Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Thoughts on winter and on turning 40 and other stuff.

NOTE: This post was written last year, but for some reason I never hit "Publish" on it, so it's been sitting here as a draft. Upon re-reading it today I believe it has some valid thoughts, so I thought I'd finally post it. Here it is:

Well, the months have flown by again, but I do like to pop in here from time to time to let you know that I haven't fallen off the planet! It is the last month of the 2016 winter here in the beautiful Yarra Valley. Today is especially sunshiney and gorgeous, but it's no secret that winter is not my friend and I tend to suffer a lot in the cold months. My UCTD and fibro symptoms flare up markedly throughout this season, and I invariably start making plans to move our family somewhere warmer. Of course, Spring comes eventually and the weather warms up and I quickly forget how excruciating winter can be. The reality is that I would not move my family at this time in their lives. My boys are both in highschool (Years 9 & 7) and they are so entrenched in their friends, their sports, their schools etc, that I would not consider uprooting them. When they're grown however, things might change. I can't imagine spending my later years suffering through Melbourne winters, but time will tell. My husband, who has always found winter his preferred season, is gradually changing his mind as he gets older. He is not such a fan of winter these days either, particularly as he works outdoors.

Speaking of getting older, we celebrated a couple of milestone birthdays in ourfamily in May. I turned 40 and hubby turned 50! We celebrated with a "90th" birthday party. We held our celebration at home, so we were limited as to how many guests we could have, but I think it ended up being about 70 members of our family and friends who helped us celebrate the night.

Turning 40 is definitely something I've embraced with enthusiasm. I feel really comfortable as I enter this decade of my life. Things aren't perfect, but I'm loved more than I ever could have hoped to be; we have a roof over our heads and food on the table, so I consider us to be greatly blessed.

My health is still not great, but I've stopped struggling against that fact so much. I try not to torture myself for not doing everything "perfectly" with regards to my diet etc anymore. I have been there in the past; following the latest magical cure diet/lifestyle plan to perfection, hoping, hoping, hoping that this time I will be restored to full, vibrant health. Only it has never once worked and I end up with so much self blame and guilt when it doesn't. I feel like I must have missed something, I mustn't have been "pure" enough in my devotion to the program. If only I could have paleo'd harder, gluten free'd better, sugar free'd more fully, or organic'd longer.......you get the idea. All of these things have simply left me more deflated and with more self-blame than ever. And you know what, beating yourself up and hating yourself does. not. help. Nope, not one little bit. 

You know what does help? Being kind to yourself. Living life instead of battling it every single day. After all, if I spend all my days obsessing about some supposedly magic diet/treatment plan to the point of anxiety, where is the joy in those days? If I keep putting off the things I love until I sort my health out, and that day never comes, then I will consider my life to have been wasted? For example, one of my great joys in life is creativity. Art and craft. Making beautiful things with my hands. The guilty voice in my head tells me that those things are self-indulgent and I don't deserve to enjoy those things until I've perfected my health. Hellllooooo!!! What if I never get my health sorted out? That's a scenario which, after 10 years of chronic illness, is looking increasingly likely. I really don't fancy getting to my final days and thinking "No! Wait! But I haven't gotten around to focusing on my painting, or my embroidery or my whatever!! What a tragedy that would be. 

Life is ridiculously short. Maybe that realisation is one of the gifts of heading into middle age. There's no time to waste on perfectionism. Today is the day I've got. Just today.

Yes, turning 40 is a blessing. I am grateful to be here. I feel like I'm finally growing into my skin. My life may not be perfect, but it is all mine. It's rich and full and I intend to enjoy the good bits and learn from the rest, for as long as I have the good fortune to be here. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Christmas 2015 round-up.

Well Christmas has come and gone, and here I sit on this 4th day of January, reflecting on December and quietly pondering what the year ahead might bring.

Our Christmas was spent up at my sister's family farm at Mullengandra in NSW. It was quite hot, but not unbearably so. Christmas magic was plentiful, thanks to the presence of my 3 1/2 year old niece. Littlies make Christmas so very special - and her big brothers and cousins all dutifully join in with the sprinkling of "reindeer food", leaving bickies and milk out for Santa and the reading of Christmas Eve bedtime stories. 

My Mum's Christmas pudding was perfect. For me, it's always a highlight. We do the full hot Christmas roast lunch. I am a vegetarian now, and this was my first Christmas without eating meat. My Mum kept forgetting and offering me some ham or turkey while we were preparing lunch, but no harm done. I didn't miss the meat at all. I made a delicious lentil loaf and a vegetarian quiche for me to have (sorry, I forgot to take photos. I'm not really a huge food-photo taker). 

We are so abundantly blessed and there was plenty of food and presents and love to go around. We missed out on Christmas dinner with my hubby's family as we chose not to travel four hours on Christmas Day this year. I must say, it was a good decision and made our Christmas so much for enjoyable, staying in one spot. Next Christmas it is our turn to host for both sides of the family. I must remember to not be overwhelmed by hosting so many people. After all, it is just a meal (or two) and if things aren't magazine perfect, it doesn't really matter. All that matters is that we are together and happy. Peace and family and fun override all else at this time of year. I hope your Christmas was lovely too.

Friday, December 4, 2015

How on earth can it be December already?

Really friends........how did we get to December so quickly? I have just a couple more weeks of school for my boys before summer holidays start. What a crazy couple of weeks they'll be. My youngest is finishing primary school, so we've got a full calendar right there - graduation, last primary school Christmas concert, last school assembly, orientation day for high school. Throw in his karate classes and grading, karate Christmas party, and basketball activities and you've got a pretty busy couple of weeks. Then there's the big boy, who's finishing year 8. His life is what keeps us super busy, mostly thanks to his passion for basketball. He now trains or plays basketball seven days a week. Needless to say, although we're super proud of his basketball achievements, we're all looking forward the break that comes with school holidays.

I'm trying to knuckle down and focus on doing a bit of Christmas shopping, although I have to say, I'm less and less enthused about the commercialisation of Christmas with each passing year. The amount of money spent on buying gifts just for the sake of buying gifts seems pretty ridiculous. Really, we don't actually NEED very much. The gift of time spent enjoying the company of our loved ones seems like the best possible gift to me. Although I'll be buying a few tokens of my love for special people, I'm definitely trying to keep it simple this year.

I have had a pretty rough couple of months on the health front, thanks to a new treatment for my autoimmune condition which I recently tried. Let's just say it did NOT suit me at all in that the side effects were really unacceptable and outweighed the benefit of the medication. So I'm back to being medication free and just trying to take care of myself and manage my symptoms as best I can. I am feeling pretty good this week, so I'll run with that and try to get a few Christmassy things done while it lasts.

On the creative front, I've been stitching hexagons together and doing a bit of embroidery.
Every year I have plans to start some Christmas crafting in about September, but yet another year has passed when this good intention has not been realised. Creativity is an essential part of my wellbeing practices, so I'm determined to carve out a little time for it over the summer holidays. I'll leave you with a couple of crafty pics, and I wish you well as we dive headlong into the crazy days of December. See you here again soon.

Anita. xo

Monday, August 31, 2015

New (two year old) quilt completed!

Hi all! I'm so happy to say that today is the LAST DAY OF WINTER! Yes, I am shouting and, yes, I know that's not good blog etiquette, but I'm super excited to kick winter in the butt today and welcome in a little more sunshine and warmth. Here's a pretty camellia bloom to celebrate. 

Speaking of warmth, there's nothing like a cosy quilt to keep you warm on those chilly winter nights. Since my last post I've finished a crafty project that's been waiting for two years (yep, I said two years) to be completed. I made a quilt in the last quarter of 2013. I even had it professionally quilted by a dear friend. And then I put it in a paper bag and put it on the shelf in my craft room and there it has stayed for two whole years!! All it needed was the binding, people! It's not that hard. Why do I do stuff like that - put a huge amount of work in to a project and fail to take it that last step to completion? And it's not only time that goes into these projects, it's money too. With the fabric (French General) and quilting on this project, I'd probable spent close to $300, only to let it linger unfinished, unused and unloved for two years. Sounds so silly to me now that it's done. The binding probably took at total of 3 -4 hours to complete - that's cutting the strips, joining them, ironing them,  machine stitching them to the quilt front and hand stitching them to the back. So now I have a gorgeous new (two year old) quilt to snuggle under, just as winter is coming to a close. Don't worry, I'm sure there'll be plenty of chilly nights left to use it yet. 

Have you got any UFOs (unfinished objects) calling to you? What's the longest you've ever left a project before completing it? It sure does feel awesome to get them done!! 

Thanks for visiting, 

Anita. xo

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mug cosies and tshirt yarn


Well, here I am sitting at my kitchen table and I thought I'd let you know just a little bit of what I've been doing and making around here. It seems to be the season for crochet at the moment. The more I do, the more I'm inspired to do. It all started with my decluttering efforts actually. As you may have read in my last post, I can't bear to throw away craft supplies, so I recently crocheted up a cotton blend lap blanket with various colours of leftover yarn. While I was fossicking in my yarn tub, I came across some other scraps. This pretty pink based multicolour acrylic was left over from a stuffed rabbit project a couple of years ago. There was only about half a ball of plain pink and the same of the multicoloured yarn. So I put them together (double stranded crochet) and crocheted these two mug cosies. I just did a chain to fit around my cups ( I think it was 34 chains) and joined it into a circle. Then I did a row of (UK) double crochet as a foundation. Then chained 3, turned my work and crocheted in treble up to the last two stitches (you don't stitch all the way to the end, as you need to leave room for your cup handle to poke through). Chain 3 and turn, then treble crochet back to the last treble of the previous row. I continued on in this way until my cosy was tall enough for my cup (I think it was 5 rows of treble crochet). I went around the edge with a border of double crochet and when I arrived back at my starting point, I chained 15 and attached it back to the base of the chain, to make a loop for a button hole. I attached my button, wove in my yarn ends and voila!! A cute little mug cosy to keep your coffee hot in this chilly winter weather we're having here in south eastern Australia. I hope those instructions make some kind of sense.  I've never written any kind of crochet pattern down before, so it may make no sense at all. Please let me know if you need me to clarify it for you.

Another crochetproject I've recently completed is a birthday present for a family member. I'm not sure if she ever visits my blog any more.....I think most people stopped visiting due to the infrequency of my posting! But I'll hold off on posting pics of her present just in case. I will be able to share it next week.

In the ongoing spirit of decluttering, I've gone through my wardrobe and had a big throw out of things that were out of style, didn't fit or were just plain worn out. I came across a couple of well loved, but past their prime long sleeved tshirts. I like the colours and the texture of the fabric, so I cut them up into strips and made some tshirt yarn (there are plenty of YouTube tutorials and Pinterest pins on how to make tshirt yarn, so I won't go into it). Anyhoo, I've been playing with this chunky yarn and my size 8 crochet hook. My first attempts at a circle shape were awkward and untidy, so I pulled them out an decided to make a simple granny square. So far it measures about 30cm (12 inches) square.  This is where I'm up to: 

I'm not sure if it will become a little floor mat or just a cushion cover......I'll let you know. It feels good to know that I've taken something that was destined for the bin, and given it another use. We have a new outdoor entertaining area at our place and I think a big crocheted tshirt year rug would look amazing out there. Of course it would be a huge project, so I'll have to make sure it's what I want before I commit to it. Have you ever crochet with tshirt yarn or fabric strips of any kind? I'd love to hear your experiences and tips. 

Thanks for visiting,

Anita. xo

Friday, August 7, 2015

Using up my yarn scraps.

I thought I'd change theme today and show you a crochet project that I finished last week. If you're a crafter, I'm sure you're familiar with the dilemma of having lots of leftover scraps that you I can't bear to part with. In this case, I had loads of scraps of cotton blend yarn. By scraps I mean a couple of full balls, several half balls and lots of little bits and pieces. Not really enough to make anything in just one colour. I've been decluttering, and I looked at all those leftover bits of yarn and I just couldn't bear to get rid of them.........so I decided to use them up. I started crocheting them into simple treble crochet stripes - no pattern. I just randomly picked colours from my stash in a combination of rows that I thought was pretty. After a couple weeks of crochet at my kids' sport training, I'd used up all my scraps and my blanket was big enough. I did, however have to call in to the local yarn shop to buy just one more ball of the blue yarn I used for the border.......and of course, now I've got about a third of that ball left over!! But I'm really pleased with his little lap blanket. I've used up some of my stash and I've gained a lovely little piece for my family to use. It's actually the perfect size for me to cart around to the boy's basketball matches/training sessions. My craft room is still looking chaotic, but there's one less bag of yarn stuffed into the cupboard. Now I just need to get around to using up all my other leftover supplies!! I do have sooooo much trouble parting with craft supplies. I'm sure I'm not the only creative one out there with this dilemma. 

Thanks for visiting,

Anita. xo

Friday, July 31, 2015

The stuff that actually matters


The stuff that matters is not "stuff" - ie. material possessions. It is not what kind of car you drive, how big your house is, how many clothes you have. It's people that matter. It's kindness that matters. And love. A friend of mine has been confronted by some very scary medical news these past couple of weeks. While the diagnosis is not clear yet, it is serious enough to make me step back and remember that life is so fragile. Life is so finite. We have to make the most of every single day. And that doesn't mean we have to do big, exciting things with every day. It just means we have to focus on what really truly matters: love, kindness, compassion and our relationships with other people. That's all that matters.