Week one of Mum’s visit

Oh my goodness, has it been almost one week already since Mum has gone home?  Luckily she got her flight home just before flights were grounded due to volcanic ash cloud sent over from Chile (although I wouldn’t have complained if her stay was extended, as it was all over all too quickly as it is!).  This trip has been one of the fastest ones ever, perhaps because we were “on the go” all the time without a great deal of time to just chill out and relax (although we still did do plenty of that each day).

One of the first stops on Mum’s visit was to have a lovely cooked breakfast at Omero’s on the Beach … followed by an hour just sitting on a park beach on the beach and watching the world (and the local birdlife) go by … it was a lovely start to the holidays!

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P1040654It still never ceases to give me a thrill to see pelicans on the local beaches!

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Mum arrived in time to celebrate her 75th birthday, and we went out to Larousse French Restaurant in Brighton-le-Sands … I’m a huge fan of French cooking, their prices are reasonable and atmosphere cosy and friendly.  They also have the BEST Crème brûlée I’ve had since falling in love with it in Paris … probably not the best thing to fall in love with, but what the heck …  We started the evening off well, thanks to Tannia’s visit here last year, as we had a bottle of Moet champagne to crack open prior to dinner – I’d been waiting for a special occasion to open it, so this was the perfect celebration.

The next two days I worked, but on my first day off Mum and I hit the shops, starting with a couple of places in Alexandria I’ve been wanting to go to for a while – unfortunately roadworks made one shop impossible to get to (a kitchen warehouse shop), but I did manage a brief visit into The Remnant Warehouse where I picked up a Christmas quilting fabric for both Mum and I and some chiffon fabric for a work top – I also had to make a return visit to the sales counter when I spied a lavender blue dupioni silk on the way out the door, which I’m hoping will match my Quaker Friendship Book by With My Needle (I haven’t checked yet!).

We finished up with a trip to Dan Murphy’s … every Aussie’s favourite booze shop.  The first time I ever visited a Dan Murphy’s store in Melbourne I remember saying “oh my, I’ve died and gone to heaven” … to this day we still refer to it as ‘heaven’.  Never in all my life have I seen such an incredible array of alcohol under one roof – aisle after aisle of imported and local wines, beers and spirits make it my absolute favourite ‘adult supermarket’ 😉

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I can’t truthfully remember what we did over the next week (which has nothing to do with consuming the shopping from Dan Murphy’s!), except I remember it included some housework (always a topic I try to forget immediately after doing it!), a wee spot of cooking on my part and a fair bit of relaxing with stitching in hand (of which you’ve already seen the finishes).

The next ‘big day out’ was to spend a day at Sydney Zoo which was a first-time visit for both Mum and I … but that’ll have to be the subject of the next post! 🙂

Quick drive-by posting

The last few weeks have been absolutely mental at work – another project that hasn’t gone as well as planned thanks to an unstable testing platform, code not delivered as planned, and another department totally not delivering their side of the requirements.  Testing is supposed to take 2 weeks, this time it took the entire month of February … and I’m sure I don’t need to say how much I was “over it” by the end!!  But thankfully March is now here, and testing is mostly behind me … except now I have to do more to help out the other department now they’re implementing their side of it … pfffft.

Alas that means there hasn’t been much motivation to do anything other than sleep in my spare time, and not much stitching.  Then when I did do some stitching both my camera batteries died … and I lost my Lumix charger.  The charger turned up a few days ago, then I lost my memory card … I decided to just buy a cheap replacement online (and found a store by doing so that offers really healthy discounts on top brand cards!!), then of course found the original one stuck in the front of the computer this morning … after I had checked there the other night!  Oh well, I needed a spare anyway, and now I have loads and loads of memory on the cards for my next holidays 😀

That also means I’ve managed to take a couple of quick snaps this morning – even if they’re not great quality in the overcast morning light, here is my current stitching update … one finish and one work in progress:

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“He’s a Flake” by Little House Needleworks
stitched on 32ct hand-dyed Belfast linen by Countrystitch ~ colour Kina
with recommended threads (Crescent Colours and DMC)

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WIP – “Joyeux Noel” by The Drawn Thread
(I’m using DMC 3865 instead of 739 for the snow etc for more contrast on the fabric)

I would have done more stitching on Wednesday night, but at 7pm I remembered I was supposed to bake for morning tea the next day, so chose something I’d never done before that was a bit of a challenge (including making my own pastry, which I haven’t done for years!).  Alas it took me all night (literally) and 1 1/2 hours the next morning to get everything finished, but I was just ‘in the mood’ for kitchen time, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  If I get chance, I’ll post the recipes later – the Orange Liqueur Chocolate Tartlets went down an absolute treat!  Anyway, here are the results:

Cheese-Crisps
Cheese Crisps (with Havarti & Basil filling)
(these are only about 1.5cm in diameter … like little cheesy burgers
for Ken and Barbie! LOL – and for me very more-ish!!)

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Orange Liqueur Chocolate Tartlets (simply divine!)

On a health side, I’ve been going to Physio twice a week since last week, and had my first hydrotherapy session on Wednesday – hopefully it will help to loosen up my lower back and stop the knee pains … when it gets really bad, unfortunately the pain keeps me awake at night – and it’s been the worst lately when spending long hours in the office 😦

And on that note I really should get my A into G and get my carcass into that office – today I have a meeting with our Occupational Health & Safety assessor to find out if my employer will cough up for a new chair for me … otherwise I’m going shopping to buy myself one.  Not quite the most exciting of shopping, but a very worthwhile investment if I do have to do it myself! 🙂

The week that was

Alas, it’s been a very loooong week workwise, so not much stitching at all has been done, and not much of anything else.  I had a couple of 9pm finishes at work, then got sick on Thursday and haven’t been firing on all cylinders since.  My leg has been giving me a lot of pain lately, but after 2 months being on a waiting list for physio, I FINALLY have an appointment tomorrow morning so I can start discussing some appropriate exercises for my back (I have some degeneration in the discs of my lower back which is causing swelling and therefore compression of the nerves … which is leading to me walking like an old lady when I get up and horrendous pains in my left knee).  Mind you, with the current heatwave back in Sydney, going to bed with an ice compress on my knee has been blissful 😉

What I did do yesterday, though, was to dust off the grime from the top of the breadmaker and threw in some flour and rolled oats into it … 4 hours later and I was able to sample the results – a very slight sweetness to it, which I’m not a huge fan of, it’s still quite a nice loaf, and it’s given me the urge to get some milk powder and other ingredients in to start sampling a few more recipes (and also therefore cleaning up another one of my 101 things in 1001 days items).  Anyway, here is the result of my Oatmeal Walnut Bread, which is one more recipe book that I can tick off the list of my 101 things (“The Bread Machine Book” by Marjie Lambert):

The only stitching I managed to do during the week was to put a few touches to Bittersweet Season – it’s really hard to pick up the metallics and beads, as my macro camera battery has died and I can’t find the charger so I’ve had to use my Nikon SLR whose Macro setting is crap … oh well, I’m halfway through adding the embellishments, which means I just have the remaining half of the pumpkin’s beads and metallics to stitch, then stitching the metallic half-moon at the top and the pumpkin stalk.

Last night I sat in the lounge and caught up on some taped TV and put a couple of stitches into this month’s ornament – this will eventually be “He’s a Flake” by LHN … sorry for the blurry picture, but there isnt’ too much to see really anway so I guess it doesn’t matter 😉

And on that note, I’m going to take a break from the PC and grab another slice of that bread to make a sandwich …

The wanderer returns

I’ve been out of town for the last week with work, spending my time in our call centre in Brisbane (Queensland).  It was grueling work, with some days being 14 hour working days, but it was really invigorating and rewarding for me personally, and the feedback I received from the staff I worked with was inspiring.  Not to mention how wonderful it was to sleep in air-conditioned comfort for 4 nights.  This was home for 5 days – and the great thing is there was a full laundry and kitchen, so aside from self-catering to keep the bills down (and healthy food to keep the weight down) I was able to do my laundry on Thursday night so I didn’t have to do it this weekend 😉

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Alas the testing didn’t quite get completed which means I have to do a bucket load more myself this week – I’d booked an RDO for this week from weeks and weeks ago stating there was no way I was going to be doing project testing on my birthday … but alas it looks like that will have to be cancelled and I will indeed be doing testing on that day (unless I put in the hard yards Mon/Tue and keep my fingers crossed both days).

Oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter really, it’s just a day, and I didn’t have anything special planned for the day anyway … the night’s different, though, Katie is treating me out for dinner on Wednesday night to a local French restaurant that I’ve been wanting to go to ever since I moved to this part of Sydney.  They have cheap mid-week set menus, and while the food certainly isn’t Weight Watchers friendly, it looks yummy and I can’t wait!!  We’re also getting a bus up as well, which means I can have a drink or three for a change 😀

I didn’t stitch at all when I was away in Brisvegas, as I was generally found glued to massive Excel spreadsheets on the laptop every night, so yesterday I refused to move from my stitching chair, and cleaned out all the TV recordings from last week (and believe me, there was a LOT) – I may have had numb-butt syndrome, but I did manage to put the finishing touches into this (just don’t ask me when the actual needleroll finishing will be taking place, ‘cos I think that’ll be some time away yet!).

Shepherds Bush-Happy Pumpkin Needle Roll

“Happy Pumpkin Needle Roll” by Shepherd’s Bush
stitched on 32ct Parkside (I think) hand-dyed linen by Silkweaver
with recommended threads
(I subbed my own button and beads as this was a 2nd-hand used chart)

Today I’m driving to the other side of Sydney to Concord for my first visit to a stitching group at the NSW Embroiderers Guild.  I signed up when Mum was over here when I was feeling really motivated about my stitching, but of course they closed over the summer holiday period and this month it is finally reopened again properly so this is the first opportunity I’ve had to pop on over.  I’ve found two groups that are mainly XSers that meet on the 2nd and 3rd Sundays of each month, so I phoned up and found out they both had spaces available … and today is my first visit to the first group.  I’m feeling extremely nervous, as I’m very shy meeting new people, but this is something I just need to push through and get over!  Hopefully it will turn out that I really enjoy it, and it gets me out of the house every once in a while 🙂

Trip for Mill Hill bugle beads

I managed to find the exact bugle beads that I needed from our local Spotlight store (I nearly fainted on the spot when I found them!) … of course I went to two different shops first, thinking I might find them there – no bugle beads came home with me from those, but a couple of other extras jumped into my bag oops …

I picked up three whole beads plus a small packet of Swarovski crystals (that I thought I’d use instead of the MH ones for my Sapphire Star ornie) from my local uber-expensive bead shop.  Then I picked up a couple of trims/ribbon from Pitt Trading (but when I just opened the package noticed that they only gave me 1/2 metre of the pink/red plush one instead of the 1 1/2 metres that I asked for … bugger).  Finally from Spotlight I scored a skein of DMC that I needed thanks to mislaying my current one who knows where, plus some bias binding and some ‘mustard’ coloured fabrics to make a toaster cover for my elderly neighbour … and just a couple of 20cm cuts of different shades of pink fabric to finish off some Valentines ornies/cushions (although I can’t guarantee they’ll be done this year LOL).

I wouldn’t have gone out shopping today if it wasn’t for my good friend Alison texting to say she was in the neighbourhood for lunch – while I missed lunch (thanks to not getting the message until later), I did manage to catch up over a coffee at the local pub … it was a lovely unexpected pleasure for the afternoon catching up with the three generations 😀

Free day Thursday

I decided to have an extra loooong weekend, and have taken today and tomorrow off work … next week starts our next round of project testing which normally means really long hours and a lot of grey hair at work, so I figured I’d take it easy for a couple of days beforehand before the mental onslaught begins.  It also means I’ll by heading out of town in a week’s time to do project testing in our Queensland call centre – our fingers are crossed that the flooding stays contained to ensure we can get through the workload that we are planning to get through!  It’s really sad to see so much devastation and personal loss on the news each day in Queensland, and I know a few people that work for my employers have lost everything … it really makes you appreciate everything that you have, that’s for sure!

Anyway, I thought I’d take some time out to complete the ABC’s of me that seems to be doing the blog rounds … mainly because it’s just too bloody hot to stitch at the moment, even with sitting smack bang in front of the electric fan – it just makes you have no energy to do anything at all.  Today is apparently 30C with 72% humidity … thankfully it isn’t quite as hot as it was yesterday, but quite frankly it’s hot enough for me, in fact too hot!  I could quite easily migrate to Siberia during Sydney’s summer months, I absolutely hate it here in summer … give me the moderate temperatures of winter any day!!! 😉

A – Age: 44 (about to add another year very very soon)
B – Bed size: Queen
C – Chore you hate: Pretty much all of ’em, isn’t that why they’re called “chores”??  If I had to choose one I guess it would be ironing … but then there’s the dusting … and … and … 😉
D – Dog’s name: Don’t have one, but I sure do WANT one! 😀
E – Essential start of the day item: Coffee (especially Mon-Fri!!) – and preferably a skinny cappuccino (yum)
F – Favorite color: Blue
G – Gold or Silver: Definitely gold – don’t “do” silver much at all
H – Height: 5’4″ (165cm)
I – Instruments you play: Used to the play the recorder, and the viola at High School very very badly – probably couldn’t read sheet music now!
J – Job: Business Analyst for an international airline
K – Kids: None
L – Living arrangements: Renting with a female friend/work colleague
M – Music you love: I have very eclectic tastes … ranging from AC/DC to Baroque classical, REM to the Beatles
N – Nicknames: Annie, Shacks, Shakatak … and my nickname from Mum growing up was “Butch”, until we moved to New Zealand and my Mum had it explained what “Butch” meant in slang terms … I’m no longer called Butch!  Although another term of endearment from Mum was “Pesty” … I’m pretty sure she DOES love me, but one would wonder with those nicknames! 😛
O – Overnight hospital: Tonsillectomy in my early 30’s and Gall bladder removal in my late 30’s/early 40’s (the date escapes me)
P – Pet Peeve: Impatient drivers and disrespectful people … plus add lying into the mix as well
Q – Quote from a movie: “No harm ever came from reading a book!”  (The Mummy)
R – Right handed or left: Right
S – Siblings: None
T – Time you wake up: About 30 minutes after my eyes open (I’m NOT a morning person)
U – Underwear: Sensible (too old and buxom for anything else)
V – Vegetable you dislike: Boiled cabbage and okra – otherwise everything is fair game
W – Workout Style: Tae Bo when I’m fit enough to get back into it again
X – X-rays you’ve had: Dental, back, legs, head, spine
Y – Yummy food you make: Onion Dip (Kiwi style – mix a can of reduced cream with Kiwi onion dip mix and a tablespoon of lemon juice/vinegar … the Aussies at work go crazy for it, which makes it easy for shared morning teas!)
Z – The best place to visit: OK, this is a tough one … Paris and Greece are at the top of my list so far, but so many other places have also left wonderful impressions too … but yeah, I guess Paris and Greece are outstanding in that regard

The only stitching update I can give you is from a couple of nights ago – whoopee to the progress is all I can say haha … and now I’m going to attempt to thread a needle and pop a few stitches into a Christmas ornie and see how long I last in this heat … don’t expect miracles, is all I can say 😛

Although I guess there is a bit of progress in this one since the “before” picture from the Crazy January challenge:

January Challenge – Days 11 & 12

I had a huge post underway as a vent about work due to some very hurtful things that were said to me today, but I have decided to leave it sitting in draft and just use it as an unpublished venting platform.  I am, however, in the process of removing pretty much all of my work colleagues from my FB friends list, with one particularly vindictive, childish, manipulative, power-hungry cow being the first one to be removed tonight … um, perhaps I should go back to the venting post, as there obviously appears to be more in here to unleash …

Anyway, after chatting to my flatmate and best mate here about everything for 4 hours, and mulling over how to handle the FB issue, I remembered that I was supposed to be stitching … so at 10.45pm I pulled one whole strand of thread out and put a few stitches into Bent Creek’s Winter Snapperland while K watched the final few overs of the cricket.

Plus I remembered to take a quick piccie of last night’s pitiful progress (although in hindsight nowhere near as pitiful as tonight’s haha).

And on that note I guess I really should hit the hay for the tonight – after I’ve culled a few more work colleagues from FB …

January 1 and feeling good!

I feel really good that I stuck to my guns and didn’t go out last night among the thousands of people celebrating New Year’s in Sydney – I woke up this morning at 6am and feel fantastic!  Those who know me well know that that’s a minor miracle in itself, as I don’t “do” 6am’s or any early mornings particularly well … but today I just feel, well, kinda “good” about the world and everything in it 🙂

My only resolution this year is to get my health on track – I signed up for Weight Watchers (again) a couple of weeks ago just so I would have the tools to start properly again, and have been improving my diet since my return to work last Wednesday.  I’m constantly amazed at how quickly you can put a healthy meal together during the week with the help of quickly steamed veges done in the microwave with a piece of fish, chicken or steak.  My dinner last night, for example, was just a bed of mixed lettuce leaves, sliced capsicum and mini roma tomatoes, with some steamed snow peas, fresh asparagus and lightly sautéed mushrooms, topped with half a dozen sautéed scallops and a balsamic dressing … perfect and light and beautifully healthy.  I felt very virtuous just tucking my fork into it’s richly nutrient and healthy goodness! 🙂

The other good thing is that I finally have a diagnosis I can work with that is causing my leg and back pains – I am showing some degeneration and arthrosis in my lower back (I’m obviously going to look forward to some decent arthritis there in my upcoming years darn it) … that’s causing inflammation, which is causing swelling to constrict the nerves, and causing my problems elsewhere.  And because of the pains I haven’t been walking regularly etc, which means the muscle has weakened badly, so it’s a catch 22.  It means that I now need to build up the strength in my lower back and get more exercise to loosen up the discs – I have some physio sessions to book in for to help with the loosening up, then I need to get back into the gym for some gentle sessions on the bike for a while (and my return was always in the cards for early this year).  With any luck getting rid of the constant pain and stiffness will really help with my overall demeanour – but at the moment it just feels good knowing what I’m dealing with 🙂

Which brings me on to the fun part of the year … on 1-1-11 (love that date!) I guess I should be setting stitching/crafty goals for the year, so here goes … I hereby declare I will complete the following by the end of the year … hopefully … 😉

  1. Complete the Crazy January 2011 Challenge (15 new starts and finishes) – the list is up in my sidebar, along with progress bars
  2. Complete at least 24 Christmas ornaments (this might be a challenge, seeing as I didn’t even get 12 finished last year LOL)
  3. Complete another 5 projects over and above those completed in the Crazy January Challenge (can be WIPs from 2010 or new starts)
  4. Make a full-sized quilt for my bed (yikes, that will be a challenge in itself!!)
  5. Complete at least one of my UFOs
  6. Complete a non-cross stitch project (eg stumpwork, hardanger, schwalmwork)
  7. Finish-finish a minimum of 12 items (including framing, but excluding Christmas ornaments)

And that’s pretty much it for the year – it’ll be interesting to see how much got completed when I look back on 31 Dec 2011! 😀

And on that note, I think it’s time to crack open the Crazy January project bag, and pull the first project out for stitching.  I’m thinking of starting one of the smaller ones first, so that I can have an early finish … also the great thing about starting the challenge on a long weekend means I have 3 days of perfect stitching time to make a decent dent into 3 of the projects … all I have to do is work out which ones to start first!

Actually, I forgot I do have one other thing to share, which is for my Mum … here’s a comparison of my frangipani plants sitting on the balcony – please excuse the dead plants and empty pots in the bottom photo! haha.  Believe it or not these were bought at about the same time, from the same shop, and both get fed and watered at the same time … what a huge difference between the two!  I think the larger plant is getting more sun hours during the late afternoon, and seems to be thriving on it!  I do absolutely ADORE frangipani flowers, and have my fingers crossed the bigger plant will provide a few more this year (I got one whole flower last year) – I also really adore my geranium there, that was a recent addition to my plant family 🙂

Now, where’s Season 2 of Fringe to keep me entertained while I’m stitching??? 😀

Happy New Year everyone!!!

My eyelids are drooping, so I’ll be seeing the New Year in by looking at the back of my eyelids very soon – but I wanted to quickly jump on and wish everyone a very happy New Year.  Thanks for your friendship and support throughout 2010 – here’s hoping 2011 is the year where all your hopes and dreams come true (all those that are legal, anyway!).  I look forward to spending 2011 with you once again 😀

As for stitching, I don’t think I got anywhere near reaching my 2010 stitching goals, and haven’t even thought about 2011 goals yet – there’s plenty of time for that tomorrow.  Here’s how I went with my 2010 goals:

  • Complete at least 3 of my existing WIP/UFO projects (Works in Progress/UnFinished Objects) (4 WIPs and 0 UFOs completed – technically I met this goal, but really wanted to include at least 1 UFO in there) smiley: embarassed
  • Complete at least 10 projects in the kits/charts stash pile (21 completed)
  • Complete at least 12 Christmas ornaments (minor fail with only 11 completed) smiley: embarassed
  • Complete the finishing of at least 12 items – either framing or actual finishing (excludes Christmas ornaments)  (12 completed from my ‘old’ finishing pile, plus 4 pillows with new Halloween/pumpkin finishes) 
  • Start at least one EGA correspondence class project (please note I didn’t say “finish” here LOL) (started “Gracie” stumpwork GCC) 

In hindsight, I actually did well with my goals, and met all of them except for the Christmas ornaments.  And to finish off the year, here’s a pictorial sampling of all those 2010 finishes 😀

Christmas festivities

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas Day in whatever way you chose to celebrate the day – and for those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a good holiday day.

I left home on Christmas Eve and spent Christmas Day and Boxing Day with my closest friends here in Sydney, Brenda and Nigel, and we had a wonderful time.  We didn’t over-eat as much as previous years, which was great.  Nigel spoiled us, as he always does, by cooking us Eggs Benedict for a late breakfast (which Brenda and I washed down with a mini bottle of bubbly each).  We then skipped lunch and saved ourselves for our Christmas feast of baked ham, boiled baby potatoes, sliced beans fresh from the garden, peas, and the most succulent turkey I’ve ever had – topped off with Nigel’s famous pavlova for dessert.  My contribution was at Brenda’s request – I brought all the ingredients to make Sangria and Brenda and I polished off two jugfuls of it throughout Christmas Day (Nigel doesn’t drink, which always means more for us!).  We both adored the recipe I chose, which can be found on the Taste.com.au website.

It was a very hot and humid day here in Sydney, so we ate our evening meal outside (along with their favourite next door neighbours who joined us for dinner) – I enjoyed it immensely until Nigel spied a huge spider … and I mean HUGE!!! … sitting on the fence by the table. I only needed to look once at its massive long legs hanging over the top of the fence and I was outta my chair quicker than a speeding bullet.  Even Nigel said it was probably the biggest spider he’s ever seen, and when he tried to get closer to it it tried to bite him with its big fangs … I finally decided I couldn’t handle it any longer even hiding behind Brenda’s chair, and I cleared the table and did the dishes – then ate my dessert inside on my own!  That’s one bit of company I did NOT want to share my time with on Christmas Day (or any day for that matter) – thankfully Brenda and Nigel know what I’m like so they weren’t offended in the slightest, and it got most of the dishes done early LOL.

After the neighbours left for the night we settled in for a bit more TV and DVD viewing – that’s all we did the entire two days I was there … it was sheer bliss!!  A highlight was watching the New Zealand movie “Boy” – we really loved it. We also watched a Billy T James DVD that my best friend Vicki had sent over for my birthday from last year – we really did have a kiwi-fied Christmas with all our viewing choices! I even managed to get some stitching done – I worked on my Valentine Bird then realised I’d left one thread colour at home, so then I picked up a Halloween ornie to start, and yesterday I managed to finish them both off while sat in front of the gogglebox at home watching season 1 of Fringe. I’ll add a separate post shortly with the stitching finishes, but this is the progress I made on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

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Brenda brought tears to my eyes when I opened my Christmas gift from them – she had hand-painted a ceramic plate especially for me, and engraved it on the back with our names and date. I am incredibly touched by this gift by the simple fact that I know she doesn’t do these types of gifts for people often these days and the amount of effort that goes into each and every piece. This is one gift I will treasure always, I truly adore it!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, hand made gifts are the BEST! 😀

I forgot to mention that I drove over to Brenda and Nigel’s on Christmas Eve, and at about 9pm we went out driving to see the lights and nativity at the ‘local’ Mormon church – it was really lovely wandering around the lit up gardens, and while I’m not religious it was really nice to see the life-size nativity scene created for those who celebrate.

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We then finished off by driving round the local neighbourhood to visit a couple of Christmas displays that people have put up – there were very few houses decorated with lights this year compared to past years, I think the steep jump in electricity costs has taken a toll (I know ours jumped up $100 from one bill to the next from $157 to $257, and that was before “electric fan season” had started!).

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The highlight for me, though, was a home where the occupants section off parts of their home just for Christmas to have window displays for visitors to look at – how awesome is this? They’re a lovely retired couple who stand outside every night throughout December to welcome visitors and have a chat … just wonderful, and really brought the warm fuzzies of Christmas cheer into my heart that evening 🙂

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