Monday, July 25, 2011


No2 Boy has to give a speech tomorrow about a member of his family and chose me...  He is not keen on writing but here it is.

Good morning (afternoon) teachers and year6 today I’m going to talk to you about my mum. My mum is 39 has brown hair and blue eyes. She was an RE teacher which stands for religious education when she was in England. But she stopped when she had [No1 Boy], then me, and we moved to Scotland where she had 3 more children, that’s a lot of children! 

My mum is going on a course so that she can be a teacher again. The course is in Sydney. It’s from Thursday to Friday and she’s leaving tomorrow at lunch time. Next week mum will be working in [a local school] teaching HSIE. My mum is really great, she feeds us, washes our clothes. She even turns our wet, soggy, stinky, sweaty football socks or soccer socks the right way out.

My mum enjoys crochet which she taught herself how to do a year ago. She sells her products at a shop called make space. She also likes to bake cookies, muffins, bread, rolls and birthday cakes. The coolest thing she made recently was a set of ninja bread men that we decorated. But the best cake she made was my last year’s was a Liverpool cake. My mum also likes to walk our dog and have a coffee at the beach. She also likes to read and play tennis. Sometimes if we lose the TV remote Mum says right if you can find the TV remote that you lost I’ll give you a prize and the prize is all ways a hug and a kiss.

Edited a little to protect my anonymity, just in case some student says "I know you..."!  He reckons he can stretch it out for 2 mins!

As he went to bed he kissed me and said "Love ya Mum.  So much I wrote a speech about you"! 

Recent Makings

I've been making stuff!   At the end of the holidays Miss M and I enjoyed a morning of wandering around the Hunter St Mall, with a coffee stop at the gorgeous One Penny Black - if you haven't been then you should!   We were looking for something specific but couldn't quite find it, so after a conversation over our coffee, juice and delicious macarons, we decided to head for 'that place that properly crafty-types don't talk about' to get supplies.  We bought ribbon, buttons, brooch backs and key-rings.  Here are the first 2 brooches we made.  

If I had a sewing machine, these would have taken me all of 5 mins for both, as it was  it took a bit longer!

As I say, I don't own a sewing machine and am not well-known for my skills with a needle and thread, so when it came to costume-making for Miss M's school dance festival entry, I was not in a rush to volunteer.  However, when I saw the plans I offered to whip up a few stretchy head bands from some lovely sparkly metallic/viscose yarn.  We then added some really beautiful feathers and some extra sparkle and felt backing with a glue gun and hey presto!  some fantastic head gear!   The performance is on Tuesday so I'll post a few pics of the whole outfit then.  They look absolutely, age-appropriately, wonderful - as do the boys.

And my latest project, now that I have finished the head bands, a new Granny Square blanket which seem to be all the rage at the moment in Blogland.  I started it this evening and will hopefully get it done fairly quickly.  This one is in the same wool as my last blanket, a 4-ply 100% wool and I'm working it with a 3.5 mm hook.

I'm looking at a fairly scary couple of weeks coming up so may not be around much.  I have a 2 day course in Sydney to re-acquaint myself with teaching, then I'll be spending the following week in a local High school.  Unfortunately this coincides with an Open Day at Miss M's school with family picnic, and No3 Boy going to Zone for High Jump, not to mention the logistics of 2 days away and a week of goodness-only-knows what kind of chaos!  I know many of you do it every day and I'm sure it will be fine, but at the moment I can't quite get my head around all the details!  And I don't own any "Grown-Up Clothes"!

Hope you're weekend has treated you well! xx

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Converse Love

I was inspired by this post from Gina and went hunting under beds in the dark for everyone's shoes!  I think this makes a great picture.

Although there are 7 pairs, husband does not own a pair and the navy and red ones are "in-between owners".  This is my choice for dry winter weather footwear in Australia, although I could be doing with some Hunter Boots, or even waders, at the moment.  In the summer I tend to be a Birkenstock or Havaiana girl - maybe we should have a "Thong" line-up in the summer!  I always used to buy my Converse in the Costco in Edinburgh at fabulous prices, they are rather more pricey here.  Miss M got her first pair at the weekend, half price with a further discount because one is more faded than the other - can you tell?  (Hers are the bright pink ones in case you weren't sure...)  There's a Costco opening in Sydney soon, fingers crossed they'll stock them, here's hoping as mine are looking pretty shabby!

Edited to add that I've just remembered my Mother would never let me have Converse shoes/boots no matter how much I begged.  My brother got some.  Bitter?  Me?  Course not!   Love you Mum!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bad Mummy...

I have to confess to feeling relieved/thankful/delighted that the children are going back to school tomorrow.  Those of you who have met my kids will know that they are a fairly feisty bunch, always on the go, always loud, always up for whatever nonsense is going on.  This is why sport is a particularly important part of life Chez Nous!  Most of the time I can factor that in when we plan our holiday activities, but now that we are knocking on the door of the dreaded teenage years I'm finding I cope less well with the constant "Whatevers" and back chat.  I'm sure that the sheer numbers and volume in a small house don't help!

Our first week was very social and busy, lots of time spent at beaches and eating and drinking with friends old and new.  Amazingly, despite the fact that we've only been here 2 and 1/2 years, some of our very good friends from our first antenatal group are actually just down the road in Sydney!  I always think how great living in a commune would be when we meet up in families - the kids have a ball, the adults get to catch up while the kids are occupied, the kids mix with other adults who care about them and we have fun!  I know it's never that idyllic in real life.

That was a lovely warm day at Lemon Tree Passage, other days were rather chillier!

Bit of beach hooky!

Smallest Boy is obsessed with what you're not allowed to do! 

How's that for a heap of kids?  13 years ago we started with 2 bumps!

Week 2 was rather quieter, although we did have Miss M's birthday.  We spent an afternoon at Speers Point Park, played with Lego, did some crochet, a bit of tennis, a lot of football with Dad (that's how I got to do so much crochet!), and the usual housey-type stuff.  When we're out, they're fine and allegedly they behave beautifully for other people.  Amazingly we grown-ups have been out 2 weekends in a row to have drinks/dinner at friends houses and both baby-sitters said they were gorgeous.  Clearly we all need to swap kids more often!

Reading in bed to keep warm!

I hope you have all survived/are surviving your hols!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Another Birthday!

This is our last family birthday (in our house anyway) for a wee while.   Miss M turned 7 today and we were so glad the forecast rain didn't come after all.  It has been so cold in the last couple of days that we all made the most of the sunshine and had breakfast outside.

Her main present was a ticket to see Mary Poppins in Sydney, but, due to a thoroughly disorganised Mother, we won't be going until the 1st October!  I really struggled to find presents for her this year.  She has never been a particularly girly girl but I often wonder if that's by choice or out of necessity.  When I thought about the things she enjoys, it hit me that she spends hours drawing, sometimes reads, likes listening to and playing music, and plays with Lego.   Hopefully she will enjoy the last day of the holidays painting and creating!

I loved that she sat and read every word of every card she was sent.

As is our tradition, we went out to lunch and picked Blue Water Pizza in Warners Bay, mainly because kids eat free!  Obviously when you are taking 5 kids out this is an appealing offer!  The pizzas were good, she got a candle in her ice-cream, they have colouring in sheets for the wee ones and play stations for the bigger ones, so everyone was happy!

The sun was shining so despite the cold wind we had a quick muck about at the lake.

Why do Small Children feel the need to chase seagulls?  All the time?

I had been struggling with my Cake Mojo.   Unlike her brothers she didn't have a specific request and I had no inspiration this time.  I had baked a cake and ganached it but when we got home at 3.30pm I was still no nearer to a clear idea, Google Images are always great but I was very aware of the time.  I finally iced it and cut out some shapes to stick on it, the colours were wrong and that irritated me, however, there was cake and they always look good when the candles are lit!

A Boy did point out that it wasn't one of my better ones, but was wise enough to not make eye contact and moved swiftly away!

I think they all enjoyed eating it anyway!

Happy Birthday Miss Munch!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sandra recommends...

This is just a quick post that I have been meaning to do for ages now.

It was my Mum's birthday in May and being disorganised as usual, I didn't leave myself time to make anything myself, or get to any crafty places to find something here.  I remembered that Anne from Andamento lives very near by to my "Old Dears" and thought I would contact her to see if she could point me towards any other crafty types in the local vicinity who might have websites.  However, Anne herself is super talented and makes mirrors, suncatchers and vases from stained glass.  I asked on the off-chance if she had anything in stock and sure enough she did!  Not only that but since there is a fab play park nearby, she offered to deliver it to the door on one of her outings.  What a life saver!  Mother liked her gift so much she decided to put it in her bedroom window which over looks the water and catches the sun in the evenings.  I'm only sorry I can't be there to see it for myself.  

Another blog post that got my interest recently was this one from Lolly at This Domestic Life.  I have seen QR codes before and hadn't really seen the point of them but when I saw that you can create your own, the kids and I had great fun designing some for my brother's birthday and had them put on a mug for him (he hasn't got it yet, but I think I'm fairly safe as I doubt if he bothers to read this blog!).   We'll see which of you is technical enough to work mine out!  Since then we have noticed them all over the place.  

I think that will do for now, I'm off to bed to prepare for another week of the kids being at home.  All the fresh air and exercise is helping me to sleep well, if only I could make myself go at a sensible time!

Friday, July 8, 2011


Despite everyone being at home for the July holidays, I've managed to be fairly productive.  On top of all the Dog-Walking and Child-Exercising at various beaches, we've met up with friends, baked some rolls (more out of necessity in this particular instance), made chocolate brownies and I made gingerbread for the first time.  The recipe I used had pictures of teddy bears dressed in pyjamas which the Boys looked at and groaned.  "Lame" was the general feeling.  However, they were unaware of I purchase I had made a couple of months ago.

Ninja Bread Men!

When they saw them come out of the oven, the change in attitude was rather different and suddenly everyone wanted to help decorate!  We rolled out some leftover icing from various cakes and used the same cutters to ensure a perfect fit, then once they were dry we used icing pens to add belts, eyes and any other important details.

Here are my understated Ninjas...

These Ninjas belong to the Boys and are based on their Lego Ninjas apparently.

They look great but, to be honest, for all the effort, I don't think I'm all that inclined to bother too often!

Then to crochet.  Today alone I have managed to whip up a couple of coasters from this pattern for a friend who was looking for a birthday gift for her 91 year old Nan, some more face-washers and a scarf!

Miss M is having her first proper sleep-over with her friend tomorrow and Husband and I are actually going out - yes, really - for drinks at the new home of some ex-pat friends.  This involves the lovely Edwina coming to babysit all the boys, which in turns means I need to tidy.  I think I'll get my slaves on the job...  Night all! xx

Friday, July 1, 2011

Make Space

I'm back from an evening spent at Make Space, part of the Renew Newcastle project coordinated by my lovely friend Edwina and some of her ever-so arty and clever pals.  It was part of The Winter Wander which involved a number of the Renew Newcastle projects.  Renew Newcastle is a scheme by which empty shops on the Hunter Street Mall are handed over to local artists and crafts people to use as shops or work spaces/galleries until new paying tenants come along.  For more info check out here.  What could potentially be a very run down part of town has been turned around by these great spaces which draw people in who are wanting something different than your usual mass-produced, soulless items.  Make Space alone sells clothes for women and children, accessories, cards, jewellery, cushions and artwork all made by local women with a flair for something a wee bit different.

Tonight was all about 'Warm Fuzzies" being winter an' all!  From 5pm there was Sticky Date pudding, Gluwein, apple pie (and later, for those of us who stuck around long enough, pizza!), felt corsage flower making for the kids and crochet for us oldies!  Edwina had asked me if I'd be happy to give tips, admittedly much later when I'd already said what a great idea and couldn't back out!  Thankfully most of the lovely ladies had some experience, one girl was crocheting shawls for her bridesmaids for her wedding in 6 weeks time and clearly knew one end of a hook from another, others were after a wee reminder and some were coming to it for the first time.  We had great fun, the kids had a ball and at one point, the queue for pudding went all around the shop and out the door!

I will freely admit to having a touch of the end-of-term meh's and wasn't really feeling in the mood for heading out on a rainy night, however Miss M and I had a really great evening, saw lots of friends, made a few more, made a brooch and a couple of Granny Squares,  and, lets face it, you can't feel "meh" after Sticky Date Pudding with caramel sauce, washed down with Gluwein!

Thanks Ed, Chris, Jo, Gillian and Susie and apologies if I have forgotten anyone!  Can we do it again next month?