What I Found in October, November (and December!!)

Time for us, and then some to take a squiz at a few things I’ve found throughout October and November and given we are deep in the throws of this lovely Christmas season let’s throw December in for good measure.  I do this because I love a good find and it always gets me thinking and remembering and taking notice.

So a random bunch of finds this time round both home and heart shaped and in no particular order.

At my sisters garage sale

This picture  – yes another little find for my walls which when I first saw it, was hanging sideways in the dark right up the back of said garage. Looked at first like  the side  profile of a gorilla. Still got my attention but in better light the right way up I saw it was chalk drawing of the mountains behind my home that I look at everyday. Came home with me

What I like about it – apart from the fact that its of Wollongong is that it’s  been done in what I would call a naive  style –  simplistic almost like a child’s drawing and I always tend to gravitate towards these.  Close up though it has lots of lovely detail. Almost impossible to get a good photo of because of the reflection from the glass so please forgive the shine and the wonky angles. Better in real life.

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A pair of  terracotta pots – yes they’re a little worse for wear but that’s kind of what I like about them . They are standing sentinel in my carport now marking the walkway through the car port up to the front door.

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I’ll be the first to admit this area is not the most inspiring space – its an ordinary old carport in front of an ordinary old garage door that tends to be a handy dumping ground for all the garden paraphernalia and anything else coming out of the house that hasn’t found its way into the garage yet or the bin which I’ll tell you makes for a soul destroying view as I pull my car up of an evening. So last week unable to stand looking at it any longer I threw an hours time and attention at it. No paint involved, no repairs, no redesigning (although it could do with all three ) just some old fashioned elbow grease. I’m convinced that 9/10ths of decorating is a good clean and sometimes just a little bit of pretty can go a long way to redeeming a space. It’s still an ordinary old carport and an ordinary old garage door but I no longer want to weep when I arrive home of an evening.  I found the plants at Big W. They are Heucherella “Stoplight”. They like shade and I like the bright green foliage. Looking a little fragile at the moment but the tag on the plant assures me that I’ll have “cars come to a screeching stop if I plant a mass of these foliage plants by the road” and I can apparently expect “large screaming yellow and red centred spring leaves and summer leaf colour that is bright green and red” – – –  I’ll let you know.

At the Community Book Swap

www.waterintowineblog.comHow great is this idea. Just down at the my local shopping centre they have created a book swap . The idea is to donate a book/s and then take a  pick yourself. Operates on an honour system. Its a lovely few minutes of distraction between the grocery shopping and hauling it all into the car and heading home. My reads these last months have mostly come from here and were both hit and miss

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult – this murder mystery was enough to keep me reading to the end but the characters were one dimensional and unengaging so I just couldn’t elicit the sympathy for them I’m sure I was meant to. An easy read though in between phone calls at work.

Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah – gripping from the first page to the last. I’m officially never allowed to whinge about my life again. Why ? because I didn’t grow up during the Cultural Revolution in China or any where else in the world for that matter that is at the mercy of cruel and in humanitarian government . Truly astounding what people can endure and survive. A reminder of the human capacity for cruelty and malice – – – – but more importantly of the human capacity for love. Yes Hope is made of stronger stuff.

My third pick The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. I’ve only just started reading  this one but I can tell I’m going to like it. Its the story of Dinah, Jacobs daughter, from the book of Genesis. Told in the first person Dinah   “reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood”.

Online – this website that might just save me from the constantly rising tide of stuff in my house

I found this very practical, breath of fresh air website A Slob Comes Clean Reality Based Cleaning and Organising  Written by a lady who enjoys not taking life too seriously and who has developed a whole bunch of helpful ideas for keeping your house clean (that don’t require a spreadsheet). She’s very straight to the point with some fun thrown in which is just the way I like my information.

Heres a couple of posts that caught my attention straight up with their simple ideas for keeping on top of the mess when time is limited and energy is low.

Why I Have to Run My Dishwasher Every Night

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This picture to remind me I need all the help I can get.

And because this time next month a little decluttering may be very high on all our to do lists.

How To Declutter Without Making a Bigger Mess

A few finds of the heart shaped variety

Weirdly in a season that has me juggling more that I will ever care to and completely out of my comfy cozy zone, Ive been finding out a thing or two about resting.

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Lets call it How To Stay All In and Not Die. Being a person who generally thrives on quiet and calm and the phone not ringing – staying All In with the people Gods given me and the job I have is a challenge. I’ve discovered the thing making the  biggest difference for me at the moment is REST. Rest as in physical rest, as in going to bed early, as in sitting with my feet up on a chair for a bit and reading kind of rest, and rest as in soul rest, as in not stressing about what I’m not able to do and what’s out of my control. I know its not popular, I know we see rest as a sign of weakness and a wasteful extravagance when theres so much to be done, but that I think is why we end up going down in a screaming heap physically and/or mentally now and then – from trying to keep everything done and all the corners tucked in all the time. Getting the rest we need is part of what keeps us sane and doing what we need to do well.

So I’ve been slowly, and I mean slowly because I’m slow to catch on to new ways of doing things – including in the rhythm of my day opportunities to rest and replenish and revive.

Heres what I’ve found

Rest is being OK with an imperfect present Sally Breedlove

Rest means leaving some things undone.

Rest means doing one thing and not thinking/stressing/obsessing over the ten things not being done.

Rest means being flexible with how things are done and  how my prayers are answered. Rest involves losing some control.

And rest for me means allowing time for the things that keep me centred and calm –  often sporadically but it pays off in spades in a calmer, happier, saner personage. I choose to do things that refuel and revive me on the inside and it seems even more important to do it now even though theres a trillion other “more productive” things I could be doing. Twenty minutes here and there – reading, making something look nice, writing, rearranging the pots out the back, taking a few photos, making a Christmas wreath I don’t really need but couldn’t help myself – (see below) a bit of creating, a bit of quiet and I feel like I can do anything, like I can take on the world again. That’s good rest.

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So I know its not a season we associate with rest right now – the Christmas season pushes and pulls us in all directions and asks an awful lot but who says we can’t make  small steps towards doing  things a little different this year? Lets try for a little more rest, a little less perfection, flexible expectations and a whole lot less frazzle.

If your needing a little more rest in your life heres some good reading along those lines:

The Practice of Ruminating to Save Your Sanity

On Idelness, Solitude and Daydreaming

Hospitality but Not the Kind You Are Thinking Of

And some finds just for fun

I found out how photogenic my chooks are.

How  sweet are these little ladies – restful in themselves – just doing their thing, not rushed, not worried and happy to see me each time I wander out there.

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And to finish a Christmassy find.

Of all Christmas decorations wreaths would have to be my very favourite.  They’re so self contained and simple – you can make them out of anything that can be fashioned into a circle – wire and vines and random thin bendy branches that you can find in the garden are a perfect example, theres no rules as to what you put on them and you can hang them anywhere. I have a little bit of a collection now, all of them have a story and although I officially don’t need anymore ever I can’t help but have a go at making a new one each year – it is my sole Christmassy craft. So I found two of these metal wreath frames  a few years ago and as I do took a photo of what I found. A bit on the blurry side but you get the idea.

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It took me two Christmases but finally the small frame turned into this.

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I only ever use bits and pieces of ribbon and fabric and decoration that I already have – part of the challenge. On this one I incorporated the remaining pieces  of a  sweet set of 6 Villeroy and Boch Christmas ornaments  that were special to us as they were given to us by Ken’s mother and sister who are no longer with us. Lovely as they are/were these ornaments  were not designed for little fingers grabbing at Christmas trees so they didn’t fare well over the years. We have one ornament from the set left intact and it hangs high and brave on the tree and I’d kept some remnants from two others that I tucked into this Christmas wreath. A little reminder of two beautiful people who LOVED Christmas time and who we especially miss this time of year.

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As for this years project – I had apparently put the larger wire frame under my bed at some stage because thats where I found it a week or so ago.  Hadn’t planned to make another wreath but then I found the frame and my fingers started to twitch. So I have used only stuff that I had. Some green, sparkly gauzy type fabric and these branches of berries that I bought maybe two years ago to use at this wedding. Have used them constantly at every event  and non event I’ve decorated since. Last year they turned up here.

www.waterintowineblog.comLove the red colour and so do the cockroaches who have eaten the colour right off some of the berries so this was a rescue mission in a way. Here’s how she turned out.

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Berries were  secured to the wreath with pieces of copper wire that I already had out. Looking at it I could probably play with it for another hour to get it just right, it could probably do with double the number of berries and some other pretty things but I don’t have an extra hour and I’m all out of unchewed upon berries – so this is where resting and leaving some things undone and not stressing about what I haven’t done comes into play – so I’m calling it done and I’ve hung it in the bathroom because every bathroom needs a Christmas wreath in my opinion.

So thats my finds for October, November and December .

Any good finds your way? Would love to hear

Friends thank you for reading along and being kind as I write my words. I’ll leave you with just a few more

Blessings on your eyes, Blessings on your children, Blessings on the ground beneath you. My heart is a ladle of sweet water, brimming over”  The Red Tent – Anita Diamant

God Bless and Happy Christmas

Lv Tracey xx

 

 

 

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On heart makeovers and handsome fellas and falling in the “crik”

Hi and welcome to the second part of my  Calamity Jane themed post. If you haven’t read part one just scroll on down or click here.

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Now if that cabin makeover in Part One doesn’t do it for you then maybe a good heart makeover will. All the best movies have them and there are a couple going on here of course.

We have Katie – the pretty one in this movie that all the fellas are after but she’s so sweet and lovely about it you don’t want to kill her. Pretty or not she’s pretending to be someone she isn’t and scared to death that the real Katie won’t be enough. Sound familiar? But then Calamity being the good egg that she is tells her “ just do it your way” and Katie does her thing her way and brings the house down.

IMG_0558 My sister’s a good egg too. Just a week or so ago she said the same thing to me – so here I am telling you my story, writing my blog my way, following my heart.

Then there’s Calamity herself – she’s her own unique blend of gorgeous and gritty, a gun toting, fiery tom boy, hilarious, brave, fun and a total mess.

IMG_0554Her emotions get the better of her every time and she’s secretly in love with a man who can’t see past the grit to the girl. When Katie comes along in all her womanly loveliness, Calamity is reminded of the woman that just might be hidden underneath her mannish clothes and the rough talking, hard riding exterior. The challenge then is how to be truly herself – how to let the girl come out – not by being someone she isn’t – but by finding her own balance of feminine and feisty, girl and grit. And there it is – the struggle of finding our own rhythm, of following our own dream without falling foul of other peoples expectations and without cracking under the pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect or the pressure just to do it the way everyones else does. And of course as it goes when your trying to find your feet and find what fits for you – you mess it up and make mistakes and end up face first in the “crik”. Story of my life

IMG_0601Your picking yourself up and wiping the mud off your face and feeling stupid for even trying – – – and there’s always an audience!!  I can’t ever manage to make a fool of myself in the privacy of my own home. But theres nothing else for it but to keep going. Despite the set backs and self doubts you know your on the right path and that you somehow feel more alive doing what your doing and there’s no way you want to go back to playing it safe..

“So you fall down and skin your knees now and then, get thrown for a loop by your own self doubts and collapse in a screaming heap occasionally – well your in good company, – we all do it – that doesn’t count us out – – – -that just means we are alive and having a go”

Heart transformations – Gods in the business of them. He takes the best of us and the worst of us and does more with this mixture than we would ever dream for ourselves. He know’s what we can become when we give ourselves a chance, swallow our pride and do it afraid. He completely gets us, He’s in the before shot and the after shot and right beside us for the bit in between.

So now to those handsome fellas – well I got me a couple of those around here. One I married 12 years ago and if truth be told, in keeping with the Calamity Jane theme, there’s been times I’ve wanted to pull out a gun. To quote myself “he’s unique, he’s a challenge and he is in every way the one”. While I was looking around for a tall smart looking solder in a blue uniform with shiny brass buttons – a pastor or preacher at least – I almost didn’t see the wild and woolly cowboy that sidled up beside me not really wanting to be tamed but wanting a chance at love and life and a family all the same – just like the rest of us.

Warhol Us

Wedding Day

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Most days.

Who knew the answer to my prayer would just ride up on his motorcycle one day and wander into the church where I had been cooling my heels for longer than I would have liked and I almost missed him cause he wasn’t in the package I thought he would be. That rough and ready cowboy turned out to be a gentleman, a good egg (another one) and just right for me. Not perfect, just  trying to get it right like all of us and a gift I will never stop being grateful for. My chance at life and love and family too. Now we have a handsome little fella running around – just turned 11 the very image of his Dad – all boy itching for adventure, wanting to buck the system even now but with a softness of heart that will take him a long way. We have a beautiful girl as well – a Katie – just turned 8 – who sings and twirls and giggles and dreams her way through life. She is as sweet and as kind as they come with just the right amount of feistiness that a girl needs these days.

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IMG_2313P1010727 The bank balance is still up and down, some day’s despite my best efforts the house still looks like looters have been through and most of the time we feel like we are just muddling through it all.  But we look at these children, at what God has blessed us with, at these amazing little people running around our house and theirs no doubt –  we feel like the luckiest two people in the world.

IMG_0867Thanks so much for reading. I would love to hear some of your story so please feel free to leave me a comment.

My next post – the beauty of a quick fix.

You can read my latest Women Connect posts Dwell and In All Things here.   A snippet from each:

Dwell – – – See our wayward thoughts tell giant tales of woe, they exaggerate and embellish and down right lie. They draw us in and they never let the truth get in the way of a good story. They are cruel and tortuous, they don’t relent or cut you a break and the odds always end up stacked against you and – – – we can’t see God from there  Read More

In All Things – – – Being content and at peace and satisfied whatever the circumstance ? It’s not our natural tendency is it? Not when what IS doesn’t line up with what we think it should be or what we expect it to be. I hate to say it but in my time I’ve done my fair share (and then some) of whinging and complaining and grumbling to God and anyone else who’d listen. Trust me it’s a good way to make yourself completely miserable. It’s a good way to miss the hand of God at work in your life and it’s not somewhere you want to stay long but God meets you even when your cranky at Him. Read More

Thanks for reading

Tracey xx

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Calamity’s Cabin

The first part – – –  on five minute makeovers, old movies and living the dream.

Lorax Quote

“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become” Dr Suess – The Lorax   (Source – The Nesting Place  by Myquillyn Smith)

Ever fallen in love with a movie simply because of the house that’s featured in it or better yet because of what they are doing with the house? And when the house transformation reflects a good heart transformation –  you’ve got a winner in my books. My very favourites – Cross Creek with Mary Steenburgen, Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane and well this one – just for fun Calamity Jane with Doris Day. Old fashioned and cheesy maybe  but one of my all time favourites ever.  I’ll confess straight up when it comes to the movies I am a bit old fashioned  – I love a good romance a happy ending and if there’s a song and dance routine going on –  all the better. You can keep your shock and awe type fillums – give me real people making a mess of life and love and finding their way through and give me the dream at the end of it too. For me this old movie has got it all – and in spades.

 Theres singing and dancing, romance, jealousy, handsome fellas walking around, gun slingin and horse wranglin and theres a last minute twist in the plot when you think its all gonna go pear shaped – – – but the best bit, my very favourite bit ever – the cabin makeover .

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I told you it had it all.

In this scene Calamity – generous and kind hearted but clueless about how to live like a lady – invites Katie to come share her almost derelict cabin. Katie is horrified at what she finds but showing some grit of her own she convinces Calamity that all it needs is a “woman’s touch”.

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So with Katies eye for pretty they start cleaning and organising and polishing and painting, old furniture is getting a new lease on life, curtains are being hung, plants are being potted, pretty things are being set around, and they never hit a wrong note once.  Within the course of five minutes Calamity’s dirty and dilapidated old cabin is oozing with girlish charm and loveliness – a pretty and cozy home – there’s the dream right there and I want to move in.

And it all looks so lovely  and with so little effort – – – – only in the movies!!

 – – – a “calamity” – an event causing great and often sudden damage or distress; a disaster  – – – – sounds like your average DIY project to me.

You see – it doesn’t get done in five minutes or even in five weeks sometimes, its messy and exhausting, paint gets spilt and walked all through the house, you hit your thumb with the hammer, it takes at least three goes to get those curtains to hang right, and twenty more nail holes than you need to get your gallery wall just how you want it and theres no singing and dancing going on unless you’ve opened a bottle of “special” lemonade mid project. It usually looks a whole lot worse before it looks better, your finger nails are wrecked and you maybe haven’t showered in a while but – – –  love it – absolutely, worth it to make your house your own – definitely, – – – – exhilarating to see what you can do when you have a go – always.

Nine years ago we bought ourselves a little cabin too. We moved in – full of big plans – some that we have seen through, some that we are still working on and some that have sat back and laughed at us. For the most part money, time and skill have been in short supply – seriously short – but I found you can get a long way on just a little bit of each of these when you throw everything you’ve got directly at it. It takes longer,  it takes every ounce of patience and perseverance at times, your forced to rely on wits, creativity and elbow grease far more than you would like to and you find yourself shopping at garage sales and op shops a lot more than Ikea and Freedom Furniture but  – – – it makes it interesting and  I found out this too – the dream happens along the way – you don’t have to wait till the end. The really good stuff goes and happens right in the middle of the mess and the busy and the dodgy bank balance and the half painted rooms.

Our little girl was born about 18 months after we moved into our house, right when we had it all pulled apart and our business was going belly up fast and everywhere I looked there was another project to be completed. We brought our little bundle of girl home just a few days before Christmas so Ken decided that was the perfect time to start building a pergola on the back – did I mention I  had just had a baby and it was two days before Christmas – oh yes and it kept raining torrentially, the dogs wet and hairy kept running into the house whenever I opened the back door and I was having the whole family come over on Christmas eve – – – – awesome – – – – but what I remember most is it being the sweetest most lovely  time ever. I had this little girl in my arms and a little boy running around who earlier in the year had spent weeks on end in hospital with a broken leg. My house was full and I was the happiest woman in the world – kinda frazzled, kinda overwhelmed and totally numb from the waist down but happy.

Thank God for sisters that just come and help and Granddad’s that arrive with delicious German sausages to eat and husbands that drive to Bunning’s at 4 o’clock on Christmas eve to get a tree, and five minute movie makeovers that make you dream  – thank God for it all – for the happy ending right in the middle – along the way.

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IMG_0769The entrance to our little cabin. In the interests of being real – what I haven’t shown you here are the bit’s needing a little more than a “woman’s touch” – the missing tiles , the loose screen, the eaves boasting two different colours and the balustrade that needs another coat of oil. But this little part says “Welcome”

 You can read  the second part of this post  – on heart makeovers and handsome fellas and falling in the “crik”

Also you can read my latest Women Connect post Just a Minute here.

I’d love to hear from you so please leave me a comment on favourite movies, the story of your house or anything really.  If you’ve enjoyed this post please share the link with anyone you think might like it. You can also subscribe up the top on the right using your email address. My latest post will be delivered direct to your inbox. 

God Bless

Tracey xx

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