Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas rundown....

We had a really good christmas here at 'a house in the country', the weather was kind, not too hot but lovely and sunny. Christmas day saw us heading down the road (80kms) to our eldest daughters.


 


 ..the kids had their own table and entertained us with their mischief and wit, mostly from the teenagers and mostly from the teenage boy...


I managed to get the photos I wanted of Mum and Dad although they didn't stay for long, Mum was far too restless and disorientated....



I shall treasure this one taken by our daughter, it's a lovely shot of Mum, Dad and I...


it was hot enough for lots of this during the afternoon, uncles, dads and almost step-dads all become kids again when there's a pool to bomb and jump into, especially when they can manage to splash those sitting on the decks. little cousins just can't resist the urge to push a big cousin in....


..the American (on the left) had his first Aussie christmas and admitted that it just didn't feel like christmas but he was trying his best to enjoy it...!! by the looks of things, he did.. :o)



 
 there were lots of these to cool me down whilst sitting next to the pool and apparently....


..I'm ambidextrous as I can hold my reindeer beer and play with my camera at the same time...pretty clever huh? :o) 






 Boxing day saw everyone at 'a house in the country' and the giant bubble containers I had put in the kids stockings came out to play in the sunshine...


the kids had a ball blowing bubbles and when the containers were empty filled them from my dishwashing liquid...!! A drop of cooking oil, a small amount of dishwashing liquid, topped up with water and it works fine...


left to right...Caitlin, Sam and Eden lined up making giant bubbles...



bubbles in the roses and...


 
 ...bubbles in the air...


our son-in-law surprised our eldest daughter with a DSLR for christmas, needless to say she was thrilled and now I seem to be getting caught on the other side of the lens...  :o)







Dad checking out the wonders of digital and....

...another of Mum and I taken by our daughter again.... These photographs and memories from Sunday and Monday are even more precious as Mum was admitted to the aged care dementia ward of the hospital on Tuesday night/early hours of Wednesday morning. They've done a barrage of tests and at this stage they think she may have had a mini stroke, tomorrow she is being assessed for long term high level care. Dad and I will be there to hold her hand even though she doesn't know me at all now...


 I almost forgot to show you the railway man's gift finished and framed.... ..forgive the light reflection, I had it stashed at Millrose and took the photograph there before I brought it home. he was suitable impressed and loves it, it now lives on our lounge room wall and looks beautiful if I do blow my own trumpet :o) as do these I must say... ...they were a last minute gift for our sons-in-law, the American of course was the recipient of the stars and stripes and the Brit received the union jacks, both were very pleased and both loved them which is always nice when you're giving hand made gifts to men...they look so good on my chesterfield that I might just have to make some for me, some southern cross ones too for good old Aus....


it's nice to be able to sit and blog again without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else, the quiet time between christmas and new year hasn't been quite as calm as it usually is for me, running up and down to see Mum and Dad has taken it's toll and I'm tired this week so I'm taking it easy between trips. I'll be back early next week as I've got a little new year giveaway for you but you have to own an iPhone and it has to be a 4, so if you do, keep watching...


wishing you all, friends near and far, friends old and new, a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous 2012, may you achieve everything you wish for yourself.....
XXX

Friday, 23 December 2011

It's coming on christmas.....



Once again, the house is dressed and smells of christmas.......
gingerbread, cinnamon and cloves, the christmas lilies with their sweet perfume, new mown grass (the railway man cut it today), the warm breeze blowing in through the open windows and doors. Summer has finally arrived at this house in the country just in time for christmas.....


presents are wrapped beneath the tree and Miss Molly is behaving and not trying to eat them :o) The last minute secret sewing is finished, food is in the 'fridge, the turkey and ham hides in the darkness waiting for christmas morning, cakes and pies, shortbread, fudge, cookies and pavlova done and waiting to star, drinks waiting for the corks to be popped.


the railway man has six days off work so he gets to enjoy the whole celebration this year. We will spend christmas day at our eldest daughters with three of our four children and their partners, there will be six of our grandchildren from 6 to nearly 16 to entertain us with their singing, jokes, antics and love, lots of hugs and kisses for this nana. boxing day our home will be full of family and friends, chilling out with good friends, great food and wine...how much better could it get.......


did I tell you that I love christmas...?  :o)


so, from my family...........
































...to yours...









...from my country....


...to yours, however you say it...




Buon Natale,  Joyeux Noël,  Frohe Weihnachten,
 God jul, Vrolijk kerstfeest,  Καλά Χριστούγεννα,  Nollaig Shona, Nadolig Llawen.


Merry Christmas




I'm planning on spending as much time as I can with this lovely lady over the next week, she no longer really knows me and her spiral into the black hole of Alzheimer's/Dementia has just about taken her away from us, it will be the last christmas she will be at home with Dad and I need to store the memories away so I can take them out in the dark days and remember that once, she knew and loved me.....
  love you Mum, forever....XXX

this photo was taken Dec 2008, two days before her 80th birthday



I'll be back next week sometime I expect....
Have a good one everyone....
XXX

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Traditions....

When I did the blog post for 'thru the red door..' the other day, I promised I would share the recipe for the German Cinnamon Star cookies that I make every year. There are certain foods that are part of our family christmas, without which, well, it just wouldn't seem like christmas at all.
Christmas at a house in the country is all about tradition, the things that I grew up with, the things that we have done over the years as a family and the new traditions too. As each generation grows and does things differently, so these too become a tradition... 


We have a few nationalities in our family now, you know of course that I was born and raised in Great Britain and came here with my family as a 19 year old, the railway man too was born in England but came here as a two year old. Our children were all born here and are proud true blue Aussies, beyond them we have eight second generation Aussies in our grandchildren. Our son-in-law is English too, then we have our future daughter-in-law Annie, she's Greek by birth and a proud Australian and she and our youngest, Chris, are being married in February. Now of course we have a new family member this year. Matthew is American and he and Sarah are getting married in March, he's still coming to terms with wearing T shirts and shorts in December, you can't do that in Minneapolis...:o) 


Having this tiny melting pot within our home has brought different traditions and food to our celebrations so we're creating new family traditions which are a mix of all of us... I'm not quite sure where my German Cinnamon Star cookies come into this mix, but we have had them every year for the past ten years or so, they do take a little time and patience but they are well worth it and they are delicious...


Gather together for the cookie base.......
200g plain flour
480g ground almonds
390g caster sugar
320g icing sugar
15g ground cinnamon
5 x 60g egg whites


For the royal icing.....
1-2 egg whites, at room temperature
350g icing sugar
1-2 drops acetic acid or lemon juice






















make the royal icing first by putting the egg whites in a small bowl. Add 2 spoonfuls of the icing sugar and beat for 2 mins by hand or until the mixture is combined. Stir in the acetic acid or lemon juice a drop at a time, beating well after each addition. Add enough icing sugar to reach a 'soft peak' stage. Don't overly fuss with the royal icing, it's going to be cooked....yep, cooked! Cover with a damp cloth and set aside.  






Line baking trays with baking paper. Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until a solid dough begins to form.






If the mix is too dry add some more egg white and if it's too moist add extra icing sugar. Remove from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to approx 1cm (1/2") thickness.





Spread royal icing over the rolled base and put in the 'fridge for an hour to harden both the dough and royal icing.


Preheat oven to 180c (350F). Using a floured star cooker (or any shape you want really) cut out stars and place on prepared cookie tray.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 mins or until the icing begins to turn a golden brown. 


Now you end up with this left...


..don't waste it, I just put it on a tray and cook it, the kids love the little squiggly bits, they taste exactly the same....



These are just delightful, a delicious hint of cinnamon with a soft and chewy almond base and a sweet, crisp, crunchy icing topping....
Enjoy..
XXX

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Busy days...



on thursday, my community house sewing group had our christmas lunch at The Boatshed in Ballarat this was Vickie's lunch, she and Lin had an entree of a tasting plate, thinking it was going to be a smaller meal....it wasn't at all, it was huge....

Jill had the pizza which she said was yummy....


...I had this pasta with basil pesto, prosciutto and tossed cherry tomatoes..


 ...and it was 'alright', not amazing, just alright..!! I was a bit disappointed with that but the day was fabulous, the location was wonderful and the company was awesome, so I can live with that...

 

 I should have just had dessert and got them to give me my halo back.. :o)


  before we went for lunch, Karen (no blog) and I went to millrose for the morning tea and show and tell....we couldn't stay for too long but being the 'official' taker of pictures for millrose and thru the red door, I didn't want to miss out...


I lent Karen my point and shoot and she was taking photos of the photographer taking photos.. :o)

 yesterday we went down to our youngest daughters in Geelong for a bbq, she has friends from Western Australia staying for a few days and it was lovely to catch up with them again. 















I needed a photograph for my flickr group 'prompt me' and the word this week was 'festive' so I had all the kids (and a couple of adults that think they're kids) put on santa hats or reindeer antlers...


















Ryan was a very festive grandson wearing hat and beard... 





























but this was the one I was looking to get....

notice the railway man..? can't jump when there's a dog to pat and talk dog talk to.... and not a lot of jumping effort from the santa with the beard either!!  Young Matthew at the front has got the jump action going though......


 ...and speaking of dogs....


this little lady was doing some gardening again the other day, she's getting quite good at it you know..... :o)


hope you're all being good this week, I've seen the naughty and nice list and as far as I can tell, we're all in the 'nice' column, so lets keep it that way.....at least until the big guy in the red suit gets here ..    ;o)
XXX

Thursday, 15 December 2011

10 days to christmas day..

...oooohh, I do so love christmas...


I haven't been keeping up with my blogging just lately I know but when I get emails that ask where I am and how come there's nothing to read, then it's time to take back a little control...!!!  It's been a little frantic in this house in the country for a few weeks, so I'll show you my home decked out for christmas then we'll have a chat and I'll catch you up with all the gossip from my little patch on this planet......




the kitchen all lit up for the next couple of weeks, please excuse the basket of washing (yes it's clean) sat on the chair




the revamped lounge/sitting room with the new window, hallway and doors finished....finally!! It looked like this from the outside way back in july...



looking through the door into the kitchen from the lounge room and finally....

 
the tree...it's not a real one this year so no spicy smell of pine, it's also up on a blanket box because a certain four legged fiend thinks all those sparkly, glittery, shiny things hanging down are just wonderful to chase around the floor...!!!


For those of you interested in the techie details of how I did the lights shots....
nikon dslr
iso 1600
shutter speed 1.30
f4.5


one morning last week I had come back from my morning walk/run early, like 6.30am and I found this just sitting on the gate into the house garden...






I just love dragonfly's, they flit around here all summer long but I never seem to be able to capture them really, so this was just too good an opportunity to miss. I must have taken 100 shots of this beauty but I will restrain myself (I can hear you sighing with relief :o) and just show you a few...






So, what else has been happening that I've neglected to tell you about since my battle with the plague the other week and thank you by the way, for all your get well wishes, it cheered me up just reading them. I was tempted to deliver punishment to the oh so generous germ laden grandchild of washing dishes for a month or something, but, oh well, I survived and I still love them to bits.... 




If you're a regular visitor here to a house in the country you'll know that my beloved mum has Alzheimer's and her condition is of course never going to improve but she's rapidly sliding into dementia and it's been a hard few weeks for me. She no longer really knows who I am, she just talks and thanks me for coming, has started becoming paranoid about things and is very agoraphobic, for which we are very grateful as it means she won't wander for the next little while. She has though been wanting to go home to her Mother and Father and has been quite upset with dad and I when we won't give her keys to get in their house....sigh, it's such a terrible and wasteful  end to a long and productive life you know. To watch her is more painful than I can tell you but I made myself a promise that I would stay cheerful and happy for dad, his life is so much more trying and he's determined to keep her at home for as long as is humanly possible. It must be so heartbreaking to watch the love of your life slipping away after all these years. They met one another when mum was 15 years old....she turned 83 last Saturday!! That's a long time to be together, they are no longer two, they've been one for many, many years....
I know in my heart that this christmas will be the last one with any semblance of knowing who and what is happening for mum and it is so, so sad....










On the gift buying/making front, I picked up the railway man's present from the framers today but I can't show you as I've stashed it over at Millrose, there was no way I could get it out of the car and into the house without him seeing it (he's been home for a few days) so next week, when he's back at work I'll go pick it up and take some photographs to show you...I will just tell you though that it looks fabulous (just a little self trumpet blowing) I was very, very pleased with the way it turned out...   :o). I've still got some gifts to buy and a few cushions I want to make for gifts and all the food shopping to do, baking to start, gingerbread houses to decorate, dogs to the groomers....sigh, did I say 10 days...??? Oh and I haven't posted my christmas cards yet....!!!


Oh well, it's all part of the magic isn't it, the last minute rush, wondering if you've got enough food, did you buy what the kids really want, will they all like the things you put all the time, effort and money into.....


ooohhh, I love christmas  :o)








I love this last one, the filigree of her wings, nature is such a wonderful designer isn't she...?




I'll be back in a day or two (I hope) with some photos of my sewing groups christmas lunch today and the morning tea at millrose...right now it's time to sit down and just chill for an hour then bed...


be good and see you soon..
xxx







Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Christmas giveaway....

There's a really good christmas giveaway over at  'Thru the red door...' right now, you could win this delicious bundle of christmassy loveliness ....

 


 I know because I just finished doing the post... :o) 




So click on over there and see how you can enter...

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

I still live here....

...really I do, I've just been so busy as well as being quite sick with the Bubonic Plague...!! Well, that's what it felt like anyway, an overly generous grandchild endowed me with some germs and laid me low for 10 days AND as well as that, my desktop PC died..!! So the guy that lives here (aka The Railway Man) agreed that I should buy one of these.... I still have my little macbook but I find it really difficult to play with my photos on a tiny screen...my advancing years I expect...anyway, I bought this iMac and I'm thrilled with it, just have to learn to use iPhoto I think, I've always used Windows Picture to store in (as well as my numerous portable drives) so a small learning curve needed I think! 




 I took the day off from everything last Friday as I had no voice at all, spent most of my time coughing and feeling sorry for myself so I  started to put up my Christmas decorations, I've finished in the lounge room but still haven't got the kitchen lights and decs up yet, better get a move on before it's all over hadn't I..? 


I was thrilled to be able to put my Crimson Tweed quilt up this Christmas and I love how it looks....


...please don't look at any of the mess that's hanging around through the kitchen door..!!


The header picture is from last year, I love my kitchen all lit with fairy lights, sparkly baubles and gingerbread men, although I am going to have to do a bit of a rearrange this year as we haven't got the island bench anymore and the table is in the kitchen now...!!




I've been taking some photographs for Millrose and Irene Blanck of Focus on Quilts too.





 
I can't give you Irene's website as it's not up and live yet, but as soon as it is I'll give you the link and you'll be amazed at her quilts, a lovely lady with lots of talent.... Hopefully I'll be able to do a post on 'Thru the red door..' in the next day or so, it's so hard catching up with anything at this time of the year...














I did manage to get the railway man's Christmas present finished though, it's at the framers now and should be ready by the 21st...    :o)  I know, I cut it close didn't I, it's going to look fabulous I think and I'll show you as soon as I get it back, I'm really excited to see what it looks like.....


okay, time to go and chill in front of the box for an hour before I hit my pillow and liaise with Mr Sandman for a while....


..be good people and I'll C U all soon...
XX

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Girls....

Two posts in two days....haven't done that for a while have I..? I've got a little time to fill in before I head off to teach some people how to upload digital media to their computers so I thought I'd show you this shot of the girls....Pat said in a comment yesterday that it's been a while since I showed them to you... ..taken on Saturday just after they had been to the groomers, they've suddenly decided that they like sharing this bed..!! It's plenty big enough when it's not full of teddy bears, squeaky toys and pull ropes and yes, Miss Molly has been teething on it.. as well as my sneakers, any bit of fabric she can steal, boxes..oh we love boxes they rip up so well then she can scatter them everywhere and watch while we pick up the pieces...!!! I want to spray this bed white but I have to wait until she's outgrown the chomping on everything phase, shouldn't be too much longer now.....fingers crossed..!! She's well and truly outstripped  Miss Martha in size, much longer, not too much taller but weighs a ton I can tell you!! They're such good friends now, well until Miss Molly decides that she needs to sit nearer to me than Miss Martha then we know exactly who's top dog....one little growl from Miss Martha and she's gone...  :o) Aahh, they make me smile all the time....well, until she eats my sneakers again anyway.....

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