Tuesday, 29 March 2011

An easy 'walk in wardrobe' idea

 When my little girl was seven she thought she was a princess.
 Sometimes she thought she was a fairy, but mainly she thought she was a princess.

In her world, princesses lived in castles and wore pretty dresses.
We could manage the pretty dresses, but struggled with the 'living in a castle' part!  

When it came to her eighth birthday her wish was for a princess bedroom. Easy I thought, just a few fluffy things here and there and we're sorted. Oh no, a princess bedroom didn't mean any of that kind of stuff it meant...

"one purple wall, purple curtains, a white bed and a walk in wardrobe please"

 A walk in what?!

Not wanting to go to the expense of building walls to accommodate this request and to be honest not really wanting to appear to bow to her commands, I set about thinking of a compromise.

She had a double build in wardrobe in her room, so we removed the doors. Next we hung some sheer curtains with some space to create a dressing area.

The sheer curtains were too sheer so I then hung some lightweight white ones behind (got to love Ikea!)
Voila - a walk in princess wardrobe, or as Sibs now calls it her 'dressing area'.

She keeps it relatively tidy, but she's only eight so some stuff finds its way off the hangers and on to the floor, and the double layer just keeps enough out of sight.
Fortunately one of the ceiling down lights is located just inside the dressing area and this creates a perfect light.
She has a wall hung mirror in there and some hooks for the numerous handbags that eight year old princesses accumulate...

The original wardrobe doors have been kept so that bar a few holes in the ceiling it's a very simple job to convert back to a built in.

I bought the same curtains for the windows and the clever people at the paint shop mixed up some paint so that the purple wall that was requested could be matched.

So there you go an easy dressing area/walk in wardrobe make over fit for a princess.

linking up with Sarah at a beach cottage 
Good Life Wednesdays

Monday, 28 March 2011

A 'living the moments' weekend

Well I said that I would live and enjoy the moments and that's just what happened this weekend.

Want to share?

Saturday morning = usual early market trip, then coffee and read the papers.

Sibs had a lunchtime dancing lesson and then straight from there we headed to the climbing wall. For the locals we went to Urban Climb in West End. It's very well organised and the staff are great with kids. The first climb was a little tentative, but in a surprisingly short space of time it was 'off and away'. It was great fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

With one exhausted but exhilarated little girl we left the climbing wall and headed......home? Oh no, we were living the moments and we headed to some friends for a catch up and some supper! The slight breeze passing by as we sat outside was the only hint that Autumn is tapping us on the shoulder.

Sunday was conducted at a slightly slower pace.
Sibs and her cousin played together all morning. She pretended to be a lady whilst he did some gardening and then she prepared a picnic lunch for the two of them.
I overheard this lovely exchange between them...

Sibs - "Do you still like Michael Jackson?"
Cousin  - "yeah"
Sibs - "My Mum has seen him in real life"
Cousin in a not very impressed tone - "Oh"
Sibs - "Well she's seen Bobo from You Tube too"
Cousin, now seemingly seriously impressed - "Really Sibs, cool!"

(Just in case you're confused - she meant Bono from U2!!)

I decided to get the sewing machine going on Sunday afternoon and whip up some cushion covers.

It only took a couple of attempts to get the machine ready....oh, okay maybe six or seven...?
I only had to spend a  few minutes working out how to thread the bobbin.....oh, okay, maybe ten minutes...?
I only started once or twice with no thread in the needle....oh, okay, maybe more like three or four times...?
It only took.....close to two hours!!! So much for 'whipping up' some covers!

Maybe I was distracted by the lovely sight of a cricket game happenning just outside my window?
Either that, or I seriously need to get some lessons or get a good book on the basics of sewing.

We finished the afternoon with a little stroll up the road to a fund raising stall that one of the neighbours had organised. Of course we had to support them by buying some home made lemonade, cookies and cup cakes - all for a good cause you know!

So that was the weekend where we lived and enjoyed the moments.
Were we tired out? Yes... but did we have a good time - yes siree! 


Saturday, 26 March 2011

It's all in the attitude

- that feels better, just another big deep breath  in, then out,

It's the weekend to end a mammoth week here.
You know the routine? You wake up, fill the day, go to bed, repeat.
Well, that's the kind of week it's been...

A few times I've sat down and thought about writing something here, but it's all felt a little...how can I put it...trivial?
Thank you for the comments and messages after my last post. I think that kind of news makes you ponder things and gives you a different perspective on life for a while.

Anyhow, as I said, it's been a bit busy down this neck of the woods, so...

 rather than look around this house this morning and think "what a mess", I'm grateful that I have a home...

rather than worry that Sibs will be a tired little bunny as she has a dancing lesson this aftertnoon, then we're going to the climbing wall, then her cousin is staying, I'm grateful she has interests, friends and family...

 Looking for the positives in life and enjoying the moments...

Happy weekend

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

This last week has been a sad one in my local community. A young mother with a child at the same school as my daughter suddenly passed away. It's been tragic and shocking. There is a sense of disbelief.

Yesterday, I looked after a friend's four year old and we did some crafts together. She wanted to do something to make her bedroom look prettier. So, we found some old Better Homes and Gardens magazines and she picked out flowers...loads and loads of flowers. I cut them out and she glued and made a collage for her bedroom wall.

I thought about the young mother....

...and vowed to make the most of each day.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Welcome to the ex pat party

Noswaith dda/good evening from Brisbane.

I'm writing this post especially for Laura, Happy Homemaker UK.
She is kindly hosting an expat party today.
She's invited any expat blogger to share something about their host country.

So hello to Laura's friends.

If this is your first time here, welcome. Here is a bit of my world.
I moved from Wales via rural North Yorkshire to live in Brisbane a few years ago.
 My blog is mostly about the way that we adapt to our new surroundings and how different life is since we moved from the UK to sunnier shores. I write about everyday happenings as well as some of the things that define where I have come from. So one day I'll be sharing bbq tales or spider stories and next time you might read about a welsh custom or story...

I am constantly fascinated by the wildlife here in Australia and love taking photos of the local creatures.

...warning, some are prettier than others!

a cane toad in the garden

water dragons in a local park

the first live snake I ever saw!

a king parrot and a kookaburra

With my pale Celtic skin, it's taken a bit of getting used to the sunshine...
 but it's something that I have very quickly adapted to!

We are just beginning to see the start of Autumn here in the Southern hemisphere, so I'll be seeking out the long sleeve t-shirts and we'll be swapping shorts for longer trousers soon.
(if I was a true Aussie I'd say longer pants, or longer pents if I also adopted the accent!!)

So for now the Winter coats will continue to gather dust in the back of the wardrobe
...but I'm not complaining.

winter in Queensland

So why don't you head on over to Laura's and join the party?
There's an interesting bunch of people there who have all moved away from home
and each with a story to tell.

Have fun.



Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Precious family books and memories

My dream is to have a home library...a whole room dedicated to an indulgence in books.

I don't usually hold regrets in life, however there is one thing that niggles me on a regular basis. When we emigrated to Australia I gave away boxes and boxes and boxes of books...ouch, it pains me to type this!! I still managed to hold onto hundreds of them and they are stacked on a bookcase and fill a cupboard in the study....but there were many more that didn't make it :(

Anyhow, let me share with you some of the more precious ones that made the journey across the seas... 

These belonged to my great grandparents, and some are over a hundred years old. 

I wonder why my great grandfather bookmarked these pages?
I imagine him holding the same page open and reading the poem Y Fwyalchen (The Blackbird)

These books are the treasures of my great grandparents Jack and Annie Griffiths and their daughter, my grandmother Megan. I never knew Jack and Annie, but having these books gives me some connection to their world. I knew and loved my grandmother Megan, she was a very special person in my early life. I hold on to the memories of my childhood with her and my grandad. We would spend hours and hours reading and playing together...she taught me a great deal, and I'm told that we are very much alike.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (plus a smaller 'How to read and enjoy Shakespear') has been passed down through the generations, and I'm keeping it safe so that I can also pass it to my little Sibs when she gets older. She'll be able to add her name to follow her mother, grandmother and great grandmother.

Here's two editions of the same novel, one is the first edition that belonged to my great grandfather and the other is mine. I studied this book at school, and at the time didn't know that there was another copy in the family...

And here we are with my generation of childhood books...

There are echoes of the past here with the Secret Seven books. On Sibs's bedside table last night she had one Secret Seven from Santa 2010, and one of my old copies... and so it goes on...

During a recent bedroom and playroom tidy up, I set aside a pile of books to give away. An hour later the large pile of giveaways was down to about six books...Sibs couldn't bear to part with them. There is now yet another box of books stored away.

I wonder if generations to come will still feel the magic of books?

I hope so!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Reflections on a weekend alone

It's Monday...already...
now where did that weekend go?
I mentioned in my last post that I had a weekend alone, to savour and enjoy just as I pleased - and that's exactly what I did. Thank you for all your comments to enjoy myself...I did!

Friday evening started a little rushed. Friday was a work day. When I have to turn back to mother at a particular time I have to plan my work day to complete everything and leave on time, which is usually manageable. Last Friday, because I was turning into going out for dinner with no commitments lady I was running late! Then to add insult to injury the shutters were down in the car park so I had to find security to let me out, who had to check my staff card (which I couldn't find) before doing so. Then I forgot that there was a rugby game at Suncorp stadium and got stuck in traffic!

Anyhow, after that kind of a start to the evening there was only one answer - a cool glass of wine was very welcome... I had a great night. Seven other girls, plenty of chatting, food and wine. My weekend was off to a good start! (Well, apart from the slight hiccup of a teary phone call from Sibs who was "not feeling well and please would I go and get her!" Incidentally, no more than ten minutes later there was another phone call - "I'm feeling better now I've just had some marshmallows!?!" - phew.)

Yes, I managed the Saturday morning lie in....nothing at all to do with a slight headache!

I pottered around the shops for a few hours and didn't look at my watch once.

My Saturday evening was spent in jammies, tea on my lap, with both cats at my side relishing the peace and quiet. I watched Sense and Sensibility (again) and  Romeo and Juliet (again), and yes I cried buckets!

Healthy salad due to over consumption on Friday.....oh, okay, due to the fact that I wanted to enjoy chocolate and a glass of Baileys! Is that an enormous bar of chocolate, or a tiny bottle of Baileys???

I thought that I should achieve something on Sunday so I woke quite early and set about with a paint brush. I did get around to painting the little desk, but I haven't done the distressing part yet....distressing the paintwork I mean, not distressing as in sad!

I did manage to paint a bedside table for Sibs though. Here's the before and after.

I thought that it was too tricky to paint the inside parts so I opted to cover it with sparkly contact. It's so pretty when the light reflects off it, and matches her purple/pink bedroom. It also took a lot less time.

Before I knew it, the lovelies were back - filthy dirty, tired and hungry. In no time at all I was back to mother. The washing machine went on, the bath was filled, the kitchen bench was covered in stuff!

The weekend was a success - Sibs got to spend time with her dad and lots of other kids. They went swimming in rock pools, scrambling, horse riding, exploring for dinosaur eggs, toasted marshmallows....

I got to spend time with me...

Just before I sign off, here's my gift from the weekend. Sibs had $5 to spend, she spent $1 on some sweets for herself and bought me this....how can I not love it (and her)?

Friday, 11 March 2011

A weekend alone

I have a weekend off, a weekend all alone...
my lovelies are away camping.
Five dads and lots of kids are wreaking havoc somewhere near Mount Tambourine!
I'll miss them, but....

I'll be having dinner out tonight courtesy of my Swedish friend who is hosting the home alone mums. Food, wine, girly company....sounds too good and I can't wait!

I'm planning a leisurely Saturday morning after a lie in. Some gentle domestics, a spot of shopping maybe? I might finish off painting the school desk that I bought a couple of weeks ago...I might not...

My only worries will be whether to cook or not on Saturday night and what DVD to watch. Any ideas? Do I stick to the old favourites, the ones where I know exactly what comes next? Do I venture into the DVD shop and try something new? Decisions, decisions...

I'll try not to think too much about the camping trip...are they eating too much junk, are they washing their hands before eating too much junk? Did they pack their jammies? Did they??

Okay, time to switch off and start the weekend....

Have a lovely one all,

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

'Out of date' or 'vintage'?

Just a quick story to share this morning. (I'm using the ipad and it hasn't quite got the capabilities of my laptop....either that or I don't really know how to use it!)

Anyway, back to the story...

The other day I went to the Woolloongabba Antiques Centre for a wander. I have just discovered the blog The old boat house who have a shop at the centre and it prompted me to visit. Interesting blog too...

I hadn't been that way for a while and spent a pleasant couple of hours browsing. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but you know the story, you can't come away from those kind of places empty handed and so these  little glasses found a new home. They should really be filled with Babycham, but for the time being I think they make very pretty tea light holders.

But that's not the story...

I decided that I needed a coffee break and made my way to the lovely little vintage style coffee shop in the centre. I found a spot to sit amongst the coach trip of elderly ladies,- (my goodness they could chatter!) After a while, I thought it would be nice just to read and enjoy my drink, so I turned to ask the (bored looking) bus driver if he wouldn't mind passing me a magazine that was in a pile next to his table.

With a dead pan face he mumbled, "They're out of date"
"That's okay", I replied "I don't mind"
"No" he said, "they're REALLY out of date"

on ebay until March 13th

The Australian Women's Weekly was 1981! Of course it was 'out of date'- we were in a vintage coffee shop in the antiques centre! Unfortunately for the bus driver I had the giggles....and I had to pretend that the articles about Charles and Di were extra funny to cover up the fact that his comment had really tickled me!

By the way, the magazine was fascinating. The advertisements were so interesting - many for clothes that brought back way too many memories! Lots of adverts for cigarettes as well...

So, one man's 'out of date' is another man's 'vintage'...

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Welshcakes recipe and a challenge

We made some welshcakes for St David's day on March 1st.
I ate them on Tuesday...

I took some to my workplace on Wednesday...
 and ate some more for morning tea, then again after lunch, then a quick snack with a late cup of tea in front of the telly...

This morning I had another with my morning coffee....

They're good...but I'm getting a  little bit welshcaked out!

I fully intended to share the welshcakes recipe this week, and it now comes with a bit of  a twist...
Jane who writes the fabulous Life on planet baby blog has set out a bit of a challenge -
 a blogger bake off challenge!

Jane recently made some lamingtons (read here). She was prompted to make these by Rhi from Flour Child. Now Jane has asked if anyone wants to join in a blogger bake off. So.... I'm challenging anyone to give welshcakes a try... (Still with me?? I think I know where I'm going with this!)

I'll share the recipe and if you bake them, just post (or leave me a comment) about it and if you want you can challenge others to bake something - a blogger bake off.

(original recipe so in 'old' measurements)

1lb of self raising flour + teaspoon of baking powder
8oz butter
6oz sugar
6oz currants or sultanas
2 large eggs
milk if required
pinch of nutmeg

Blend the nutmeg, flour, and baking powder.
Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add sugar and currants/sultanas.
Bind with the beaten eggs to form a stiff paste and add milk if needed. (I usually need a splash)
Roll out to 1/4 inch thick and press out into rounds. (depends on your cutter, but I can usually make just over 40 with these quantities)
Bake each side on a moderately hot bakestone until browned.

If you don't have a bakestone (I don't) then you can use a large flat bottom dry fry pan, or do as I do and use the flat plate on the bbq! A great Welsh/Australian combination! It's the best and fastest way. I can whip up about 40 welshcakes in minutes. Beware - they can cook very quickly.
Welshcakes are delicious served warm with a sprinkling of sugar and must be accompanied with a hot cuppa. They are a blend of cake, biscuit and scone. Oh, and they freeze well.

I hope you enjoy my little reminder of home - welshcakes.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

St David's day

Happy St David's Day
Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus i bawb.
"gwisg cenhinen yn dy gap a gwisg hi yn dy galon"

Like most translations, this doesn't sound quite so poetic and pretty in English...but it roughly means,
 "wear a leek in your cap, and also in your heart"

 Let me explain...
March 1st is the day that the Welsh celebrate being Welsh.
Dewi Sant (St David) is the patron Saint of Wales
and it is believed that he was a monk who died on March 1st around the year 590. 
March 1st is therefore St David's day!

I might be thousands of kilometres from Wales, but we still uphold the traditions in this house. Hence, the leek on the school hat this morning! It comes out of it's safe hiding place each year and Sibs proudly tells anyone who asks why she wears it. It's a tradition for Welsh soldiers to wear (and eat) leeks on St David's Day. It's a real symbol of being Welsh!

Photo Credits: http://www.chls11113.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/keith/kp15.jpg

I have so many childhood memories of St David's day.... School children would dress up in traditional Welsh costume - flannel skirt, shawl, black felt hat and the girls would wear a daffodil on their shawls and the boys (who didn't have half as much fun dressing up) would wear a leek....a real one!
I still have an old school photo of me in full regalia...I wonder if the children still dress up?

 So today in our house, we spoke a bit more Welsh than usual, Sibs learnt a bit more about her history, and we ate the obligatory picae ar y maen (welshcakes).

Tomorrow I'll share with you some of the culinary traditions associated with St David's day, including how we have adapted our cooking methods for welshcakes....