Monday 30 December 2013

Monday Slideshow Dec #3 *** Last one for 2013!!!

Well it seems that time has once again beaten me in getting the last few posts out for 2013. 

We only had Sasha's room re-hash and the entertaining area to post about.  But alas the entertaining area is only 95% complete and although I had Sasha's room spring cleaned, and suitably ready to be photographed last night in anticipation of a post today, she and Poppy spent a big chunk of the day messing up my gorgeous tidy room playing in it holding a tea party for Poppy's new teddy so it's not so tidy anymore!  So again, it will have to wait.  Instead I am doing a slideshow * to see the year out and what better way to finish off the year than with a story that is funny, sad, loving, giving, and with a little bit of luck, determination and reminiscing all thrown in..! 
*update this was meant to be a short 10 line /5 picture mini post, but has turned quite epic so feel free to skip it!
You will remember from here that our dog Red is our resident security system.  He is a great guard dog, but also a loving member of our family, even though he is 12 years old, he still plays like a puppy.  Given that he is a cattle dog, he LOVES retrieving.  He spends hours rounding up his toys and is a real larrikin too.  He learnt at a young age how to 'throw' his own ball, by flipping his nose gently under it whilst it was rolling and flicking it into the air, so that he could play fetch when we weren't home.  He also taught himself a new trick in this house where he carries his ball to the pool, places it on the side and nudges it into the water with his nose.  He then sits there patiently waiting for the wind or pool filter to slowly float the ball around, watching intently to the way the water is flowing, then runs round to the side or end of the pool and waits for it to get close enough to lean in and grab it without falling.  Hours of free fun!!  He is a total crack up.  In all honesty he was wasted as a family pet, he would have been excellent at his job and would have produced a long line of excellent working dogs had he been able to mate!  But still we are soooo glad we saw him that day we went bed shopping!??  (I know right?!) So where am I going with this story?
Well, the only problem with Red's ridiculous retrieving obsession is that he goes through balls, toys and dog Frisbees as fast as we can buy them.  Not only is it rubbish for us because we have to spend stupid amounts of money on play equipment but it's also rubbish for him because when he does destroy them (generally 2 days for an average tennis ball) it may be a day or two before we get chance to replace it.  And that's when things go wrong.  For example another trick he has learnt recently is how to tug on the hearts of every neighbour in our vicinity by tricking them into throwing his ball for him as they walk by or even if they are just pulling up in their cars.   If they make the fatal mistake of glancing over at his puppy eyes, he quickly jams the ball through the fence wire, luring them to waste 10 minutes of their day by coming over and throwing it 'just this once Red'.  LOL it is hysterical to watch.  And if by accident we shut his toy under the house, he will improvise! The other day I caught him throwing one of the kids sand buckets high in the air to get it over the fence to the neighbour on the other side to throw.  Sand and seashells being hurled all over the garden.  OMG, he is hilarious!  Luckily there is a company out there * who knows what poor Red and other boisterous dogs are going through and they fixed the problem by creating decent toys that just DO NOT break!
*this is not a paid ad or anything I just love these guys and their products
We have been using their gear for years but unfortunately on one of our moves all his toys got left in the yard and we had to buy new again in Townsville.  His usual toy is the standard catch ball that you see in his pictures on our blog, ($17 each but we've had this one 7 months so far and it shows no sign of wear) but for Christmas we decided to get him a new one to give him more choice. 
Same toy, same colour but with a superb long webbing strap in it so that
a) your hands don't get covered with dog slobber when you throw it, and
b) you can fling it really far at the beach etc. 
He was soooooo excited when he saw it, and could not get downstairs quick enough to play with it on Chrissy morning!
After a couple of goes with the girls, with Col and I telling them to 'be really careful when you swing it', and 'don't throw it too high' etc,  I decided to give it a go and the blasted thing took on a mind of its own, no seriously it did, and flew up to the roof....IT FLEW I tell you!!  No joke that dog gave me the funniest look, it was like we were both watching it in slow motion.  He watched it go up and at first he was like 'Yeah good trick, now where'd you hide it?' running round me in search of his beloved new toy.  And then the realisation hit and he just sat and stared at the roof.
The poor little man was devastated, I was in the dog house and Col just rolled his eyes every time he looked my way!  We tried unsuccessfully to reach it with our crappy little ladder but it had wrapped it's little webbing tail round the pipe vent on the roof and it was no use.  We needed a bigger ladder!  So, all through the Chrissy holidays our little boy just sat there staring and occasionally consoled himself with the other ball, while we tried to work out how we were going to get this thing down without spending $300+ on a new ladder.  Then as luck would have it, we were looking through photo's of our new house, prior to a visit today to measure up the floors etc, and spotted this little gem!  There in the garage hanging from the roof near the roller door is a huge extendable ladder.  Our huge inherited-at-time-of-purchase extendable ladder!!  AWESOME!

So we got that baby home and with the help of our friends trailer (thanks Nath), and Poppy's mini gardening rake Col climbed up and hooked down that pesky ball!
Red looked on in anticipation, with the smile on his face you would have thought it was Christmas..a'hem..literally
No sooner had we got it down he was bounding around throwing it in the air and dumping it at our feet to play, he was sooooo happy!
Awwww... happier than a happy thing on national happy day again...phew!
You can practically see his joy!
I just went downstairs to check on him and this is how I found him....
I said 'Aww look he is hanging on to it, he loves it so much' Col said, 'No, he saw you coming and thought - she's not getting hold of this little baby again!'  Either way buddy I don't blame you!  Thanks for being todays inspiration my little Red Dog, Happy New Year Mate! 
And Happy New Year and thanks to all our lovely friends and family for taking time to read our blog!  May 2014 bring you health, happiness, fun and joy and most of all... long ladders when you need them!!

Wednesday 25 December 2013

As Xmas As...

... a wee swally !!

Traditions, they are a funny thing aren't they. Some have long term origins, and others are quirky family habits. But they all start somewhere, and why not start a few of your own to put a personal touch on the festive season.
Growing up my family used to spend Xmas day trekking round the countryside; breakfast and presents at home, lunch at Mum's side of the family with all the relatives, then dinner at Dad's side of the family with all the relatives. Boxing day was a bit of a lazy affair, mostly watching Day 1 of the boxing day test. On the flip side, Kate's family used to spend Xmas day at home, just on their own as a family for the day. Then on boxing day Kate's mum used to host a boxing day feast for all the relatives to visit and catch up. While I appreciate what we did as kids growing up on Xmas day, Kate and I have opted to make Xmas day a day at home with the girls, and to do our following up with friends on boxing day. So here's a quick snap shot at a few quirky things we do...

Xmas tunes with Mr Buble. It sets the mood and Kate says that Michael has such an amazing voice (whatever, I know what she's thinking!) But all jokes aside, we love his duet with Thalia where they sing 'Feliz Navidad'.

Jamie's Christmas - my mother in law got me this on DVD for Christmas in 2007 when I was in Afghanistan. We love it so much that we watch it on Xmas Eve or Xmas Day every year. Kate does a crackin` Xmas late lunch loosely modelled on this (personalised of course). Some years we go a little crazy and watch it twice, having Xmas in July!!
Xmas Books - I love books and most years Kate gets me a special book as her present to me (I have been known to drop the odd hint). It started with getting Jamie Durie's new book each Xmas, and then last year she got me Kevin McCloud's Grand Designs book. So what better way to mark our first Xmas back in Australia, than the new Grand Designs Australia book. Many ideas I am sure for our upcoming renovation by the sea in 2014...
Finally, Kate always does a little bit of baking or cooking for Xmas treats; however, not even I was prepared for her to announce at 10.45pm on Christmas Eve that she was making Snowmen Macarons...Why? Good question, I'm glad you asked. Because little Poppy doesn't like mince pies, so at 1am (now into Xmas Day), while I was finishing a wee swally, Kate had done the lion's share of work required to produce these:
Remember, Poppy doesn't like Mince Pies. But then this morning we captured this little gem of a 'crime in action'...
Maybe it's got something to do with the ingredients...!
Strangely enough, while Poppy seems to have the taste for Scotch Whiskey, her sister Sasha has a real sweet tooth. I wonder if this photographic evidence of her with 'Uncle Tom' many years ago might have something to do with that...
(Note: the above photo may or may not show a wee young lass trying to steal a Scotsman's rum)
Anyway, must dash, as Kate's famous Xmas feast is almost ready. Just a bottle of Penfold's to uncork, and then I can 'relax'. Feliz Navidad to you and yours :-)
Cheers, Col
PS. Thinking of celebrating 'Festivus' next year... any thoughts?

Monday 23 December 2013

Pre-Christmas Slideshow Dec#2

HELLO!!  Remember us??

I apologise for the lack of blog presence this month.  We had wanted to have all the outstanding house posts up by 31st December.  But I am not sure that's going to happen...although we only really have a few left to share, so you never know!!!  (Yeah right! Who am I kidding?!). 

We were always behind, having started blogging long after we moved in and began our reno journey.  But in all honesty we could have caught up in the last part of this year because it has been much slower in terms of reno stuff.  But as we all know, life (in the nicest possible way) gets in the road!  And Christmas (and all the end of year festivities and organising that go with it) got in the way this month.  I have been busy buying gifts, wrapping gifts, writing cards, sewing gifts, posting parcels and enjoying all that comes with the holidays.  This time last year we were having our last cold, snowy winter and Christmas in Pennsylvania.  This year is so different for us...sooooo different.  But we are slowly getting back into the swing of having a steamy hot Christmas instead of the lovely cold traditional (for me) Christmas that we got so used to in the US!  Even Col said he has been 'ruined forever' by having 3 Christmases in the USA.

Christmas for us is about celebrating family and friends and what we have all achieved in the past year.  It's about being thankful for what we have and about sharing; food, gifts and love.  Not just with each other but with others who we may not know but may be in need of a little extra care.  Every year without fail we leave gifts under the wishing tree for children in our community who are less fortunate.  This year as much as every charity is worthy, we decided to do something a little different.  We recently learnt about the LifeStraw and other filtration systems being donated to communities around the world to supply them with clean drinking water.  Col has always held strong links with Timor L'este since working there for 6 months back in 2001, so although the LifeStraw project isn't in place there they do have a rotary project for Rota Pota Filtration systems.  Not only does the money go towards supplying the systems but it's also used for training locals to install and maintain the filters too.  A great choice of charity for our 2013 Christmas donation.  And even though Poppy was disappointed that she couldn't go shopping for a child and give them a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy this year, when she understood the difference between drinking clean water versus drinking dirty, smelly water that could give the child a disease she was totally on board!  Awesome!  There is nothing better than kids giving to other kids because they understand the need is there. Whether the need is for toys or fresh water, it doesn't matter.

And that's about it! 

We may be back with another post before the years end but I am not hopeful promising, so for now I will leave you with a few shots of our Chrissy tree and decorations.  We have had to move furniture around in our little home to be able to house a tree, so please excuse the occasionally crowded shots!!

Merry Christmas lovely readers and in case I don't reappear before years end have a fabulous New Year!

Feliz Navidad is the song we all LOVE from our time in the US at Christmas, it is played!!  Love it, especially Michael Buble's version.
We bought these awesome timber tree decorations from the Chicago Christmas markets, the picture doesn't do it justice.
Love these red glass ornaments, they got left behind in Canberra while we were in the USA so this is the first year we have used them, and they are gorgeous!
My fave little 'vintage look' deer baubles.
My new reindeer wall art, made with an old canvas painted over with white glitter and some dollar store font stickers and black spray paint!
My poor attempt at Bokeh.  I'm still learning!

A close up of our beautiful British chandelier string lights... adore them!
Sasha's nutcracker, she loves these things!
Our cute Uncle Sam nutcracker from our darling American buddies, the Tuckers!

Monday 2 December 2013

Monday Slideshow Dec #1

Wooooah, how did it get to be December already???

I know everyone says it every year, but seriously soooo many friends have commented on how quickly this year has gone.  I cannot get over that we are in the final month of 2013 is insane! And so with it brings the usual silliness of the silly season, end of year school parties, end of year dance parties, end of year work parties, and last but not least the worst of the end-of-year-do's... the fare-welling of military friends who are posted out of this location...sob know who you are!
So our weekends are now full up and have been so for the last 2 weeks with 'stuff'' which has prevented us from going on any little trips out to discover new areas around us.  In fact this morning Poppy woke up, ran to our room and burst into tears.  We asked what on earth was wrong and she said, "It's Monday, and we never went on a Sunday drive yesterday, when it was Sunday, and that really upsets me because I sooooo wanted to go"  Bless her!

So after the school run we went for a walk with Red Dog down to Rowes Bay to have a play on the swings, and walk on the beach to collect shells.  She is in her element there and will miss it terribly in the new year when she is at school 5 days a week and can't come on our morning walks. 
*note - I only took my crappy 'when-I-grow-up-I-want-to-be-an-iphone' so the pictures are pretty rubbish but that's all I got folks!!

We often drive past the Nessie type creature, so Poppy was extremely pleased that she got to play with it today.

We welcomed much cooler weather today with a great breeze too.  It was glorious!

At home with nature, just like her sister.

National Servicemen's Memorial, (I didn't even know this was here).

It was so quiet out at Rowes Bay, Poppy got to walk Red on her own, which she totally loved.

His leg got caught up in the lead, and the more she tried to fix it the more he just walked on, it was so funny.  She ended up falling on her tush just after this shot!  A few seconds later an older gentlemen zoomed by on an electric scooter and said " what did you fall over for, that was silly"  Thank goodness he carried on going.  The look she gave him...OMG!! Let's put it this way, if looks could kill he would no longer be needing his mobility scooter!

Then she insisted she take her own pictures too...

"Keep walking Mum I'm getting an action shot" She is hilarious.  (I made her stand on the grass, I was convinced she would drop my phone and figured concrete was way too unforgiving - btw, she didn't drop it)

I love how there are work-out zones all through The Strand and out here at Rowes Bay - one day I might even use one of day!

Back to the start and just enough time for one more picture opportunity.

On the way back to the car we found this cute paver...I love that this pic has a happy dog and a pair of tiny feet in it too!

Last but not least I will leave you with my favourite picture of the day, I only wish it was taken on a decent camera.  This encapsulates our Poppy's carefree personality perfectly.  She was wandering along singing Aussie Jingle Bells at the top of her voice, waving her arms around while walking her best buddy Red Dog...with not a care in the world, too cute!

Have a great week people..