Friday, April 24, 2015


If you haven't already heard, it's been raining cats and dogs here in Sydney and across the greater state. It's been all flash floods and gale force winds and power outages and even, sadly, fatalities.

Today we saw the first bit of sunshine we've seen all week, so I thought I'd take a moment to celebrate the beginning of the weekend and enjoy the small pleasures of life at home. Normality is underrated!

I really like the look of my family's coffee table right now - it reveals a bit of insight into how we like to unwind in the evenings after dinner. It's peaceful and calm and comforting to share quiet telly time together in the living room.

Tea, yarn, roses, and tasty morsels to schnickety-snack on... everything a person needs to relax.

Did I mention I have a lot of yarn-fans in my life? My sister is one of them and she's constantly working on some knitting project. There's always lots of patterns and needles and baskets of multicoloured balls of wool and cotton lying around. My friend M recently got me into basic crochet too, which I've been doing off and on (currently on), leaving me with a bunch of practice squares.

I'm trying to look past my perfectionism and actually use them, rather let them go to waste lying useless in the bottom of a bag in a dusty corner somewhere. They're lumpy and imperfect, but my sister insists there's an element of charm in that! Right now they're doing well as coasters and place mats to protect our wooden surfaces.

My thoughtful mother also often dots the house with beautiful flowers that she clips from her garden. They brighten up the place fabulously - very important in dark, dreary weeks like this one has been!

This tiny vase is so cute! I found the glass jar a few months ago when I was working in the Aussie bush, and I loved it so much I dug it up and took it home. The rosemary, from our own herb pots, was leftover from a roast veg dish - perfect for makeshift leaves, and deliciously smelly.

Anyway, it cheers me up. And it's so simple! smile emoticon What's putting a smile on your face this thankful Friday?

By the way, if you were wondering, my head torch is there because I use it to help me see my stitches at night when I'm working with very dark yarn. I look like a total dork wearing it, but I'm not crocheting to impress!

The little ziplock bag of coloured squares are miniature tasting blocks of chocolate (did I mention I'm a chocolate fanatic?) that I got from ... but I'll save that story for next time. wink emoticon

Happy weekend folks!

Vacuuming On Holiday

Thursday, April 9, 2015

This week I smiled because

Of all the children! grin emoticon

I've been staying with my cousins in Melbourne for the past couple of weeks, and seriously, their kids are funny!

For example:

Me: Your other Aunties are coming to visit you tomorrow.
Bob the builder: Are they your sisters?
Me: Yep!
Bob the builder: So do you know them?
Me: ... yes ...

There was this gem the other day when I was playing hairdresser:

G-Girl: What's taking so lo-ooong?
Me: Sorry honey, I'm a bit slow. I guess I'm not as good at doing your hair as Mummy is.
G-Girl: Yeah, Mummy's way better.

Then to tip the cuteness scales, Mr Incredible replaces his r's with l's, so he often says things like "this is velly good!" and "that's my flavourite!"

And recently:

G-Girl: We built a Kids Club! Wanna see?
Me: I'd love to! But you have to make me a Visitor's Badge so I can get in.
G-Girl: Why?
Me: Because I'm not a kid!
G-Girl: No, silly, I meant it's a Kids and Adult Ladies Club.
Me: Oh I see. So that means all the kids and adult ladies can go in.
G-Girl: Yep.
Me: So the only person who can't go in ... is Daddy.
G-Girl: ... Yep!

(The following day, she made him a special access card.)

Here in The Menagerie, life is carefree and easygoing. There's nothing quite like vaulting over plastic hammers and Lego pieces on the way to the toilet, or constantly losing UNO games, or pretending to be the Hulk and chasing the twins when they don't go to bed on time. Also, Mr Incredible keeps getting crazy frog stuck in my head.

It's not only that they cheer me up with their wonderfully good looks, and their adorable plush toy voices, and the beautiful way everything about them is so tiny and squishy. They are genuinely positive and happy children. In fact, their entire family is. Their influence is therapeutic and velly healing. Outside it might be more chaotic, with the thundering of small feet down the hallways and raucous laughter echoing around the house, but inside, it's blessedly calmer and more peaceful. Lately I've been less worried in general, and more engaged in the present - and that's always a good thing.

Picking fat olives from the trees in the backyard.
Poking around in La La Falls near Warburton after a lovely walk through the rainforest.
13 year old Beno took this photo of a mushroom growing out of a log. Quite a talent!

Vacuuming On Holiday

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

It only takes a smile...

In preparation for my trip to Southeast Asia, I've been reading the Lonely Planet. I don't tend to overplan my holidays or rely solely on guides, but I find them a good starting point when I'm feeling overwhelmed by all my travel options, not to mention a great source of inspiration.

The other day I read a testimonial by one of the contributors saying that one of the things she loves about Asia is the friendliness and the generosity of all the people she met, regardless of whether they were locals or fellow tourists.

It made me think of what I have loved most about my experiences overseas so far, and I realised I'd have to agree with her wholeheartedly. Sure, the food always a huge thrill to me - I get a big kick out of trying the local cuisine and it's always a highlight (sometimes the goal) of my trip. The beauty of the landscape and the natural environment is also another major plus that I hang on to afterwards - how could I not, when every continent has its own unique character?

But by far, the kindness of strangers and the fun of making new friends sits at the top of the list of highlights for me. Before stepping foot in Europe, I was pretty worried about the possibility of becoming lonely - in a big unfamiliar place by myself, not knowing who to trust, would I alienate myself? Would I come across as unapproachable, or fail to engage if people did try to connect?

Very quickly my anxieties faded away as I realised how easy it is to meet people while travelling. Whether it's a super nice roommate in a hostel, or a friendly couple sitting at the table next to you in a restaurant, or a chatty ticket handler at the museum - travelling brings people together. Fellow tourists are just as keen as you are to make connections, and they're up for anything. Locals hear your accent and ask you where you're from, want to show off their hometown.

Without even trying I found myself chatting away with randoms in Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona. It was a very pleasant and welcome surprise! Sometimes if we got along really well, we forged deeper memories together, going on walking tours, visiting the beach, shopping, sightseeing, drinking. But even if we didn't, I still got a huge sense of the warm and fuzzies every time I got an unexpected smile from a stranger, and something about it alleviated my social fears. Each and every positive encounter I had boosted my spirits, no matter how brief it was. It helped me reach out to the citizens of whatever city or town I was visiting, and also to be more open to them reaching out to me, even to welcome me. It's a nice feeling, right?

And that's the beauty of travelling - it's more than just seeing a new place. It's about putting myself in the shoes of someone else from another culture, and being a part of their community, even if only for a little while.

It's fascinating thinking about how a physical space can shape the lives and mentalities of the people who occupy it - and I'm certainly not talking about deep philosophical reflections here. I'm just talking about the subconscious appreciation travelling gives me - appreciation for all the countless things in the world I haven't experienced yet, and the little kudos I can't help feeling because I had the courage to seek new experiences while others either can't or won't. Most importantly, it gives me an appreciation for all the things I left behind back home and never noticed before.

The perspective and the gratitude it gives me is so much more worthwhile than that great wine I had or how pretty that building was (though those things are rather awesome too).

Have you had similar experiences meeting new people on holiday? What does it give you? I'd love to hear your stories, please share below. smile emoticon

Vacuuming On Holiday