Home & Family TO BE FIXED, Uncategorized

Home Sweet Home

One of the biggest pieces of news recently is that my flatmate moved out 2 weeks ago.  It’s been a bit of a personal struggle at home for a wee while, and even though I love her to bits as a friend it was becoming a mental drain living together at home.  She has never done housework in the whole 2 years she’s lived here, and is often flouting the rules of the Strata with parking etc – and managed to really make me fed-up when moving furniture etc around without any discussion and adding a lot of clutter to the place.  If you’ve ever seen an episode of hoarders, that’s what it was starting to feel like at my place.  My flatmate would not just buy things on special, she’d buy BOXES of things on special, and there ended up being big piles of things on the kitchen floor … it used to seriously drain me mentally every time I went into the kitchen for anything.  With her gone, it means I’ve got to basically find nearly $1,000 extra per month for her share of the rent and bills … but for at least 3 months I’ve decided it’s worth it mentally.  And thanks to a recent pay rise I’m hoping it will be doable for a lot longer than that if I possibly can!

This last week I’ve slept more soundly than I’ve done for a very long time (she used to work shifts and always woke me when she came in – either throwing her big bunch of keys onto the table or setting the NutriBullet going after midnight) … and, along with a much healthier diet recently, I feel the most ‘normal’ than I’ve felt for an awfully long time.  Maybe I won’t be able to afford to keep it up, but in the meantime I’m going to enjoy every waking minute of this new freedom and having the place to myself.

The first room to get the make-over was the lounge room.  I got the carpets cleaned a couple of days after the flatmate moved out, which has meant being able to put my new furniture in place.  I’ve actually moved a couple of pieces around since these photos were taken, by just swapping the knick-knacks around on both the small side tables, and swapping my stitching recliner chair and rocking chairs around … I just love it (and if you hadn’t already worked it out, yes blue is my dream colour) 🙂

Aside from anything else, I’ve managed to turn the spare bedroom into my craft stash room, along with a couple of pieces of exercise equipment … it’s so nice to be able to see things at a glance and to get out fabrics etc quickly without having to clamber over my bedroom furniture to get to it all.  It really has been blissful!  I’ve also been watching TV and stitching in the lounge most nights this last week or so, so it’s feeling more like a full home, rather than living in a bedsit and staying in my bedroom all the time.  Along with all the cheap furniture I picked up recently, it really does feel like home for the first time since I moved to Australia 13 years ago.

One of the best things now, too, is that Mum is talking about coming over to have a short holiday – that’s something she hasn’t done for years … and I have to say I’m really excited about it.  I’ll probably head home at Christmas for a couple of days, then we’ll both head back over to Sydney again, hopefully for a couple of weeks.  Unfortunately Dad has never shown any interest in visiting, otherwise they could have come over together.  It would have done Dad the world of good with the beach a short walk away, but I’ve offered to pay him for a ticket before today and he’s turned it down.  Never mind, it’s his choice.  Hopefully, though, his health will be good enough that Mum can come over and have a good rest and change of scene, and we get some good mother and daughter time at home.

Anyway, while I’ve had the place to myself the last couple of weeks, I’ve also managed to finish a couple of pieces of stitching … so I’ll get those into another post for tomorrow 🙂

Christmas Ornaments, Crazy January 2011 Challenge, Cross Stitch, Exchanges, Home & Family TO BE FIXED, Lizzie Kate, Stash, Works in Progress

Still in the land of the living

Sadly a number of shocking migraines and some late working hours have seen my stitching mojo fly out the window over the last month … yesterday, however, I decided to catch up on last week’s recorded TV shows (seeing as I didn’t switch the TV on at all during the week) and managed to put a few stitches into a commitment piece – I need to quickly get this one finished so I can get it framed for a birthday gift.  I managed to do a fair bit last Saturday just before I started getting a throw-up migraine, and after yesterday’s efforts I can almost see the end in sight.  There are still a bunch of bears to stitch on the left-hand side, but at least I’m about 2/3 finished now.  It’s the first time in ages that I’ve stitched something that requires such a lot of back-stitching … not my favourite part of stitching, but it sure does make those blobs of stitching look wonderful once it’s done, and I’m glad to have got the first 2/3 of back-stitching completed before tackling the last section of the design!  This is one of my Crazy January Challenge projects:

Here's how it looked back on 10 January
How it looked at the end of last weekend
How it looks now - a day in bed stitching in my PJs was worthwhile!

Last Monday I received an absolutely awesome ornie from my good friend Carol for our HoE Lizzie*Kate ornie exchange.  I love the reason why Carol chose to stitch this one, as moose are indigenous in NH this is a wonderful personalised ornie with a taste of Carol’s home.  I absolutely love it, and the stitching and finishing are as always perfect!  Thank again Carol for another fantabulous exchange that I will treasure! 😀  I apologise in advance for the quality of all the photos today, as they had to be taken with my iPhone thanks to a flat camera battery that I just keep forgetting to charge up!  Sadly moose ornie didn’t come up at all well on the iPhone 😦

My Lizzie*Kate ornie exchange received from Carol - I love it!

I also heard a while back that Joke had received the ornie I had sent to her – unfortunately I was late in posting, so I sent a little extra beaded scissor fob to apologise for the delay.  I can’t remember taking a photo of the fob I sent, but you can see it in Joke’s post if you want to see it.

Lizzie*Kate ornie exchange sent to Joke

The only other thing I have to share is a wonderful surprise parcel in the mail I received from Orna Willis – I’ve been a fan of Orna’s canvaswork designs for years now, and have been a follower on her blog  since she started it up.  Orna has recently been having giveaways of thread/embellishment packs for some of her followers (just chosen randomly from the list of followers), and I was surprised one day to see my name up in lights on the blog … I had won one of the giveaways.  I just had to take a photo of the way that everything was packaged up, aren’t they lovely in their own special little tin?  I should probably take a photo of the contents separately as there are lots of little treats hiding in that tin, but I’ll do that on the day that I take them out to put them away 🙂

And that probably covers all the stitching news that I have.  Nothing else has been happening really except for work, work, and more work – it’s been quite difficult trying to close off and start pieces of work for my current job while learning my new job one day a week, plus still attending many meetings and having to teach a work colleague aspects of my job.  Hopefully after next week I’ll start getting back into a normal routine of only one job, although sadly 2 hours travelling time each day will probably eat most of my week’s stitching time that I normally have … it just means that I’ll have to plan my weekends so I can at least get ‘some’ stitching in every weekend 🙂

One great thing about working in the city now, though, is that last Wednesday after work I wandered over to the city swimming pool and did a workout in the hydrotherapy pool.  My leg has been giving me a lot of pain lately so I knew I needed to make an effort to get those exercises happening again – and by the time I was ready to get on the train most of the peak hour people had gone home already … mind you, it meant not getting home until 9pm but what the heck, it felt good! 😉

Home & Family TO BE FIXED

“It won’t happen overnight, but it WILL happen”

And so went the words of the Pantene shampoo advert … which has been very true of the latest change in my life.  Many of you may remember that I applied for a new job about a month ago … well, after two interviews and a skills test it turns out that the words are in fact correct … it didn’t happen overnight, but this week I found out that it DID happen!!

Which means that the last few days have seen me going rapidly from this:

(which is supposed to display the emotion “excited” haha)

to this:

(yep, that is definitely a “scared” emotion happening there!)

And pretty much every emotion inbetween!

It turns out that the delay in telling me about my acceptance is that there was another position that has become available within the same group, which is actually better than the other one that I applied for – I assume I was getting offered the other job anyway as my current boss had already had the discussion about release dates two weeks ago now, but since then this other opportunity came up (which I was offered) and I get to continue using my current airline experience with the new role while still getting the opportunity to learn new ones.  This makes the transition even easier because I have the comfort level of not just a bunch of people that I really like to work with, but also still knowing a fair bit about the business side of the position – double bonus!!

It means big changes are afoot, though, as I will no longer be able to hop to work in the car (I currently live and work relatively close to the airport), sadly it means having to do public transport once again and do the daily commute into the city each day.  But even here there are large bonuses – being within 5-10 minutes walk from Darling Harbour and being able to get back into hydrotherapy at the city pool will be awesome – not to mention more places to buy lunch and socialise with people from work that I already love to bits.  I’ll be honest and say it’s not my perfect job, but then again the one I’m doing now isn’t either, but the benefits of this new job far outweigh the negatives and it’ll be really nice to have a work challenge to get the brain active once more!

The funny thing is that I actually wasn’t job hunting at all, ‘cos I was kinda settled in my current job and relatively happy – but one of the Managers I’ve worked with a lot from that side of the business called me to tell me about it and recommended that I apply.  I figured what the heck, it doesn’t hurt, and it’s the first time I’ve actually been tempted by a new job that much … and I guess the rest is history!

We’ve also just heard that one other team member from our team has just got a new job as well, plus we’ve got one new team member who’s only been with us for a week, so I’m thinking they’ll be playing pretty tough on a release date, but I’m happy with that … it’s just nice to know it’s all over now and I don’t have to stress waiting for that ‘call back’.  It may mean longer hours at work and less time for relaxation at home but that just means that I have to work harder to ensure I keep that work/life balance happening and spend my free time more wisely … and the extra $8,000 a year they’re willing to pay me won’t go astray either ;P

So, there you go … that’s the major news for the week … it’s all a bit exciting, and frightening, and joyous, and terrifying, and … I can’t wait! 😀

Food, Home & Family TO BE FIXED, Jeffery Deaver

On cloud 9 … but slowly returning to earth

I just had to post again while I’m on this ridiculous high that I’m currently on!  I’ve just returned home after spending the afternoon at Jeffery Deaver’s book launch/signing … and oh what an exceptional day it’s been!  I can’t tell you just how amazing it was – I signed up for this day on a whim, as I only found out about it on Friday morning and only just barely managed to gain a spot at a table, I think because I was going on my own.  Anyway, I’m so very glad that I did!

I used to do so many things on my own when I was in Auckland, and to some extent in Melbourne – I was always on the go out and about seeing new sights and experiencing new wonders, and really appreciating my surroundings.  The last 12-18 months, however, I’ve been in a bit of an emotional bubble for many reasons that I won’t go into here.  Today, though, it reminded me of the days that I used to hop in the car and go out and do things that were new … and oh my goodness did I love it!  Perhaps it’s been the kick in the pants that I’ve really needed, a reminder that I shouldn’t hold myself back from doing things I enjoy just because other people don’t share the same interests – I actually enjoy my own company, and am finding my self-confidence once again … watch out world, I think she just may be back again!!

Today I dropped my car off at our work car park so I could avoid at least one bus trip, then hopped on a train into the city – on arrival I popped quickly up to the nearest Dymocks bookstore to pick up a new copy of The Bone Collector, and also picked up a copy of Jeffery’s new 007 novel (Carte Blanche) as it was on sale (yippee!).  I then wandered back to the awfully swanky Four Seasons Hotel at Circular Quay and immediately jumped into the queue to have my two books signed by Jeffery.  What a true gentleman he is – he spent quite a lot of time chatting to each person while signing books for us all – I felt like a little schoolgirl at her first concert, and was quite awe-struck to be in such a literary great’s presence!

After the books were signed, I grabbed a glass of champagne and watched the crowds for a few minutes before heading into the ballroom to my table.  I sat next to a lovely older (retired) lady called Pam (I actually may have been a good candidate for the youngest member of the audience in my middle-aged ‘youth’) and we chatted throughout the whole meal.  Lunch was delectable, and the main course consisted of pan-fried barramundi (fish) on a bed of roasted kipfler potatoes with green beans and fresh tomato salsa, followed by dessert of cognac white chocolate log with raspberry coulis, and finished off with freshly brewed coffee and hand-made chocolates, and washed down with a further glass of McWilliams Semillon Sauvignon Blanc … ah bliss, I do love me a good gourmet meal!!  Sadly I hadn’t learnt how to use my iPhone camera yet, and totally screwed up my mains photo … oh well, c’est la vie!

279356_10150236507228148_704798147_7508930_3996054_o 272964_10150236508253148_704798147_7508939_1373444_o

While dessert was being served Jeffery was introduced then spent the next 50 minutes enthralling us with his wonderful tales on how he writes his books, and the joy of bringing James Bond’s character to life in his latest book.  He really is a very witty presenter, as you would expect from such a literary genius, and we were kept entertained the entire time.  At the end of his speech he returned to the foyer for more book signings, and I decided to purchase one final book and have it signed (greedy little git that I am!), and asked if I could be awfully rude and have a photo taken with him.  He was a real sport and found one of the assistants to help us out, then I crouched down next to him for a quick photo – and that was the final touch to an already exceptional day, with photographic proof of this historic event.


In my teens I used to read the old Mills & Boons romance novels and other such books (mainly because I could read an entire book during a good soaking in the bathtub), but as I matured I very quickly moved away from the ‘girlie’ books and became a fan of such authors as Wilbur Smith (mainly the Courtenay family novels), Stephen King, and the like, before finding a love for Patricia D Cornwell novels … since then I’ve never looked back and often pick up a thriller or forensic book ahead of other genres.  A work colleague and friend loaned me The Bone Collector about 11-12 years ago to try reading, and I was hooked!  The Lincoln Rhyme series of books are second to none in terms of fast pace, wonderful characters, and multiple twists at the end of the book that leave you guessing right up until the last chapter, and often the last pages – if you haven’t tried one yet, and enjoy thrillers, I can certainly recommend this series … mind you, I have some of  his Kathryn Dance novels as audiobooks to try those out too … and of course I now have two standalone (ie non-series) books to read too – “The Edge” and “007 Carte Blanche” 😀

Wow, I think it’s been a long time since I’ve written on here with a feeling of such enthusiasm – let’s hope it remains … even if I’m not stitching 😉

Food, Home & Family TO BE FIXED, recipes

Practising the art of Procrastination


Today I heard from the recruitment coordinator that I have passed the first culling stage of applicants for the job I applied for a few weeks ago.  I also heard today that I have to complete my interview either today or tomorrow – considering I have to travel into the city for it, I opted for tomorrow … a bit crappy that they give an entire 24 hours notice, me thinks.  Oh well, tonight I’ve decided to fine-tune my understanding of the word “procrastination” and trying not to think about it, because I know when I do I’m going to get myself into a tangled stressed little knot and stuff up the interview tomorrow … the best interview I’ve ever done is one I went totally unprepared for and did everything off the cuff.  Not that I’ll be quite that bad tomorrow, but I’m seriously not going to do much prep whatsoever – I’d like the job, but I’m quite happy where I am on the whole, so I’m not stressing out if I don’t get it (and actually doubt that I will get it – perhaps another reason I’m not tying myself into knots!).  I guess one thing is that if they’re in a rush to complete all the interviews this week, that perhaps we’ll be put out of our miseries quickly too and get the results promptly … one thing I do know, though is … “que sera sera … whatever will be will be …” 😀

In the meantime I’ve been chasing away the wintry weather blues with a nice big pot of home-made Minestrone Soup … especially warming and inviting with 1 1/2 cups of red wine poured into it haha.  It is truly very rich, and truly very delicious, and a recipe I ended up having to copy for Mum ‘cos she loved it so much when she was here … I have to admit with all the cold weather we’ve been having this week it was perfect to come home to a pan of soup that just needed heating through, and will continue to keep me happy for the rest of the week! 😀

If anyone’s interested, here’s the recipe – along with a piccie of tonight’s dinner bowl:



1 cup dried kidney beans (I actually use tinned kidney beans instead)
3 rashers bacon (I sometimes omit totally and use a bit of olive oil instead – and sometimes I chop the bacon up and add to the soup after it’s cooked)
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
7 cups beef stock
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 small carrots, scraped and diced
½ cup courgettes, sliced
½ cup celery, chopped (including some of the leaves)
1 tablespoon dried basil
4 large tomatoes, peeled and seeded (this batch I cheated for the first time and used a tin of crushed tomatoes)
1 cup shredded cabbage
1½ cups red or white wine
½ cup macaroni or star pasta
salt and pepper
grated lemon rind
grated parmesan cheese

Soak the dried kidney beans in 2 cups water overnight.  In a large saucepan fry the bacon until crisp.  Remove the cracklings and reserve them (this is actually in the recipe, but nowhere in the recipe does it state what to do with them after they’ve been reserved … in fact it doesn’t say what to do with ANY of the bacon, so sometimes I plop them into a sandwich to make an old-fashioned British “Bacon Sarnie” and at other times I chop it up and leave it in the soup for some added goodness).  In the fat remaining in the saucepan gently fry the onions, coarsely chopped, until they are golden.  Add the beef stock to the onions, add the soaked and drained beans together with the crushed cloves of garlic.  Simmer beans gently for about an hour or until cooked (or obviously less if you’re using tinned kidney beans).

In another saucepan heat the olive oil and add the potatoes, peeled and diced, the carrots, scraped and diced, the courgettes, sliced, the celery including some of the leaves, chopped, and the dried basil.  Cook the vegetables for a few minutes, stir in the tomatoes, peeled and seeded, and the shredded cabbage.  Mix well.

Add the vegetables to the beans and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.  Stir in the wine and the macaroni or star-shaped pasta and cook a further 15 minutes.  Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle it with a mixture of grated lemon rind and chopped parsley.  Serve with grated parmesan cheese (truthfully I never bother with the lemon rind, parsley or parmesan cheese, as it’s rich enough without it).

Serves 10-12

Home & Family TO BE FIXED

New blog address

Just in case you want to update your bookmarks (if you have one), I’ve updated my blog URL to more accurately reflect the blog name – I think there’s a redirect in place already and should be in place for a while yet, but just in case this blog ever drops off the face of the earth, you can find it at:


And that’s all from me for now … getting over a bout of gastric bugs and a throw-up migraine, so not feeling too chatty … can’t even say I’ve been stitching since Sunday either – never mind, I’m sure those needles will be flying once again soon enough 🙂

And the only other news to share is that I went to the Sydney craft show on Friday with my best stitching pals Amanda and Alison, and had a BLAST!!  I think it was the best day out at the shows we’ve had yet … always a laugh and a giggle, and for once no budget for moi, although even so I didn’t do too much damage to the wallet.  Once I’ve charged up my camera battery I’ll take a photo of my craft show spoils 🙂

And the last bit of news is that I have applied for a new job at work – highly unlikely that I’ll get it, but I figure it will be good experience for the whole interview experience … if I don’t get it, it’s fine, ‘cos I enjoy my current job on the whole really, but if I do get it it will be a big challenge work-wise and might limit stitching time even more – either way I’ll be happy 🙂

So much for not being chatty, huh? 😛

Cross Stitch, Home & Family TO BE FIXED, New South Wales, Stash, Travel, Travel - Australia

Road Trip – Day 1

Our entire plan for our road trip was to just keep driving until we felt like stopping, figuring it was the middle of winter and most motels would have vacancy signs up – I had a list of places that I really wanted to visit, but all the bits inbetween were totally open to suggestion.

The first leg of our journey was to drive down the scenic coast highway to Kiama – with a couple of detours along the way.  The first detour was that I wanted to drive through the Royal National Park and see Wattamolla, as it had been recommended to me.  It was a lovely drive on an early wintry morning.  It was deserted at Wattamolla, so I opted not to take the bushwalk over to the beach, and instead just explored the area around the carpark – I think I’ll definitely have to return again in better weather and explore further afield.

After Wattamolla we headed over to the coast, and had a pit stop at Bald Hill Lookout where we were greeted with a treat of seeing some tandem hang-gliders … watching them getting ready for launch really brought back memories of when I did this myself in Queenstown, NZ.  It was a real treat, although the wind chill up at the top of that hill was really bitterly cold.  Mum was very wise choosing to stay in the car while I popped out for 1/2 and hour and took photos … then came back and attacked her with my cold hands to share the love LOL.  My Mum would never fail to do that to me growing up, the evil sod she is, so it was time for some payback haha.

We eventually followed the coast past Woollongong and on to Kiama, where we were really fortunate that the wintry weather and high winds meant that the blowhole was performing quite well – it’s really difficult to get good photos of the immense spray of water that plumes high in the air, but we were intrigued by it and stood there for quite some time watching the spectacle and taking in all that lovely sea air.

After Kiama we continued to follow the coast road and had lunch at Shellharbour beach – we were well prepared with some sandwiches and snacks readily made up with a lovely thermos of coffee … there are definitely some benefits of taking your own car from home!  I really loved the mosaics on the walls of the local public toilets (of all places), and we enjoyed watching the local surfers attacking the surf before we headed off on the road once again.

Our final sightseeing stop for the day was to make a quick visit to Berry, a picturesque village that has a relatively good needlework store (our key reason to visit Berry).  While we were browsing in Sew and Tell, we ran into our good friend Amanda so we had extra time to catch up while we continued to wander through the various stitching stock.  We bought a couple of things, mainly some JABC buttons for Christmas ornaments, plus a couple of Mill Hill ornie kits, some replacement Qsnap snaps and Mum bought a wee Lizzie*Kate chart.  We didn’t find a great deal of items that we really wanted buy (perhaps a sad realisation that your stash is already out of control?!), but at least we can say that we’ve finally been!  We also wandered around a couple more shops while we were there, then decided it was time to hit the road again as it was starting to get late.

By the time we reached Nowra, it was getting quite dark, and we figured it was a good place to stop … unfortunately we had trouble here finding a motel on the main road, finally resorting to one we found in a little side street … O.M.G. is all I can say here!!!  The damned motel should be condemned!  I have now learnt to ask to see a room if you’re unsure of the room quality before they swipe your credit card!!  You couldn’t sit on the sofa because it was falling apart (literally!), the toilet didn’t flush properly, and there was no hot water running through any of the taps (guess who just had a strip wash the next morning … neither of us were brave enough to attempt a cold shower).  The only good thing about it is that the beds themselves seemed OK and clean … and it turned out to be the only motel that actually had internet access the entire week we were away!  While I had internet access, though, we tracked down the address of the local NRMA office so we could go and pick up an accommodation guide … worth every cent of the $20 book cost!!

I’ll continue on with Days 2 and 3 together shortly …

Animals & Insects, Home & Family TO BE FIXED, Sydney, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Travel

Mum’s visit continued

Before mum and I headed south for our big road trip, we headed into the city and took a ferry over to Sydney Zoo – we were lucky that the rain held off while we were out, though sadly the downturn in weather was just the start of what was yet to come for the rest of our holidays. I took quite a few photos that day, so here are just a handful of my favourites – especially the view of Sydney cityscape from the Zoo, what a stunning view that is!

Sydney Ferry Terminal, Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Part of the historic Rocks area of Sydney

A view of Sydney Opera House from the water



Above are a small selection of animals on display:
Giraffes, Bongo (antelope), Striped Lemur, Lioness,
Red Tree Kangaroo, Gorillas, Otters, Meerkat

One of the main drawcards of Sydney Zoo at the moment is the little baby elephants – and they sure are cute to watch while they’re playing! 😀

We had a lovely day out – and now, after more than 3 years, we can say we’ve seen Sydney Zoo!  Mum was a bit embarrassed at seeing the otters being very voyeuristic by attempting to increase the otter population in full view of the viewing window … 😉

The next morning we headed over to Alison’s for a stitching day with my some of my closest Sydney pals – then on Sunday we jumped in the car at the crack of dawn to commence our week-long road trip.  Thankfully I’d already investigated a shuddering steering wheel the week earlier, and found a bulging tyre so after having that replaced we were ready to rock and roll and hit the highway safely 🙂