Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just dropping in!

I can't believe it is over a week since I posted! especially after such a good start to the month.
What a week last week was! The Horsey one had a horse trials clinic for 3 1/2 days. As SH and I were both working we had to juggle the days and of course it was more than an hour out of town. The Horsey one stayed down there and one of us travelled each day. I did Tuesday and Thursday which was the last day when lucky me had to float the horse home!!! I am not the most confident at floating and must admit it was a huge sigh of relief when we finally got home safe and sound.
At the same time SH had taken HS and a friend to Melbourne to attend a concert. HS enjoyed himself but the band was certainly not our taste! Friday the Horsey one and I were off to Ararat for her to go the dentist and have some teeth removed under the Orthodontists request. We are hoping to avoid braces!
I enjoyed going to my Saturday quilting group, a very small gathering this month. I took a finished (yes you read that right!!!) heart stitchery. We are making a friendship quilt for a member who is shifting away.
This week hasn't been any quieter, we celebrated Australia Day today with some friends, a yummy lamb bbq and some really good salads. I made a pavlova roll for dessert, my first attempt at this but certainly won't be my last!
SH and the kids are off to Melbourne again tomorrow so that HS can do a defensive driving course on Thursday. They will visit the market to stock up on fruit & vegetables, meat & seafood, and Costco before heading home again.
Back to school Monday, I am actually looking forward to the return of routine, please remind me of that in a few weeks!!
Sorry this was another 'photoless' post, I do have lots to share but the camera we bought in September stopped working on Boxing Day and had to be returned to the company to be repaired. It was ready to collect on Saturday but the company hadn't returned the battery so I am waiting again! Not really good enough for a well known brand of camera, it certainly wasn't the cheapest in the range!!!
Hope to drop in again -very - soon!!!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Big Trip to the USA - part 4

Back into the car again for the next leg of our big adventure. The first problem was that we hadn't prebooked our car hire (we weren't really sure we would manage the driving!!) and cars for a one way trip weren't available. We finally found a company that had a car but no gps!!!! We printed lots of maps but after getting lost leaving the airport where we had collected the car should of perhaps rethought our day!! We had planned and looked forward to driving the coastal road between San Francisco and Los Angeles. When the kids worked out how long the trip would take in comparison to the route we travelled up on they pleaded, sulked, complained and insisted they were not going that way! As we are the parents we got our way reminding them of the beautiful scenery they would see along the way. It would all be worth it! Unfortunately we had fog the whole way which meant we saw nothing!!!!! and I'm meaning nothing!!! The photo above is the only photo we managed of the coast and when we hit LA we hit the traffic returning from a weekend away (yes turns out Sunday afternoon is not the best time to be heading back into town!!) . The kids are not convinced when we tell them we were just unlucky and plan to drive it again one day but maybe over a few days so we can enjoy the communities along the way! We dropped off the hire car at LAX and then proceeded to be ripped off badly by 2 taxi drivers. It was our only experience like that for the whole trip and by this stage all we wanted to do was get to our hotel in Anaheim and hit our beds. HS (who was very unwell with a flu like virus this day) and I were travelling together and became a little worried when all of a sudden our taxi driver started ducking (while driving) at the sound of gunfire. We ducked too and in the next second realised it was in fact the fireworks at Disneyland. This gave us a giggle especially when our driver remained clueless!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another milestone......

My HS passed another milestone today when he went for and was successful gaining his driving licence!!! I am a mixture of thrilled for him and filled with fear and trepidation all at the same time. Poor HS is a little sad tonight after his car broke down and had to be towed late this afternoon. Fingers crossed it is simple and inexpensive to repair but in the meantime I will sleep easily tonight!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The big trip to the USA - part 3

On our last day in San Francisco one of the 'must dos' was riding the cable car. We were lucky to all get on it but that made it even more exciting. We all had a turn of riding outside except of course Mum who was more than happy to sit safely inside. We did a full loop, up and down the hills and entertained by the conductor who played tunes with the bell. Well worth the money and lots of fun. Of course I didn't get any great photos but we did pick up a cable car Christmas decoration to remind us of how much fun we had.

We interrupted our circuit on the cable car to get out at Lombard Street and walk down the 'crookedest' street in the world. It was amazing and even more so that people live in the houses and that people travel down it regularly. The landscaping was beautiful.

It was quite steep to walk down and apparently Mum and I were amusing trying to walk down without losing our grip and rolling down. Coordination is not one of my stronger points!!

On this last day we ventured into Chinatown for dim sum for lunch. Of course until we got there we were unaware that a festival was being celebrated that day. That only added to the color and excitement. After a fantastic lunch during which we were entertained out the window by dancing and the crowning of 'Miss Chinatown' I insisted we search out an address I'd found in the lonely planet guide for a 'factory'?! 'shop' that makes fortune cookies by hand in the traditional method. It was the tiniest little shop and the two men spruiking were quite the entrepreneur, charging for photos and insisting you purchase some of the freshly made cookies. That was no hardship as they were delicious. They are one of the 'horsey one's favorite treats so they didn't last long at all and we regretted not buying more.

On our last evening we visited Lori's Diner to eat. It was like stepping back into some of the television shows / movies we watched a long long time ago. We sat at the counter, something SH had always aspired to do and ordered sodas, dogs and burgers. We can highly recommend the food, the service and the atmosphere.

I was sad when our time in San Francisco ended, even more so as quite a few things we had hoped to do had to be crossed off the list on the last day when we realistically knew we were running out of time. We did do a little bit of shopping while we were there, DSW, Crate and Barrel (loved it , bought some Halloween cupcake goodies and SH had an embarrassing moment when a pepper grinder shattered whilst in his care!!!) and Tiffanys (no purchase!!!) to mention just a few. We will definitely return.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Technological Help required!!!

Help! For some reason not all comments I am receiving on posts are transferring over into my emails. I've never gone back and checked all the comments on posts before but I've just had a look and there are some comments there I didn't know I had. I try and reply to each comment so please if I haven't replied this may be the reason why. Sorry. Think its strange that most are coming across and just some aren't????? So please all you blogger experts some advice would be appreciated!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hook, line and sinker!

The latest issue of Homespun magazine arrived on Thursday and in between snoozes in the heat yesterday I had a quick flick through it. I have fallen in love with the first 2 blocks of their new BOM 'Life is a Celebration' to raise awareness of and support Ovarian Cancer Australia. One of the blocks is designed by Janelle Wind and the other by Leanne Beasley. Usually I will bookmark it to myself for the 'to do one day' list but this time I am going to try to make the blocks as they are released. I am going to try and get a start on them today!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The big trip to the USA - part 2

Day 2 in San Francisco we took a day trip to Yosemite National Park. Because it was so early in our trip we decided to book from home and really it was just luck as to how good the company we booked with was. We really wanted to take the private SUV tour but couldn't justify the extra cost so booked a mini van tour with a maximum of 15 people. After booking we received an email pressuring us to change the date we requested (obviously to fit in with others) but our itinerary really wasn't flexible. When we were collected from our hotel the morning (very early!!!) of our tour we were obviously the only ones booked so actually ended up with the private SUV tour. It was just perfect and our guide Alberto was fantastic with an amazing knowledge of the area we were going. I am so glad we didn't decide to drive it ourself, there is no way we would of seen as much as we did or that we would understand what we were seeing!!

First thing in the morning before it got too hot we did an easy hike (hike is actually a very loose term!!) in to see the Giant Sequoia trees. Wow! They were amazing. The size of them. A huge dinosaur striding out beside them wouldn't look out of place.

Our trip out from seeing the Giant Sequoias was long and slow. The descent was very deceptive and coming out seemed very steep with the air compromised due to the altitude. The kids just bounded out, I was slow but poor Mum struggled. Alberto and SH were great letting her take her time and set the pace. Sure that I felt it the next day, now that would be a great workout each day for me!!!!

The scenery everywhere was amazing, just picture perfect. I'd love to see it in all seasons and would love to spend some time staying there to take in the peace and tranquility of it all , to just enjoy it. The taking of this photo of the kids though terrified me. Behind them was just a huge, enormous sheer drop!!!! I couldn't watch but have to admit it was a good photo opportunity. This is the photo that was to go out with the Christmas cards I still haven't written!

Towards the end of the afternoon Alberto stopped for us to have a good look at El Capitan (hope I've got that right) this sheer rock face. We got out the binoculars to try and spot some of the mad, adventurous , courageous rock climbers on the rock face. It takes between 5 - 7 days to climb and only the most experienced even attempt it. They sleep suspended up there and obviously have to carry all their provisions. I certainly admire those who do it and they are in no danger at all of having me join them ever!!!! We did manage to spot a few groups ,they were the size of tiny ants and so hard to see with the naked eye.

We were all looking forward to seeing some squirrels on our trip to the States (we don't have them here in Australia) and we saw plenty at Yosemite from them running and climbing naturally in the foliage to the ones hanging around the restaurant/ shop area hoping for some easy pickings! We also saw some little chipmunks but I was so disappointed not to see a bear! All I wanted for the day although as the rest of the family says I probably would of been terrified! I did buy a little Christmas decoration with a bear from Yosemite to remind us each year of a wonderful day in the most amazing place. It really is spectacular and one of the highlights of our trip.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A little progress...

Blogger is not cooperating tonight and won't let me load photos so part 2 of our trip will have to wait until tomorrow.
I have been working on my New Years resolutions (yes I am well aware it is still only week 1!)and seeing some progress. We have been a bit more inventive with our meals. I made a lemon tart (including the pastry) to take to a dinner party last week and last night we made ribs in our slow cooker. It was a meal we enjoyed with friends in the US. They sent us the recipe and it was as good as we remembered!!! HS in particular loved it. Tonight we had lamb koftas with our homemade pita bread - seriously it was good! I gave SH the 'Flatbreads & Flavours' cookbook for Christmas and this was his first attempt from it. Very successful.
I have been stitching this week, working on a piece of handwork. My quilting group is making a friendship quilt for a member who is moving out of town. The last 2 nights I've been so tired and in the past I would of just left it but I decided even if I only did 1 thread it was better than nothing. It is lovely to see it growing.
I have walked, not every night, but a few times this week. Jimmy loves to get out and about and we love to exhaust him!!! A sleeping dog is a good dog!
I've finished 2 books already and watched 4 Dvds. The plans are falling into place!!! Still plenty of room for improvement but as I keep reminding myself - baby steps!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The big trip to the USA - part 1

I know this has taken a long time but I am finally going to share some of our holiday memories from our fantastic trip to the US last year. Better late than never!! Sorry if this is not of any interest!
Part 1 is Melbourne - LA - San Francisco

Wandering through duty free at Melbourne airport on our way to our departure gate the 'horsey one' couldn't resist a photo with Edward, swoon swoon!!Shame he was cardboard!

We flew on one of the new A380 Airbus. It was great although we desperately wished we were sitting up the stairs! Couldn't even get up there for a sticky beak. We all enjoyed our individual entertainment systems, I think the average number of movies watched was 5 for the trip! Not for me though, give me a book any day!

After we arrived at LA airport we collected our hire car and started the drive (inland) to San Francisco. SH ended up doing all the driving on the trip, apparently I made everyone nervous even as a passenger! I found the driving on the other side of the road a little difficult to get used to. Our first stop along the way was for some lunch at McDonalds. It was our one and only experience of Maca's on this trip, they really are very similar worldwide.

This is a view of the scenery on the drive. We were surprised at just how desolate it was. I guess we really hadn't thought about what to expect.

We have so many photos of 'sleeping' passengers on our road trips!! SH was the only one not to fall victim. On this occasion HS and Mum just couldn't keep their eyes open a minute longer.
In San Francisco we stayed at Hotel Metropolis. It was comfortable but the neighborhood was quite noisy. We found the homeless situation there particularly confronting although not threatening at all. We fell in love with San Francisco and I just wish we'd had more time to spend there.

On the first day we went on the ferry to Alcatraz. I have to confess I wasn't particularly interested but knew that SH and Mum would enjoy it. I was pleasantly surprised and would recommend it. The history behind it was extraordinary and there were lots of interesting stories.One of the old inmates, an elderly man now, was signing books in the gift shop the day we visited.

We loved this photo of 'the horsey one' taken on the ferry.
After Alcatraz we made our way around to Pier 39 which was lots of fun. I bought some great souvenirs here and just wish I'd bought more. It had the biggest variety, the quirkiest and the best prices. My favorite was a President Obama and First Lady paper doll book.

We had lunch at Pier 39 and SH just had to have clam chowder which he really enjoyed. I think the rest of us had yummy scampi.

The Sea lions at Pier 39 are amazing, noisy and very very smelly!!!!

Stay tuned for Part 2!!!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lucky me!

I got some great Christmas presents. I got a 'Jewellery Tree' made by Missie Krissie (which I am loving), a 'bobbin side-winder (something I've always wanted), lots of chocolate and smelly stuff and a dvd or two but my absolute favorite present would be this

'The Pioneer Woman Cooks' cookbook. I can't wait to try each and every recipe and all the photos and little stories are just added bonuses. I am so happy!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Christmas memories 2009...

Jimmy got a few presents. He loved this one in particular and played with it nonstop. He has not been a very good puppy since Christmas , managing to escape our yard, but he is very sweet!

This is my sister-in-law Liz and I at some mad moment of the day. We were very blessed with my Mum joining us and all of SH's family - his parents, 3 sisters, spouses and kids, oh and a few dogs!!

I bought some Scandinavian style candle sticks this year in both red and white. I was really happy with them and can't wait to use them every year.

I in a very mad moment decided this year to make my own bonbons!!!! If I ever suggest I want to do it again tell me not to please! I think the only problem was I ran out of time. They popped beautifully but there was complaints about having no hats in them!!! and the jokes just didn't happen as I ran out of time. I thought having gourmet chocolates for the adults and toys for the kids would make up for the no hat/no joke situation but apparently only just..... I think they looked good though.

This is a shot of our table setting. We had 18 to sit down so used our normal table and added 2 trestles to make one large table. I bought 3 matching cloths which I'm sure will get a lot of use over the years.

On Christmas morning both of our Mums wanted to help so we sat them in aprons at the table (covered in a plastic cloth)and got them to clean, peel and cut all our vegies. It was a huge help and they were happy to have a job!

I decorated a few of our candles with this gorgeous ribbon that I used to wrap all of our parcels. This candle was cinnamon scented and smelt beautiful.

This is a shot of our Christmas tree with our Anaheim Angels bauble. We picked this up on our US trip and it was perfect this year with our red & white theme. Brought back some great memories of our holiday too!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome to 2010!

Well this is the year of New Years Resolutions (often I don't get around to even thinking about it until about the 10th of January and doesn't seem worth it by then!!). I am hoping for a lot of changes this year so feel that I should document them (especially as this is to be a record for the future generations of my life, lets see if anything changes in the next 10 years!!!!!) Okay so in no particular order....

- I would like to stitch & quilt more. The plan is to do something each day even if it is only 1 thread or 1/2 an hour of knitting. I have a diary I want to plan ahead in and list the projects I'd like to start and more importantly finish!!

- I want to get back to reading more. In the past I would always have a book on the go and in the last 12 months think the total I read was dismal. I plan to list the books as I read them on my blog so hopefully I can feel a sense of achievement at the end of the year! Even better I already have at least 20 books I've bought but not read.

- I am not a real movie watcher!!! but I have a habit of buying DVDs that I'm sure I'd really like to see and then 12 months later they are still on the shelf in plastic!!! So I would like to watch more DVDs / movies!

- I intend to conquer the budget this year and if not save some $ at least conquer the bills and reduce our debt and even more importantly not spend so much on unnecessary things!!!!

- Look after my health a little better. Yes I'd like to lose some weight - 20k over the year is my plan, but more importantly I'd like to eat better and exercise more, enjoy the occasional foot spa and face mask and hopefully get a family member to massage me now and then!

- I want to start enjoying cooking again and trying new recipes. I have always enjoyed baking in particular but in 2009 cooking became a chore.

- Blogging is something I really enjoy. I have made a lot of 'friends' in the blogging world and found a lot of inspiration. I love the thought too that I am documenting my life for the future (who knows maybe some family member may be interested in 50 years time!!) I plan to post more regularly this year, short and sweet but frequent may become my guidelines!!

- I would like to be more organised this year, not only just make it. I intend getting back into the habit of planning our menu for the week (which saves time and $) and also having a weekly family planner on the fridge each week so everyone should know where everyone is! I plan to declutter and not hoard (oh this is going to be SO hard!), clean , iron and deal with paperwork regularly not when it all threatens to overtake!!

- I plan to take the time to drop a note or pick up the phone to say hi to one of my dear friends. The time goes quickly and we do not know what is around the corner. My friends are important to me and I plan to tell them this.

- Taking time to 'smell the roses' and have a bit of 'me' time is high on the list this year. I am not superwoman and I need to give myself permission to stop and read the paper, enjoy a coffee or even a 10 minute nanna nap occasionally.

Written down these look quite overwhelming but at least I have a plan and can take baby steps. I'll be sure to share how I go!!! The most important statement I need to remember is
Don't put off for tomorrow what can be done today!!!