Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Card designs for men

It's always hard to design cards for men, I find.
Here are the three cards I made for the fathers in our lives.
The one above was for my Dad, using the new Stampin' Up Flower Patch stamp set in a geometric way.
It reminds me of a peacock, or an American Indian headdress.

This one was for Steve, using some stickers I found a few years ago.
Oh, how I love these stickers, so much fun.
I stuck two little robots on to represent our girls, and stamped a few circle
designs randomly on the background. The bright colours really make this card pop.

This card for Steve's Dad was from my stash, I made it a while back,
not sure if I've shown it before. It features some Memory Box dies.

So there you go, three ideas for men - geometric, robots and nature designs.

Do you make your own cards?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Garden Inspiration

On Friday I went to a local Garden Day, and toured 8 gardens. Lately I've been looking out for inspiration wherever I go, thinking of our garden and what to plant where. The gardens on this tour were not particularly spectacular, but I did like the hedges of this one, so neat and classic.

Some of the best inspiration came from peeking through gates at gardens 
or parts of gardens NOT on show:

This suburb certainly is a lovely part of the world.
I went with my parents and aunt, and we also enjoyed the side entertainment - the microcars and cabin scooters (too cute) ...

the pipe and drum band playing Scottish tunes (and Waltzing Matilda),

and stalls full of beautiful things that we managed to resist. Although I did buy a few plants.
All in all, an enjoyable day out, despite some rain and a necessary dash into the lunch tent at one point.

On the way home I stopped at the op shop and bought some more garden design books,
I have quite the collection now, to read during afternoon teas.  Some of them are about 20 years old now, but I find I'm liking those styles better than some of the modern garden designs, (which seem to be all native grasses and outdoor kitchens and water features). I'm looking forward to planting out one corner of our front garden, where we've dug out about a million fishbone ferns*. It will take a few weeks to get it completely cleared and a stump ground out, so I've got some time to dream and plan and mark out before I head to the nursery.

*While at the Garden Day I discovered a stall telling me that actually quite a few plants well-known to our garden are noxious or environmental weeds, including these ferns. Hmm, more work to do.

Garden photos taken on my phone, some are also Instagram pics.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Birthday Week

Tuesday was my birthday, and as it turned out, I had a week of social outings.
Monday was a Spring Morning Tea at Jacqui's, quite a tradition now.

On Tuesday I was awake early for a presents in bed - DVDs, earrings, bowls, all sorts of nice things -
and then later headed out to see The Hundred Foot Journey with Tanya, followed by lunch. Loved the movie, just perfect.  (And I would love to be Marguerite, cycling to work by the river, wearing a fresh cotton dress for each day of the week.)

After the movie and lunch I dropped home for five minutes or so and a friend arrived just then with a happy bunch of gerberas. Catherine is so good, she never forgets a birthday.

Laura and I had chiropractor appointments, 45mins from home. But we arrived early and actually had a moment to drop in at the beach.  All these appointments and the beach has been just over the hill, out of reach.  As we pulled up, we saw a rainbow out to sea. We jumped out and had a few photos, in the freezing cold wind.  An unplanned birthday portrait:

 All through the day I had texts, facebook messages and phonecalls. It's so nice to be remembered on your birthday (I really must be more organised with other people's birthdays!).
Emily made me this sweet card, hand-drawn.

Steve arrived home from work with a bunch of beautiful pink roses.

We went out for dinner, to a local bistro where I could eat a steak and salad, and we managed to find food for each of our varied diets.  We laughed a lot, and made up stories about other people in the bistro, good fun.

On Wednesday I celebrated my birthday with Mum and Dad - more presents, another movie and another lunch! (How spoilt am I?) This time we saw Magic in the Moonlight, which was enjoyable, but not brilliant. Very pretty to look at, but lacking subtlety or sub-plot, I thought. And the heating wasn't working in the cinema - eek! (But once again I would have been happy to be the heroine and wear pretty dresses in picturesque locations). We had a delicious lunch afterwards of lamb salad at one of my favourite restaurants. By now I was completely exhausted already from a few days of outings, and socialising, plus not feeling so well.  I went home and crashed on the sofa for a bit.

That afternoon Emily and I saw the most amazing sunset on the way home from her saxophone lesson.

On Thursday I taught recorder and went to bible study as usual, my friend Deb treated me with a delicious morning tea spread that I could actually eat - a rosewater, lemon and almond cake, sunflower & sesame crackers, maple rosemary nuts, and roast vegetable chips. I could barely lead bible study between stuffing my face with such yummies. (Just joking).

On Friday I went to a local open garden day, I'll save that for another post.

Saturday was getting ready for Fathers Day, and, since I enjoyed The Hundred Foot Journey so much, I dragged the family out to see it so we could all enjoy it at the theatre (which we did).

We arrived early (my mistake) and were amused by the antics of the cinema cat. You might be able to see her walking along the candy bar (!). This time the heating was working (phew). And did I mention that I saw Begin Again the previous Friday night? Four movies in 8 days for me, so out of the ordinary!
Sunday was Fathers Day, presents for Steve in the morning, then after church, a wet-weather picnic in my parents' rumpus room with some of the family, followed by games. So all in all, it's been a good week, but a busy week. Lots of love, and friendship, and good times.
This week, it's back to normal life for me. Emily is half-way through her Yr 11 exams,
and Laura is home with an injured ankle. On Saturday I'm accompanying Emily's saxophone exam,
so we both have plenty of practising to do. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Pre-Spring Rush

In August, I find myself busy again.
It's a shock after the quietness of a few months ago.
Life is full.

I've had a few days of casual teaching,
and a few days definitely booked in coming weeks.
While I really enjoy the teaching, it always means
a day lost at home, and the rest of the week becomes a bit more rushed.

Laura and I continue to see our chiropractor and nutritionist,
so there are appointments to attend and new lessons to learn
with food.  Coconut has proved to be a problem for me,
so now my diet consists of just meat, vegetables (not all)
fruit (limited) and nuts.  
However, I think I see improvements in my health,
so it's worth continuing on this path.
Laura is still missing a lot of school, there are no
overnight successes to report for her, but perhaps in time
there will be some positive change.

August means music exam preparation.
I have two students doing 8th Grade Piano,
and Laura doing 3rd Grade Piano in about 10 days, 
and I'm accompanying Emily's 7th Grade Saxophone 
exam in mid-September.
The piano parts for her pieces are ridiculously difficult, 
and I'm trying to fit in a decent practice most days.
So stress levels are high, and I can't wait until the exams are over.
Emily has school exams coming up, also, and is working on some
full-sized butterfly wings made of chiffon, for an art project.
Steve practises violin at nights for various chamber groups he's involved with.
There's always something going on with a deadline around here.

I've also been trying to declutter and tidy our study, the busiest room of the house,
where I teach, we practice, compute and Steve watches movies.

A more pleasant rush has been filling parts the garden with new plants.
After our big planting a few weeks ago I've picked up more plants
from the markets, and am loving the spots of colour in the front garden.
In the back garden I'm building up a herb garden and planting some lavender soon.
Steve dug out metres of fish-bone fern on the weekend so soon we will have a 
big corner of the front garden to fill with something more attractive.

It's lovely to escape outside for a few minutes here and there to check on the progress of each plant,
and water them, and dream up plantings for other parts of the garden. Each day there's something a little different to see, each plant a little bigger, flowers blooming.
Spring is on its way.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In the Garden

In the last few weeks we've been making some progress in the front garden.
After too many months of a bed full of weeds and bulbs,
the front garden bed along the path
is now almost all dug up, garden mix and compost have been added,
and we've been planting.

Today I went for a wander in the sunshine at the local nursery 
and came home with some seedlings and a birdbath. 
After trying a few spots I set it up and I've planted pansies around it, 
hoping they will grow up and flower soon.
Eventually the birdbath will be nestled among shrubs (if they all grow up).
Until then, it will have to look a bit twee standing tall by itself.

(Also, I'm hoping the lovely green glaze on it is not so shiny that the birds avoid it.
I haven't spotted a single bird near it yet, and meanwhile the birdbath in the backyard 
emptied very quickly today with birds splashing about in it. Hmmm )

Here you can see the two halves of the garden we have dug up and replanted,
the first half was done a few weeks ago and the half closer to the house
is what Steve dug up on the weekend.

It doesn't look like much yet, but we've planted a variety of shrubs and small flowering plants,
hopefully it will be full and green very soon, a cottage garden bed.
This part of the garden gets dappled sunshine, there are very tall trees overhead.

We've relaid stones for a path and I found a sweet groundcover which
should fill the gaps nicely in time, and flower with tiny white star-shaped flowers in summer.

It's so good to get into the garden again,
planning, digging, planting, watering, then checking how they are growing.
(Steve likes to talk to the plants, too.)
Those moments outside are the highlights of my days these last few weeks.

What's happening in your garden?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Random good things

Make-up case, $5.00 from the op shop.

What I took to the op shop one day - decluttering is an ongoing process around here.

Swing music on a rainy morning inspired  a fun photo shoot with Emily's old sax 
and some vintage sheetmusic.

Laura's long, long hair, before a trim - one day I must do a post on all her different types of braids.

Afternoon walks, capturing lots with my phone camera.

Mostly by myself, around sunset,

but sometimes with family.

Bible reading starting to happen more regularly.

A bushdance on Saturday night with our church family was loads of fun.
When I got home, I discovered that Steve used to play in this band,
back in the 1980s.

All good things from the last few weeks. I'm loving that instagram
has reminded me to use the camera on my phone more often to capture these good moments.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Changing diets ... again

These last two weeks have been very up and down.

I've loved the winter weather, 
both the cold, cold days, and the milder sunny days, too.
I'd be quite happy if this was our weather all year round.

And then there's food.
My life is revolving around food.
First Laura had to give up dairy and sugar (on top of gluten)
three weeks ago. We've managed that, kind of.
(The butterfly cake above is GF, DF and sugarfree,
filled with cashew cream.)

And then I was told to give up sugar and limit starches.
Considering that my diet is already very limited
(no gluten, dairy, high salicylates, or high amines)
it makes for quite a challenge.

Under a nutrition's advice, my diet at the moment
revolves around nuts, coconut, chia seeds, sunflower seeds,
chicken, fish, lamb, eggs, (limited) vegetables and (very limited) fruit.
Coconut, nuts other than cashews, chia and sunflower seeds are foods 
that I normally avoid so I'm hoping that over time I can cope with them.
So far, there have been some reactions, but nothing too unbearable.

This morning I was called to do a day's casual teaching
(for only the second time all year)
and I had to come up with some morning tea and lunch for myself
that fitted all the requirements but also had to be nut-free for school
and ready in 5 minutes.
Yikes! Luckily I had a few bits and pieces in the fridge to throw together,
and fortunately I was too busy at school to feel hungry ;-)
Anyway, I'm learning some (more) lessons about food.

 Not just how to cook without some (lots of) foods,
or what is good for you, although there's been a lot of that,
but about my attitudes  and approaches towards food.
This seems to be an ongoing process in my life in the last 5 years.

1. Food is for nourishment. I'm grateful for the energy food gives me,
even if it sometimes is not to my taste.
(although I'm not sure I'll ever like papaya, sorry Ms Nutritionist).

2. A body can get used to anything. I've gotten used to drinking hot water instead of tea,
and giving up chocolate and all sorts of other good-tasting foods, I can change my diet again.

3. Cooking with new foods and new methods takes time. 
Give myself lots of time, and start with a clean bench. 
(Unfortunately my bench looks nothing like this at the moment,
being covered with coconut products, seeds, nuts etc. that don't fit in the pantry)

4. Don't beat myself up about cooking failures, the cost of health foods,
or rejection of foods by certain family members. It's all a learning curve.

Girls' afternoon tea one day, one cupcake tray each. No one ate the dates. One girl wasn't sure about the cacao spread.

5. I'm so grateful I have a Thermomix, it's a real time-saver
and saves my muscles too, heating and stirring weird and wonderful ingredients.

6. Food tastes better outside, with good company.

(and no, he doesn't always smile like this!)