Back to school today for my three and I'm missing them already.
They were all very excited though and ready to go back, looking forward to the new year beginning and to catching up with friends.
It is very quiet here now, which is nice as I have much to do and real life to get back to. Its time to embrace the new year and make some plans, write lists, send orders, sort out stock, make some new things...
I've been meaning to blog these holiday treasures, the souvenirs I picked up round and about on our travels this summer. I love a bit of thrifting and just lately with the kids bigger and (slightly) more patient we've been detouring via country op shops on our road trips to see what we can find.
I love the small town thrift shops, country Vinnies, Salvos or those funny little independent stores you find. Country stores often have more vintage finds than the big inner city shops and there's a lovely old time feel to them.
We hid from the heat in a huge shopping mall on that very hot day that came while we were camping, we'd gone there to watch a movie and spent a couple of hours browsing. Even with all those shops though we didn't buy a thing. I don't know about you but I'm always so over shopping and consumption by Christmas that I can't seem to raise any enthusiasm, even with sales all around. On the other hand we didn't leave one oppie empty-handed and I felt much happier in the idea that I would be reusing something that still has life, something made to last.
There were some secondhand clothes bought along the way as well, especially by Miss A, an op shopping convert, we both found some tops and dresses, all in great condition and some still with tags.
Did you score any out of town thrift treasures while you were away. Do you like to travel thrift like us? Do you have any recommendations. We had fun scouring the Central Coast this time, Woy Woy has some great shops and there are some around Green Point too.
While we were away some new neighbours moved in. Mr and Mrs Bulbul have built a nest two feet from the back door and hatched three little ones in our absence. It took us a day or two to realise and the poor things must be rethinking their decision as we noisily bang through the door at all hours. Here is Mum (or Dad?) sitting ready with a bug to feed them when the coast is clear.
Luckily they are persevering and its really wonderful to have this squawky new life in our garden.
As I said before, the garden mostly survived our absence well. The tomatoes especially are still going great guns. These three different red cherry tomatoes are plants I bought from the garden centre, I like the Sweet Bites best. The green zebra and yellow pear tomatoes are grown from seed. Sadly the green zebra didn't get much water while we were away so I'm trying to coax them back to life. They are such pretty fruit. The yellow pear are thriving and the organza bags I sealed them into and home made fruit fly trap seem to have been really successful at protecting my crops. Touch wood!
Those funny mid size orange ones are self sown. They are incredibly prolific but I've been cooking with these ones as they never seem to go really soft at the top even when left on a sunny windowsill.
In other news my lovely girl's birthday was celebrated in style with a trip to yum cha at the Fish Markets. Its not our usual spot (we love Zilver in Chinatown) but it was great to be amongst the bustle and smells of the Market and meant we could buy up supplies for our roll your own sushi night. The birthday made a great excuse to indulge in tuna and salmon sashimi, flying fish roe and prawns.
We had to try and roll smaller size sushi because we only had a little sushi rice in the cupboard and I fear some of our attempts would make a sushi master cringe! They all tasted fantastic though and it didn't cost that much to completely spoil the five of us and the sushi loving birthday girl.
This year clever Santa provided Adriano Zumbo packet mixes into each kid's stocking. On that record hot day last week (45 point something in Sydney and my phone app said 46 degrees here!) we came home from a quick pool trip to our nice cool old house and made salted caramel macaroons. Even with the packet mix they are a little tricky - and I think perhaps we didn't cook them quite long enough as they were a little soft and hard to handle at the end - but they were soooo delicious and we're keen to try again. There are video instructions online which go through each step which is a great help, and I think they make a great school holiday project.
If you've read this blog for very long you will know that January means camping for the flowerpress gang up the coast with the Mr's side of the family. (last year, the year before).
Each year we meet up at a beautiful little campground in a National Park in the small beachside town where his parents used to live. My father-in-law swam in the Bogie Hole (natural sea pool) as a baby in the days when you had to row over to swim at the beach.
Mr F is one of four and there are lots of us, mixed, blended, old married, just married, going out, new babies, small kids, big kids, really big kids, and including loads of friends who have been around so long they've become family too. We make a crowd!
It is heaven. Even after all these years I forget how magical it is. The effort involved in driving up the coast, celebrating Christmas, driving back down the coast and then repacking in a couple of days for camping is huge. But its always worth it and I am always grateful that the hard work running our own businesses during the year gives us the freedom for this long holiday break.
The site is slap bang on an amazing beach. Those beach swims, sometimes five or six a day, starting with a pre-breakfast float help wash away the year's stress. Its my annual water therapy. The simplicity of no hot water, no phone reception, no technology, no housework, and just the occasional brushing of sand from your bed, hanging up your wet togs, and washing your plate in a plastic tub is liberating.
Venturing into the real world we managed to do a tour of the local op shops, see The Hobbit on the hottest day and cheer on our friend Rob at the local 'Band on a Barge' concert. And I finally got to meet lovely Leah from Sean the Prawn too through our mutual friend Mika that night too, hi Leah, hi Mika!
Camp ended as always with awards night and my niece made these amazing origami lotus tea light holders for the tables from a thrifted Mills and Boon. So there was a tiny bit of crafting too!
During the camp we kept up with the all important weather but managed to avoid most of the news. The day the park closed to day trippers due to fire danger we hid out at the movies. It all became too real though when days later our friends had to pack up and drive home to see if their house had survived the Coonabarabran fires. Luckily it has so far, but not their garden which was burnt out, and many of their friends have lost houses and sheds. Another scary year for fires, my heart goes out to anyone in those districts or on fire watch.
Back home now we are slowly washing clothes, watering the garden which survived the heat (thanks to some lovely neighbours), and packing away the camp stuff. The christmas tree needs seeing to but we are busy celebrating as my beautiful girl turns 15 today!!! Happy Birthday my love.
Its nice to be back, and I am slowly starting to work out priorities for this shiny new year ahead. But more of that later, there's birthday cake to eat!
I can't quite believe we've left 2012 behind already, can you?! It was a good year, a busy year with lots of happy times and not too many sad.
Looking back, it was a creative year too. I often feel like I don't get everything I want done, so I love these end of year roundups and photo mosaics, where I get to see what I've actually achieved - it gives me a great sense of accomplishment!
There's nothing like collecting all your work together to remember the times through the year, what you were doing, what was happening, what you made.
For example looking here I see that this was the year I finally learnt to crochet and embarked on a bullseye quilt, which is still 'in progress'.
I made a quilt for little Poppy, my second, but definitely not my last, in fact I've started another starry quilt which I need to get back to...
This was a year for sewing and one where I actually made some clothes for myself. I grew in confidence and started to learn more about how patterns come together, how sleeves fit armholes, how linings fit within skirts. I have many new patterns in the stash and one of my dreams is to design and print some material and then make some clothes with it for me!
At the end of the year I celebrated five years blogging and was included in Pip's Ace Bloggers list around the same time. It feels like a wonderful milestone to have blogged regularly for five years, it has given me so much. My little Flower Press business which has also enriched my life marked its fifth anniversary too and that felt good. I created tutorials - for foam and perspex printing, for my small baby quilt and for stencil screenprinting. It felt good to share what I'd learnt. In return I followed many tutorials, pinned many projects and became an instagram addict!
I did my first collaboration and made a wonderful marble starter kit with dear Alisa, something we're both very proud of. I made soap, I made bread, I made yoghurt, ricotta and jam. I planted more vegies and reorganised the garden to make it more a mix of ornamental and productive. Our family worked hard, we played hard, we did our best. We ate healthier, we lived simpler, we cared for others around us, we looked at art, we were creative, we exercised, we lived. My heart is full watching my beautiful children grow a little more into the wonderful people they are. I'm excited about 2013. Some ideas are slowly percolating in my mind. I've learnt not to be too specific about goals, to let life steer me through my year. But I do know that there will be more of all of this, another big mosaic next year with lots of creative life.
And I know that as always my lovely blogging community will inspire and encourage me and help show me the way. While making this I couldn't resist looking back at the last four years of mosaics, I think this one's the biggest! Here's the list of links for 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008 if you're interested. And for individual photo links for those images above, click the mosaic picture to be taken to flickr.