Today is 28th December and we are in that strange final week of the year – the week between Christmas and New Year. It can seem like no-man’s land and even has some rather creative names, including Twixtmas, Witching Week and Chrimbo Limbo.
Depending on your personal preferences and circumstances, the lead-up to Christmas may have been lived at a frenetic pace. Even those of us who have made a conscious decision to aim for a more low-key Christmas may find that most of our activity in the past month has been geared towards those few days centred on Christmas Day.
Therefore, it is hardly surprising that post-Christmas can be a bit of an anti-climax. When you combine this with the fact that many people have some sort of holiday break and another celebration a few days away it is no wonder that we are are feeling a bit topsy-turvy.
Additionally, the New Year is the moment when we tend to choose to rule a line under the past year and really look forward to the year ahead with gusto.
So, this Chrimbo Limbo (my personal favourite) what are you doing?
I am choosing to use the time to reflect, re-arrange, plan and prepare for the year ahead. I do not know what 2022 will bring but I do know that I want to use my time wisely and live my best life without dwelling on the past or wishing my life away.
There has been a bit of a hiatus as we were on holidays for part of the time and occupied with various happenings at home.
Since my last post the only additional stuff I bought in November was 4 items of clothing from an op shop while we were on holidays. I spent the princely sum of $13 for 2 pairs of white shorts, a black top with white spots and this lightweight pair of loose trousers.
I am not sure whether they are meant to be pyjamas but I will be wearing them for comfy loungewear at home.
We have experienced some wild weather (strong winds and heavy rain) over the past 48 hours but I have been happily ensconced indoors.
Our granddaughters have finished school for the year and are spending this week with us. I decided that it was a perfect opportunity do do some sewing for them. I had promised it some weeks ago but it is definitely easier when they are here and I am able to try garments on and fit as I go.
The first project was a pair of summer pyjamas for Miss13. I had previously begun the boxer shorts so it was a relatively simple matter of measuring and attaching the elastic. The elastic was salvaged from worn-out underwear when the elastic is as good as new. It is great to be able to re-use this resource.
I did not have a suitable pattern for the shirt so I turned to my collection of Enid Gilchrist pattern books which belonged to my mother. She used various patterns to make outfits for me and my siblings when we were young and in turn I used them for my daughters and granddaughters. Most of the patterns are for birth to 6 years, however, there is one book of outfits for girls which goes up to 12 year olds. I decided that a pattern for a blouse/shirt with numerous variations would be suitable and set about drafting a copy onto some salvaged heavy brown paper.
My piece of gifted fabric proved to be just enough for the pyjamas. Here is the shirt with mauve buttons which I found in my collection.
The recipient was happy to model them once they were finished.
I am now working on another top using the same basic pattern but with a different neckline and sleeve. I am using one of her existing tops as the template for the sleeve.
No-one would dispute the fact that the past 8 months or so have been unprecendented and pretty difficult for all of us. We have had the added complication of losing our elderly dog in May last year as I wrote in this post.
We were sure that we wanted another dog but that was the extent of what we knew. There has been much discussion and searching for the perfect pet over several months.
All of the planning came to fruition on Saturday when we collected our new Tenterfield terrier pup. It was a big day out with a round trip of over 400km.
A stop in Brisbane and then a BBQ lunch at Wyaralong Dam broke up the outbound trip.
It has been a bit of shock to the system as it is over 25 years since we last had a pup. The combination of being 8 weeks old and of a small breed means that she was not much bigger than a guinea pig when we picked her up.
The next trick was to decide on a name. I wanted something that was relatively unique but easy to use when calling her. So, the final decision was ‘Islay’ – pronounced eye-la. The origin is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides in Scotland which we visited last year and home to several whisky distilleries. It is a nod to her whisky-coloured face as well as our travels.
Despite her small size, Islay seems to be settling in well and I think she has grown even in the past 2 days.
I retired from full-time, paid employment in July 2019 so it is now 15 months since I was last in the office. My finishing date was pretty much decided at least 2 years prior to my retirement. I did not really contemplate gradually reducing my hours or other strategies to ease into retirement. This bemused many people who continually quizzed me as to what I was going to do when I retired. I did not really have a clear answer which made them even more convinced that I would return.
The last 15 months has been somewhat of a rollercoaster. 6 weeks after my final day in the office, we headed overseas for a much-anticipated 9 week holiday. It was an amazing adventure which we thoroughly enjoyed. Towards the end of the trip GMan and I independently came to the same conclusion – that we would have a break in 2020 and not go overseas. What a fortuitous decision that proved to be. We had previously considered travelling to Scandinavia this year.
Upon our return from overseas towards the end of October we had barely 2 months at home before setting off on a road trip to Victoria. We spent Christmas with family and then planned to visit areas in eastern Victoria and south-eastern NSW but the worst bushfires in living memory crushed that plan. We did manage to visit more family in Canberra and experienced the impact of the smoke first-hand. Not a pleasant experience.
Home again in early January and we imagined that 2020 would be a time to settle into a steady routine. Enter COVID19 and the world seemed to be completely upturned. We were very grateful for the space we had – house and large garden, a well-stocked pantry as well as a garden which supplied at least some of our food requirements, not having paid work to try to do from home or children to homeschool. We were unable to see or visit family and friends for several weeks but this was barely a minor inconvenience compared to what some people have had to endure.
In fact, COVID19 gave us the opportunity to focus on projects around our home. A quick scroll through previous blog posts provides a bit insight. Compost bays, a cold frame, more raised garden beds and finishing the pergola are some of the outdoor improvements. Meanwhile, I prepared meals made predominately from our homegrown produce as well as sewing and mending. Furniture restoration completed.
As restrictions were lifted we resumed some of our activities and interests outside the home. Which brings me to the essence of this blog post.
It is easy to become immersed in a particular interest or activity to exclusion of most others. Therefore, my goal is to identify broad categories and try to include a mix of activities/interests. It is probably not feasible to try to do this each day but I think that it is possible within the timeframe of a week.
After some thought, I have come up with a list of general categories which cover most of the things I do. Yours may be a little different.
Administration Appointments Community engagement Craft and creating Family Friends Garden/outdoor maintenance Garden/outdoor projects Health and fitness Homemaking – regular/frequent tasks Homemaking – seasonal/occasional tasks Planning Relaxation Socialising and entertaining Travel
Of course, some of these definitely overlap and some activities may even cover 3 categories. The list is in alphabetical order so that no-one can question my priorities. I do not envisage making specific lists but it certainly helps to keep things in perspective.
Finally, to those people who were convinced that I would not have enough to do in retirement – you were definitely wrong. My days are occupied, interesting and most of all, fulfilling.
I was looking back at the date of my last post which was a little over a week ago. Since then my focus has been firmly on my family. Even though GMan and I are the only ones living here, we are fortunate to have plenty of contact with family. Sometimes it seems to come all at once as has been the case in the past week.
Last Monday I went to Brisbane. I took my mother to a specialist medical appointment then we treated ourselves to lunch at Fuzzy Duck Cafe. I would recommend it. This was en route to visit my aunt who is in an aged care facility. Visiting has not been possible during COVID19 restrictions so it was good to be able to see her.
I stayed in Brisbane overnight and after another appointment the next day I picked GMan up from a dental appointment and we headed home.
It has been school holidays for the last 2 weeks and our daughter and granddaughters arrived on Wednesday evening. The girls stayed until Saturday afternoon while their mother went to work for the remainder of the week and picked them up again on Saturday.
During their stay we prepared meals, sorted through my fabric stash, went to the gym, shopped for shoes, went to the beach and park and checked out the garden.
Miss O making french dressing and learning the principle of adjusting the seasoning to taste.
Cutting broccoli for the soup.
A successful shopping trip to buy new sandals for Izzy.
More cooking – pizza bases ready for toppings.
The beginning of a dress for Miss O from a piece selected from the stash.
Some of the regular housework goes by the wayside when there are visitors and this time was no exception.
The refrigerator looked somewhat chaotic. There were several leftovers that I could incorporate into meals the following day.
I had invited my sister and brother-in-law for lunch on Sunday but had no specific menu planned for the meal. We did a small amount of grocery shopping late on Saturday afternoon.
Our lunch was predominately a selection of small plates and salads which worked perfectly as we sat outside in the very pleasant spring weather.
Photographing the spread was overlooked until I brought the salads out.
Homemade hummus, guacamole and sourdough bread, rice crackers, vegie sticks and brie for starters then kale salad, rice salad, cucumber and onion salad ad tomato wedges to serve with mini meatballs, vegie kofta balls and spiced cauliflower bites. Fresh fruit salad made the perfect finish to the meal.
While it sometimes works out that a particular period of time is mostly taken up by a single facet such as family events, I am trying to create more balance in the spread of activities in my week. More about that tomorrow.
If you were paying careful attention to my last blog post (27th August) you would have noticed that I mentioned that we were about to go away on holidays.
Well, we certainly did and were away for just over 3 weeks before returning home on Sunday. It was a road trip though our home state of Queensland which you can read about on my other blog, Somewhere, Anywhere if you are interested.
There will be plenty of new content coming up soon but meanwhile, here are a couple of images that greeted us upon our return.
We had housesitters staying in our home so that the chickens and gardens would be maintained. Quite aside from the housesitters, the growing conditions must have been simply perfect. This is the haul I picked from the garden on Sunday afternoon.
In December last year we had some Himalayan Ash trees removed. These are classified as an environmental weed in south east Queensland – please refer to the link for details. Naturally, we were keen to revegetate the area as quickly as possibly and have planted a mixed selection of native shrubs and small trees.
It is barely 9 months since these were planted but this callistemon is already putting on a spectacular spring show.
Last night I took a different path and used the eggplant as the bases. 2 separate events led me to try this option. In fact, this blog post could easily have been titled, ‘A Tale of 2 Julias’. In 2014 we were privileged to meet a fellow blogger, Julia Davis-Coombs from Creative Economy in the Kitchen. Julia lives on the other side of the world so it was a delight to meet her when we were on our travels. Our shared lunch included mini pizzas made with slices of a very large zucchini as the base. Although I have not re-created this dish, it is a meal I have not forgotten. The second Julia was a recent online encounter with Julia B. in a group when I was canvassing ideas for a vegetarian meal and I mentioned that one of the vegetables I had on hand was eggplant. While I did not use her suggestion that night, it seemed ideal when I came to make dinner last night.
1 large eggplant
Pizza toppings as desired
Cut the eggplant into slices about 1 – 1.5cm in thickness. Place on a baking tray, lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast for 10 minutes at 160C.
Remove eggplant from the oven and add toppings. I used homemade tomato pizza sauce and mixed herbs then chopped mushroom and capsicum (bell pepper) and finally, sliced olives and cheddar cheese.
Return pizzas to the oven for about 5 – 7 minutes.
This was a light and tasty alternative to a traditional pizza and perfect for lunch.
NOTE: You do need a knife and fork when eating these.
It is 7 years since I wrote this post. The essence of it was about rearranging the wardrobe in the spare room but the aspect which I want to discuss further was the fact that we had just hosted our first Air BnB guests.
We were first introduced to Air BnB by our daughter and used it on our first trip to the USA in 2012. Since then, we have stayed in Air BnB accommodations all over the world, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Singapore, Mauritius and Canada as well as in cities and rural areas in Australia.
In the spirit of the sharing economy, in mid-2013 we decided that we would offer our spare room on Air BnB. We have not had huge numbers of guests due to our location and somewhat limited appeal but we have enjoyed hosting guests from all over Australia as well as many international guests.
We had never really decided if or when we would cease to host on Air BnB. Like so many other aspects of life in 2020, our hand has been forced with the appearance of COVID19. Since our guests are in our home and share space with us, we decided to immediately suspend our listing until at least the end of August.
The hiatus created by COVID19 provided space for us to consider the future of our Air BnB hosting and it was some degree of sadness that we made the decision not to resume hosting as travel restrictions are gradually eased.
As well as the obvious continuing risk of COVID19, there are a multitude of reasons that have combined to lead us to our decision. These include:
acquiring a new dog in the future
desire for more short-term travel
want more flexibility in activities in retirement
being able to welcome friends and family to stay at any time
physical demands of changing an extra bed frequently
additional cleaning that is required
The experience of being an Air BnB host has been amazing but it is time to move on.
Things have been quiet around here for a couple of days because despite the limitations due to COVID19 we managed to get away for a couple of days.It was great to see some different scenery and catch up with a couple of friends along the way.
If you would like to know more about our short break and see some photos, please pop over to my travel blog, Somewhere, Anywhere. The blog covers our planning and travels, mostly overseas, for the past 8 years. This is the link to our latest jaunt.