Summer Favourites

Hello Blog Buddies!

As many of you will know, summer is coming to an end here in beautiful Melbourne. The days are certainly cooling off and the temperatures are dropping faster in the evenings. So before the long summer evenings completely vanish, I wanted to share a few things I have been enjoying over the past few months...

Due to my husband's shoulder operation this summer, we were a little bit house bound and forced to stay close to home. Being a bit of a 'home body', this did not phase me... I can easily make a day disappear either in a book or on my computer. 

I must confess however, I also did some significant 'binge watching' of Netflicks' original series, 
'The Crown" this summer. 

I have to say, it is one of the most beautifully shot series I have seen in recent times. The cast is truly outstanding (once you get past the fact that Prince Phillip is being played by Doctor Who... which is easy to do as he nails HRH's mannerisms) and the costumes and settings are sumptuous and elegant.

Without doubt, it has made me want to overhaul my wardrobe completely, (in an effort to dress like Princess Margaret) always drink hot beverages out of a china cup, and has definitely inspired me to re-think head scarves. I am also thrilled to discover that there are at least three more series in the making... Tally Ho!

In an effort to drink more water this summer, I have purchased a couple of bright tumblers that for some reason, do make it easier to drink two litres of water a day... 
and for around $3, whatever works, I say!

I was fortunate enough to receive some beautiful Hourglass products at Christmas. The gorgeous Sheridan from @thelookbysheridan was kind enough to give me a lesson in how to use these products for all occasions. She was so generous with her time and taught me so much. The highlighters, (Ambient Incandescent and Ambient Euphoric)  are my particular favourites along with Sheridan's favourite brush, that as a make-up artist, she says she can't do without... the Nars Yachiyo Kabuki brush is an extremely versatile brush that I now use every day.

Another beauty product I am currently enjoying is the GoTo Skincare 'Face Hero'. It is an oil that can be used on all skin types and can be applied either in the morning or evening... or both. Even though any of the Go To products are worth purchasing simply because of the hilarious instructions, I was was rather hesitant about putting an oil directly onto my face on a regular basis. What was I thinking? The always delightful Zoe Foster-Blake will never lead you astray... I can honestly say that my Go To Skincare products have greatly improved my overall complexion. Oh... and its an Australian product... Yay!

Finally, my love of rose gold continues (these clips are actually a great deal more 'rosy' than they are in this picture) and I have particularly enjoyed finding the odd bit of it for both my home desk as well as my work desk this summer.

So there you have it... a bit of an odd selection but these truly have been a few of my favourite things this summer. 

Let me know what you think of 'The Crown' if you watch it...

A New Year

Hello Blog Buddies!

As Melbourne teachers ready themselves to return to work tomorrow, I thought I would celebrate the occasion with a nod to the new year...

There is nothing like the 'fresh page' feeling of a new year. I love the notion that we all get to 'start again' on New Year's Day. How wonderful! I personally prefer to set goals rather than resolutions, simply because the word resolution just seems a tad inflexible to me! I also think that having too many immediate goals can precipitate failure so I always start with just a few. After a bit of thought, below are three of my personal goals for 2017.

Number 1: Enjoy my weekends.
As a teacher, often the weekend can be eaten away by classroom preparation. In the past, I have spent Sunday evenings feeling guilty about all the things I hadn't completed for work, and thus ruining what would otherwise be a lovely evening. I plan to no longer do this!

Number 2: Celebrate the little things.
The older I get, the more I find myself working towards a simpler lifestyle. Finding joy in the day-to-day running of your family as well as celebrating milestones... any milestones (no matter how small) helps me focus on the positives in my life. I plan to do this more often.

Number 3: Live better with less.
I have come to the conclusion I have too much 'stuff'. (Actually, I think we pretty much all do!) This year, I plan to streamline some of my belongings and organise items I do have in a more orderly fashion. I plan to do this over a period of time.

So as the first month of the new year slips by, how are your goals travelling? Have you written a list? Have you ticked of any goals yet or are you still enjoying your holidays? Let me know...

And finally, with a farewell wave to Michelle Obama, I will take her lead and choose hope as my global goal. As she said in her final interview as First Lady, 

"... Because what do we have if we don't have hope?..."

Christmas 2016

Hello Blog Buddies!

Can you believe another Christmas is upon us?

As we all plan Christmas feasts and brave the Christmas crowds at shopping centres, I find myself pausing to think about our family Christmas traditions and how we celebrate the season in the southern Hemisphere...

Having spent several Christmas Days in the cold and snow in both England and the United States, I know that many of my Northern Hemisphere friends can simply not comprehend how Christmas would feel like Christmas in Australia. Let me share some of my family traditions, and assure you that, it does indeed, feel festive here...

My parents emigrated from England to live in Australia in the early sixties, so as a child, I remember British customs and traditions were a staple in our home. Things such as oranges in the toe of your stocking, a tin of 'Quality Street' chocolates that seemed to last forever, 
The Kings College Cambridge Choir was the only 'real' Christmas music (according to my mother,) and whether it was one hundred degrees in the shade, by jove, 
we would have a hot roast turkey dinner, 
(even if it meant we were all sweaty puddles by the end of it!) 

I grew up with images of snow and 'the cold' on Christmas cards and television shows. This was promoted as being the only way to 'have' Christmas but I am sure my Southern Hemisphere friends will agree that a 'warm' Christmas can be loads of fun too. 

In my home, we had our stockings from Santa that were placed at the end of our beds and in addition to the oranges, would always contain chocolate gold coins and a chocolate Santa. 

Santa would also bring us presents such as books, stationery and games. We could open these presents as soon as we woke up, but the presents under the tree could not be opened until we had all eaten breakfast and the dishes had been done. 
(Which, as a child, seemed like an eternity!)

When it comes to festive food, there are some things I simply can not do without if I want to really feel like it is Christmas. Every year, in December, my mother and I would make several 'batches' of shortbread to wrap and give as gifts to family and friends. My mother would also always make the Christmas cake and the pudding for Christmas Day. 

Marrying into another family means adopting their traditions as well. My husband's family always have prawns on Christmas day, so this is now something we do. A close family friend always bakes her traditional German 'Stollen' which she always generously gifts us, and this too, makes my Christmas complete.

(Source: Australian Women's Day Magazine - The Queen's First Christmas Message 1957)

After the traditional hot lunch with all the usual trimmings, we would play silly games and always watch the 'Queen's Christmas Message'. If we watched one movie over the festive season, 
'A Charlie Brown Christmas' would be the one I would make sure I watched... I always make sure I show it to my students every year as well. When my daughter was young, we would watch it every year on Christmas Day.

An Australian Christmas is very different to the one our Northern Hemisphere friends enjoy. I love seeing the beautiful cosy photographs of wintery decor on my instagram feed, but having grown up in a beautiful country where I can go for a swim in a pool on Christmas Day, I can honestly say it still feels like Christmas here too.

What are your family traditions at Christmas time? Which ones can you simply not do without?

Merry Christmas!

What Technology Should We Take?

Hello Blog Buddies!

On a recent holiday to New Caledonia, I was trying to decide which technical devices I should take (if any) with me. After a discussion with my husband we decided on a couple of options. But it did pose the question, what technology did we really need?

Now, before you collectively waggle a finger at me and suggest a holiday is a time to 'unplug' and remove yourself from technology, I would like to add here, that I also debated at great length about which books to take with me. This in itself is one of the reasons technology 'wins' in many families. Rather than purchase books about our destinations, we all save the trees, (and the weight) and refer to websites for 'go to' tourist spots and historical facts. Kindle converts would argue that very point here as well. (As I currently own many books that I am yet to read, I have to say I packed a couple of paperback novels.) 

Google maps versus the incredibly difficult-to-fold-back paper maps, is often discussed before embarking on foreign shores. My younger friends are 'all about' electronic maps, but I have found on several occasions, that no wifi equals no idea. So I don't think you can rely solely on your phones for directions... just yet. 

Museums and tours sometimes offer podcasts you download directly to personal devices once you are in the premises. The recordings can be paused and rewound which is a wonderful service to those of us with small attention spans... but perhaps not such a great service for people looking for a way to pass their time as a Volunteer History Expert.

Technology for creative and family history purposes is also a valid reason to pack up the plugs. I really enjoy taking and editing photographs and I do find this a relaxing process. I used to have to do this with chemicals in a darkened room. Now I can do it on my couch whilst 
watching reality television. Families can now create visual memories to share and enjoy with 
the tap of a screen.


So what tech did we end up taking? Well, my husband and I both took our phones, ear-phones for music and podcasts, and we also took our iPad. We primarily just used the iPad for researching what we would do the next day. We did not take a laptop... nor a Kindle-like device. I also took an extra battery charging device for my phone which I found very useful. 

So what technology do you find yourself taking on a holiday? Let me know!

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