Friday, December 30, 2011

Yay for the New Year!

This time last year I wrote this post telling you how I feel about New Year's.

I think I did a pretty good job of explaining myself, so I'm directing you there instead of saying it all again.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I love new beginnings!

I'm going to use today and tomorrow to think about what I really want from 2012.

How about you? Are you a fan of the New Year?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today I need a bit of a lift. I'll be honest, I'm feeling a bit out of sorts.

So I'm doing something that I know usually works for me, which is focusing on the positive.

Please go visit Kate says stuff to join in with Thankful Thursday.



Today I'm having trouble looking at the big picture. I'm having trouble finding something profound to say.

But I do have much to be thankful for.

So today I'm thankful for the little things...

I received a Christmas card from a dear friend that I haven't seen in years today. How lovely that she included some photos of her daughter that I have never met. And how wonderful that I will be able to see her in person next year when my family travels to London!

I guess that's not such a little thing after all! That's what I love about taking the time to be thankful. Once you start counting them, blessings multiply!

I have an appointment to have my hair cut and coloured tonight. Isn't it lovely to sit back in the hairdresser's chair and be pampered? I especially love it when they wash your hair and give your head a massage. Bliss!

I have books to read! How delightful to be able to have a little lie down with a good book!

How about you? How are you feeling today? Maybe a little thankfulness would brighten it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Have you survived Christmas?

Just a quick post to say that I hope you've not only survived, but have thrived through Christmas.
I've had a very tiring couple of days.

Tiring, but good.

I've been blessed with time spent with family, special foods, and wonderful presents.

A highlight for me was receiving my new iPad. This is my first attempt at posting from it and it seems to be working ok so far.

A lowlight was dropping a bottle on my foot and breaking my toe. I haven't exactly had time to get it x-rayed or have a doctor look at it, but it's black and blue and swollen and it hurts; so the combined wisdom of myself and family members says it's broken.

I think I need a little lie down now.

How are you guys holding up? Any especially fabulous presents? Any Christmas injuries?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas cards...To send or not to send?

I didn't send Christmas cards this year.


Not even Christmas emails.

Here are my reasons:

  • Feeling too "bah humbug".
  • Didn't have time.
  • It's environmentally friendly.
  • It seems to be going out of fashion because I'm receiving less cards these days.
Yeah, I know, those reasons really suck.

Really, I just didn't think I could see the point.

What do Christmas cards mean to me? To me, it's about making a list of all your family and friends and then acknowledging them with a message of  love at Christmas time. And now that I've written that and see it in black and white in front of me, it sounds like a very good idea indeed.

However, the card itself isn't important. Too often Christmas cards are either overpriced and overblown, or cheap and tacky. Though I'll read the cards that I receive and will display them while the Christmas tree is up, I'll usually throw them in the recycling bin once the New Year is here. Harsh? Maybe. But I don't have room in my life to keep every card I've ever received.

Also, the time of year isn't really important. Does that sound sacrilegious? I don't mean that Christmas isn't a special time of year, I just mean that any day is a good day to send family and friends a message of love.

So now I'm going to send off an email of thanks to the girlfriends of mine that sent me Christmas cards, letting them know that I appreciated them and that I'm thinking of them.

And then I'm going to make a plan for making sure that the people I love know that I love them, even though  I didn't send them a Christmas card.

How about you? Are you a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas cards? Do you send photos of your kids and letters describing their achievements?

Or perhaps you don't celebrate Christmas and have some different traditions at this time of year?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Giving Thanks

There's nothing like an attack of the "bah humbugs" for making me feel spiritually bereft.



This year I have struggled a little to shake off the stress that comes with being a busy mother at Christmas time to discover the underlying joy of the season.

Someone once told me that are lives are like cars that need to keep all four wheels on the road. In our case, our wheels are our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. We have to make sure that we are looking after all four wheels in order to stay roadworthy.

Luckily over the past few years I've become quite adept at reading the signs that something is not quite right in my life. I'm better at keeping an eye on the gauges on my dashboard, if you like. So it's good that I'm aware that my spiritual health needs a bit of attention.

So today I'm stopping to give thanks every few minutes. Thanks for all the blessings in my life.



Sometimes, with all the bills to pay, it's easy to forget how rich I am. Today I'm taking the time to remind myself that I have more than I need. I have been blessed with abundance.

How are you going keeping all four wheels safely on the road of life?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Doors, windows and jobs.

Have you ever heard the saying "God doesn't close a door without opening a window"?

Of course you have. It's one of the most overused cliches out there.

Right behind "everything happens for a reason".

And these cliches are probably very annoying to people who are going through a hard time. 

If you have an eye for the ridiculous, then click here and see what the Bloggess has to say about it.

And while it's fun to be all sarcastic and ironic and cool, this is where I'm going to reveal my Pollyanna tendencies to you all.


Sometimes when it seems that things are going to hell in a handbasket, it is just plain hell.

But I believe that often when things don't seem to be going quite right, another opportunity presents itself which turns out to be just as good, if not better, than your original plans.

This week I had a job interview. For a two year full time contract at the library I've been working at casually this year.

Those of you that have been following this blog for a while know that I have spent all year looking for permanent library work, desperately trying to launch my career.

Prior to completing my Masters in Librarianship, I thought long and hard about my goals and dreams when it came to work. I knew that I wanted to choose something that I'd find stimulating and challenging for the long term.

So, if you've read this far, you probably know what's coming.

I didn't get the job.

But I did get a call from the library manager offering me an extended period of three days a week work during the first half of 2012.

Which actually suits me better.



Of course I'm still actively looking for permanent, rather than casual, work. But three days a week is much more manageable for me right now with Josh still in primary school. And the fact that we are having an overseas holiday in the middle of next year means that it's nice to not be committed to work and needing to ask for leave.

 So what do you think about the old cliche? Do you believe in the concept of doors and windows?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh how pinteresting!


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Today I'm linking up with Michelle at The Vintage Apple for "Oh, How Pinteresting Wednesdays". (Even though it's not actually Wednesday anymore - oops!)

If you haven't tried Pinterest, but you love to waste time looking at stuff on the internet, then you really should head there right now and sign up.

Or head over to The Vintage Apple and read Michelle's post and you'll get the drift pretty quickly and see if you think it's something that you'd like to play with.

Confession time: I suck at Pinterest.

I'm really good at trolling through everyone else's "pins" and "liking" them and "repinning" them. I'm great at wasting eons of time. What I'm not so good at is sourcing great images to pin and share with others. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't feel like I contribute much to the experience.

I think I've figured out why I'm not so good at it. It's because I don't really have a goal for my Pinteresting. I don't really know why I'm there.

But guess what?!? I've had a brilliant idea!

I could use Pinterest as a virtual vision board. I could pin pictures that represent things that I want to manifest in my life! Please forgive me if I'm far, far behind and eleventy-billion people have already thought of this, but it's a new idea for me.

And I've thought of it at just the right time, seeing as it's almost the New Year and the perfect time for setting new goals and having visions!

So stay tuned for my Pinterest pinboards to explode with awesomeness!

In the meantime, head on over to The Vintage Apple and check out what everyone else is pinning.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas traditions

Last week I posted about feeling un-festive.

But today, I discovered this post by a very good blogging friend of mine, Dillypoo. In which Dillypoo explains that she is a reformed Christmas tragic who now focuses on love for family and friends over Christmas, rather than presents and decorations.

Can I get an AMEN?!?

Dillypoo also linked to this post by another fabulous blogger, Liz. Liz has instituted some special traditions in her house, following the lead of St Nicholas, the real Santa Claus.


Liz ensures that her children give as well as receiving on Christmas Day. And she has limited the gifts that they receive by using this catchy little rhyme:

Something you want,
Something you need,
Something you wear,
Something you read.

I think that this is a pretty good idea. And I'm quite taken with the idea of bring the whole Santa thing back to its origins of giving to the poor.

I think that I may be trying something new next Christmas.

How about you? What Christmas traditions do you follow? How do you deal with Santa and the huge amount of gifts that children get/want/expect these days?

I'd love your feedback.




Monday, December 12, 2011

An ode to virtual friends

Look at that! I've managed to attract a couple of new followers! 

(I've hardly posted lately, and I can't imagine what has drawn you here, but I think it may be foolish for me to mention that.)

Welcome friends!


(Every now and then I get an email from Twitter letting me know that I have a new follower, and I'm similarly stymied trying to imagine what on earth I have tweeted that makes me appealing.)

Oh dear, none of this is coming out right!

It's just that I haven't been particularly active in the social media world of late. I haven't felt very dynamic or engaged.

What's your favourite social media forum?

Mine would have to be Facebook, for good or for bad, whatever that says about me. I usually check it first thing each morning to see what all my friends and family have been up to and what they've got to say for themselves, and I check in again several times each day if I'm not working. I love it when my news feed is full of photos and links. I like to "like" posts and to share things that I enjoy.

I like a lot of blogger's pages, which means that I always get links to their latest posts on my news feed. I also like local and national news pages, which means I often see the headlines via Facebook before the news bulletin airs. I've also discovered inspirational pages, local businesses and online magazines.

I enjoy the fact that I catch up with friends and family much more regularly than I would if I relied on seeing them face to face.



Some people seem to think that it's a bit tragic to enjoy Facebook and be on it too often. 

They think that it means that you don't have much of a real life.

What do you think? Sometimes I feel a bit sheepish about my Facebook "addiction".

But when it comes down to it, I love my virtual friends!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Feeling Un-Festive

I'm desperately needing an infusion of Christmas Spirit.



And while I wouldn't say no to alcohol, when I say Christmas Spirit I'm not talking about a few margaritas followed by a bottle of wine.

I'm talking about that warm, fuzzy, good-will-towards-men feeling that I should be getting about now.

Confession time.
  • My Christmas tree is not up yet and I don't even care.
  • I bought myself a very expensive present today, and I don't even feel excited about it. Just kind of sick about the amount of money that I spent.
On the positive side of things, I have a job interview next week. And I've applied for two other jobs that I'm waiting to hear about. So although I think that the timing leaves a little bit to be desired, I'm trying to focus on making the best possible case for myself. And fingers crossed, I might have some regular library work next year.

I've also been reminded a lot lately about how very blessed I am.



Christmas or no Christmas, as long as I have my husband and children, I have everything I need

Lately I been feeling my heart bursting with love and pride every time I look at my family, or even think about them. I may even have been shedding a few happy tears

So friends, how are you all feeling about the fast approaching Christmas season? Are you bursting with joy? Struggling a little? Have you got an advice for me to help me start to feel festive?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One Interesting Thing for January

So, how's December treating you?

We're all busy, busy, busy - right?

When you've got kids, the end of the school year brings with it a whole raft of special activities.

Josh had his gymnastics display. I had photography fail.


This is Josh mid leap during his pirate themed tumbling display. He did awesome flips of all kinds, and this is the best that I can do. FAIL.

Alana had her school presentation assembly.


Alana is the one on the left. Here she is with her besties posing with her certificates.

I've always thought that it is especially bad timing that in Australia, the school year ends just before Christmas. 

I'm not sure what the end of the school year is like in other countries, but I imagine that there are recitals and prize-givings and the like, just as we have here. But who needs to be dealing with all these extra events at the same time as they are preparing for Christmas?

It means that December is particularly stressful.

And that January is a wasteland.

Don't get me wrong, I love summer holidays as much as the next person. It's just that January feels particularly empty coming straight after December.

The kids don't have school, and their after school activities are on hiatus for the holidays.

So I've decided on a plan.

I'm going to try to do one interesting thing each day of January and blog about it.

Great plan, right?

If you'd like to make any suggestions for family friendly and budget ideas for me then leave me a comment.

Get creative!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo - putting a positive spin on an epic fail!

Wow! November sure went fast didn't it?

About a week before the start of November I signed up for NaNoWriMo.



National (though it's actually international) Novel Writing Month.

Setting myself the goal of writing a 50 000 word novel in 30 days.

What was I thinking?

Certainly not that I'd get called in to work in the library for 12 of those days.

Certainly not that I'd discover that working 9 am to 5 pm, even only 3 days a week, is hard work when you have a husband, two kids, a dog, a household to run and a part time job running a business from home!

Certainly not that my daughter would have end-of-year ballet concerts to get to, with all the extra rehearsals that entails. 

Certainly not that the closer and closer we got to December, the busier and busier life would get.

Now that I think about it, what was I thinking!?!



The idea of NaNoWriMo is to write a novel quick and dirty.

Just get the words down on the page.

No deleting.

Just do it!

As of today, I have written 4 609 words.

So you could call my NaNoWriMo attempt an epic fail!

Or you could say that I gave it a go, made a great start, and can continue writing whenever I want to.

I don't have to limit myself to a November deadline.

Let's think positive, shall we?




Thursday, November 24, 2011

Catching up

It's been two whole weeks since I last posted here.

I found myself feeling overwhelmed with life, so I made the conscious decision to step back and say "no" to things.

Even things that I really enjoy, like blogging, because I simply didn't have the extra energy for it.

I'd like to encourage you all to follow my example and take care of yourself.

There's no need to worry about me. I'm OK. But I'm only OK because I made sure that I said "no" when I needed to, and I didn't allow guilt to get me to say "yes" when it wasn't right for me.

And you don't need to worry that I've been struggling with difficult situations. I haven't. My life has been full of blessings. Just a little too full, if you know what I mean!

Highlights?

Alana and I went to see Breaking Dawn together.


We enjoyed it, and I thought that Kristin Stewart did a good job of portraying the range of emotions that Bella experiences. But I hate it when they split a book into two movies and you have to wait ages for the second half. Aaaaargh!

We had some nice weather and I got the chance to wear my new swimsuit to the beach.


Unfortunately, the weather has turned foul since then and we've had nothing but cold and rain.

In other news, I sent in two job applications and had an interview for a third. Fingers crossed!

How have you all been?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Did losing weight make me a happier person?

I had lunch with some old school friends last weekend.

The great thing is that we have about thirty years (or more!) of history behind us, and whenever we get together we can just pick up where we left off.

Even though we're all very different to each other, we somehow fit together. Even though we work in different industries, we live in different areas, and our partners and family circumstances are all unique, we genuinely like and respect one another. We don't agree on everything, but we're more than happy to allow each other to be true to ourselves.

(Here's a gratuitous shot of the cafe where we ate. A stunning location!)

The girls hadn't seen me since I lost all my weight. They were suitably impressed and happy that I looked so healthy. But what surprised me was that they all commented about how happy I looked.

They're not the first to comment on the fact that I seem happier since I lost weight.

I've been told several times by different people.

I've also been told that I am more confident, more affectionate and more outgoing.

Now you might think it's a no-brainer. Of course I'm happier slim and healthy rather than overweight. And I guess that's a reasonable expectation. But I'm not aware that I'm acting any differently. I still feel like the same person, so I'm surprised that I've made such an obvious transformation.

So, being me, I've been thinking about it.

And I think that I've come up with something.

See if it makes sense to you.

I believe that I am happier because I have reached a point in my life when I am loving myself and caring for myself. I believe that my weight loss is not the reason that I feel good but is the result of me feeling good.

Let's just hear that again.

I lost weight because I'm happy, rather than being happy because I lost weight.

Yeah. I think that's right.

What do you think?

I'm linking up with Pour Your Heart Out at Things I Cant' Say. Click on the button below to visit Shell and read some wonderful, heartfelt posts.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Confessional

It's time for our weekly confessions! Visit Mamarazzi to link up or just read some confessions.


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I confess that...


...this NaNoWriMo caper is harder than it looks!




National Novel Writing Month happens every November. 

The goal: to write a 50000 word novel in 30 days.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't think it would be easy! I just didn't think it would be this hard.

The good news is that I have outlined my whole novel. And I think that I've got a good story to tell.

The bad news is that so far I've only written 1689 words. I'm falling behind!

I think that I've underestimated the number of hours that it takes to peck away at the keyboard and get the words out.

I know what you're thinking! GET OFF THE BLOG FIONA AND BACK TO YOUR NOVEL!

...I may have accidentally boarded the end of year silly season crazy train roller-coaster!



Last week I shared that I hadn't done any planning for Christmas yet. I still haven't. But I did make a positive decision about how I was going to deal with it.

I like to do one thing at a time. I like to make a list of what needs to be done and work through it one step at a time. I know that this is the way that I work. I know that I always manage to get everything done in the end. So I decided to just let myself do my thing and not worry about what everyone else is doing.

So what if Christmas planning hasn't made it to the top of my list yet? I'll get there.

But it's hard to keep calm and carry on, when every day someone is adding something to my list! Excuse me everyone, I have enough to do already. Please stop sending notes home from school, emails, or calling me with helpful suggestions of things I need to do. I have ENOUGH!



Want to know what the biggest problem is?

None of the things being added to my list are extraordinary or unreasonable. No-one's being demanding. It's all just completely normal day-to-day running-a-household-and-family stuff. There just seems to be an awful lot of it at the moment. And lots of these things have deadlines that fall before December 25th.

What does that mean?

Christmas is sliding lower and lower down my to-do list. It has almost fallen off the bottom! I'm worried that it will not make it to the top in time.

And so I'm getting tempted to jump right on the crazy train and start stressing. Somebody stop me!

What have you got to confess this week?



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What I'm Loving

Linking up with This Kind of Love for What I'm Loving Wednesday.



I'm loving...

...Glee! is back <3

TV viewing has been pretty lousy lately. There haven't been a lot of choices. Glee! is reliably entertaining and I'm glad that it's back!

Blaine is my favourite...

...My new earrings

 I've been wanting earrings like this for forever. Mine are the yellow ones :)

...That I've got a day off tomorrow and I can take my doggy Lucy for a nice long walk and do some writing for NaNoWriMo

Working 9 - 5 is kicking my butt! It's going to be so lovely to have some hours at home to potter about. Not that I'm not loving having work, but...you know what I mean.

Don't forget to visit This Kind of Love to either link up or read what everyone else is loving today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Has a book ever made you cry? Definitely yes.

Oh dear.

I'm working at the library this week, and while I'm loving the work, I'm finding it dreadfully difficult to fit in everything else I'd like to be doing. Like writing a wonderful blog post to link up with The Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday.

Today's list is the Top Ten Books that I had strong emotions over. (Click the link to visit The Broke and the Bookish.)

I like it when a book makes me cry. Or laugh. Or feel gutted and emotionally exhausted.

I think that a book that elicits a strong emotional reaction from me has done its job. 

A good book should make me think deeply about an issue, or allow me to identify strongly with a character. A good book will make me laugh out loud, or will cause me to read excerpts of it aloud to anyone within earshot.

Books that don't effect me strongly are easily forgotten.

I started my list, but I've run out of time to finish it. So here are four books, and I'm looking forward to reading the other lists.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J K Rowling.

I'm a tragic Harry Potter fan. I was one of the people that pre-ordered my copy of the book, picked it up on the day it was released, and then locked myself in my bedroom to read it undisturbed.

But. I got most of the way through the book and I had to stop. Tears streaming down my face, I closed the book and went to sleep. I knew I'd be able to face the rest of it in the morning, but I just couldn't face it at that moment.

I don't want to get into spoiler territory here, but I think nearly everyone in the world has either read the book, seen the movie, or both.

Let's just say that when Harry viewed Snape's memories in the pensieve, and knew the enormity of the courage that he would need to face his destiny, I came completely undone.

I read the book aloud to my children, and choked up big time when I got to that scene. My kids looked at me with disbelief as I struggled to get the words out.

2. The Montmaray Journals by Michelle Cooper.

Click here to read my reviews.

Love these books. The narrator's voice is delightful! I must admit that I read many passages aloud to whoever was nearby because they were just so delicious! I love it when I am grinning from ear to ear as I read, so aware of how much I am enjoying the experience.

3. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.

Click here to read my review.

This book was a revelation to me. 

It transported me so completely into Grace and Sam's world.

It was so divinely bittersweet.

4. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

Click here to read my review.

This book is a story of suffering that touched my heart and made me thankful for all the good in my life. I found the hardships described absolutely horrifying and harrowing. My respect for people living in oppressive regimes and war zones grew one thousand fold.

Don't forget to visit The Broke and the Bookish to read the other lists.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Confession Time

I'm doing the Friday Confessional again!



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Click the pic to go visit Mamarazzi and play along!


I confess...

...that I'm not finding the planning of my "world tour 2012" very enjoyable.

Let me catch you up if you're new around here or visiting from Mamarazzi's. My family is going on a big, awesome, round-the-world holiday next year.



It is a very big deal and it is going to be awesome.

And it's not even just in the wishin' and hopin' stage; it's really happening! We have forked over our thousands of dollars for the flights. We are visiting our travel consultant tomorrow to spend some more money. Yay!

But I've got to admit that trolling through brochures and surfing the internet, comparing prices and making lists, is getting old real fast. And when Chris and I talk about it, some very real cracks are starting to appear in the "perfect holiday plans", given that he and I have very different personalities and, I think, ver different expectations for the trip.

I hope that the travel consultant is not called upon to do some impromptu marriage counseling tomorrow!

...that I have not done a thing so far to prepare for Christmas.

No. Just no. Not a hope in hell that I'll ever have something like this for Christmas.

Please don't tell me how many shopping days are left until Christmas. I don't want to know.

I have no idea what I'm buying for the kids, or what to tell other relatives to get for them.

I have no idea what I'm buying for the assorted relatives that I need to buy for.

Christmas cards? With a cute picture of the kids/family on them? Haven't done them since 2001. Seriously. I buy my Christmas cards in the supermarket and send them off in reply to cards that I receive. I know. I suck.

...that I signed up for NaNoWriMo.


What was I thinking???

For those of you not in the know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. Yes, novel writing. In a month.

For the month of November, I'm going to be madly scrambling to write in every spare moment to reach the magical goal of 50000 words (yes, you read that right!) and get this novel out of my head and onto the page. Pages.

Go here to find out more!

Well that's all for me. What do you have to confess?




Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankful

I'm linking up with Thankful Thursday at kate says stuff.

Click here to visit Kate and link up!

I believe in being thankful.

I believe that our minds are very powerful. How we think and what we think about has a huge impact on what we experience in our daily lives.

I try to practise gratitude every day. As someone who has been through a bout of depression, I know that for me, gratitude is an important tool that I use to maintain my mental health. Focusing on the positive is a great way for me to develop resilience and the strength to face challenges.

Of course, I'm always thankful for my husband and children. That's a given.

Today I'm thankful for...

...my library


Now those of you who regularly read my blog will know that I'm a recently graduated Librarian. So you may think that I'm giving myself a bit of a rap here! But I'm not kidding. I'm so thankful that I have easy access to information via my local public library.

I use my library a lot. I've currently got seven items out on loan, including a book and CD set to help me learn Italian! I borrow lots of fiction from across the genres; if I don't like a book I don't have to force myself to finish it. I just return it and try again! I also read a lot of non-fiction, and my library allows me to borrow big beautiful books that would cost a fortune if I were to buy them.

Long live libraries!

...possibilities






Every day brings new opportunities. Really.

I'm thankful for change.

For new things.

I'm thankful that I'm not finished yet.

...more work






Since starting to write this post I've received a phone call from my boss at the library where I work casually, offering me four more weeks of work! Hooray! I'm so thankful for the opportunity to gain more experience and for the fact that this time I'm on a contract and will start to accrue sick leave and holiday leave. What a blessing!

What are you thankful for today?



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I'm Loving

I'm linking up with What I'm Loving Wednesday at This Kind of Love. I want to get this post up while it's still Wednesday here at my place, so I'm hitting publish even though the beautiful Jamie at This Kind of Love hasn't posted the linky yet.


Click here to visit This Kind of Love. (Link will take you to the home page.)

What I'm loving...


...warmer weather






Spring weather is unpredictable. One day it's pleasantly warm and sunshiny, the next it's cold and rainy. But this past week we've had a few warm (even hot!) days, and I've finally been able to wear some of my new summer clothes. I've worn my new shorts, denim skirt and sundress - all three items are above-the-knee! (And the dress is sleeveless!)

I'm loving feeling comfortable to wear hot-weather-appropriate outfits, and I'm finding that now that I'm at a healthy weight, I don't feel as uncomfortable and tired in the hot weather as I used to. I think it's going to be a great summer!

...wearing my hair curly


I've got the type of hair that, depending on the weather, or how I've styled it, or how it's been cut, can be curly, wavy or straight. (Or, of course, frizzy.) Usually I blow dry the front of my hair straight and try to make the rest of it sit smooth in nice controlled waves. But lately I've discovered that if I just let it be when I wash it, it dries nice and curly and doesn't look half bad! As I write, however, the weather is rainy and I've got a ferocious frizz going on because I didn't blow dry it. I need to find something that I can put on dry hair to keep the frizz at bay. I think I need to get me some of that fancy Moroccan Oil that my hairdresser uses!

...sharing encouragement


Every day, pages that I "like" on Facebook publish photos that are posters featuring inspirational and encouraging quotes.


I like to click "share" so I can pass on the inspiration.

What are you loving?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Top Ten Books to read during Halloween


I have to list the top ten books to read during Halloween.

I feel that, being Australian, I have a distinct disadvantage in this task. Halloween just isn't celebrated as a holiday here in Australia.

Of course we know what day it falls on (October 31st, right?). When I was a child, Halloween was a holiday that we only saw on TV via American sitcoms. As I grew older and children obviously watched more TV and became better at nagging parents, small numbers of trick-or-treaters began appearing on the streets, wearing half-baked, home made costumes and carrying plastic grocery bags to collect their booty. Unfortunately, many householders were caught unawares and without lollies to give out. "I'm sorry, we don't celebrate Halloween," was commonly heard. (NB: lollies = candy.)

Nowadays, a significant minority of children successfully beg their parents to be allowed to trick-or-treat. Their costumes generally aren't much better, and you still won't see more than a handful carrying specially designed Halloween lolly bags. Despite every retailer's attempt to get us to buy Halloween related merchandise, most Australians just can't fathom spending money on something that will only be used for a couple of hours on one night of the year. A night of the year that has no personal relevance for them. Despite this, most householders are now prepared with a small bowl of lollies to give out, but can't imagine going to the trouble of decorating their house or having a party. I'm sure there are some exceptions, but adult Australians don't dress up for Halloween.



Anyway, enough about that. I'm supposed to be talking about books.

I'm going to start with some books that I have read, and enjoyed, with supernatural themes.

1. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Click the link to read my review.

2. Shiver and Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Linger, just like Shiver, is about love. It is heartbreaking, uplifting, devastating and beautiful. Stiefvater creates a fantasy inhabited by characters that are intensely human and real.

You must read these books!

Don't get me started on the fact that I haven't yet read the third book of the series, Forever. I'm going to borrow it from my local library just as soon as it becomes available.

3. The Sookie Stackhouse (or Southern Vampires) Series by Charlaine Harris.

These are the books that inspire True Blood. Enough said.


4. The Harper Connelly Series by Charlaine Harris.

I actually like these even better than the Sookie Stackhouse ones!

5. The Otherworld Series by Kelley Armstrong.

I'm just about to start Broken, book six in the series.

I could continue. Now that I think about it, I do read a lot of books with supernatural themes! However, because I think of Halloween as a children's holiday, I'm going to suggest some kids books.

6. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy.

7. The Goosebumps Series by R.L. Stine

8. I Spy Spooky Night by Jean Marzollo, Walter Wick (Illustrator).


My kids loved the I Spy books when they were younger. They used to have races to see who could find all the items on the list first!

9. Miss Fiona's Stupendous Pumpkin Pies by Mark Kimball Moulton, Karen Hillard Crouch (Illustrator).


I couldn't resist this book that I found via the Apples for the Teacher website, given that my name is Fiona! Reading the review, it sounds like it has a nice positive message.


10. Celebrate Halloween from National Geographic.


I've included this book because some kids prefer to read non-fiction. Also, given that I live in Australia where, as I've indicated, we don't celebrate Halloween or really understand the traditions, I thought it was a necessary inclusion!


If you've enjoyed this list, then go visit the linky post and read some more suggestions!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Let's catch up!

How about I catch you up on what I've been up to, 'kay?

I have tickets to see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1.


I told you I'm a sucker for the teen stuff! How about you? Are you on board for another episode of sparkly vampires and shirtless werewolves?

Alana and I have read the books and watched the movies. We've chosen our seats and printed out our advance purchase tickets. We're ready to go! Come on November 18!

The kids' passports arrived today.

And guess what? We've booked and paid for our round the world airplane tickets. No way! WAAAAY!

I made a photobook using snapfish.

I used to scrapbook, once upon a time. But then I stopped using film and started taking all my photos digitally. And got really lazy about printing them out. So all my family photos from the last few years are either sitting in a file folder on my computer or in a Facebook album or on this blog. For shame!

I'm getting together with some girls I went to school with in a couple of weeks time. We try to get together once or twice a year. Sometimes we make it a family affair and all bring our partners and kids, but this time we're just doing a girls-only lunch. 

One of the girls suggested that we should each bring along some photos of the kids, and that's what prompted me to get my act together and put together a little album.

I found snapfish easy to use and good value.

How about you? Do you scrapbook? Make digital albums?

I still don't have a permanent library job.

The whole looking-for-work thing is getting me down. I've done some casual work in a library and I loved it. I believe that I did a good job and that my employer would like to give me more work if it becomes available. I also know that if something permanent or some contract work comes up, I'll have to apply and interview along with everyone else. No guarantees.

Jobs that I'm seeing advertised are generally for librarians with a significant amount of experience.

I really don't mind starting at the bottom. I'm just more than ready to get up, get dressed, put my makeup on and go to work in the morning. I also have all kinds of ambitions for my career, and I can't really make a start on it until I have a job!

So there you go, you're all caught up! What have you been up to?  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Confession is Good for the Soul


Photobucket

I confess...

...that I am using a fellow blogger's linky meme to give my blogging a little bit of a pep up.

I've been feeling unfocused with my blogging lately. 

Lacking inspiration.

So I've been on the lookout for some blogs that host regular linkups. I thought that joining in would give me some much needed motivation to write about a given topic.

I confess that if linking up with Mamarazzi's Friday Confessional brings me a few more readers and/or followers, that wouldn't be such a bad thing either.

I confess...

...that I'm finding this a little bit harder than I thought I would. 

It's pretty easy to write something flippant and leave it at that; it's harder to share something of myself in truth.

So I'm going to try to walk the middle ground here.

I confess...

...that I like wine. A lot. And I have to be careful, when I'm relaxed and enjoying myself, not to drink too much of it. Or I might get a bit tipsy. Which is fine, but not so much when I'm at a family gathering with the kids in tow.

I confess...

...that I like teen-centred TV shows waaaay too much for a woman my age. I think I may be suffering from a case of arrested development. I'm ever so happy watching things set in high schools full of teen angst. The Vampire Diaries being my latest crush. I've been like this for a long time. I don't think that I'm likely to grow out of it any time soon.

So that's me for today.

If you've got something to confess, click on the pic at the top of this post and visit Mamarazzi.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I'm a breast cancer survivor, and I'd like to remind you all to take care of yourself and make sure that you know your breasts, know your risk, and know the best way to make sure that you stay healthy.

I'm linking here to a post that I wrote earlier this year on the subject. Go read it!


If you live in Australia and would like more information about Breast Cancer, try this page of useful links from The National Breast Cancer Foundation.

If you live elsewhere in the world, please leave a link to your local information source in the comments.

And remember to pass it on to the other women in your life - remind them to look after themselves too!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The post in which I wish that my kids would go to bed earlier.

Lately I've been finding myself getting a bit frustrated at around 8:30 pm.

I long for the days when by that time of night my children were safely tucked away in bed, fast asleep.

Back in those days, at 8:30 pm I would be settling in for some quality TV viewing. Or reading a book. Or I'd watch TV for an hour and then head to bed with a book. It's what I like to do at that time of night.

Those days are long gone.

Nowadays at 8:30 pm my house is a hive of activity. The kids are completing homework, or You Tubing or Facebooking or watching TV. They're still hungry, and are begging for some dessert, or they're just arriving home from dance class or some other activity.

These days our bedtime routine doesn't even start until 8:30 pm, when I make some noises about having showers and brushing teeth and "wouldn't they like to go to bed with a book?". The kids aren't "safely tucked away in bed" until at least 9:30 pm.

All this is putting a serious crimp in my preferred nightly routine.

I've been pushing back against it for a long time. Trying to pretend that it's not happening and that I can somehow magic it all back to the way it used to be. I've been in denial.

No more!

Today I realised that life is about change.

You can't stop things from changing, you just have to be prepared to be flexible and adjust as necessary.

Because any animal that doesn't evolve will become extinct. And I don't want to become extinct!

So what am I doing differently? Not much so far, but my attitude is different. 

And let's face it, attitude is everything. I find that when I face situations with a positive attitude things just fall into place more easily. 

And so, at 9:10 pm, I'm writing this blog post while Alana does her maths homework beside me. And soon I'll just take myself off to bed to read for a while. I can always get back up again if I'm needed.

How do you go at facing change? Do you rebel against it like me? 


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's all happening!

Hey there dear readers, I'm feeling a bit manic today.

Things have moved into overdrive on the whole World Tour 2012 thing.

What is the World Tour 2012? Well...

It started off as a little idea I had of doing a house swap. I put out the call to see if anyone wanted to come and stay at my place in Australia and let my family stay in their house.

I was lucky enough to receive two offers of accommodation, one in England and one in the US. Thus the idea for a "World Tour" was born.

So, I've been fluffing about trying to do some planning here and there while waiting for the optimum time to book our tickets. I had a travel consultant put together a proposal for us.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and suddenly everything's happening!

I've had to fill out forms and get photos taken for the kids' passports. Who doesn't love filling out forms? I also had to find someone to sign the kids' photos to confirm that it really is them. Then I have to take the kids to the post office for a "passport interview". I can't tell you how much fun it is!

At the same time, we discovered that the travel consultant who put together our proposal has left the travel agent. She doesn't work there any more. The fares that she put together for us are no longer available. We have to start from scratch.

So I freaked out a little bit.

And went to three different travel agents and sat down with three different travel consultants in one day.

And now I have some tickets on hold that have to be paid for ASAP and it's all happening so fast!

Breathe.

I've got travel consultants waiting on my call. And I've discovered that I'm actually quite good at diplomatically telling someone that I've decided to go another way. But I'm still finding it stressful.

It will be a lovely relief when we've handed over our thousands of dollars and I know that everything is locked in.

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Confession

So. Where do you stand on the issue of Intellectual Property?

Ever broken a copyright law?

Bought a pirated DVD?

What do you do when a TV show that you love isn't showing in your country but is available online?

I think you can see where this discussion is going...


The Vampire Diaries

Here's the story of my love affair with this show.

I stumbled upon Season 1 showing on Go! TV. As soon as the season was available on DVD, I bought it. 

Season 2 also showed on Go! Each episode was "fast tracked" from the US, meaning that we were only days behind. As long as I didn't read too many blog posts or follow too many Twitter users that tweeted spoilers, I could enjoy the Season along with everyone else. As soon as the season was available on DVD, I bought it.

Which brings us to Season 3. Four episodes have aired in the US. And Go! doesn't have an airing date yet. Grrrrr.


Would you?

I consider myself pretty law-abiding.

I don't download the episodes to my computer. I don't distribute the episodes to anyone. 

I just watch the episodes.

And when the season is available on DVD, I'll buy it.

What do you think? How bad is this on a scale of one to ten?

And what do you do?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Date night!

Once upon a time there was a girl. She was sixteen and had her whole life ahead of her. So many choices, so many possibilities.

Then the girl woke up and was forty. Wait. What???

For my fortieth birthday I thought it would be really nice if Chris and I went out to a fancy restaurant. Not just the local Italian place down the road. A really, really fancy restaurant.

And so....the date night to rival all date nights.


Here I am getting ready. I'm sure you're sick of dodgy in-front-of-the-mirror outfit shots by now. Sorry. But I thought you'd like to see the beautiful new dress that my mum and dad bought me for my birthday. 

Unfortunately, the weather was not accommodating. So I had to pair my dress with some tights and a jacket to avoid hypothermia.


Here we are all ready to go. I think it's cute that we look positively giddy with excitement!

First we headed off to the movies to see Crazy Stupid Love. Which turned out to be the perfect date movie, especially for a forty-year-old couple who've been together since they were sixteen and were celebrating the fact that they're still in love!

Here we are in the cinema...


I know the photo is ridiculous, but I thought I'd share anyway. By the way, does anyone know how to take photos in the dark on your iPhone? Is there any way to get a flash? Maybe an app?

Then we headed off on the Manly Ferry to Circular Quay.

For those of you who are not Australian, I'll share a little bit about the Manly Ferry.

The thirty minute voyage between Manly Wharf and Circular Quay is an iconic Sydney experience.



Though Bondi is the best known Sydney beach overseas, Manly is just as well known here and is on the north side of Sydney Harbour.


The trip to and from Manly takes you right past the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, so you get plenty of great photo opportunities.

The swell was larger than usual on our trip so it was a bit rough!


Here's the Opera House...our next destination...


We had a little pre-dinner drinkypoo at Opera Bar. Here's a link to the cocktail menu, in case you're interested. I had "Buds and Bubbles". Of course I did.


Finally it was time for the main event - dinner at Aria.


Aria is celebrity chef Matt Moran's restaurant. It's pretty fancy. We felt just a teeny-tiny bit intimidated as we went in.

Luckily we had a delightfully friendly and helpful waitress and we also engaged the services of the sommelier (wine guy!). I told you it was fancy! Between us we managed to put together a menu that was just delightful.


It's hard to look classy taking photos in a fancy restaurant, but here I am with my entree - Scallops spiced and roasted with glazed witlof, pistachios and dried apricots.

Here's my main - Snapper seared fillet with chorizo, zucchini, lemon and a romesco sauce.


I wish I could show you a photo of my dessert as well, but I just couldn't fit one in! Believe me, I wasn't thinking about the points. I would have eaten one if I possibly could. In the end, I couldn't even drink all my "Fall in Love" tea (tea infused with rose, vanilla and chocolate - absolutely divine!).

Chris and I had such a wonderful time that I wanted to share it with you all.

What's the best date you've had?