Done and Dusted

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Christmas is over, or in the words of Uncle D, “Well, that’s Christmas buggered for another year!”

I must confess that I was anything but organised this year but I am safe in the knowledge that I will have an opportunity to improve in 2015.  I did not even send cards/emails this year but I am planning to do make that a job for the coming week as I am at home and there will be time to make it meaningful correspondence.

We spent time at Caloundra with the family and had a most enjoyable short break.

2014-12-27 01Decorating the tree which we took with us.

2014-12-27 02Gifts under the tree and ready to go.

2014-12-27 03Trying on new hat and sunglasses.

2014-12-27 04Dressed and ready to go out for lunch.

2014-12-27 05Everyone is now back at their respective homes in 2 different states.  The Duke and I have unpacked and things will gradually return to normal.  As always, I am keen make the New Year a great one but more on that another day.

Best wishes to you and yours for Christmas and the New Year.

End of an Era

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Last Friday marked a major milestone in the life of our younger grand-daughter.  Izz turned 5 in August and next year she will join her older sister at school.

She first attended daycare at the tender age of 4 months and has now completed 5 years (at 2 different facilities).  Last week we were privileged to witness the graduation ceremony for those children are moving on to the formal part of their education.

2014-12-20 01Yesterday was her last day at daycare and I imagine that there were some emotional farewells.  It certainly is the end of an era.

Christmas is Coming

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I know that the year is rolling by and before we know it Christmas will be upon us.  In fact I read this comment on a discussion forum a couple of days ago,

“Everyone is so busy and it will get even busier as it gets closer to Xmas… which I haven’t planned anything….”

This got me thinking as to why everything has to be busy in the lead-up to Christmas.  I love Christmas for the joy of being able to share the day with my family, especially the grandchildren.  I do not enjoy the commercialism of it nor the endless round of parties, celebrations and gift-giving.  The associated stress and pressure is simply not worth it.

Christmas Shopping

I try to switch off to most advertising at any time but I find it particularly insidious at this time of the year.  Every conceivable type of business is exhorting us to buy their goods so that they can be delivered by Christmas.  Worse still, are the offers of no repayments until the New Year etc, etc.  Just remember that everything has to be paid for at sometime and do you really want to be paying for Christmas at this time next year?

Like many other aspects of our life, we have managed to eliminate a lot of unnecessary Christmas festivities and focus on what is important to us.

This year we will be keeping it simple.

Neither The Duke nor I attend any work functions.
The Duke and I will go to a local festive gathering.  It is an opportunity to socialise with our neighbours and is hosted by a different family each year.  Everybody brings their own drinks and a plate of food to share.
We will take our grand-daughters to see the Christmas lights in our area. I want to take them to a carol service at the local church.
We will spend 5 days at the beach with family.
Christmas lunch will be at my sister’s place with extended family.
Gift giving for the family will focus on experiences and/or consumable gifts.

Over the next 6 weeks I will share some of the things you can do and make in the lead-up to Christmas which are memorable but relatively easy on the budget.  Please share any special ideas from your family.

In the meantime, here is a photo I took yesterday when I went to Caloundra to meet some friends for lunch.  I am hoping for some similarly spectacular weather when we spend some time there at Christmas.

2014-11-07 02

Celebration Central

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In the midst of our busy lives it is good to take time out to celebate.

Today is Mothers’ Day and I was lucky enough to be able to spend time with my mother, sister, one of my daughters and 2 granddaughters as well as my husband, brother and brother-in-law.  We gathered at a cafe and shared some morning tea before adjourning to a local park where we could sit in the sun and chat while the children played on the playground.  It was really special and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

A special thought for those whose mothers or children are not in their lives either through death, distance or estrangement.

flowers
Meanwhile, I have been working on creating the invitations for The Duke’s milestone birthday celebration in a few months time.  Here is a photo from the ‘archives’ that I am using.

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Finally, there will be celebrating this month when two much awaited babies arrive to loving families that I know.

What is happening in your life and the lives of those around you that is worth celebrating?  Take time out and share the occasion.

Some Reflections

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Today, the second Sunday in May is Mothers’ Day.

It can be a day of celebration, perhaps with your mother, your children or both.

It is also a day of reflection.  Time to think of those who cannot be with their mother.  This may be due to death, distance or estrangement.  Special thoughts for those who have outlived a child, suffered miscarriages or stillbirths or made the difficult choice to place their child for adoption.  Finally, but by no means least  are those who have been unable to conceive – much love and hugs.

2013-05-12 01I was so blessed to spend the afternoon with my mother, daughter and two grand-daughters.  Times like this are to be cherished.

Thoughts for some of the special women in my life for whom this is a bittersweet day (in no particular order) – Pat, Tania, Suzanne, Cath, Patty and Susan.  Thinking of you all.

It really is a day for the sisterhood to reach out and care for all women – whatever their role – mothers, daughters, grandmothers, would-be mothers.

Australia Day

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Firstly, I would like to say to my overseas readers that although this post is directed to local readers, I do hope you will read it and perhaps gain a small appreciation of Australia and its people.

Today, January 26th is Australia Day.  It is the official national day of our country and is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet which landed at Sydney Cove in 1788.

Aus DayI am not going to indulge in a debate but suffice to say that there is much angst about the relevance of the day.  The selection of the date does not acknowledge the long, proud history of the indigenous people who had lived here for many thousands of years and were displaced by the ‘marauding hordes’.

The occasion is marked by citizenship ceremonies and other official events but for many it is an opportunity to celebrate summer and our outdoor lifestyle rather than any particular allegiance to our nation.

In the light of the extreme weather being endured around the country over the past couple of months perhaps it is time to stop and really think about the words of the iconic poem penned by Dorothea Mackellar.  The second verse is the most well-known and oft quoted but to read and absorb the words of the entire poem really sums up how I feel about my home.  What better day than Australia Day to stop and remind ourselves of what it means to be Australian?

You can listen to the poem being read by the author in this video and the full text of the poem is below.

My Country by Dorothea Mackellar – 1885-1968, written in 1904

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold –
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

This is another video titled “Celebration of a Nation” which was released for the Bicentenary in 1988.  It is a 15 minute potted history of the first 200 years of non-indigenous settlement and contains some interesting insights.

I hope you have a wonderful day wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

Simple Decorating

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Yesterday we hosted a Christmas gathering for our neighbours.  We live in a semi-rural area and often the annual Christmas function is the only opportunity we have to get together.

We were mostly on the verandah, however, I had cleaned and set up the living area in case of inclement weather.  Although it is still November I did want to have a simple, Christmas-themed decoration.

2012-11-25 01 I put this centrepiece together using a crystal salad bowl and some silver balls which are normally used on the Christmas tree.  It looked really pretty and effective.

2012-11-25 02Here you can get a good view of one the tablecloths that I have converted from a rectangle to an oval to suit the table.  You can read more about the project here and here.