New Year's Eve Adelaide-Style

After several days of extreme heat which forced us indoors, we were itching to escape last night when the heat finally 'broke'.

As it was New Year's Eve we decided to join the festivities along the Torrens River. There were bands, a few carnival rides, food stalls and fireworks.

We did not stay until midnight but enjoyed the children's fireworks at 9.30 pm.

Afterwards we walked back along the river to the car by the light of the blue moon.

Happy New Year!

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2009 in Review

After 2008, which involved several unexpected and major life changes for our family - moving to a new city where we didn't know a soul; a new job for my husband; new schools for our children; a new church; selling our home and becoming renters for the first time since 1993 - I expected that 2009 would be much more peaceful.

By now I expected to own my own home again and perhaps be working a day or two each week in an 'easy' part-time job.

However, life has a way of challenging our expectations. 2009 has proved to be more challenging and demanding than I could have imagined.

In late April I was offered a temporary job that has since become permanent. After many years at home I was grateful for this opportunity to re-enter the 'public' workforce. However, the work, while rewarding, is stressful, and is 4 full days a week.

Financially, the decision to work has been a good one, but by the end of 2009 I was completely exhausted. I tried very hard to be an excellent worker and a domestic goddess and ended up feeling like I was not achieving either.

We still haven't bought a home in Adelaide, largely due to lack of choice in the area in which we are living. We wish to remain in this part of Adelaide as we don't want to have to make the kids change schools again, but househunting has proved to be an exercise in frustration, persistence and patience.

God-willing we will find a house to buy in the near future. While I don't look forward to moving again, I feel strongly that Adelaide will only truly feel like 'home' once we have our own house. I am itching to be able to decorate, grow vegetables, keep chooks and be able to give my children a pet, none of which we can do here.

On a more positive note, my children are all thriving, despite missing their life in Melbourne. I feel blessed to be their mother every minute of every day. My husband is a pillar of strength and is a constant source of encouragement, hugs and chocolate. What more could a girl want?

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will know that I have posted much less frequently over the past year than previously. I am hoping to commit more time to writing here in 2010. Thank you for your patience in continuing to visit. I appreciate each and every one of you.

How has your life changed in 2009?

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2010 Decluttering Calender

For many of us a New Year (decade!) brings the resolution to lead a simpler, less cluttered and more organised life.

Something that has helped me in the eternal quest to declutter and minimise is Beth Dargis's free decluttering calendars. I have used them on and off throughout 2008 and 2009.

Beth has recently released the 2010 calendar and it includes tips for every day of the year. You can download it here.
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It is difficult to think of a more perfect summer food than watermelon.

Crisp, sweet and oh-so wet, nothing can be added to a slice of watermelon to make it taste better. Except perhaps another slice of watermelon.

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A Handsome Visitor

One of the things I love about living in Australia is the beautiful wild birds. I especially like rainbow lorikeets.

The fine fellow in the photo above uses his looks to full advantage. To the thrill of my nieces, he visited them daily at Avoca, landing on the balcony rail of their holiday flat. They fed him crumbs, of course, which was clearly why he came.

I am sure he bestows his favours upon many other holiday visitors too, the flirty fellow!

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How We Know We Picked the Perfect Week for Our Holiday

  1. It rained the day before we arrived and just as we were leaving, but in between the weather was delightfully hot and sunny.
  2. My hard-working brother was able to take the week off work and booked a flat just down the road. This meant that the Adelaide cousins and the Sydney cousins could see each other every day for a week. A rare joy!
  3. All our other Sydney family members were able to drive to Avoca to see us some time during the week. We were blessed by their generosity and revelled in their company after being so isolated in Adelaide.
  4. Our days at the beach were mercifully free of nasties such as the blue bottles that can make holidays at the beach in NSW a misery. Once stung by a blue bottle you never forget it!

And finally:

5. A man was attacked by a shark very close to the shore just as we were leaving Avoca yesterday. We are very grateful not to have experienced a shark attack! It could so easily have been one of us.

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    An Aussie Beach Christmas

    Despite cloudy weather, yesterday we shared a most delightful Aussie beach Christmas. In attendance were my mother, my brothers and their partners, and seven children ranging in age from 4 to 15.

    The day was relaxing and low-key.

    We opened presents then dined on king prawns, cold turkey, ham and salads. An hour at the beach was followed by dessert; a delicious hot chocolate and orange Christmas pudding doused with custard.

    Later we played a male versus female game of Trivial Pursuit. Despite a valiant effort by the women and girls, the men won.

    (By the way, someone should tell the creators of the latest version of Australian Trivial Pursuit that the Blue Mountains are west of Sydney, not east.)

    I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas too, wherever in the world you are.

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    Footware Flair

    We were sitting at the hairdresser's waiting for the eldest two boys to have their hair cut when a lady said how much she liked my daughter's vivid pink shoes. (Aussie readers: they were two for $25 at Cotton On and she has a silver pair as well.)

    I smiled with pride until I noticed what my youngest son was wearing on his feet.

    I truly must be distracted not to have noticed before we walked out of the house.

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    Seventeen Days

    I feel like whooping with joy.

    After a busy and stressful month (year! - it's been an oh-so-steep learning curve) at work, I am now on holidays. For the next seventeen days. Hurray!

    These seventeen days will be days when I can sleep in, hang out with my kids, cook, do a little crafting and read, read, read. Hopefully I will also have more time for blogging, which I sorely miss doing regularly.

    Even more exciting, on Saturday we are flying to Sydney for Christmas. We will be staying at beautiful Avoca Beach which is about an hour north of Sydney. Our families will congregate there for the week. We haven't had a holiday for two years so we have really been looking forward to this.

    Avoca was my favourite place to holiday when I was a child but I haven't been there for about 18 years.

    So not only am I free from work commitments for seventeen days, but I am about to spend a week at one of my favourite places in the world with some of my favourite people. And it's Christmas.

    Life doesn't get much better than this!

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    Our Street Koala

    I received a very excited phone call the other day.

    "Mum, you'll never believe it. Guess what was walking down the middle of the road when we got home from school. Can you guess?"

    It was a koala.

    We don't know how a koala came to be ambling down our street less than five kilometres from the centre of Adelaide, a city of over a million people.

    Where did he come from? There is not much bushland nearby.

    Anyhow, a dog began to bark and Mr Koala skedaddled up a tree. Unfortunately it was a lillipilli and not a eucalypt, so Mr Koala had nothing to eat.

    He was still there an hour later when I got home from work, although I understand one of the neighbours had called a vet to find out what to do with him.

    He was a big, fat grey fellow.

    The next morning we went to see if he was still there but he had gone, under cover of darkness. I hope he (or she) is safe and well somewhere, eating gum leaves and telling all the other koalas about his adventures in suburbia.

    image is borrowed from

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    Rosy Little Christmas Balls

    Like many Aussies, I know that Christmas and summer are finally here when local cherries are on the greengrocer's shelves.

    These glowing, glistening, rosy fruits truly are Christmas balls.
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    Bah Humbug!

    This year I have felt no Christmas spirit whatsoever.

    Being busy at work and managing a very active household has made Christmas something to dread rather than enjoy. The thought of how much I have to achieve at work and at home in the two meagre weeks until we go to Sydney for Christmas left me feeling stressed and anxious. Added to this I had a nasty tummy bug last week that has left me feeling depleted and in no mood to celebrate.

    Friday (my day off work) was spent Christmas shopping and cleaning the house in anticipation of our real estate agent's inspection. Saturday brought a list of tasks an arm long which left me with no time to sit down except when I was driving from one commitment to another.

    Then last night we had our Christmas tree raising ceremony.

    I saw the delight in my six year old son's face as he helped his older siblings decorate the tree. As we read about Jesus birth in Luke, I was reminded of deeper truths and mysteries that indeed bring joy and peace.

    I am reminded that Christmas is about giving and sharing, and thanks to God's grace we have an abundance to share.

    Today my daughter and I, with the help of Master Six, wrapped the presents for our extended family and put them under the newly-decorated tree.

    Now it's Sunday afternoon and I feel truly Christmassy.

    I know I still have much to do before Christmas but I no longer feel quite so overwhelmed.

    Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
    Luke 2:14 (KJV)
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    Christmas Boxes

    On the first Saturday in December each year we hold our Christmas tree decorating ceremony.

    We begin by reading from Luke in the Bible about Jesus' birth, then I give each of my children a new ornament for their Christmas boxes.

    The idea is that these ornaments will decorate our tree for now, but when the children leave home they will each have a box of decorations, one from each year, with which to decorate their own Christmas trees. This is the eighth year we have had Christmas boxes.

    Some years I have made decorations but mostly I buy them. This year, with the pressures of work and too many other commitments, buying the decorations was really my only choice.

    I try to pick different kinds of decorations each year; sometimes papier mache balls, other times glass or metal decorations. Some I have embroidered on felt, others have been cross-stitched.

    Each decoration holds memories for my children of Christmases past.

    I love developing new traditions for my family.

    What Christmas traditions do you have at your house?

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    Chantilly Cream and How to Make It

    In yesterday's post I said that a put chantilly cream on my meringues, but I didn't explain how to make it. Today, I'm going to show you how.

    It sounds difficult but it's not; I was making chantilly cream for years before I knew what it was.

    Chantilly Cream

    1 C thickened or whipping cream

    1 Tbsp pure icing or confectioner's sugar (for gluten-free; ordinary icing sugar mixture is fine otherwise)

    1 tsp vanilla extract.

    Whip all ingredients together until your desired level of stiffness is reached. Keep a close eye as cream turns to butter very quickly.

    Note: Ensure that you use pure vanilla, not the horrible synthetic vanilla that is available. To make your own vanilla use my recipe here.

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    Meringues with Strawberries and Cream

    At a recent gathering a young guest with coeliac disease made my usual cupcakes an impossibility - coeliacs can't have gluten in any form.

    Instead, I made little meringues and covered them with a dollop of chantilly cream and a fat strawberry half.

    For the fluffiest, most pavlova-like meringues without any stickiness or weeping, ensure that your eggs are at room temperature before you begin.


    2 egg whites
    1 1/2 C castor sugar
    1 tsp vinegar
    1 tsp cornflour (check that it is made from corn not wheat if you need it to be gluten free)
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    4tbsp boiling water

    Preheat oven to moderate. Place all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for around 10 minutes at high speed; mixture will be very thick and satiny. Spoon or pipe into rounds on greased or baking paper lined trays. Put in the oven then reduce the temperature to slow and bake for one hour. Cool before decorating.

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    A burst water main on a hot night.

    Children splashing about in pyjamas and gumboots.

    Paper boats were made to sail downstream.

    Adults left their houses to come and chat.

    Strangers introduced themselves.

    Everyone said that we should bucket the water for our gardens.

    But nobody did anything about it.
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    Horrible Houses

    As someone who has been house-hunting for the past 12 months I have seen some truly horrible houses.

    However, when I was sent the link to the Lovely Listing blog, I realised that I ain't seen nothin' yet.

    Too awful. Too funny.

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    Vintage Cool

    Adelaide is still sweltering in this unseasonal heatwave but I am cool and relaxed in the house.

    It is amazing how fast we adjust to rising temperatures. I am sure it must be at least 30 degrees in here but because it is almost 40 outside it feels comparatively 'cool'.

    Even more relaxing is that I have the house to myself; my husband has taken the kids to the beach for a late afternoon swim. It's too hot outside for me with my fair, red-headed skin but the rest of the family just love going to the beach.

    Having cleaned the house and bought groceries yesterday, I am enjoying a peaceful house and the opportunity for a little web-surfing.

    The topic for my web-surfing? I have been looking at vintage commercials for things that are cool; ice cream, cool drinks and refrigerators. I especially like commercials from the 1950s. They display such optimism yet they also anticipate the rampant consumerism of more recent years. All the ads are American as television only came to Australia in 1956.

    Here are some examples:

    This one is for paper Dixie Cups. Notice that the commercial is addressed to children and they are encouraged to persuade their mothers to buy these 'sanitary' disposable cups and a dispenser.

    A very 'cool', glamorous Coca Cola commercial from 1956:

    A rather weird ice cream ad with its disembodied heads:

    And finally, a General Electric Refrigerator commercial from 1952. I find it amazing that frost-free refrigerators existed in the US in 1952. I don't think they arrived in Australia until the 70s.

    Also of interest is the male host's encouragement to buy a fridge on credit; definitely a sign of things to come!

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    Hot and Grumpy

    Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. ~John Ruskin

    Can I just say, here and now, that Mr John Ruskin obviously never lived through an Adelaide heatwave. A week of temperatures over 38 degrees celsius in spring is no joke and is far from delicious. Especially when your car air-conditioner dies after the car has spent 7 hours in the sun. And your house is hot. And your children are fretting, irritable and squabbling. And especially when the adults begin squabbling too because they are so, so hot.


    Grumpy in Adelaide
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    Spring Barbecue

    Our friends in the hills invited us for a barbecue and bonfire before the total fireban season began.

    There were hot sausages and marshmallows, chickens to chase and a grumpy goat to avoid.

    And a night time game of hide-and-seek in the long grass lit only by firelight. Thank goodness it was too cold for snakes.

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