Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Holiday snaps

Several times I have driven to Rockhampton from Brisbane, which is an eight hour drive, with my two girls. I've even done the drive by myself, with them being much younger, and we've never had a problem. I use what I call the 'drip feed' system.
This involves several brown paper bags, a felt pen and lots of snacky things. I divide the bags up into two piles, and roughly use one bag per half hour of driving for each small person. Then I number each pile of bags one to ten or whatever.
I put various small amounts of food into each bag, and number each pile the same, so when it comes to handing them out, the bags are exactly the same and there's no fighting.
While some of the snacks would be deemed unhealthy, my reckoning is that a dippity bit is not going to be as bad for us as ending up under a truck. My aim is to have them occupied so I can concentrate on the driving. And so, my 'drip feed' system worked a treat this time too.
Thanks to Grandma, we also had a basket packed to the brim with paper, pens and stickers to fill in the time.
We did our usual visit to the Botanical Gardens while there. They are still magnificent and into their 150th+ year, and it shows. It takes time for a garden to look that magnificent.
This old concrete whale is still there. I remember it from when I was tiny. It used to be painted black and white, but it's au naturel now.

Dad's garden is beside a horse paddock and he often has taipans, death adders and brown snakes up near his house - I know!! I was kept well and truly on my toes, let me tell you. I was trying to calm myself by writing such angst off as paranoia when I heard a story on the local radio saying that the snakes were out again for Summer, and to keep a lookout for them.
Then there's the crocodiles. As a school girl I used to row on the river. My career was cut short though, one morning when I saw an enormous crocodile in the water not far from where I was putting the boat in. To make matters much worse, that was the first morning I fell out. The coach motored out to me in his dinghy. My relief turned to horror however, when I realised he came to get the boat not me, and I was left behind to swim back to the rowing club, about 100m, to where I'd seen the crocodile. Needless to say, later in the day my mother called him to say I'd decided against a career in rowing.
This brings me to the weekend just past. Proof that children are in fact NOT wrapped in cotton wool at all. There was a rowing regatta on that very same river, right beside the sign saying crocodiles inhabit the water and can cause death or injury!
Achtung indeed!

Now I sense you're wondering if I managed to secure a concrete swan. No, in a word. It wasn't from the lack of determination though. I did knock on a door in the pursuit of one, but apparently it was a much loved member of the family. I've earmarked some for further investigation, however, the owners are currently caravanning and won't be back til closer to Christmas.
I managed to bring back some little dust collectors, one of which is a swan.
This duck is from Dad's house, and unfortunately, he's the only member of his family to have survived.

Dad gave me this shell mat, which belonged to my grandma. I really love it.

Here it is in-situ with the pineapples I brought back, for a tres tropical feel.
I just love pineapples as decoration, and they double as a very good fruit too.
We found this tiny bird's nest in Dad's greenhouse. It's hanging down, probably a bit difficult to see.
The next day we went back to have another look at it, and found these.

Dad just loves birds. These are his 'budgies'.
That's it for the holiday snaps.
My next trip away will be New York in November!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Things of shell and concrete

I have been trying to be a good, regular blogger, I really have, but time has been just getting away from me lately. I've no sooner met one job deadline, when another one looms over me, menacing any free time I might have.
On a more pleasant note, I've just got my hands on a new swan. This one is 50s style and covered in shells.

I scored it on Ebay, and as if you weren't jealous enough, I also got a matching bunny.
When I went to collect it from the other side of town, I also bought these two old cannisters. When you have an open pantry, you can't have too many pretty cannisters.

Remember these - paper straws. They used to be the norm, but now they are an expensive novelty. I got these ones from Olive Home.

On the weekend we went to Cedar Creek at Samford. On the way we went past this masterful stone bridge, it really is something and worth a look if you happen to find yourself on Cedar Creek Road. I've got no idea what the house looks like, but I'm hoping it is equally spectacular.
Since you mentioned outdoor rooms, let me show you this one. It's irrelevant, but it looks great all the same.
Friday I am off on a road trip up north to see my Dad. I'm taking the girls and my sister is coming along for the ride too. I'm hoping to haul back some kitschy treasures!
On a more serious matter, I have been looking for some months now for an old concrete garden swan, with no luck. I was most alarmed recently to read on Anna Spiro's blog that she is onto them too. That is the last thing I need, for something apparently so rare to begin with, to be suddenly so desirable. Plus, no one appreciates swans like I do. If any one has any information which may lead me to one, I would be most appreciative. I would even settle for a concrete donkey at this stage, the style with two baskets (where you put the plants).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Retro Reading

I can apply my love of  'old stuff' to almost anywhere in the house. I often buy vintage (a.k.a. second hand) children's books mainly from Boswell's in Ashgrove. It's a fabo book exchange that you can spend hours in.
I recently got hold of these 1962 Dr Seuss books. Most of them were first published in1960. They're a bargain pick up for about $1 each! Love them.

I also got this old edition of Hans Christian Anderson's The Ugly Duckling. It's not such a fave with the young readers, there's something a bit gloomy about it.
This is Scatterbrain Sally, Peach's current favourite. I can almost recite Scatterbrain Sally off by heart. It's about a little girl who, in trying to help her mother with the housework, almost burns the house down, flushes the goldfish down the sink, and floods the bathroom. It's also a goldie from 1962.

It's got beautiful illustrations. This is Sally almost burning the house down.

When usual can't resist a pretty little 'dust-collector' when I see one. The girls are getting quite the collection in their room.

Notice the Swan above. Swans seem to be cropping up all over the house lately. When I was a little girl, Dad kept a white swan as a pet. Eventually it went to live at the Adelaide Zoo.
I must try to keep a lid on the kitsch, lest it gets out of hand.

Monday, September 5, 2011

We were lucky enough to be invited to watch Riverfire from a City rooftop on Saturday night. The girls had never seen real fireworks, and were most impressed.
There's nothing like maintaining the safety of children running around on a roof top to keep you on your toes.
It was worth it though to see their little faces light up as much as the fireworks.

It's all about the levels when you live on a hillside. This is the area that we (ie, husband) are working on at the moment. It's at the foot of the back stairs, just outside the pool gate.

We plan for it to be paved with a hedge around the outside and a timber fence beyond that. The whole area is actually at the top of a 2m retaining wall, so we have to make sure no one falls off. Then we'll pop some outdoor furniture there and a brolly, and we'll have a top spot to sit and sip Bloody Marys during Summer.
Mim got crafty on Saturday and whipped up these little daisy chains using only weeds and an old pair of scissors. So clever! She even made Eric a flower power necklace, transforming him into a hippy guinea pig from the 60s. He loved every minute of it.

Meanwhile on Saturday, I was inside making hoummous. I use tinned chickpeas (I'm not a martyr), tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and some water to get it the right consistency.
You can also use the twins, cumin and coriander if you have them.

Yesterday we took a trip to the Gold Coast, but by the time we got there the weather had turned a bit foul. It was getting overcast and there was a very cool wind blowing. I think Peaches may have inherited my dislike of the beach. I'm not going to encourage such behaviour, apparently it's very unnatural and it doesn't endear you to others. It's like saying you don't like dogs.  People are immediately suspicious.
On the way home we went via Sovereign Island, which is a very ritzy area of the Gold Coast. Ten and twenty million dollar houses sit shoulder to shoulder.
It is the perfect demonstration of how money cannot buy taste.

We photographed this beauty, but unfortunately because of the angle, you can't really see the gold dogs either side of the front door.
A lot of them are for sale, many unfinished. This underground garage is on the market, byo house.
This mansion, which is probably in the vacinity of $10 million to build,  sits unfinished and deteriorating. Unfortunately, you can't really appreciate the size of it in these photos.

Despite the poor dears at Sovereign Island not having the dough to finish their multi-million dollar houses, I'll scream if I hear anyone else complaining about what hard times we have fallen on.
If you want to know what hard times are find the closest 90 year old, and ask them what it was like to live through the Great Depression, or a World War.
Reigning in blatant extravagance and waste is not falling on 'hard times'. Having to live within your means is not falling on 'hard times'. This is more a period of levelling out, the economy is cyclical and you can't have 'ups' without 'downs'. It's an unfortunate fact, but it's nothing new.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Spring has sprung

This afternoon we dabbled in what gardening folk call, 'potted colour' - pansies, impatients and some cosmos (seeds).
It'll do nicely. Hopefully they kick along and give us prolonged colour.
As I mentioned yesterday, today I picked up a basket chandelier I bought on Ebay on the weekend. I was actually looking for something else when I came across it. It had been listed only the night before with a 'buy it now' price of only $75. It looked fabulous, but I wasn't sure if it would really be that great for 75 bucks.
Anyhoo, Peaches and I picked it up today from Kedron. It's apparently from a 1930s Queenslander.

No I don't have man-hands, that's my husband holding it up for me to photograph. Isn't it beautiful.
The fitout of downstairs is on the radar, so I've been thinking about it a bit lately. This light would go wonderfully in the study.
To finish off, let me leave you with some gratuitous shots of Don & Betty Draper.
The one immediately below was taken by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair in 2009. I wonder if they've finished filming season five yet?
I predict Don & Betty will get back together. I know, big call, but I've put it out there now!