Saturday, December 26, 2009

A quiet Christmas Day

The day started in a Skype kind of way. An early morning call from Amy meant I was able to see each and every one of her presents. She sure put me in the Christmas mood. Funny kid! I also called my Godchildren and several Japanese friends. Have I told you before how much I love Skype?We are having our main, family celebration day on the 27th and so there were only five for lunch. We (Mum and Janet) still did something just a little bit special for our lunch. This year, Mum tried duck. It was delicious all covered in an apricot sauce. Paired with potatoes (my favourite way) and a yummy salad made by me. The duck was very difficult to carve though so I don't think we'll be having it again too soon. I am sure th recipe would work just as well with chicken or turkey!
And to finish, we had delicious trifle made by Janet. OMG, yum! I only had one serve with lunch but then one serve for afternoon tea and one serve after dinner. Three serves in all for my day (I'm feeling a bit like a blob!). Everyone else had three serves too!!!
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas Day too. No matter where you are or what you do! More from me after the madness that will be tomorrow!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Magic Medicine!

I'd not long woken up from an afternoon nap today (trying to sleep off a whole day long headache) when Skype popped up! Pleasant surprise, Amy!
Notice how sweet and happy she looks. Notice how pathetic I look. She is so sweet. We chatted about grocery shopping and ice cream.
When the conversation turned to Suzie and I, Amy and I pulled faces at each other. Funny!!
Finally, Amy tried on her new Ink & Spindle prototype top. Here's a teeny sneak preview. It is very pretty. I want one in adult size!
I feel much better now. Thanks Amy!!!

Settling in

Thank goodness reports are written.
Thank goodness the main move is over.
Now I just have to unpack properly and settle in. More photos to come. I think I love my new place. I am very happy.
I can't wait for school to be done. Taking wedding photos next weekend (help!). Friends from Japan are arriving for Christmas and New Years. Then lots of sewing and relaxing. I am so looking forward to January!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A little bit of upheaval

Over the past 4ish months, my house has been sold from under me. Weird process. Not much fun at all. I rent where I am and have been there three years. Love my current place! I think I have been through 10 to 15 open houses. That means I have to tidy and minimise things every single week (or twice a week). Stress!!!
Anyway, the house finally sold! I had until the 14th of January to find a new place and move. About 10 days ago, I noticed the above place for lease IN MY STREET! Amazing. Things have moved so quickly that it has all become a bit of a blur. I went for the inspection, applied, was accepted and have paid bond and rent all in the last 6 days. Phew (draws breath)
The other crazy busy thing is that I move at the beginning of next month. In the time from now to then I have to complete reports for school, pack up, craft weekend and move. Ahhh (any volunteers for any of this?). The GREAT thing is that everything will be done by Christmas so I will be able to relax and enjoy my holidays. I have Japanese friends coming and they will get 100% of my attention.
Yesterday I also worked out that a new friend lives in my building. How good is that?

Life is good.
I feel good.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Internet shopping I just can't live without

I thought I might create a short list of the places I most frequently find myself window shopping (is it still called window shopping if you are on your computer?). Now, when I say window shopping, I of course mean real shopping. I rarely just browse - dangerous... Enjoy.

My number one, most frequent purchases come from The Book Depository (oops got stuck browsing right now). This site is based in the UK and has limitless amounts of books for sale at amazing prices and get this... POSTAGE FREE!! I haven't discovered many titles that they don't stock. It is cheaper to shop for books here than go to the shops near me. The Aussie dollar really helps right now and lets face it, books cost a lot here!

Now people who know me, know my second obsession is with fabric. Hard to stop. Hard to say no. Here are four online fabric stores I visit. Firstly Kelani has a great range including designer collections. They always ship super fast so not much waiting on the mail. Also very quick on the delivery is Ballarat Patchwork. Easy to use website and great service. Until recently, I have also shopped at Tessuti. They sell what I consider 'special' fabrics. Special pieces. I'd still be shopping with them online except Melbourne is now lucky enough to house our very own store. Another local that I love is Ink and Spindle. Screen printed fabric to die for (or should that be dye for?). Wonderful stuff. No shopping online for me anymore as the studio is literally around the corner - we're neighbours.

Now, I know most people know about Etsy but I spoke to a friend recently who had never heard of this great online store. I do quite a bit of shopping here. Our dollar is better against the American dollar right now so it isn't bad value shopping here. You end up with the most beautiful, unique, hand made goods. I am always a happy shopper on Etsy. I get lots of Japanese fabric and goods and random other things.

Finally, my sister just convinced me to sign up with Oz Sale. It is a member sign up thing and if people sign up from your recommendation then you get $. I am not sure about that side of it but I will give it a go. If you want to check it out too or sign up, you can use my link. I've had a look and the sales look pretty good. Some great bargains. Does anyone else out there use this site? Let me know what you think...

Friday, November 06, 2009

Is my life interesting?

I was telling a good friend how I feel a bit boring. Nothing to write about. I haven't blogged for ages.
She disagreed with me. She said I actually was interesting. I sat down and thought about what I have been up to... As you can see, I have been up to heaps. Maybe I am not boring - just lazy (or busy).

I am so happy that my sister, her husband and my beautiful niece have moved home from London.
The problem is that they have moved back to far away land. No matter which way I drive to get there, it takes around an hour! Luckily there are great people and cuddles at the end of the trip.
I thought I would share another little amusement of the trip. Makes me laugh every single time. I drive out via the Monash and near the end of my trip, just as I am getting really bored, I pass this exit ramp...
Can you read what it says? ERNST WANKE ROAD... Are you laughing too? I think it is so funny.

I have been busy.

Or, my life in photos...I have been spending a fair few Saturday (and Sunday) mornings here.
My new favourite 'local'. It is gorgeous. Bit busy and a bit noisy but the food is amazing (coffee good too).
I took my first ever teeny bit of long service leave (can you believe it?). Leave on a Friday and Monday means a four day break.
Headed up to Sydney for the most beautiful weather.
The sun shone on all the land marks, making them sparkle.
Stayed in Manly.
Watched some surfing.
Wandered along the beautiful beaches. Costs nothing. So wonderfully relaxing and refreshing!
Lunch at Doyles for a very, very special person. Happy Birthday Mum. We love you!!
The whole family was there. It was a special time and I will remember it forever. I placed Eva's feet in the sand and she wriggled and wriggled. Loved it. It was her first time! Wonderful.
Back at school, we have been hatching eggs. These little beauties have been so much fun. Lots of chicken love going around.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Absent for a while...

I have been occupied. Been on holidays. Been to Queensland. And she came home!!!! I am in love. All she does is smile and laugh. Gives good cuddles and snuggles. Plays with my hair. Stares into my eyes. I am so happy!
(Pretty great to have her Mum and Dad home too!)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Bubbles and Giggles

I find that I am surrounded by great friends and people at the moment. Great colleagues. Great students (though they drive me crazy). Great family. And, of course, great friends. I am so LUCKY!
Tonight was catch-up night with old friends. Time to see the God-children. Always a good thing when kids come careening toward you yelling your name, jump into your arms and plant numerous kisses all over your face!!
After dinner, the 5 of us ended up in the outdoor spa (big bath). That is a pretty tight fit. Three large adults and two kids! Lots of slippery skin and giggly kids. It was decided that there would be no in bed stories as it was getting late. Instead we told stories in the round. Each person took a turn to continue the story. Milla started. She's almost 6. The main characters were 'Rose-Red' and Rose-White' (sound familiar?). Anyway, here is what I remember...

Rose-Red (let's call her RR) and Rose-White (RW) were left at home one day when their Mum and Dad went out for dinner. RR was naughty, left the house and disappeared into the forest. A wolf followed her (still sound familiar?). The wolf jumped out and started kissing her. Meanwhile, back at the house, RW decided to go shopping. First she bought a pair of granny-undies and then she bought some red baby undies. She put the red undies on her ears. She went home. Suddenly, she only had two toes on each foot. The baby undies now fit on her feet so she put them on. She climbed up a tree and went to sleep like a bat, holding in with her four toes. RR was still lost in the forest. She was able to find her way home with her 7foot long, glowing eyelash and robot arms. She smashing into the backyard and knocked down the tree where RW was sleeping. RW fell out of the tree catching on to the eye-lash, saving her life! The mum and dad came home and they all lived happily ever after.

There was more. Much more detail. I was crying with laughter throughout most of it. Milla tied the whole story together. AJ added the baby red undies. Sean added ALL the crazy parts. It was so much fun!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Did you know that I love Japan?

Of course you do! I really miss the craftiness of the place. The ease to pop to the shops and buy good quality fabric and notions at great prices. I have, however, noticed that since coming home, it is becoming easier and easier to buy these goods from the comfort of my own home here in Melbourne. They are much more expensive and you often have to take into account the postage but I love that I can get my hands on them!
My new best friend is thisandthatjapan over at Etsy. She even lives not far from where I lived in Japan. Her Etsy shop is full of goodies and I have to stop myself from shopping there more often. Here are my two favourites that arrived this week...

When a present just fits.

"Perfect presents" or "Totally cool presents"I am not sure which title to go with. Anyway, Annie gave me just the most perfect gift as a thank you for making her cat cushion covers. I was so surprised and didn't expect anything.
I have seen Sukie products before and loved them but never purchased. Brunswick Bound sells some and apparently Belkie (Rathdown St) does too as that is where Annie went shopping.
Look what she bought me. Transfers or iron-ons. So totally cool. I want to place them everywhere. I want to buy t-shirts just for these. I love them. Look at how many cool designs there are to choose from. Much better than stickers!!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Today is auction day

Be right back after it is all over...
Good news - I hope!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Completed project

Finished these over the weekend. My lovely friend Annie asked me to make two cat cushions that don't look like cat cushions! She wanted something to blend in. Look nice. Be inconspicuous.
Both cushions are European Pillows. I made up the pattern. I had grand designs to do lots of piecing and patchwork but ended up going very simple. I like them. The back is just an overlap. I wasn't too sure it would work out. I thought it might gape a bit but they don't! The pillow ensures it stays in place.
Now we have to wait to take a photo of the cats curled up on them!

Mimi Kirchner is really amazing

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Local Field Trip

We went on a fabulous excursion today. Free.
Playing in parks along the way.
Lunch at a great, big park.
We planned to walk from school to a local playground. Along the way, the kids had a kind of treasure hunt. The teachers had planned out a route and taken lots of photos before setting out with kids. The kids activity involved finding local landmarks, surveying local businesses and services and becoming aware of the features of our own community.
We stopped along the way for snacks, sketching and a play.
We ended up at a big park for lunch. Four different groups walked today, on four different routes. We ended up with about 95 kids at that park. It was so much fun. There were smiles and laughter all around. No-one got in trouble. I was proud to be out and about with those kids!
The walk back was slow. We were all so tired. It had been such a nice day. The last hour of the day, the kids had choices; silent reading, sleeping, lying down and resting. Some kids actually went to sleep. That is how comfortable we were! Here is the view from where I was laying. Great day!

4km - outward journey
1.7km - return journey
5.7km - total!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

New month. New season. Feeling fine!

Welcome spring. We're very ready for you!

I am trying very hard to focus on the positives right now (let's face it, lots of good stuff happening). School is a tricky place right now. People so sick right left and centre and those left behind manning the fort (get well soon loved ones!). Kids being rat-bags. Nearly the end of term so everyone (especially me) is tired (ほんと に つかれた!)

I stop and smile as often as possible. I smile at the kids who will come to give me a hug in front of the rest of the class. The naughty child in tears when he hurt himself and wanting nothing more than a snuggle. The little prep kids calling hello from far across the yard. The laughter at what ever story I may be reading. Beautiful manners (got to love the pleases and thank yous).

Have I already told you that I really adore my class? I am such a lucky teacher. Each and every student is unique, kind and thoughtful. It is a pleasure to spend such a large part of my day with them all (there are 49!).

Monday, August 31, 2009

A lot on my mind. A lot on the horizon.

As I am headed into my fourth day without one of my team-teaching partners, I am feeling quite good and believe it or not, positive! (Get well quickly Lucy and Loretta!)
Go back about three weeks and I was feeling the most down, the most bottom that I have EVER felt. Hard to explain. Long, drawn out and boring. Let's just say that the doctor said I had a virus! It has taken a long time to climb back up to my usual glass half full self! I think I am finally here. I must be as I am even blogging!
I have so much and the distant and not too distant future. I thought I would try writing them down as dot points. Please bare with me...
  • This Saturday, the house I am living in is up for auction. I am hoping so hard that an investor buys it and wants me to stay on (this is the only thing worrying me right now)
  • School holidays begin in 3 weeks (YAY!). I am headed to visit a great friend in Noosa (DOUBLE YAY!)
  • Right at the same time as I head to Noosa, my oldest BFF is moving to Hong Kong. I am mostly excited by this. I am so excited for Jodi and her husband Wayne but also scared about how much I will miss them. They currently live .5km from me. Jodi and I went to high school together! Jodi will be commuting for about six months so I guess I will miss Wayne most initially (He really is like a big brother. I completely consider him family)! The positive is the chance to visit Hong Kong lots and lots!
  • At the very end of Noosa (the day before I head home), my sister, her husband and my precious little niece arrive back in Melbourne. This I am VERY excited about. I haven't met Eva yet. I can't wait!! Oh, the cuddles!
  • In October Mum turns 60 (shhhh, don't tell anyone). The whole family is headed up to Sydney for a long weekend. We will be staying in Manly and have booked Doyles for Mum's birthday lunch! WOW! I even plan on meeting a blogger friend.
  • Milla turns 6 in October and thank god those important people are not going anywhere. I need them!
  • Then at Christmas, my sweet Japanese friend Tomoko and her mum are travelling all this way to see ME! How lucky am I? They'll be here for around 10 days over new years.
After all that, I can breathe. I have probably forgotten something. More things will probably pop up. Here's to the adventures ahead...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

KitKat critics

I love the seasonal food available in Japan. The seasonal KitKats are perhaps the most fun! Each time I head over there, I hunt around for what is in store at that time of year. I collected quite a stash in January. It has taken me until now to photograph them and add them to my blog and flickr accounts.
I also took them to a friend's house last night so that her kids could be the critics!
They munched their way through the lot. Tasting a little of each. Here are their faves as I remember...

O (10 year old boy) - number one was Cookies Plus with Green Tea last
P (5 year old girl) - number one was Strawberry with Potato last

A friend is coming over from Japan at Christmas time. I guess I should ask her to start collecting new flavours for me now.

Cookie Plus.
Green Tea.
Strawberry (anyone got an actual translation?)
Candied Potato.
Yuzu (Japanese citrus)
Lucky Little - cherry blossom - sakura

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Totty is super cute. It is a simple story of turtles hatching and racing to the sea. Some repetitive text such as "dig, dig, dig" and "huff, puff, huff, puff" add to the simple story.
Totty is coming last to reach the sea but finds a shell to ride ahead of his brothers and sisters. He arrives first and waits for them before swimming off into the sunrise.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Today's book...

I totally and utterly wasn't going to buy any books today. Today was all about the fabric. These holidays are all about the fabric. Anyway, I digress. You guessed it, I bought a book. For me and yes it is a kids book.

Have you heard about Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus? I don't have it but I know it is very popular. Today I bought another book by the same author. It is hilarious!
The little mole, Wilbur, is the only naked mole rat who wears clothes. He gets teased a lot. It is all about him feeling okay about being a bit different. About him being brave. Great lessons in this one as well as being totally sweet!

Friday, May 01, 2009

A book made for travelling

I recently purchased this sweet little board book. Everyone knows the Hungry Caterpillar (don't they?).  I knew that my sister had been gifted this book early in her pregnancy - no need for me to double up! I did however spot the 'buggy' or 'pram' version at a local store. Perfect. It is small and light weigh. It attaches to your pram or cot with a bright red, stretchy coil. Each page contains a bright picture of a particular food the caterpillar munches through coupled with a single word like 'apple'. 
I try to buy simple board books for Eva. Simple stories, single words or even no words paired with beautiful, bright illustrations.  I haven't saved this book for her return... This one flew over to London to begin its life in the right place, right on her buggy!

She arrived...

Just a quick post to anyone who missed the news (I twittered, facebooked and SMSed it everywhere but forgot to blog)

Little EVA JEAN was born on the 11th of April. An Easter baby. The very best present that Easter Bunny could have delivered.

The family are doing well and Mum and Dad are over in London with them.  I just have to wait a while to meet my niece in the flesh (have done so via skype so far).

And my heart grows...

Friday, April 03, 2009

Petr Horacek

Author number one... Petr Horacek.  I love this author/illustrator.  It was the illustrations that caught my eye in the beginning.  They are bright and wonderful.  Open each book and it gets better and better...  The stories are simple and easy to follow with repeating and directional text such as over, under and through.
Choo Choo was the first book that I bought.  It just caught my eye.  I had no idea who Petr Horacek was.  
My god-daughter Milla and I chose this book during an outing to Borders.  We both loved how the story followed the little mouse through the pages.  It wasn't until I got home that I realised I now had two Petr Horacek books.  It was from this moment on that I was on the hunt!
I moved over to the Book Depository to look for more of Petr's books.  This online store is fabulous.  Books are usually affordable and cheaper than Amazon as there is no postage.
I bought my three most recent Petr Horacek books...
Hello Little Bird... Sweet
What is Black and White.  I love this one.  The texts repeats between "A goose is white", "A crow is black".  Each page is slightly shorter than the page before.  As the pages turn, the left of the book has long black and white stripes.  More and more appear until the final page which says... "A Zebra is black and white".  The body of the zebra is made up of the page stripes.  Lovely!!!
Beep Beep.  This is my favourite book so far.  The text uses words like over, around and through as the family travel in their car to Grandma's house.  Super lovely!

My baby library...

My sister and brother in-law are about to have their first child (not sure if it is a boy or girl - doesn't matter at all except for the shopping issue for me).  It is an exciting time.  Each time my phone rings or I get an SMS, my heart seems to skip a beat...
They live in London right now and are planning to return by Christmas.   Postage is one expensive issue!  Keeping all of this in mind, I am not planning on sending much over to them unless I think they will use it between now and then.  I have been thinking hard about what kind of presents I should buy.
This is where the baby library comes in.  Not a teeny tiny, small library but, a library for the baby!  From the time my sister was about 8 weeks pregnant, I have been buying books a few times a month.  I have been buying mostly board books but also several hardback picture story books.  I have collected picture story books for as long as I can remember and it works like a kind of relaxation therapy for me.  If I feel stressed or run down, I just head over to a favourite book shop and buy a book... Bliss!
I am planning to give these books to my sister when she gets back to Melbourne and presto... Instant library for the baby.
I am pretty fussy about the kind of board books I will buy.  They have to be simple and effective.  No long stories!  Single words per page are okay but these books have to be beautiful or clever!  My favourites have a short story and beautiful bring illustrations.  I think I am going to share some of my purchases and review books here.  Read if you share my love or read if you'd love an idea for a new book.
Anyway, thanks for dropping by...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Welcome to blog world...

Visit this friend of mine.  She's joined the blog world!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The love of crafting has always been there!

I guess that in some ways I have always been a bit of a crafter.  Though, I have always crafted in fits and starts.  Crazily knitting beanies all of one summer for example.  I remember being in the group to help the craftily challenged when in grade 6.  Somehow I always manage to be 'too busy' to really sit down and really enjoy any particular craft.
Circa 2005 (whilst living in Japan) I found my lovely friend Sooz via Loobylu's blog.  A whole world of crafting, the kind I love, opened up to me!
I have been to two crafter's weekends with this person, this person, this person and of course this person...

There had been lots of talk about the Stitches and Craft show coming up in Melbourne so I planned to go. 
The night before I felt like a kid about to be let loose in a toyshop.  The show totally didn't let me down.  It was WONDERFUL!  I loved it.  I spent a little bit and wanted to spend so much more!!
Here is most of the fabric I bought... Already stitched up.  I bought a green/orange pack from, Leni and Rose?
The boarder green was from Kelani.
Still have to do the quilting bit.  
You can't see it in the photos, but the back in a blanket off cut from Pear Tree.  Oh, Pear Tree how I love thee!
This lot is my favourite.  Very precious.  I am hoping to collect enough to make a quilt for my own bed.  You can see a wonderful pack from Green Olive.  The birds are you know who... yes Kristen Doran.  Love her!  And... Shannon, I'd like you to know I bought from you.  I didn't just pickup and put back.  I do wish I bought more though... I LOVE all of your wares!!!
In other news...
I won a blog giveaway.  How lucky am I.  These little felt bowls are much sort after and now I have one.  Thanks to the lovely Jo over at Jelly Baby for making the bowl and hosting the giveaway.
And here it is in situ.  Don't you just love it...