thrifting) just a wee little bit.  If by a “wee little bit” you mean “more than ANYTHING IN THE WORLD!!!!”

If op-shopping was an actual job, I would be quitting the one I already have and preparing to have an awesome, joy-filled career.

In the meantime, here are a few tips and tricks if you are a newbie to op-shopping, or just one of those people who doesn’t really understand it and thinks everything will be stinky and gross and smell like old people :

  1. Be Prepared to Rummage : Op shops are not like regular stores – everything isn’t always neatly set out in sizes and colours with multiples of everything.  This is half the fun – you never know what you are going to find.  I know some people hate that.  They want to walk in and walk out with the item they wanted within minutes.  They do not enjoy the chase.  They are missing out on so much.  You have to be prepared to rummage and look through lots of racks and explore.  I personally think it is best to not go in with an exact “want” list in your head because, chances are, you won’t find what you’re looking for.  Just enjoy the search and see what treasures you can unearth.
  2. Wear sensible stuff : What I mean by this is you should wear easy-to-remove clothing items so that, when trying things on, it doesn’t take you forever and you don’t get hot and gross or annoyed.  Don’t wear button-up things (unless they are also easy to just pull off over your head) or pants that need belts.  In fact, avoid trousers if you can.  A skirt is a better option because you can pull things on underneath them.  That way, you don’t even have to get undressed or risk the dreaded op-shop curtain fling (that scary moment when someone yanks open your changing room curtain to “see if anyone is in here” – happens all the time, makes me want to punch people) when you’re sans clothing.  Ideally, a skirt and loose-fitting top works best – then you only have to get half-undressed at any given moment.  Wearing a dress means you have to take it all off if you’re trying on another dress.  But, then, I have been known to try things on over or under whatever I’m wearing.  It’s up to you.  Just go for simple and comfortable and easy to pull on and off.  Same goes for shoes, obviously – don’t wear things that have straps or buckles that need undoing.  It just makes the whole process more laborious.
  3. Where to go : When you’ve been op-shopping for most of your life, you learn the best places to go, and the places to avoid.  I have certain shops that I always frequent because they are cheap, clean and always have great stuff.  In WA, I really like Good Sammy’s.  They have the best prices (which are generally consistent across all of their stores) and they are organised well.  They have regular sales too – 50% off days which apply to all recycled clothing (as opposed to particular colour-tagged items).  I live in hope of those 50% off signs – they make me so happy 🙂   I find Good Sammy’s to be excellent for dresses, shoes and handbags, as well as for books, knick-knacks and other household items.
  4. Don’t Haggle : Op Shops are usually run by charities, who have to make a certain amount of money each week in order to remain viable. Their stock is already very cheap so please don’t ask for a discount of any kind, or haggle, or ask for the price to be reduced if you have bulk items.  Just don’t.  It’s rude.  If you don’t want to pay $3 for that cute little top (that is probably worth $25 new), don’t.  Walk away from it and look for something else.  I am the biggest cheapskate out, but even I won’t ask for a price to be reduced, regardless of condition of the item.
  5. What to buy : Obviously, buy what you like but don’t get caught up in the :Ooooh, it’s so cheap!” frenzy that sometimes affects us all.  Yes, you may be able to buy 15 black t-shirts for under $30, but do you really need to?  Find the one you like best and buy that one.  Just because something is cheap, doesn’t mean you need it.  It’s not a bargain if you don’t wear it.  Keep a look out for designer items you might be able to sell on Ebay, if that’s your thing.  Don’t buy items that require something else in order for you to wear them eg a sheer dress that needs a slip underneath it.  Sure, if you have a slip that would go perfectly underneath, then cool, but if not, put the dress back on the rack and keep looking.  It’s not very clever to buy something that costs you $5, if you then have to go and buy something to go with it that costs $25.  It’s false economy, and the chances of you ACTUALLY going out and buying the extra item are pretty slim.  Trust me, I know this.  I have learnt my lesson.
  6. Don’t shop hungry : As I said before, op-shopping is generally not a quick expedition, where you’re in and out in two minutes.  It takes time to rummage and try things on plus, if you’re lucky, you will have several op-shops in a row in one place, so you’ll be there a while.  Make sure you take some water with you so you don’t get dehydrated (shopping is thirsty work!) and it’s a good idea to have a little snack with you too – some muesli bars or a handful of nuts or whatever.  You make better decisions when you’re not hungry or thirsty.  You don’t want to go home with a pair of lime green stretch pants just because your bloody sugar was low and you momentarily lost your brain.
  7. Know your colours : It makes life easier if you know what suits you and what colours look best with your complexion.  You can scan past a whole rack of stuff and dismiss what doesn’t fit in with your ideal.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try new colours once in a while but, generally, you should stick to what works for you and makes you feel good about yourself.  For instance, I love yellow and mustardy colours, but I know I look like death-warmed-up in them.  They make me look like I am about to be violently ill or have some sort of plague.  I avoid them.
  8. Donate : There is a universal law that what you give out, you get back.  So donate your unwanted clothes often.  Have a good sort out and drop stuff off at the op-shop.  While you’re there, you might as well have a look round, right?
  9. Don’t discriminate : Go thrifting in lots of different places.  I know one particular op-shop that is situated in a less than salubrious suburb that has the BEST stuff.  Sometimes the “posh” towns have crappy op-shops.  There’s no guarantee that postcode equals quality – not in this case anyway.  Some of the smaller, slightly dingy shops in out of the way places have really neat stuff and, because it hasn’t been picked over by all and sundry, you can often find a bargain on some quality items.
  10. Don’t be snooty : Within reason, everything can be washed and disinfected.  I draw the line at buying underpants, but everything else is fair game.  I’ve bought some lovely kitchenware and mugs, Tupperware and cutlery from op-shops.  It just needs a good scrub and some hot soapy water.  A lot of the stuff hasn’t even been used – you can tell by looking at something if it’s lived a hard life.  Use your discretion.
  11. Take a buddy : I personally am happy to shop on my own, but there is something to be said for taking a like-minded friend along.  My cousin and I thrift together often, and we have a pretty good system.  Usually this system consists of me finding awesome things for HER to try on (because she is super skinny and fit and can wear anything) but we always have fun.  It’s good to have a second opinion on items you’re not sure of.  Someone who can shake their head and say “Um, no….” when you try to squeeze into that crushed velvet boob-tube.  If the other person knows your size, they can be on the lookout for things you may not have spotted as you trawl the racks.  A buddy can also guard your changing room for you and stop people barging in, or hold the curtain closed for you if it’s a tad on the not-wide-enough side.
  12. They have new stuff too!  Thrift shops sometimes also stock brand new items.  They get bulk amounts of “reject” products, ie things that haven’t sold somewhere else.  There’s nothing wrong with them, they’re just excess stock.  You can get undies and socks, clothing, and other items brand new, but at a fraction of the normal cost.  I must admit to buying my undies from my local op-shop quite often.  They’re $2.25.  I refuse to pay $10 or $12 for a pair of undies.  They’re a nice fit (I hate undies that ride up your butt!!!) and they are good quality and long-wearing.  I’ve also bought one of those new-fangled bamboo pillows at the thrift shop for about half the price of one in the regular stores.

So, there’s nothing to it, really.  Just go in with an open mind and find some treasures.  And be prepared to walk away with nothing and be ok with that.  The hunt is half the fun.

Happy thrifting everyone 🙂

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Blogging Challenge – Day Thirteen : What’s Inside My Fridge

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My fridge is not the world’s most exciting appliance.  It is usually half-empty and, at times, contains very little in the way of actual food items.  I tend to wait until I am almost entirely out of groceries before I buy any more so I don’t double up or have lots of wastage.  I HATE wasting food.  It annoys me and makes me feel bad.  I am one of those people who cuts up slightly withered and sad vegetables for soups.  I try not to over-buy in the first place because I am just one person, and even I can only eat so much.

At the moment, because I am soon to move into my new house, I am trying not to buy too much stuff, especially frozen items.  The less I have to take with me, the better!  So my fridge is a little bit empty – it just has the basics – and I shop a few times a week, which is not very cost-effective but, for the moment, will have to be the way it is.

So, what’s in my fridge? :

  1. Cheese.  I am planning on reducing my cheese intake by about a million percent once I have moved.  I eat way too much and I am not supposed to actually eat much of it at all.  Currently, I have feta, colby and parmesan.
  2. Tofu.  Another staple.  At the moment it is silken firm tofu, because I want to make tofu burgers but, at other times, it will be firm stir-fry or marinated.
  3. Soy milk.  For tea!
  4. Rice milk.  It’s kinda gross but I am trying not to have too much soy.  I use rice milk in my porridge.
  5. Baby beetroot.
  6. Carrots.
  7. Lettuce.
  8. Cucumber.
  9. Spring onions.  Which reminds me, I should throw those out – they’re a little bit stinky and I don’t think I can even salvage them in a soup.
  10. Chocolate – not mine.  It’s been there for a year or two.  I should probably chuck it.
  11. Apples.
  12. Half a lemon.
  13. Leftover risotto.
  14. Jar of minced garlic.
  15. Jar of minced garlic and ginger.
  16. Sauces. A variety!
  17. Olives.  Actually, more truthfully, it is a jar with two olives in it.  I don’t know why it is still there and why I didn’t just eat the two olives.
  18. Eggs.  Well, a carton with one lonely little egg in it.
  19. Tin of tuna.
  20. Probiotic tablets.
  21. Sundried tomatoes.
  22. Synthetic erythropoietin injections. It is used to treat anemia, which is a side effect of renal failure.  I haven’t had to have the injections for about two years now.  I should probably ditch them.  I keep forgetting.  And yes, I will dispose of them thoughtfully at my local pharmacists’s.  They are nasty looking things (the injections, not my pharmacists).  I didn’t enjoy having to have them.  They are quite big needles and I had to inject myself in the tummy.  Not pleasant, but you do what you have to do!
  23. Sesame dressing.  Because I am addicted to it.
  24. The freezer is full of frozen vegies and long-forgotten wedges of quiche or other things I have made and, um, forgotten about.  There’s also Lebanese bread and some icy poles I made in the Summer which didn’t taste very nice and I didn’t eat.  Disappointingly, there is no ice cream.  This makes me more sad than words can express. *sighs*

And that’s it, really.  I’d like to say it’s overflowing with fresh fruit and veg, but I find I can’t eat it quick enough before it goes off, so I tend to buy it as I need it, rather than wasting any.  I go to a nice local market that sells really good quality produce and it costs half as much as the normal supermarket.  I will have to find a different market once I move, or make the trek down to my usual one (it’s worth it).

Hopefully I will be able to report, in my new house, that my fridge is full of lots of healthy fruit and veg with nothing I should be ashamed of (or have to hide in the back so no one sees it).  My plan is to be “good” and leave me comfort-eating (read : cheating) behind me.  That’s what new starts are for, right?

May your fridge, your life, and your heart always be full and blessed with plenty!
Thanks for reading.

🙂

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Savoury Porridge

I am trying to improve myself this year. I have failed miserably for most of 2016 (mostly because, through one thing or another, I’ve been a bit miserable, to be honest!) and haven’t really achieved anything. I’m sleeping badly (or not at all), I’m eating badly (or, again, not at all) and exercise has completely left the building – or, at least, it would have done if hadn’t just collapsed into a lazy lump on the couch. Basically, I have fallen in to a bit of a slump. A schlump, if you will. It’s not good, and I know it.

One thing I have been relying on too much is sugar. I went for years not having much sugar at all and now I have not only fallen off the wagon but completely lost sight of it as it hurtles away, possibly with a wheel missing and the rest of it on fire. I worry about getting diabetes and weight gain and other health issues that the sweet little demon causes. So I need to stop. And really stop – no cheating, missy!

I’m never going to be one of those people who avoids sugar altogether – let’s just be realistic here for a moment – but I should try and cut down and limit it to a healthy amount. So it’s more of a treat than a daily indulgence.

One thing I have always found a bit difficult, in regards to avoiding sugar, is the whole breakfast scenario. I love cereal – I could eat it for every meal. Give me a bowl of muesli and I am a happy girl. Cheerios? Yep – love ’em! (but have recently weaned myself off them). I eat porridge a lot too and try to add as little sugar as possible, but it’s still SUGAR. I could have toast for breakfast or an egg, but I don’t want to have those things everyday. In the old days I would have happily scarfed down a bowl of baked beans, but I can’t have them regularly now, because of my kidneys.

So, what’s a girl to do? She tries savoury porridge, that’s what she, um, do. And, let me tell you, it’s delicious. Satisfying and warming and yummy. Easy to make and you can make a batch and then reheat it later, or the next day. I actually look forward to getting up in the morning now. Well, sort of. Porridge can only work so many miracles, after all.

Savoury Porridge is a bit trendy at the moment, but that’s ok. It might be nice for me to be on trend for once, and I think this particular option might be one I stick with for a while, because it’s versatile and adaptable and doesn’t require me to have a whole bunch of ingredients on hand. I can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner and not feel guilty about it at any time of day. If I want to amp up the decadent factor, I can add cheese or something fancy like truffle oil (note to self : buy truffle oil!) or I can leave it plain and not muck about with it too much.  A poached egg on top is divine
(as is anything topped with a poached egg, to be fair).

The recipe I am using here is Mark Bittman‘s Savoury Oatmeal with Scallions and Soy Sauce from Serious Eats.  Ok, so we call scallions spring onions over here and we say porridge instead of oatmeal…big deal.   Still tastes yummo-licious.  Give it a try – it really does make a nice change and it is healthy and super quick to make, even if you’re like me and hopeless in the mornings.  I added some flakes of nori to my porridge, but you can leave that out if you like.  It just adds some extra umami flavour and interest.

Ingredients

1 Cup Rolled Oats
2 Cups Water
2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Chopped Spring Onion + 1 Teaspoon Chopped for Garnish
Sprinkle of Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Nori Flakes

Combine oats, water and salt in a medium saucepan.
Bring to boil and then turn down to low.
Cook until water almost absorbed.
Turn off heat, add spring onions and soy sauce (and nori flakes if adding).

Serve with extra spring  onion as garnish.

Enjoy! 🙂

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Going to Pot

I’ve been on a re-potting frenzy this week.  All my succulents need attention at the moment – they’re all a bit cramped and needing rehoming.  Some of them have so many pups they’re crowding themselves out.  I have loads more to do, but have started with the ones shown here.

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Crassula (Green Pagoda, I think!) – I am hoping those little pink tips bloom into something blossomy…but I’m not sure if this one does that.  I bought it at a recent Garden Show in my town and, despite me neglecting it, it has grown quite well and remained super bright green and healthy.

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Haworthia Retusa (I think).  This one is part of the whole plant I got at Amanda’s Garden earlier in the year.  It was in a sad little plastic pot and needed freshening up, dividing and rehoming.  It will out-grow this little pot fairly quickly, but for now it will be ok.  I put the other sections of it into this lovely vintage sugar bowl (below).  I think it suits the colours of the bowl and the squat shape/design (also, by this stage, I was running out of pots ha ha).  My Aunt gave me a whole box of little mugs and pots, bowls and other receptacle for succulents – this was one of them).

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Haworthia Attentuata – this is the sad little one I got from my Mum after she nearly killed it and then gave it to me for some TLC.  It’s doing a lot better although I needed to repot it again, so I have done so here.  Hopefully it will perk up again and not have those daggy dry bits on the ends!  I find the Attentuatas reproduce very quickly and prolifically, so I am  forever dividing them up and making new arrangements for them.  Below are some more specimens.  My “Piggy” pot was overflowing, and the plants were starting to look a bit unhappy, so I divided off the babies and re-potted all of them.  They are easy to grow and I love their stripey, spotty patterns.  Hopefully, the Mother plant will start to feel less cramped and will start looking less brown and grumpy.

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Euphorbia Milii Crown of Thorns.  This poor little thing has been waiting at least a year or so for re-potting.  I’m not a huge fan of this one.  I love the bright, red flowers but I’m not so keen on those nasty spikes.  Re-potting it was a delicate operation!  The leaves look healthy enough so I am hoping it will keep growing ok and be happy in its new home.

So, that’s a few down, several bazillion to go.  I am such a procrastinator.  But, now that the weather is cooling down somewhat, I should be able to get stuck into the other plants too and sort everyone out.  I keep talking to them, promising them new accommodation and neighbourhoods (ie moving them to a different part of the garden or spot in the sunshine).  My bathroom is overflowing with succulents now – they seem to love it in there so I keep adding more pots.  I really do love to garden, in my own slightly slap-dash way.  And, in the absence of any pets, these little life forms give me something to care for and interact with – even if it is a one-sided  conversation 🙂

Movers and Bloomers

Movers and Bloomers

Just a short post today – none of my usual waffle (you’ll be pleased to know).  I am drowning in a sea of boxes and packing tape and despite the fact we packed until 8.30 last night and there is roughly 30 full boxes sitting in my living room, we have barely made a dent…the trouble with being library folk (and avid readers) is that we surround ourselves with books which take up a lot of room and a heck of a lot of boxes to pack.  Sigh.  We’ll get there, I know, but I’m a little stressed out with Christmas and work and relationship worries and just, y’know, stuff.

Anyway, decided I am not going to get any more cards or other crafting down before we move so I have started packing up the craft room.  I finished off one more card yesterday morning.  It’s for an old work friend of mine.  He always loved my cards – so much so that he keeps them year after year on his pin up board because, he says, they make him smile.  Good enough for me!  So every year I try to make him a card I think he’ll be amused by.  It’s nice to make things and have them appreciated.  I don’t know how his girlfriend feels about him keeping this stuff but that’s not my business!

Anyway, I was trying to think of how I could change a well-known Christmas carol or poem into something funnier.  Being Aussies I thought I had better have a go at changing an Australian song.  So, I went with “Six White Boomers” – the chorus to that goes (for those who don’t live down under or aren’t familiar with the song):

…six white boomers
snow white boomers
racing santa claus through the blazing sun
six white boomers
snow white boomers
on his australian run…

Boomers are kangaroos, in case you didn’t know.

Anyway, I changed it to “…six white bloomers, snow white bloomers, hanging on the line in the blazing sun…”.  I printed out some images of frilly knickers, cut them out and stuck them on a “line” (which in hindsight I should have wrapped around the backing paper but never mind…I was in a rush!) and added the words below.  I should have probably added a bit of colour to the bloomers themselves and my cutting out was a bit shoddy but I am pretty happy with it otherwise.  I would have made some more of these cards if I’d had time but one will have to do for now.  Hope my friend likes it.  Hope you do too 🙂

Bloomers Card

 

Sorry, that wasn’t so short a post after all…:)