Monday, January 31, 2011

febfast update: one sleep to go

WOW! I'm already overwhelmed with the amount of support I've gotten since announcing my challenge a week ago. With $120 in the bank already I look forward to inspiring even more donations throughout the month.

Now for my Grand Plan. To make this an enjoyable month I've decided to explore some non-alcoholic alternatives for when I might get a hankering for a nice cold glass of wine. There are lots of refreshing ideas out there and tonight I'll be stocking up on citrus, ginger, berries, delish tropical fruits and yoghurt. I'm going to try out all sorts of yummy juices and cordials and I can't wait to share my favourite recipes with you!

So onto this week’s mini challenge – I’m going to make the most of this unseasonal summer weather (Melbourne joke) we’ve been having and rise at 6am each day for a morning walk with Rossi. The sun is set to rise at 6:33 am tomorrow – is anyone out there willing to offer me a $20 bonus for catching a photo of it from the stands at Whitten Oval?

February Forecast: Dry

Febfast Update Hi Everyone,

Just popping in to let you know why I've decided to take on this seemingly crazy project ... and you know I love projects!

I came across the idea while reading the very inspiring work of Sarah Wilson and when I jumped onto the FebFast website I was really excited about the testimonials of past fasters and wanted to be in on the action.

I mean - a clearer mind, better sleep, being more productive, enjoying bright and early mornings, a stronger mind and body - who wouldn't want a piece of that??

Now it's not like I drink a LOT, in fact I enjoy several AFD free days a week but I'd just like to feel the difference going dry for a whole month will do for me. And of course, there's nothing better than setting a goal and achieving it!

'But, Christie - don't you work in the wine industry?'
Yes. Yes I do.
'Isn't this a bit, you know, not in the spirit of the industry?'
Well maybe, but I'm talking about MY best interests here - nothing else. And besides, although I love a nice drop of Victorian wine as much as the next gal, I'm under no illusions that I'm keeping the industry afloat all by myself. Got it? Good.

So if you understand what I'm trying to achieve here, and you want to lend a hand to young people battling alcohol and drug abuse, please donate to my worthy cause, it's good karma!

I'll update my blog weekly, and I'll set some little challenges along the way to see just how well this new and improved me can perform. Who knows - I might even pick up some great new habits... 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

This week's Haul

Today's expedition to the Melbourne Showground's Farmers Market was an interesting one - and not only because I was on 2 wheels instead of 4.

It was about 9am as I was riding along the Maribyrnong, when just before the giant golden statue I heard the unmistakeable sounds of dance music pumping out over the river. Surley enough, there was a dance party happening in the bushes! Didn't they know the Big Day Out was on just a bit further up the river today?
Nevertheless it looked like this mob had been enjoying themselves for hours - and didn't seem to be packing up to head over to the racecourse any time soon.

Upon arriving at the market, I sat down to enjoy one of Chef Michael's burgers with the lot and some iced mint lemon water - how thoughtful on such a hot day! I had to shop carefully today, with only my basket and panniers to carry my goodies home. I've really been enjoying the lemon apple cucumbers from Yellow Box Rd Organics and couldn't go past those beautiful organic blueberries at 3 for $10! And yes - that is 2 dozen eggs you see there - I carried them safely in my basket - just for added difficulty.

2 dozen eggs for $7! 3 punnets of organic blueberries for $10!

Today's haul set me back $50 including a delicious breakfast - for that price why wouldn't you want to buy fresh, in season, locally grown, organic, free range food??

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Welcome back Farmers!

Finally! Our fridge is full of wonderful healthy treats after Sunday’s return of the Melbourne Showgrounds Farmer’s Market.
There were lots of delicious things to entice us and I grabbed a Yapunyah chook before we sat down with our morning coffees (Yapunyah won't be back until April - we'll miss you guys!)
Other things in my new shopping trolley this week:
  • Eggs from Kaz's Googs
  • Rainbow Chard and parsley from Spring Creek Organics
  • MMMMM real butter from the Myrtleford Butter Factory
  • Thai basil, golden nugget pumpkin, ronde de nice zucchini, purple carrots, lemon apple cucumber from Yellow Box Rd Organics
  • Carrots, broccoli, cauli, zucchini, beans, plums pears and apples

Myrtleford Butter Factory are now on board

Herloom Varieties from Yellow Box Rd Organics

My favourite Christmas gift of them all

All for just $81.30 people!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Secret Crush

Have you ever had a secret crush on someone-thing? And you haven't been able to shake it for years?

One of my old crushes has re-emerged this year - possibly since I've been dreaming up all sorts of lovely mantlescapes I'm looking forward to trying. Years ago, I purchased my very own copy of Vicki Archer's 'My French Life' and within it's pages was the most stunning vase I had ever seen...

Behold le Vase d'Avril Grand Modele 
of Tse & Tse's Bazar

Isn't she glorious! She'd look equally stylish running along a mantlepiece - with every few tubes holding a tall tulip or crazy daisy to attention - as she would when wandering down the dining table, filled with roses for a special occasion. However good she looks, it's the 175 Euro price tag that stings and this is the one reason why I've only admired from afar.

I have used the as inspiration for my own creations - little Sanpellegrino or Moo Brew bottles lined up have a lovely effect, but they are still missing that certain je ne sais quoi that I believed I might only find in France.

After a long and desperate search over a year ago - I found the Flex Vase at Andy Designs in the US and even tried to order one through there for a fraction of the designer price - but alas, they were out of stock and I never heard from them again, nor did I try to follow it up. Maybe deep down I knew I wouldn't be satisfied with the affordable US substitute.

Maybe I just want a little piece of French Life in my life too. Will 2011 be the year? I'll happily keep drinking Sanpellegrino and Moo Brews to add to my other collections in the meantime...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Free as a bird (or 'My Saturday List')

For the last 18 months I worked a weekend 'hobby' job. Partly for some extra cash and partly to keep myself out of mischief when Trav was out at the army or working. I loved it. My plan worked too well actually - I selected a place where I would enjoy working so much - I wouldn't regret giving up my Saturdays and it took about 4 months of deliberating to finally break away at the end of 2010. They'll always be there though - happy for a visit and to show me the latest delicious product.

Having missed out on lots of fun things I have a new-found appreciation of 2-day weekends and I'm not about to take them for granted so I've written up a Saturday List which holds all sorts of exciting plans. I hope it doesn't get out of control!

I'm especially looking forward to this Saturday as it's my first real one off since the Christmas break. I'm going for a leisurely walk with my close friend Tamra on the hunt for vintage frocks and we've already lined up 2 must-see shops.

Bam-Bam Vintage Clothing in Williamstown and recently reopened Diamond Dog in my own lovely Seddon. I popped my head in there last night and Sally assured me that she's just restocked with lots of beautiful frocks and shoes, all from television sets so barely worn. I'm already eyeing off a cute little red and white duck sundress in the window, I hope it's waiting for me on Saturday!

Got any other recommendations in the area? Keep in mind we're on foot for the day!

The language of flowers

Back in the good old Victorian days when gentlemen carried handkerchiefs and wore top hats, and women's dresses sweeped the floor, a secret language was used to communicate between lovers. Floriography is the language of flowers, and the intention of the message was deciphered by the type of flower and its colour - as well as the way it was delivered.

I had selected shades of yellow and gold for our New Year's Eve dinner as I liked their cheerfulness and according to Chinese culture they would bring wealth and happiness. I guess you could say that I was embracing the local culture while I was shopping at Little Saigon in Footscray.

Not until afterwards did I think to sit down and decipher what I actually did set the table with that day. Generally yellow blooms can have quite negative connotations - relating to jealousy or disappointment, so I preferred to lean towards the positive explanations in this case (but let that be a warning to anyone handing out a bunch of yellow flowers!)

From Left Green Chrysanthemum cheerful and honest Yellow Rose friendship and freedom, the promise of a new beginning Yellow Alstromeria wealth, prosperity, fortune or friendship Yellow Chrysanthemum courage Yellow Calla Gratitude, also considered resurrection and rebirth (fitting for a new year don't you think?) Yellow Carnation friendship and a sweet smile.

Looks like 2011 is going to be a good one!

My sources
Carnations - here and here
green and yellow chryssies
calla lilies here and here
Chinese culture

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year idea: a pace for everything | Sarah Wilson

New Year idea: a pace for everything | Sarah Wilson

The words in Sarah's post echo my own feelings about this coming year. They say that how we spend our day is how we spend our life so we decided to take our New Year's Day at a relaxed pace, with a flexible plan. We enjoyed a slow morning, a nice walk, a movie and a suprise treat. We also faced a difficult afternoon with our little dog Rossi succumbing to a round of seizures (not the first time). So we took the good with the bad, and will keep a positive mindset for 2011 - knowing that whatever happens and wherever we find ourselves, we are in exactly the right place - sometimes for reasons too big to understand.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My thoughts on 2011

The time has come when we are given a fresh start. A blank canvas. A new chance. A new year. 365 days to do with whatever we see fit.

Or is it?

Someone once said
You decide every moment of every day who you are and what you believe in.
You get a second chance, every second.
I haven't tied myself to a long list of resolutions and I'm not starting out on an ambitions fitness plan either. 2010 was a big one for us, with really big highs at our wedding in June, to a couple of thumping lows with the passing of some loved ones. Everyone was bracing themselves for 2010 - we were promised be a big year and I don't think anyone was untouched.

We have our plans and goals for 2011, there are some things we hope to achieve by the end of they year, and the plan is in place, but my own 2011 intention is to take it slow and keep it simple. I'll be doing things because they make me happy this year, and won't be committing to too much or too many. If I feel that I'm starting to miss the little details that make life grand then I'll know it's time to take a step back and take my second chance. The beauty is this - we don't need a New Year to make a change or start something new - we get that second chance, every second of every day - take it if you need to.

Thanks to Me from iwrotethisforyou for the quote.

Stoking the fire

Isn't it wonderful when everyone' imagination runs away with them for a moment! When visiting our friends Di and Matt (the artist) in Castlemaine recently, we all looked at pictures of the mantle and discussed the fire which would soon be burning inside it.
Our thoughts wandered to the warm weather outside as we considered what to do in summer - surely we don't need it burning 365 days a year and we definitely don't need to stare at a blazing fire during one of  Melbourne's inevitable heatwaves.
Matt's words were 'we need a reversy!'. Yes! Why not - one side will have a fireplace and the other side can be an empty hearth - brilliance!
Now where do we find a double sided canvas? Do they even exist? Can someone make one? How will we attach it? Well Trav had the answer to that one straight away, two eye hooks on the inside bottom of the mantlepiece and 2 hooks along the top of the canvas will make 'putting the fire on' a breeze.

So I've started contacting some canvas and art suppliers to find out if it's something that needs to be custom made - and at what cost? Of course, we could also glue 2 canvases together ourselves, but I think this would end up quite bulky and the depth of the mantle walls is no more than an inch.

What's that? Have 2 separate canvases? Nah - I don't want to be worried about unnecessary storage and anyway this other idea is way to clever ... I'll be back soon with my findings!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hello Mantle!

Ta Da!

What a beauty! She finishes our little lounge off perfectly - and dare I say, even makes the space appear larger! She was definitely worth the princely sum of $41 and a few hours work - and I was rapt that we got it together before NYE!

And a few pretty shots all dolled up for NYE...

I have a feeling you'll be seeing a lot more of her...

PS One of my goals this year is to take better photos!

Summer Project - Day 2

After waiting 24 hours for the first coat to dry - we were ready to put the mantlepiece into position in our lounge room. 

Using the original holes, we fixed the mantle into the wall using these plugs,

and then patched up the evidence with builders putty.


When it was all attached, it was finally time for the 2nd coat of paint

Can you notice anything wrong with this picture? When measuring the height of the skirting board, we measured the one in the garage - not in the lounge, which was a bit shorter due to the tiles on the floor. So there is a small gap there but it's not something we're worried about, the mantlepiece is reinforced and securely fastened to the wall - but hopefully someone else might learn from this simple mistake!

Next up - the great unveiling.....

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Summer Project Day 1

(Or "How to transform your lounge room in 2 days")

I didn't get a chance to get my hands on my new project until after Christmas and I couldn't wait to get stuck into it in time for New Year's Eve dinner at our place.

First I had to sand back the glossy grey/green paint
As we wanted the mantle to stand on the floor, we had to cut into the back of the base to make room for the skirting boards. As you can see, the two side pieces are seperate to the front - so all we needed to do is shorten and remove these.
Trav measured and marked the height of the boards and moved the screws on the base to reinforce the backing.

Then he expertly sawed off the side pieces and using some metal from an old wine rack, reinforced the base.

Once the brackets were in place, we tested out our handiwork in the garage - looking good!

Our trusty site foreman

Finally it was time for the first coat of paint - we had a full tin of Dulux Napkin White which we'd used on all the trim when we moved in, so it's been a very affordable project so far...

Coming up... Day 2!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011!

How did you ring in the New Year?

Were you out and about - facing the throngs of people in town for fireworks? Or did you have tickets to one of the big parties? We took it easy and enjoyed an amazing meal with 4 close friends. We hosted, but everyone brought a course so the pressure was off...

 I had more time to decorate the table
 and our new mantle (the full story coming soon!)
 I found every glass vase and jar in the house and filled them with a cheerful mix of blooms

Happy New Year to you all!
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