Friday, December 31, 2010

Summer reading...

This is where my mind has been for the last few days... well and truly on holiday. 

After a very socially exhausting Christmas celebration (ate too much, drank too much, stayed up too late, ate some more, drank some more, the usual...) we have done almost nothing. A lot of sleeping, reading, pottering and playing with the boys... the most time we have ever spent at home on holiday. 

Luckily I have the ability that only the truly slothful and slovenly have of letting the house slide into a total shambles and not really worry about it.  I finally cooked a meal last night after we started looking a little like Captain Cook's scurvy-ridden crew.

I've been pondering my New Year's Resolutions and expect to publish them in full as usual in April. I may have to repeat a couple of last year's but not the reading better project
That gets a big fat tick.  Like this... TICK.
This is my bedside reading... 
It's doubled in height since I took this pic a week ago... a smattering of classics, some comfort reads from this list and a couple of great girly page turners recommended by Jane at My Pear Tree House. I'm still about three years behind and have just started THE book of book clubs in 2008... The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

Most of my current books are from the Auckland library... their online order service is fabulous particularly if you have a want-to-read list at hand. So that is my summer task... compiling my own list from all the wonderful lists that journalists just love to fill their blogs and columns with at this time of year.

The Australian TV journo Leigh Sales styles herself (when blogging) as the well readhead and she is both auburn haired and well read. Her list is here.

Also from the ABC in Australia is this list of Christmas gift recommendations compiled with the help of a couple of Sydney's best known book sellers.

The contributors to The Big Apple's finest, the New Yorker's are here - quite a mixed bag as you'd expect.

I also quite liked this list from Stephen Romei in The Australian - he looks back at 2010 and forward to 2011 with a nice little blurb about each book.

And if you like a Top 50 list then the Booktopia blog is publishing the 50 must-read Australian novels... I am never sure about these lists - mostly they just start arguments.

So Happy New Year to you... thank you for all your comments, emails and conversations in 2010. I have loved it. My New Year's gift to you (and myself) will be a reading list for 2011... it'll be on the blog, um soon... sometime early in 2011. Just have to drag my mind off that hammock.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy, happy...

It's been an uneventful and pretty unstressed sort of week for us. No packing or planes this year - we're staying put in Auckland for Christmas.

We're having a lovely but very relaxed lunch at a friend's new house... a pool, prawns, oysters, ham and salads and a gaggle of satisfied boys spinning their Bey Blades. Phew. We shipped one in via the grandparents in Queensland and another hand delivered from China. Yes, seriously, China. Well it wasn't just a Bey Blade buying mission but a friend on a business trip whose own boys are equally obsessed. Christmas is saved.

I have had a few little hiccups in my relaxed approach to the festive season, the first is losing a couple of the gifts I bought way too early. There are two Roal Dahl books that will turn up in June.

Next year I will not buy four rolls of sticky tape and a bunch of Christmas cards and then stash them somewhere while quickly tidying up before friends drop in. Will no doubt find them both on Boxing Day. What would Flylady say?

I have also discovered that there is such a thing as non-sticky sticky tape. I found an old obviously cheap roll and have been trying to wrap presents with it and now have five new grey hairs and another frown line.  I had a tantrum, threw it out and am doing origami type folds and trying to hold the mess together with ribbon. Sorry Martha my dear.

Inspired by all the beautiful images I've seen I bought a new glass vase (above) to display the glass baubles that a mother of two boys should never have bought. They are sitting next to our French doors and so far the balls, paper planes and even airborne children have sailed past without incident... just added another grey hair or two...

Merry Christmas to one and all. Particularly my dear family and all the old friends we won't see this festive season.   I'll be back when the mood strikes!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

For the grandparents...

Our sleeping stuntman has been at it again. Almost every night when we pop in to check on him he's assumed some ludicrous new position. He is actually sound asleep here and seconds after I'd moved him he was back like this.

I'm so very glad we bought him a trundle bed which (almost always) provides the perfect crash pad when the stunt sleeping misfires...

After a very busy day he's lying here dreaming of parks, balls, chockut cake and the 'birthday' Father Christmas is bringing.  The festive concept is a bit mixed up but I think that means he's well and truly got a handle on the present thing this year. Bring it on Santa.

Monday, December 20, 2010

For the man who has everything...

Or more accurately the wife who has absolutely no idea what to buy him...

Despite being together nearly ten years I find my husband incredibly hard to shop for. I can't buy him clothes, he loves books but I'm never quite sure which one, same with music. He's just not really that interested in getting things and on the rare occasion he is, he'll generally nip out and buy it himself. At least that's what I think, he thinks he's easy to buy for which only adds to my angst!

So last year (at the last minute) I dreamed up this.... a badly wrapped box* of 'time to himself' vouchers....
He loved it and although most of them are still sitting in the box he did get a few weekends away to himself and a few extra hours of sleep...

The bad news is that was last year and I have no idea what to pull out of the hat this year. HELP!?

*The reason I generally do NOT make gifts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday flowers and a few thoughts...

The past week has flown by with no time given at all to my poor little blog. It was the last week of school for my son. His first year as a school boy is now behind him and many more years ahead... ah to be five again.

I have been shopping, baking, arranging flowers and generally swanning around trying to emulate Nigella at her most laid-back yet charismatic best. I'd forgotten just how much I love cooking for others and will do more of it next year.

I had been feeling a little caught up in the pre-Christmas rush and then read this very personal post from Jane a blogger I really admire.

She writes as I would like to write with clear opinions and a wide breadth of knowledge about art, food, design and books. She has a beautiful life and I feel lucky to have shared a portion of it through her posts.

Her life in the coming months will be difficult. A good time for us all to pause and remember how fragile our beautiful lives are and how worth fighting for.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas whispers...

There's a lot to do at this time of year and of course even more if you are Santa's eyes and ears.
It is my job to make sure Father Christmas gets all the amendments to the various Santa lists that are drafted from about September through to the 24th of December. These lists are made on scraps of paper, written at home or at school, spelled out in conversation with me, Dad, the grandparents, the teacher and other boys.

Unfortunately they're not reliable documents. Often they're made in my five year old's head. And the items on the lists change. A lot.

It's like a game of Chinese Christmas whispers with all the whisperers in different rooms. Impossible.

Unfortunately the loudest whisper  I've intercepted is Bey Blades. Bey Blades. Bey Blades.

Those of you without boys will think I'm off my head.
I am.  Bey Blades are sold out in New Zealand.

I have visited four toy shops and one two dollar shop where I could have found a fake if I'd been faster. They're sold out too.

My name is on a list - I am hoping to be among the lucky few who get one of the Bey Blades being air freighted in to NZ. Did I want a two pack? Yes, if they're the last ones in the country, you bet I do.

I have put the call out to Australia to my son's Cool Uncle. "Get Him a Bey Blade," I texted (but a bit more politely).

Cool Uncle is not yet 30. He will know what a Bey Blade is... he will know how important this is. As important as that Ben 10 watch and the Bakugan ball things gathering dust in my son's room. IMPORTANT.

Meantime the huge boxes of lego and six year old bike might ease the pain. Might...

I'd like it noted that:
1. My children don't actually get a lot of Christmas presents but I know that they do very, very well considering the plight of most of the world's kids. They too will know that one day.
3. I know as a blogger I should be handcrafting felt toys and sticking bits of fabric together to make him a dress-up Bey Blade outfit. The sense of failure weighs heavily.
4. I once said I'd only buy my children handcrafted wooden toys but that was a long, long time ago...

And you may well ask what the hell a Bey Blade is? Does it really matter?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Boy racer red...

There's a bit of an accidental theme on the blog in the last few weeks or so...  I'm not obsessed with red but obviously I do rather like it. It's a great improvement on the before which might look rather shabby and chic to some of you but actually just looked rather 'kicked around' shabby. Isn't shabby a rather silly word when you look at it too long?
I decided not to distress it. Putting it in the bedroom of a five year old boy is quite distressing enough...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Summer fun... and a winner...

I don't really need to say much more do I? While part of Australia is under water the Land of the Long White Cloud (or our end of it) is basking under endless sunny blue skies.

It's heaven for those of us with only a patch of grass (and two boys) to water and no herd of dairy cows to keep alive.  More to come the forecasters say and the likelihood drought will be declared again in the north.

Now down to business. With the help of my boys (the younger one helped by not actually helping) we have drawn a winner for the giveaway - thank you all who entered - the winner is....

Ange from Chair Up - I suspect she'd rather I send her a ticket back to Auckland... maybe next year!

Friday, December 3, 2010

To do...

 The countdown to Christmas is on in our house. The Advent calendar went up on Wednesday. I've realised my two year old knows more about chocolate treats than I'd like him to. I'm also having a hard time leaving the chocolate where it is. Last night I ate today's advent treats... sorry boys.

As I tick off the days in December I'm also feeling a little smug, unusual for me in the lead up to Christmas. I usually first hit the shops on the 23rd and wrap at midnight on the 24th. But look at this....
All the Australian gifts bought, wrapped and in my husband's suitcase. I just hope he doesn't bring any of them back.

Of course there's still a bit on the to-do list and I'm making a new one every day.
A trip to the hairdresser is definitely overdue but I'm most excited about finally getting around to having my knives professionally sharpened. What is it about this time of year that makes us all try to finish everything we didn't quite get to all year?

Top of the list on Monday is to let you know who's won my little giveaway - there's still time to enter... Good luck.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Breakfast in red?

Lovely vibrant colours to start your morning... and a surprise too. It's Cornishware, the distinctive blue and white has had a twenty-first century makeover.   I have never much like the blue version - not quite the right blue. Spode blue is more my shade of blue and white.  The RED is my absolute favourite... and so appropriately Christmassy. 
Apparently in the fifties they did briefly make the red version but couldn't quite nail the colour consistently so ended production. Now that we  can fly quite easily to the moon and all carry the world in our iPalms they can also make red Cornishware.

Why am I more thrilled by the advances in red striped pottery than space travel or the digital age?

A reminder too that I am having a rather red giveaway this week - join in, you have until Sunday to enter.

Found via India Knight... again. The images are from here. Have a look, you'll want to buy some too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A time of giving(away)...

This is my 177th post. Not a neat round number but it will have to do.

My 177th post-i-versary. A good time to say thank you to all the people who read this blog, email me and comment on my ramblings.

I am a person who makes her New Year's resolutions in April and buys the calendar halfway through the year.  Well not next year.  Last week I purchased my calendar for 2011 a whole MONTH before 2010 runs out.

I went calendar shopping at Kikki-K and because I can't bottle and give away that supremely calm, organised air I breathe out when I leave that shop I thought you might like this.

Perfect for a blogger - it has room for all those websites, movies, books, shops you see and then promptly forget if you don't make a note of it.

And that goes with this...
For those in the southern hemisphere Christmas means summer, summer means the beach and the beachgoer needs just the right bag. Room enough for towels, cotton so it can get wet and sandy.  The northerners can put it away until the snow melts and they see sun again.

So if you'd like the book and the bag, the usual rules apply.

1. If you're a follower leave a comment and you're in.
2. If you're not, sign up and let me know with a comment that you have.
3. Blog about it, link to it, put it in your sidebar and let me know and you'll be entered again and again accordingly.
4. Anyone, anywhere can join in.
I'll draw the winner at the end of the weekend and let you know on Monday who's won.

For me 2010 has been all the better for blogging. So a big thank you for making it so.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday flowers...

Or more accurately, foliage for your door.
29 days 'til Christmas. And yes this is the requisite wreath blog post. I'm getting in early.
Love the traditional look but I think you need chilly weather - here where it's warm I like these.... 

These are the work of Sydney florist Saskia Havekes of Grandiflora - there's a video tutorial here.

If you need help with a traditional wreath then of course it's Martha you'd turn to - her instructions are here. And if you don't fancy the leafy look? 

Kind of cool, like Christmas. I'm looking forward to it.
Have a good weekend. x

First image found here, second and third from here, fourth and fifth here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


New Zealand feels quiet today. Flags at half mast, sombre voices on the radio and  tired, grey faces on the television.

Of course for most of us the day is just like yesterday. Getting the kids off to school, wading through a few loads of washing, worrying about the meeting you've done nothing to prepare for, buying Christmas gifts. Auckland city life is a million miles from the mine.

For those coasters, as the West coast community call themselves, it's a completely different sort of day. No miracle rescue, no jubilant scenes just shock and the sort of raw grief that makes you want to look away.

They're mourning for 29 men - their grandfathers, sons and brothers. A very sad day indeed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gardening inside and out...

Thank you for all your kind, sympathetic comments about my son's foray into indoor gardening.  What am I talking about?! You all LAUGHED.

Actually I did too but not while I was cleaning the floor and trying to get dirt out of the cracks. (some is there to stay)

Now to my outdoor garden. It's a work in progress so I took a stroll to get some inspiration and see what I should plant to replace my hedges. I found a lot of green. Green, green and more green. When did flowers go right out of style?

Luckily everyone's picked my favourite, the Iceberg rose. They look simply lovely lined up behind a white picket fence and the grey villas I like so much are a perfect backdrop. Icebergs are blousy and beautiful and wonderfully disheveled. We ordered Icebergs for my wedding flowers and the commercial ones looked nothing like they should - they were prim and perfect and quite overworked.
I loved these old-fashioned climbers peeking out from a less than perfect picket fence. The pale pink rose will probably go when the landscape designers move in.
So what did I learn from my garden tour? Green is good. Actually green is god. And lots of structural plants in rows at different heights with dark grey pots and edging. Crisp white paintwork and blousy white roses.

I came home and popped this Nicotiana or flowering tobacco plant in a pot.  I grew these in my London courtyard and they have a beautiful delicate scent in the evening.  Despite the name it is not the scent of smouldering Marlboro Lights.
Luckily hydrangeas are back in fashion - I read that somewhere this week but they're probably only talking about the white ones. I've just planted one in my new patch of soil where the hedge used to be. You know how I like to be dead on trend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A blogger's life...

Friends often ask me when I get time to blog. The truth is I probably don't have time to blog - I just do it when I should be working, cleaning or watching my children.

The 'watching my children' bit is what's causing problems.  A few weeks ago I was trying not to cry over spilt milk, yesterday I was having a delightful trawl through my picture file and fiddling online. I could hear my two year old playing happily down the hallway, making truck noises and banging his lego around. I only worry when I can't hear him. Mistake.
For trucks and diggers you need dirt and dirt is what he had.... what a busy, busy boy.
He didn't say much but I could tell he thought it was a fine idea. I have a nasty feeling he might try it again... on the carpet.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Reading in 2011

It's less than five weeks to Christmas, and however many days until 2011... time to start planning next year's reading list.

I've found a very nice place to start - with my blog crush India Knight and her ultimate comfort reads. Her lovely list is here.

How could I not love a list that starts with Nancy Mitford and includes Agatha, Daphne Du Maurier, PG Wodehouse and Austen?  I'm not sure Jilly Cooper fits with my resolution to read better. I may leave her off in 2011.

I loved Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle and as a girl despite being THE worst dancer at Mrs Todd's Ballet School, anything by Noel Streatfield.

Jane at My Pear Tree House gave me food for thought last week (as she so often does when it comes to books and food) with her post about grand castles in literature. I'm adding Kate Morton to my list - she's not English but Australian but Jane assures me she does English very well.

So many of the authors I love are English, terribly English. So many of the books I love are set in a particular period in English life and in a particular class too it must be said... perhaps in a past life I lived somewhere like Chatsworth House.
Maybe I spent my teen years in that other life mooning about in a grand country home in a scratchy tweed skirt, gazing out over green rolling hills while dreaming about silk dresses and pining for love.

One day in my much talked about dream house in this life (with a laundry, dressing room and library) there will be a room crammed with comfort reads - a no boy zone.

In my past life it may have looked like the drawing room at the Duchess of Devonshire's new Vicarage.
As the Mitford sister who married very well,  Debo (now 90) has downsized from the beautiful Chatsworth House. There's a lovely interview with her here and another lively Mitford book to look forward to.

Ah well, this Villa Life might be a little drab in comparison but my family is at least sane and pretty happy. They are rarely sane or happy in the books I've loved.

I'll settle for a book corner like this perhaps. And a silk dress.

(Image 1 and 4 from here, 2 and 3 from here)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Door stalking...

Remember the copper door I showed you? I've been at it again - door stalking in our neighborhood. Lovely for me and infuriating and embarrassing for those walking with me.

I've always liked this etched front door. It looks very cool and retro and maybe is actually retro. Shameless as I am about taking photographs, I am a little too embarrassed to ask.

Normally you see glass etched with exotic birds, flowers or twiddly embroidery style patterns. This is pretty offbeat.

On reflection (no pun intended) I should have waited until they'd given it a wipe down with windex or vinegar or whatever you do with grubby windows but I could hardly knock on the door, camera in hand, and ask them to clean up their act for my blog... could I?!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An early Christmas gift...

Now this is for you mum...
I am known in our family for my quirky (and entirely lovable) approach to toast - barging past everyone to get the butter on before it goes cold. My mother, on the other hand, is famous for sneaking a peak at her Christmas presents... and everyone else's.

As our grandparents lived in South Africa and we lived in Australia our presents always arrived by post and then were snuck into a top cupboard until Christmas morning. They'd look untouched but we knew better and Mum would quite often give herself away with a telling 'I thought you'd like that...'  

So this year I'll print some of these lovely labels and stick them all over Mum's gift. The labels are an early Christmas present to everyone from the delightful and talented Janette at My Sweet Prints who along with her little helper, her own sweet prince, produces delightful art for your wall. Her blog is here. The free, ready-to-print labels are here. Than you so much Janette. 

Oh yes - and only six weeks to go, as my gym instructor keeps yelling at the spin class. It's as if he thinks I'm going to don a bikini on Christmas Day. 

As if. It would scare the children silly.


Related Posts with Thumbnails