Monthly Archives: December 2011

Balance in 2011

Each year I choose a word to use kind of like a standard, or banner, that goes with me during the year. Focusing on it to help me gain some perspective in area’s that are important to me. Focus and perspective are words I have used in the past, among others like organise and serenity.

This year I ended up with Balance as my One Little Word. Rather than many new years resolutions, possibly setting myself up for failure while trying to do too much at once, I chose to find balance all year. This meant each time something new came along that needed tackling it was added in, and found a way to make it work – without it being stressful.

Not going off on one tangent as I am known to do. :)

I am pretty passionate and one minded, working on one thing only, aspiring for excellence, often to the detriment of other area’s in my life. If I am not careful it can be disasterous for tipping the scales in one direction, and then everything else falls off that life scale and ends up in a mess. It is hard to find the balance when you are aiming at perfection. So, for me, 2011 was about taking care not to be perfect and to balance all the area’s in my life that were important.

This done in baby steps – again avoiding perfection. After all it was bot about finding perfect balance – just getting the scale somewhere close. That too-ing and fro-ing that life is to get some equilibrium. Balance was found well in some area’s and not so well in others. Just one of the joys of life. I did manage to balance my reactions to the things that did not go as well as I would like. That is a plus accomplishment!

It is now time to move forward. :)

Consequently I am thinking about my One Little Word for 2012. It has chosen me – which is great as I was considering using balance again.

Now I am organising ways to incorporate it into my life. Planning for it to take me through the next year. One of them is signing up for Ali Edwards One Little Word online class. A sure way to stay on track and motivated is to walk your journey with others.
There are recycle plans for my OLW inspiration board too. I have already started pulling it apart so I can reuse the base. Each piece was added to some cardstock as it was unstuck, and placed in my OLW album.

It was great ticking off (or not) things on my balance priorities list. It showed me one area that really needs more effort and my new word for next year will certainly help with that.

Now I am off to a New Years eve celebration with a couple of other family’s. We are planning on playing games and roasting marshmallows. Cheers to you enjoying your evening celebrating the new year in whatever way your heart delights!

I’ll have a post on the 1st of January revealing my one little word – and how I perceive it fitting into my life.

See you in 2012!

 

 

Organised in 2012

Yesterday and today I spent time getting my computer tidied up. I don’t tend to make new year resolutions but I do like to finalise one year ready to start the new one fresh. New Years resolutions have always seemed like a great idea and are very motivating. Often though, in the past, I was just setting myself up for failure. Especially if I started too many new things at once.

Which it seems a lot of us do this time of year. :)

Better to start something right away when whatever requires changing is a pressing overwhelming desire or need. Much more likely for it to succeed that way. Which is one of the reasons I got myself a Franklin Covey planner diary part way during the year. Changes were needed in my organisation system.

Little by little it has become a habit to use it and sure has made many things flow more easily. I have always had diary’s and notepads and been fairly organised but never had a complete system. I am thankful to a good friend who has one similar and has demonstrated its use so well. You have inspired me to get back on track!

Today I added in the diary & journal pages for 2012. This is a new part of the planner habit for me and one I am looking forward to exploring in greater depth.

I already know next year will be a busy one. One in which I want to keep my 2011 One Little Word of “Balance” achievements going. I am glad to have developed the habit of using the diary, keeping it all together, actively used and organised – long before the new year has started.

Hopefully, this should be far more effective than a New Years resolution to get organised my stuff together, than when it is suddenly all happening.

Does the new year thing pass you by without any changes or do you make a bunch of New Years resolutions? Either way – are you ready for 2012?

 

Burlap Banner Update

Just before my daughter’s birthday, and a few days before Christmas I updated the burlap banner. It was fun to add in the aqua blue we are using this year and she was very surprised when she saw it hung back up.

I also moved it to hang from the mirror above our buffet sideboard. I really like how the heart-shaped Christmas decorations are reflected in the mirror. Those cute little aqua hearts were a recent find, on sale, on one of our trips to Bahrain. They go so well with the old book pages and blue crêpe paper medallions my youngest daughter and I hand-made. These are tied on the lace swag edge with twine stuck to the back of the medallions with hot glue. I left the ends hanging any which way for more of an eclectic look.

Here are some close-ups. At one point I considered adding red to it but we all liked it this way – so it stayed that way through Christmas. This image above also serves as one of the pages in my December Journal for this year.

Not sure if I will change it up again for New Years? I really like the calm soft blue beachy feel it has right now. Might be a nice way to end 2011.

Or perhaps I may strip it all back and come up with something new for the start of the new year. What do you think?

Christmas Day 2011

Yesterday came and went very quickly, in a blur and far too fast it seems. Having managed in the past to sit and appreciate what is really important about the day I had hoped for that but for some reason this year I felt more pressured. Even with all my efforts to keep it simpler.  Maybe because we made so many changes this year. One day it will seem more “natural” perhaps.

At one point I felt myself losing it, realised, apologised, and took myself off for 5 minutes to cool off. The rest of the day went smoothly and that little episode made me aware of some things I need to change personally so that it won’t happen again.

That said – the rest of our day was awesome. Here is a pictorial run down of the meals we shared, as a family, and with others.

Breakfast

For breakfast this year we broke with tradition and started creating a new one. So new in fact, that the recipe for my homemade flour free and sugar free Torte was only developed  night before when I threw it all together. Usually we have cinnamon walnut pull apart bread, but with the health changes needed this year we are gradually changing our food choices.

I also realised a few years ago that breakfast should be easy so I did not spend the morning in the kitchen cooking and miss out on all the fun. My Torte is even easier than the pull apart loaf. Self serve with sugar free homemade caramel sauce, cream, maple syrup and a hot pot of tea.

The Pecan Chocolate Cinnamon Torte was a hit – even with the youngest, who was not happy at giving up the traditional pull apart loaf we have had ever since she can remember. I may share the Torte recipe further down the track. I need to cook it again and make sure it was not a fluke. :)

At least that is my story and I am sticking to it!

Keeping it real here! Notice the caramel sauce is all gone!

Then we opened a few little gifts. My sweet girls made me some wintery woolies which was a total surprise.We had scaled back the gift thing this year, so receiving something like that, handmade with love, was even more precious.

Cuffs, finger-less gloves and the most beautiful soft scarf – which I actually wore around the house this morning as there was a chill in the air.

Lunch

Lunch was pretty simple, as we were just us six. I had prepared, cooked and sliced turkey and roast lamb, the day before, ready to be heated. We cut out the baked veg we would normally do and chose to have simple steamed cauliflower, broccoli and zucchini with mashed potato, seasoning and baguettes. We did have our traditional pumpkin soup starter though.

It may have been a simpler meal but we still enjoyed making it festive – with simple red and white decor. A beautiful tablescape always makes a simple meal seem so much more lavish.

I also made gravy and a flour free cheese sauce. It was not hard with these choices to stay on a low carb, flour free and sugar free plan. I skipped the potato, gravy, and bread of course. :)

Some precious friends had dropped in, just as I was about to serve up, so the veg ended up a little over done. It was still delicious – just did not look fresh.

Then we cleaned up and prepared to visit with some friends for the evening. Hubby had to go to work so he dropped us off on the way.

Dinner

Dinner was fabulous and I was so busy enjoying myself and socialising that there are not many photo’s. I did managed to snag one of the table, before all 24 of us sat to eat. Pretty in purple and silver. Very royal and fit for the King!

The weather was perfect for sitting outside. No wind, which is unusual for here, and rather balmy. Everyone helped themselves to appetisers while mingling. Then we all ate a traditional roast turkey dinner with a few twists from various different country’s. Every family there was from a different country.

Italy, Sicily, England, Australia, Palestine, France, Belgium and others. What a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas – with people from all over the world coming together to share in the birth of Christ.

Today we cleaned up, ate leftovers and had a very relaxed boxing day.

Linking this post to Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch

 

Christmas Eve 2011

Today we pottered around, mostly in the kitchen baking, and enjoyed our preparation for tomorrow. The day also afforded some tears. Which brought on some good opportunity for sharing and teaching about the realities of life.

We are changing some of the things that are traditionally done around here. Some of these are food changes for health reasons. The type and amount we eat. Some, like not having a tree, are for reasons we can’t control, or are to do with our “less is more” and reason for the season choices we are trying to foster at this time rather than “more” being the norm.

I had also realised that previous Christmas festivities had not been so enjoyable because I always tried to do everything and was worn out. Or expected help, and when it didn’t come voluntarily, got upset with a “poor me, why do I have to be the slave while you all enjoy yourselves and I do everything?” kind of attitude.

That is not my true heart. I delight in having things to prepare, cook, decorate and create all manner of pleasurable things to bless my family and those around us. Sometimes though, especially when trying to do it all, and perfectly, a negative attitude can rear its ugly head and cause some stress among us. I do not want memories of our celebrations, at any time of year, to be of “Mum losing it”.

I also don’t want to be constantly asking them to help if their heart is not there yet. Yes, they do help, generally well, when I ask. However I feel like I am constantly asking (read nagging) them and it is another thing I am trying to stop myself doing. If I want to do all of it – or any of it, then I should be happy to do it, without help, and not expect anything of others.

We can all use developing more of a servant’s heart.

So I made some personal choices of the priorities and things that matter – and those I can leave. If someone volunteered to do things we have always done, that I was not covering, then that would be awesome.

If not – then it did not really matter in the scheme of things.

Our youngest is struggling with some of these changes and says it does not feel like Christmas. I realised today that she is also at that age when life starts to bite a bit. Something she was expecting, because that is how it had always been, didn’t happen.

I feel sad that my baby is growing up. But it was also an eye opener for them to see that there is so much more to this season than what they “expect”. The kids and I talked it through, she ended up doing what it is she was wanting, while I finished up some other things. Everyone was happy and we had a lovely evening sharing together in a way we all enjoy – even if it was different to the past. :)

From our family, to you and yours, we hope you have a blessed Christmas tomorrow. May all your Christmas dreams be bright as you celebrate the birth of Christ.

 

 

A Day Out

Today the hubs and the girls and I headed out to Bahrain. The plan was to pick up some groceries, dog food and have a hair cut. It ended up being a longer day out than anyone planned.

Hubby asked me a couple of days ago to consider colouring my hair. I had already been thinking about gettting a drastic amount cut off so just decided spur of the moment to call the hair salon thinking I would not be able to get in this close to Christmas.

Wrong! :)

I usually don’t cut my hair but once or twice a year and the last time was June. I just keep the fringe (bangs) neat in between by trimming it myself. Colouring was something I had decided not to do and was quite happily growing out the random greys, or as my youngest daughter calls them “my wisdom hairs:. They grow fairly evenly all over my head and I had visions of one day having a lovely head of silver hair.

But when hubby asks, well…. I needed to keep him happy.

After a couple of hours I must say I am pleased with the colour and the new layered style. Not sure about the 6 inches taken off. It is pretty drastic after it all being one length. Mind you it feels a lot lighter and is far quicker to dry.

My youngest daugher enjoyed the whole wash the hair, get it cut and blow dried experience. Her first time in a real hair salon! Till now she has had her hair cut at home by me.

Then we did a spot of shopping, which seemed to take forever. After that we stopped for a snack and a drink at Trader Vics. Where my girls did some knitting…can you believe that? I was totally stunned when the youngest whips out her latest project from her bag while we are sitting in the middle of a restaurant.

At least she didn’t pull out an ipod to play on. For that I am thankful! :)

Then followed a a visit for a cup of tea with some friends. They had uncannily called not even knowing we were in their vacinity. They wanted some input into their homeschool curriculum for next year and it was so much easier to talk about it over a cuppa. They are leaving the Middle East very soon so every moment with this is one to treasure.

I’ll leave you with this last image of the palm trees at Trader Vic’s all lit up – for Christmas?

 

Front Door Wreath

While traveling in the USA this last summer I collected a few metal stars for various craft projects. The largest one was found in Lancaster county and turned out to be a bit of a challenge to pack and travel with. However it arrived back here in one piece and I had been waiting for December to create something with it.

It was always destined for my front door and the happy discovery of burlap ribbon in our local craft store brought me the perfect combination for a Christmas star burlap wreath.

After offsetting the lengths of red and natural burlap ribbon I threaded wire through them by hand and gathered it all into a small circle.

Then wired the burlap circle to the star. It was fairly easy with those lovely shabby cut out swirls. A bit of tweaking and separating the two layers of ribbons helped to bring the lovely burlap ruffles out.

Sweet huh?  I find the contrast between the lovely swirly pattern and the rusty metal patina irresistible. Maybe I can make it a year round front door decoration and change it up for each season.

The softness of the burlap ribbon is a stunning contrast too. I also added some small battery operated lights for a bit of night-time flare.

It looks great on the door and lots of people have commented on what a nice change it is from the traditional green wreath. I must remember to take a photo at night with pretty little lights glowing.

On another note – just want to say how proud I am of my eldest daughter who just got the results of her recent piano theory exams. Passed with distinction! Fabulous honey!!

Donut Cake

Today was my daughters sweet sixteenth birthday. She is sweet and we had a wonderful day together just hanging out. She opened her gifts – which I had fun wrapping and coordinating with the card I made. Brown paper packages are my favourite and go so well with the aqua and red theme we have going this month.

Just wanted to share her birthday celebration cake with you. My Miss Sweet 16 does not like cake very much, but loves donuts! It can be challenging coming up with a different donut cake every year – however this one was a winner.

After tying together sixteen donuts I upended them to create a cake like base. Each gap was piped with cream to hold it together. We then added creamed filled strawberries and fresh raspberries to pretty it up. She asked for no candles as she did not want to ruin the way it looked – nor have candle wax drip on her precious donuts. Krispy Kreme of course!

It looks even more spectacular in real life. Which is just as well because the cake base I had intended to put it all on top of failed. My oven has been playing up for a while, with never fail recipes burning in patches, or on the outside and the middles are still raw. Even on 160 celcius.

They came to fix it early in the week but it is still bung as I found out today. They are bringing me a replacement tomorrow. Yay!  Now lets just hope that it works – or we might be eating cold food for Christmas.

Right now I am off to do some more hanging out. :)   We plan to watch Dolphin Tale.

 

Hostess Gift and Packaging

This time of year brings with it opportunity to socialise, and invitations to Christmas parties. I like to take a little hostess gift, in liue of the typical bottle of wine which is not available here.

Making these up and having them ready to go saves me time and stress. Especially with last-minute get togethers.

This year I made some Coconut, Brown Sugar and Vanilla Body scrub base, perfumed with various essential oils such as lavender, orange and bergamot.

In my effort to recycle and keep some of our costs to a minimum I reused some pretty jars. The lids were sprayed with blackboard paint which I already had. I had been going to write on them with chalk – but couldn’t find any in our craft box. The kids must have used it all.

Then tied an eco-friendly wooden spoon on with Cappuccino and Red Twine from the Twinery. Added a “Thanks” from a shipping tag cut in half and stamped.

For packaging I chose simple brown paper bags, some more Cappucino as well as Red twine and normal rustic twine, or string as we call it in Australia. I folded the top over, tucking a paper doily into the folds and stapled at the ends with Tim Holtz Tiny Attacher for stability. Punched a couple of holes and threaded the strings through tying them into a basic knot.

The addition of a little tag punched from some left over scrapbook paper and tied on with some of the twine wraps it all up. I chose to stamp thanks on mine, but you could add any word or saying you like.

Easy Hostess gifts for Christmas – or anytime. Ready to go!

Gingerbread House Decorating Party

As with all party planning there comes a time when it takes over and you just have to get it done. Hence my lack of posts for the last few days. Mind you lots of stuff to add to my party planning guide.

Our gingerbread house decorating party was this weekend. The children had so much fun – as did the adults, who could not keep themselves from helping out with the decorating. In fact I think throwing one for a bunch of adults would be an even bigger hit. :)

The table was pretty much set up the night before. This left me a few things to prepare for the buffet brunch and time to snap a few photo’s before the guests arrived.

At each seat was an apron with the child’s name on it serving as a place card. Each place had its own setting complete with a gingerbread house, a bottle of milk with a cute striped paper straw (remember those?) and a Wilton piping tube with royal icing per child.

I used a professional cardboard cake plate for each gingerbread house to sit on. It was intended for them to go home with each child and I wanted them to be on something sturdy that would also not get wet with the drips of icing.

Our candy bar was quite a challenge. Here abouts there was not much in the colour scheme with had chosen. Note to self – research candy colours before choosing colour theme for next party.

I made the shingles for the roof from Fondant icing. Polo’s and Tic Tac’s came in handy. The long red and white strips as well as the blue and white tubes were a last-minute find in Cairo – score! The one thing here that was a total surprise was the Christmas candy found in a local supermarket.

The tablescape centerpiece uses some Christmas picks, and the silvery foil sticks saved from my sons 16th. That blue is in this year so a few new Christmas picks nicely enhanced the aqua and red look we wanted. We picked them up in Bahrain on sale. The three candy canes are similar to Fimo and were a total fluke find at a local bazaar.

I love it when you happen across things just when you need them. Is the word for that “serendipity”?

The white shabby chic doily edge tin holding the centerpiece came from Ikea. As did the little blue bowls. The red fluted bowls are labeled Reco and I found them in Lynchburg Tn in a fabulous little kitchen store. The glass apothecary jar was found in a Crabtree and Evelyn store in Perth Australia. That cute bottle with the tiny blue balls inside was from a local pharmacy and came with an electrolyte drink in it. It even has measurements on the side. I might just need to stock up on some more electrolyte drink before next summer!

The small red bowls with the pattern around the edge are by Karidesign. I found them at Ross’s this summer while we were in the USA. They all looked so pretty with the candy in them.

See that glass vase with the peppermint and white chocolate covered pretzel sticks in it? A surprise addition to the table. I had made those intending them for the buffet table. My youngest daughter kept sneaking them back in to the gingerbread house decorating table.

I snuck them back. :)

This is the amazing result from that table. These kids age from 2 – 16 and were given carte blanche to create what they wanted. One daddy had a little input – I really should have given him his own house to decorate. He even wants an apron!

All up I would count it a fabulous success. The buffet was a treat – you’ll just have to wait for photo’s of that one. Along with more of my party planning guide – which we’ll get back to after the season. If you need my party planning guide or some more input then leave me a comment and I will be happy to help you out.

I’ll leave this you with one last thing. My biggest hope in planning a party is that my guests would have their socks blessed off and thoroughly enjoy themselves.

By the looks of this table they did – including the cute rubber duck who joined the party too!

Linking up to Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch, the Charm of Home and CafeD’s Friday Free for All.