Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

What does New Year mean to you?

For me, New Year's has never really been about New Year's Eve. It's always been more about New Year's Day.

I love the fresh start that a New Year brings.

I love opening the pages of a brand new journal and writing my goals for the year on the first page.

I truly believe that we can make a fresh start any day of the year. Every day can be a new beginning if we want it to be.

But for me, there's something special about the first day of a new year. Something that makes me feel more than ready to make changes, to let go of the old, and to make space for the new.

New Year's Day makes me feel thankful to be alive and grateful for all the blessings in my life.

And it gives me the feeling that I really can achieve all that I want to.

So from me to you --- Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday Reading

I'm sure you all understand that for a reader like me, once all the family oligations and festivities of Christmas are over, it's time to read!!!

I was fortunate enough to borrow some books from a dear friend and also my sister. I also received a book for Christmas.

So far, I have read...

I seem to have lost the ability to write book reviews, so you'll just have to trust me that I enjoyed all three of them and they were very different to each other.

Dragon Tattoo and House Rules are very well known, so you've probably heard enough about both of them or have even read them yourself.

Choosing to See you may not have heard of. It is an autobiography of Mary Beth Chapman, wife of Christian singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman, and focuses particularly on her struggles with depression and grief.

What have you been reading?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Is...

Do you celebrate Christmas? Christmas as in the Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus? Christmas as in Santa and presents? Christmas as in family and friends and good will to all men? Christmas as in some time off work and parties and food and drink?

Christmas for me is a little bit of all of these things.

It's a time to be reminded that I am loved by God.

It's a time to give and receive presents.

It's a time to share with family and friends.

It's a time to enjoy some special foods and have a few drinks and relax and have a laugh.

This year we hosted Chris' side of the family on Christmas Day. I was a bit hesitant at first, having never hosted the in-laws for such an important family event! It turned out, however, to be a very nice day.

It was particularly heartwarming for me to see the generosity of family members in terms of how much food and drink they brought along to contribute to the dinner, and the joy everyone got from giving gifts to one another.

We had beautiful weather on Christmas Day which meant that we could spend a lot of time out of doors. Chris was in charge of the barbie, and we also enjoyed cold ham, prawns and salads.

All in all, we enjoyed a relaxing and happy day.

I hope that, whatever you celebrate, you also have had an enjoyable holiday season.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I guess you are breathless with anticipation to know what I've been doing!

I'm sure that you'll want to get caught up on what I've been up to over the past few days.

On Saturday we had the kids' gymnastics party celebrating the end of the year. Sorry, no photos, but we did take video of the performances. Will try to upload it soon.

At church on Sunday morning we had the Sunday School Christmas celebration and presentation. Alana wasn't involved this year, being in high school now, but Josh helped read a poem...

...and the preschoolers did a very cute Nativity.

I remember when Josh was younger and was in the Nativity it used to make me cry, it was so beautiful!

Sunday afternoon we travelled to Sydney to my Mum and Dad's place for an early Christmas dinner with all "my side" of the family.

Josh with three of his cousins.

Alana with two more of the cousins.

Our traditional Christmas meal is cold ham and turkey with salads.

This year Mum roasted a "Turducken".

Today I took the kids to the beach (with one of Alana's friends from dancing). I should have been cleaning the house for the influx of relatives that I'm expecting on Saturday - we're hosting Chris' "side of the family" for Christmas day - but I guess I still have a couple of days...

How are you coping with the Christmas festivities? 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Almost time to farewell 2010.

Today was the last day of the school year for the kids and I'm feeling a bit melancholy. For some reason, the beginning of the school holidays and the Christmas parties and carol singing feels like an ending.

The year is ending. And while that's nothing to be sad about, I'm somehow feeling the loss.

I have a lot to look forward to. Christmas presents. Christmas dinner (times two) with the family(s). A week in a caravan at the beach. Getting a job.

And when school starts back at the end of January, Josh will be starting at his new school; so that will be exciting.

Maybe I just have to go through a period of "letting go" and almost grieving the old year before I'm ready for the new one. Who knows?

I'm grateful to a good friend who has lent me The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Between my friend and my sister I have a nice pile of books to read over the summer break. Maybe I'll even get my act together and write a review one of these days!

How about you? What are you looking forward to over the Christmas season? What books have you got to read? How do you feel about the end of 2010?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I think somebody better stage an intervention.

I started playing CityVille on Facebook.

I know, I know, people warned me that it was addictive, but I didn't appreciate just how addictive it is. Even now, as I write this, my fingers are itching to open another tab so I can plant some crops or collect some rent or build some roads...

In other news, I've started using an iPhone app called MyFitnessPal. I'm using it to help me to be more aware of what I eat and my portions, and to record how much exercise I do and how much I weigh. I have input my goal weight and the app has calculated my net calories per day. Every time I eat or exercise I enter the details and the app calculates my net calories for me.

Also, Chris has been doing some major gardening/renovation/clean up around the house to get everything ready for hosting Christmas Day for the family. He's been working really hard. I guess there's nothing like a deadline to inspire, after all, we can't exactly postpone Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 2 of Christmas Gratitude

It's amazing how gratitude works!

Yesterday I made the conscious decision to banish the grumps by focusing on things that I'm thankful for. I wrote this post about the number one thing that I'm thankful for, my husband.

I got a great response in the comments and via facebook, but the most important thing is - I FEEL BETTER!

Just by choosing to focus on the positive I have changed my entire outlook. I can see the blessings so much more clearly.

Now on to my second day of Christmas Gratitude.

A close second to my husband in terms of things I'm thankful for are my two beautiful children Alana and Joshua.

Alana made "beautiful biscuits" in food tech at school.

Josh with his academic achievement award.

I'll be the first to tell you how attractive, clever and talented my children are, but that's not what I want to do here. Instead, I want to tell you one special thing about each of them that makes me love them.

Alana is the most honest, faithful, loyal, kind and trustworthy girl I know. She makes me want to be a better person! Her friends can trust her completely to keep secrets and always be supportive, and she doesn't like to hear a bad word about anyone. Alana not only knows what the right thing to do is, she does it. I can't quite believe that I'm fortunate enough to have such a special girl in my life.

Joshua is fun! He's the most playful boy I know. From the moment he wakes up until the time that he goes to bed, he wants to smile and laugh. He's the master of quirky humour, funny faces, and sometimes I think he should be on the stage! He always wants me to join in whether it be on the trampoline, playing "dead" when he "shoots" me, tickling him or playing cards or a board game. I'm a lucky mum to have him in my life.

Your turn now. What are you thankful for?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Fa-la-la-la-la! How I met my husband.

In an attempt to kick the bah humbug out of me, I've changed my blog template to something more Christmassy.

I've also decided to do a series of posts about things that I'm thankful for. Because I know that I'm a very fortunate girl who has so many blessings.

Today my number one: my husband! I know that you don't want to be bored by me waxing lyrical about his good looks and handyman skills, so instead I'll tell you the story of how we met.

Many years ago, a school friend of mine was a member of a very popular youth group. It was well known for its social outings and as a great place to meet people. One day she came to school excited to tell us all about her boyfriend, Chris. A youth group outing to the ice skating rink was the scene of their budding romance. Of course being very excited for my friend (and a terrible busy-body) I invited myself along to church the next Sunday to meet him.

Did I know that I was meeting my future husband? Of course not!

I thought he was a pleasant enough fellow who was quite good looking but unfortunately was not much of a singer! (I sang next to him during the happy-clappy choruses.)

Fast forward a couple of years. My friend no longer attended that youth group but my brother did and I decide to give it a try. It was nearly Christmas, and the youth group planned some carolling around the streets followed by supper. I decided to tag along, and quickly found myself on the mini bus next to Chris. We chatted easily, and I discovered that in the years since I had seen him last he had gotten more good looking and even his singing had improved!

I knew exactly who he was, but he couldn't place me. "Did we meet at a bush dance?" he asked innocently.

* For the uninitiated, "bush dances" were quite popular youth group socials during the 1980's. Every Australian child suffers through PE classes learning "The Pride of Erin", "The Heel Toe Polka", "The Barn Dance" and other traditional partner dances. *

"A bush dance? No, actually I once visited the church escpecially to meet you," I replied.

And the rest is history...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Heart Instagram!

I have found a super-dee-dooper iPhone app that I looooooove. It's called Instagram and it's free!

If you have an iPhone you MUST zip to the app store immediately and download it!

Instagram is a photo-sharing platform. Take a photo, then apply one of the filters to give it that arty-farty look.

Here's a photo I just took in my back yard. See along the bottom of the screen there are a whole lot of sneakers? They're the different filters I can choose to apply to my photo.

I've chosen the one called "Lomo-fi" here:

See how it makes my photo look ever so much more "special"?

Then I click "share" and all my followers get to see my photo. Easy! There are options to share your photo to Twitter or Facebook too.

I can follow others so I get to see all their photos. It's like having an ever-changing photography exhibition in your pocket!

So get to it all you budding photographers out there - it's easy and oh-so-fun!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bad Mood Blogging

I'm in a funk.

Don't seem to have anything to write about.

Went to see Fame on the weekend. It was good.

Here's a picture of Alana getting her program signed by Director and Choreographer Kelley Abbey.

The coach had a crash on the way home. Managed to cause a major traffic jam in the centre of Sydney. Police, ambulance and fire brigade attended and despite the fact that noone was hurt, the lovely fire fighters boarded the bus to check on us and hand out bottles of water in case we were thirsty. Nice of them considering it was about one-and-a-half hours from the moment of impact until we were on our way again.

The third and final of Alana's ballet concerts is on tonight. Am looking forward to seeing the "Introduction to Ballet" class (2 and 3 year olds) as Alana is helping them on stage. Here's a photo taken at rehearsal to give you a sneak peek.

Tomorrow I'm visiting Josh's new school for orientation day. Did I mention he's a gifted and talented child? Yeah I know all parents think that their kids are, but in his case it's been confirmed with an invitation to join an "Opportunity Class". So we're going tomorrow to find out all about it including buses to and from school, new uniforms etc.

What else has been happening? No more job interviews on the horizon. Christmas shopping has begun.

I told you I was in a funk.

Please don't start an intervention, I'm sure I'll feel better tomorrow.

We'll talk again then.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Caution: Optimist at Work

On Monday I had an interview for a really great job. It was almost my dream job - at the University Library closest to me working as an Information Services Officer. You can read about my interview experience on my professional learning blog here.

The only thing that wasn't perfect about the job, from my point of view, was the fact that it wasn't a permanent position but rather the opportunity to be placed in a casual pool to fill temporary vacancies as they arose. Not ideal, but a great oportunity for someone like me who needs to gain experience, and a wonderful way to get my foot in the door at a place that I would like to work long term.

Anyway, long story short, I didn't get it. And, optimist that I am, I was surprised! I really thought I'd get it and was already imagining myself in the job.

The Senior Librarian, who was on the interview panel and rang me to let me know that I was unsuccessful, was encouraging. The position, despite being casual, is not really an entry level position. They need casual Librarians who have the experience required to jump straight into work without needing training or support. And that's fair enough.

I have also applied for another position at the same Library which has two things going for it. Firstly, it is a lower level in terms of training and experience required so I am more likely to be successful. Secondly, it is a permanent postion! Yay! So it's all good.

And, guess what! The Senior Librarian who interviewed me is making the short list for this other job and I told her I had applied for it and so now she knows me. I believe that the interview went well and she did say that she enjoyed talking with me, so I'm really hoping that means that I will back there again soon for another interview.

So, yeah, my optimism has not been rocked. And I'm still looking for other positions to apply for. And I really want to get a job before the next school year begins at the end of January, so that's my goal.

How about you? Are you working in your dream job? How long did it take you to find work the last time you were looking?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Buck-a Book Challenge FAIL!

Way back at the beginning of the year I blogged about DelGal's Buck-a-Book Reading Challenge. You can read it here.

It's an easy peasy reading challenge - all you have to do is put aside a dollar for every book that you read during the year and - HEY PRESTO! - at the end of the year you have a nice tidy sum to spend on yourself.

Hooray! What could be better than "earning" a dollar for every book that you read?

One little problem...can you see where this is going?...I've had a bit of a fail with an important, crucial really, part of the process...

If you check the sidebar of my blog, you'll see my challenge progress. I'm doing a great job, having read sixty books so far with over a month to go in the year. Yay me!

Slight problem...I'm supposed to have $60 set aside, one dollar per book, and actually I have $0.

Yeah, major FAIL!

I started off with the best of intentions, carefully keeping a tally of books read and making a note when I didn't have the right change and how much I "owed". But then I needed some money for something, so I took it from the Buck-a-Book know how this story goes.


Oh well, I probably would have just spent it on books anyway :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Reading Slump Continues

Ugh. I just can't seem to read lately. Well, I can read, but I can't get through a whole book and enjoy it. What is happening to me???

How To Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer

Publisher: Other Press
Author: Sarah Bakewell

I got an electronic galley of this book from netGalley. If you love to read and aren't lucky enough to get review copies sent to you in the mail, netGalley is a fantastic way to access soon-to-be or recently published books.
I chose this one because I thought it sounded right up my alley. Here's the marketing blurb:
"How to get along with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you love-such questions arise in most people's lives. They are all versions of a bigger question: how do you live? How do you do the good or honorable thing, while flourishing and feeling happy?

"This question obsessed Renaissance writers, none more than Michel Eyquem de Monatigne, perhaps the first truly modern individual. A nobleman, public official and wine-grower, he wrote free-roaming explorations of his thought and experience, unlike anything written before. He called them "essays," meaning "attempts" or "tries." Into them, he put whatever was in his head: his tastes in wine and food, his childhood memories, the way his dog's ears twitched when it was dreaming, as well as the appalling events of the religious civil wars raging around him. The Essays was an instant bestseller and, over four hundred years later, Montaigne's honesty and charm still draw people to him. Readers come in search of companionship, wisdom and entertainment-and in search of themselves.

"This book, a spirited and singular biography, relates the story of his life by way of the questions he posed and the answers he explored. It traces his bizarre upbringing, youthful career and sexual adventures, his travels, and his friendships with the scholar and poet Étienne de La Boétie and with his adopted "daughter," Marie de Gournay. And we also meet his readers-who for centuries have found in Montaigne an inexhaustible source of answers to the haunting question, "how to live?"

Unfortunately, I seem not to have an alley at the moment, because although I have read 52 pages and can intellectually see how interesting this book should be, I'm just not enjoying it. Strike one.

Mr Peanut by Adam Ross.

Borrowed from my local public library.

Now this one, I at least got all the way through. I borrowed it on the strength of the blurb:

"David Pepin has been in love with his wife, Alice, since the moment they met in a university seminar on Alfred Hitchcock. after thirteen years of marriage, he still can't imagine a remotely happy life without her - yet he obsessively contemplates her demise. Soon she is dead, and David is both deeply distraught and the prime suspect.

"The detectives investigating Alice's suspicious death have plenty of personal experience with conjugal enigmas: Ward Hastroll was happily married until his wife inexplicably becomes voluntarily and militantly bedridden; and Sam Sheppard is especially sensitive to the intricacies of marital guilt and innocence, having decades before been convicted and then exonerated of the brutal murder of his wife.

"...complex, interlocking dramas are structurally and emotionally intense, subtle, and intriguing..."


I got to the end of this book more confused than when I started. Just what happened? What was the author trying to say? I think I need a university seminar to unlock the symbolism and themes of this book, not to mention someone to tell me exactly whether Alice was murdered or not! Am I right in thinking what I think happened??? Strike two.

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold.

Borrowed from my local public library.

I enjoyed The Lovely Bones and wanted to read something by the same author. That is what I based my decision on, rather than the blurb which I found somewhat disturbing:

"With fierce intelligence and emotional intensity, Alice Sebold brings us a searing portrait of a mother-daughter bond that descends into murder.

"Clair and Helen Knightly are a parent and child locked in a relationship so unrelenting that they have become the center of each other's worlds. But as this electrifying novel opens, Helen crosses a boundary she never thought she would approach. And while her act is almost unconcious, it somehow seems like the fulfillment of a lifetime's unspoken wishes..."

I should have gone with my gut. Twenty-six pages in and I can't take any more. Strike three.

I'm desperately needing some reading suggestions!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On the 38th day before Christmas...

Only 38 days until Christmas! *insert warning siren*

Sing along with my happy little Christmas song. Can be sung to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas".

In the 38 days until Christmas, I have a few little chores -

buy presents for umpteen family and friends
clean the house and garden to host the family Christmas day
prepare for Josh to change schools
attend a job interview
get the dog clipped
send out Christmas cards
help Josh with his science project
4 Christmas parties
3 ballet concerts
2 school prize-givings
and a gymnastics competition!

Lalala! Are you feeling Christmassy yet?

I'm beginning to think that in Australia we do it all wrong - having summer and the end of the school year and Christmas all at the same time. It's too much!

Couldn't we do Christmas in July when it's cold and dreary and we don't have anything else going on???

So, how are your Christmas preparations going? 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Interview Outfit

I know you've all been dying to find out how I'm going putting together an outfit to wear to my job interview.

It's quite a tale, given that:

(a) I don't enjoy browsing. I like to go into a shop knowing exactly what I want, find it, buy it, go home, THE END.

(b) I have found that Murphy's Law prevails, even when shopping, i.e. when you know exactly what you want, it is impossible to find.

(c) I have a limited budget.

(d) I am curvaceous.

So, I found some luvverlee shoes. Take a look:

They are from Colorado. The shop, not the state. When I saw them last Wednesday, they were 40% off. The shop didn't have my size.

When I looked for them on Friday, they were still 40% off. The shop didn't stock that particular style.

When I looked for them on Sunday, they were still 40% off. This shop didn't stock that style either.

When I successfully found my size on Tuesday, they weren't 40% off anymore. So I paid full price. Boo :(

Yeah...if I'm going to have that much trouble with shoes, you can guess how much trouble the rest of the outfit was.

So, I tried to stand in front of mirror and take a photo of myself dressed up in my outfit, but it wasn't exactly working for me. So here is my outfit laid out on the couch:

Hahaha, I have no idea why the photo comes out sideways! I promise on my computer it is up the right way, for some reason Blogger wants it to look like this.

Anyway, the top is from Jacqui E. It is cream and has some chiffon detail around the neckline. Pretty :)

The pants are charcoal and are from Target. They are super comfy and look nice, but unfortunately did not come with a matching jacket. I've searched high and low for a jacket that will work, or a suit that fits well and I can afford, but no luck.

Today I picked up a nice short-sleeved cardi from Rivers that I thought might work. The photo didn't turn out too good, but hopefully you get the idea:

I liked the top from Jacqui E so much that I got one in "mocha" too. I took a photo showing how the top could be worn left out over the pants as well as tucked in:

Hahaha, Blogger has decided that this photo must also be sideways!

Anyway...whaddaya think? Did I do good?

All opinions will be gratefully received :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

I seem to have lost my reading mojo lately. I've had several books on the go and haven't been able to make much headway on any of them. I decided to try a sure fire quick read to get me going.

Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich.

Borrowed from my local public library.

"Celebrity chef Stanley Chipotle comes to Trenton to participate in a barbecue cook-off and loses his head - literally.

Bail bonds office worker Lula is witness to the crime, and the only one she'll talk to is Trenton cop Joe Morelli.

Chipotle's sponsor is offering a million-dollar reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the capture of the killers.

Lula recruits bounty hunter Stephanie Plum to help her find the killers and collect the moolah.

Stephanie Plum is working overtime tracking felons for the bonds office at night and snooping for security expert Carlos Manosa, aka Ranger, during the day. Can Stephanie hunt down tow killers, a traitor, and five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, and solve Ranger's problems and not jump his bones?"

If you've read any of Stephanie Plum's previous adventures, you'll know that she is a magnet for trouble. In this episode, Lula is in the wrong place at the wrong time and witnesses Stanley Chipotle's decapitation. She decides that the best way to catch the killers is to enter the Barbecue Cook-Off. Before long she and Grandma Mazur have taken over Stephanie's mother's kitchen testing out a variety of barbecue sauces. What could possibly go wrong???

At the same time, Stephanie is trying to do her job capturing criminals that have skipped bail and is also helping Ranger to investigate a number of break ins at properties that Ranger's company provides security for. Considering how much trouble she gets into in the course of her work as a bounty hunter, it requires considerable suspension of disbelief to accept that Ranger would specifically want Stephanie to help him with this investigation. And I'm finding it increasingly difficult to understand why Stephanie is so irresistible to both Ranger and Morelli. But I guess we all know that these books are just a bit of fun and we don't expect them to be realistic!

There are lots of funny moments courtesy of Lula, Grandma Mazur, a cross-dressing guy in a chicken suit, and various other disasters involving fire-bombs and the local flasher. As usual, this is a rollicking ride from start to finish.

So what did I think? I'm finding that you can have too much of a good thing. I'm feeling a little bit "over it" fifteen books in to the series. Did I enjoy it? Yes, but not nearly as much as I enjoyed previous episodes. It's getting to be a bit "same old, same old" for me. Will I continue reading this series? Probably. And I am looking forward to the movie version of One for the money. Though I am finding it hard to imagine Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Versatile Blogger? Or just good at rambling about anything?

Aw blogging buddy Dillypoo has bestowed me with The Versatile Blogger award!

Here are the rules when accepting this award:
  • Thank and link back to who gave me the award.
  • Share seven things about myself.
  • Pass it along to seven blogs I've recently discovered and enjoy.
  • Leave the recipients a note telling them about the award.
It goes without saying that I really appreciate receiving this award Dillypoo! Thankyou.

If you haven't discovered Dillypoo's blog, then you really should check it out. She has recently reached her goal weight after transforming herself from a couch potato to a sleek and slim exercise junky. She blogs about her weight loss journey, her life in general, and Harry Potter (!). I am just a wee bit jealous of her collection of HP memorabilia including a wand and several snitches.

Now for seven things about myself.

1. In terms of shopping, I'm a hunter, not a gatherer.

I know the stereotype is that women love shopping and can't think of anything better than a day spent browsing at the mall, but that's not true for me. I go shopping with the intention of buying a particular item or items. I focus on searching for exactly what I need, and when I've successfully found it, I am relieved and head home a happy camper. Even when grocery shopping, I have my list and walk briskly up and down the aisles throwing items in my trolley as I go. I don't stop to check the specials or new products. I just want to get in and out as quickly as possible.

2. Sadly, I am not a domestic goddess.

In my imagination, I love pottering around the house keeping it neat and tidy, I bake regularly, I have a little kitchen garden growing herbs and vegetables for cooking, I do crafts, and I decorate my house cleverly by putting together a  combination of second hand and new items that fit my personality. In real life, however, I struggle with housework and don't have the patience for gardening or crafts.

3. I'm a sucker for teen TV drama.

I know I'm "too old", but I loooove me a bit of teenage angst. Beverley Hills 90210 (the original), Dawson's Creek, The OC...I've done them all! My current faves are Glee! and The Vampire Diaries.

4. My hubby and I were "childhood sweethearts".

I really lucked out with my wonderful husband Chris. We started going out when we were sixteen and married when we were twenty-three. The longer that we're together, the more I realise how truly blessed I am to have Chris. He's an easy-going guy who is friendly and can talk to anyone. He's naturally a practical person, can turn his hand to anything, and is always willing to help people. Everyone that knows Chris agrees with me that he's quite a catch! I'm a lucky girl.

5. I am turning into my mother.

More and more these days when I look in the mirror or listen to myself speak, I see and hear my mother. And though I love her and admire her, it's still a very scary thing!

6. I find being a mum very challenging.

I don't feel that being a mum has always come naturally to me. Between the daily challenges of food, sleep and discipline and the big decisions of schooling and activities, I often feel like I'm making it up as I go along! I've done a lot of things I swore I never would, and haven't done things that I was determined to do. Somehow it all seems different when you actually have kids, rather than just looking on from the sidelines. I think my kids are fantastic, so I hope that at least some of that is due to me!

7. As for religion, I'm a questioner.

And I think that's all right.

So now to pass on The Versatile Blogger Award to seven other blogging buddies:

Kate and Lydia from Rants at Mommyland
Heather at Lost in the View
Susan at Gray Matter

Now I just have to visit the above seven blogs to let the bloggers know about the honour which I have bestowed upon them!

I hope this post encourages you to visit a new-to-you blog today. Leave a comment and spread the love.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How I'll Unclutter my Life...When I'm Ready

I've been reading Unclutter Your Life: Transforming your Physical, Mental and Emotional Space by Katherine Gibson for a few weeks now. I picked it up from the library on a whim. I always browse around the 100's (Philosophy and Psychology) because I'm interested in that sort of thing. I saw the title and thought, "Hmmm...I could do with that!" and brought it home with me.

I don't think I'm alone in feeling that I simply have too much stuff. Not just the physical clutter that I suffocate under in my house (and have to move around to vacuum!), but also the "should do" guilty mental clutter. I think in our fast paced lives many of us are quite desperate for some space to just breathe.

I learned two important things while reading this book.

1. This is not the right kind of book to borrow from the library. It's really better to own this kind of book. Why? It's not a book that you read from start to finish. Each chapter deals with a different sort of clutter and has a list of practical actions that help the reader to address that particular issue in their own home and life. This book is therefore more suitable to use as a reference to dip into from time to time as the need arises.

2. I'm not quite in the right place at the moment to deal with the clutter in my life. In order to make real changes in your life and deal with clutter once and for all, you have to make a determined decision to do so. Like quitting smoking, or losing weight, de-cluttering takes commitment and self-discipline, and it must be a high priority in your life. The benefits are great, but it takes work to get there. I've realised that at the moment job-hunting is my main priority beyond my regular daily duties as wife and mother. I don't have the additional time and energy required to undertake de-cluttering right now, especially as this time of year is particularly busy in the run up to Christmas.

I plan to buy this book or a similar one to own at home. That way, when I'm in the right space to undertake this sort of project, I'll have the tools I need to make it work.

How about you? Do you live a life of simplicity? Organised chaos? Just plain chaos?!?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fashion emergency! Help required!

Guess what? I have a job interview coming up!

I have so far applied for five different librarian/library assistant jobs since completing my uni study. I have one confirmed interview, and I expect to have others also.

I have written a little bit about preparing for job interviews on my "other blog". If you want, you can read it here. On this blog, we're going to think about what I should wear to the interview.

Put your "fashion caps" on girls (and boys) and help me decide what look says "capable", "professional" and "all round fabulous" to you.

From Country Road, we have a nice conservative pant suit:

Perhaps worn with a colourful top so I don't look too serious?

Or how about a nice dress? I love the shape of the dress below, but it's from a shop called "MrandMrsTallClothes" which I certainly am not!

I love this skirt and top combo from Jacqui E. Does it look right for a librarian? Or too dressy and not professional enough?

Also from Jacqui E is this dress which looks really comfy. Would it be too colourful for an interview?

I looooove this dress from Portmans.

A nice simple top like this one from Katies would be easy to wear with pants or a skirt...

Ok, so I've discovered that I'm not too good at this internet window shopping thing. Please send me pictures or links or opinions or anything else that might be helpful. Here are some guidelines:

1. I'm not skinny. I can't wear stuff that's designed for six foot tall models!
2. I'm not rich. I can't afford designer brands.
3. Whatever I get for the interview, I need to be able to wear again. I can't have anything that makes me look like I the CEO of a company. Then it will be too dressy and serious to wear to work. A skirt or pants and jacket combo might be the way to go because they don't have to be worn together and different tops can create different looks.

Get working fashionistas! Looking forward to your fashion tips :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Southern Feast (or "What I cooked from Ree Drummond's cookbook")

Saturday night I cooked a Southern feast for my family from Ree Drummond's fabulous cookbook The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Readers of my blog will remember that my beautiful sister bought me the book after I waxed lyrical about Ree's blog and wonderful recipes. You can read all about it here.

So, what was on the menu?

I didn't do any starters because I had a feeling that the meal itself would be filling enough!

For main course we had Chicken-Fried Steak with Buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy, served with Green Salad. Here's what it looked like on my plate:

How did it taste?

Well, I found the biscuits a bit challenging! They turned out a little crispier and less light and fluffy than I would have liked, but what do I know? Everyone tried some, but no-one went back for seconds. I'm not sure whether it was because the Aussie taste-buds are not accustomed to them or if it was because I just didn't do a very good job of making them! Oh well. Here's a batch of them straight out of the oven. Do they look right to you?

The chicken-fried steak was much more of a success. We all enjoyed the tasty coating and the meat came out tender and juicy, so I must have done something right!

But dessert...well dessert was a triumph!

For the kids I made chocolate brownies. I didn't have time to attempt two of Ree's dessert recipes so for the brownies I used a nice reliable packet mix. Here they are:

(There were more, but I decided that two brownies per child was ample and put the rest in the freezer for later. I'm mean like that.)

For the adults, however, I decided to have a crack at Ree's Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce. I'm so glad that I did. Here are some photos of the crisp in progress:

And here's what it looked like after it had been baked and (mostly) eaten:

It was absolutely, deliciously scrumptious! And the maple cream sauce that went with it (which I shamefully neglected to photograph) was heavenly. Mmmm mmmm!

So all in all, a very enjoyable meal for all concerned! I'll definitely make the Peach Crisp again and I think also the Chicken-Fried Steak.

As for other recipes in the book, I'm keen to try the Red Velvet Cake and the Fried Chicken next.

So what do you think? Do I make it as an honorary Southern gal?