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Showing posts with label Around My Home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Around My Home. Show all posts
Totally Spoilt

Totally Spoilt


The end of September marked my 38th birthday and I had a very special day with a gift...


A new jigsaw...


A new water bottle...

A very 'special' card


I was also taken to Forster for the day where we walked along the sea wall, watched the dolphins play and then had a lovely lunch.


Could I be anymore grateful for the beautiful family that I have ?
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A Vision Splendid
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Mapping Out The Vision - A Spring Re-Vamp

Mapping Out The Vision - A Spring Re-Vamp



Today is the first day of the school holidays and I feel that I finally have a chance to step back and examine this splendid life. As I have mentioned briefly, a number of different family events have meant that we have been running here and there since June.

During the last few months we have spent a lot of time on the road, living out of suitcases with friends and family or staying in hotel rooms. Whilst I love the place we stay in Sydney and love the meals, it is just so nice to come home.

Even though we have now been home for about 4 weeks, those busy weeks have seen lots of activity. Both boys were away at different times on school camps and they have had various sporting finals and events, parent teacher interviews and social functions.

During the past few months I also managed to take on some work. Luckily it is work that I can do in my own time, meaning that I have the school holidays off and can work from anywhere, provided I have an internet connection.

So with all that busyness finally finished, I am so excited by the opportunity to stop, breath and re-group.

The first thing we did was to get back into our garden, which was sadly neglected while we were away. Luckily we had a fair bit of rain which meant that things were 'wild' rather than 'dead'. It is time to undertake our spring planting regime which I love because there is so much potential and life in this season.

I am working on a new schedule which will enable me to carry out some paid work but still keep my family life in balance. At the forefront of my mind at the moment is re-vamping the following aspects:

- meal planning: slow change of meals to reflect the warmer weather and the availability of different seasonal produce.

- new budget: I have noticed a drop in fuel prices and a rise in grocery prices. This along with changes in the activities that we do means a new cash budget is required.

- new household routines: as we change from winter to summer we have different household routines, particularly with the jobs that need to be done outside. The boys are also older and are ready to add to their job lists.

- papercrafting: handmade cards and stationery are becoming increasingly popular and I am teaching more and more classes. I need to schedule my classes well in advance and have creative time for working on my new designs.

- health: re-vamping my activity schedule to reflect the warmer weather and to get back on track ( after way too many restaurant meals!!!)

- re-establish our sustainable living principles: Being away has meant that we often had to 'default' to choices that I would normally avoid. Time to re-examine the steps we take as a family to live a more natural, sustainable life.

And finally.............time to be .................slow.

Don't you just love spring. It is a time for a fresh start!
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A Vision Splendid
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I Thought I Saw Ol' Man Winter

I Thought I Saw Ol' Man Winter


I thought I saw Ol' Man Winter arrive on the train last week. Just a glimpse of him, in amongst the people on the platform hurrying about their business. I thought I recognised his hat, pulled down tightly over his head with his scarf wrapped high up around his ears.

I thought I saw him carrying his big suitcases, packed with everything that winter brings - the rain, the wind, the cold, the nights that steal away the afternoons before you have time to notice.

But.... it seems I was mistaken. Day two of winter and he still hasn't arrived. His train is now two days late. I am sure it will be here any day soon and he will step onto the platform with one hand on his hat, his scarf blowing in the icy wind.

In anticipation of his arrival I have prepared the house with extra blankets, socks and jumpers and have dusted off my number one tool of defence.... the slow cooker.


...... and although it is only 3.07 in the afternoon, that damn smell drifting through the house is enough to make me rip the lid off and gorge myself on it now!!!!!

Who invented these damn things anyway.....................?
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A Vision Splendid
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Re-Using Success.

Re-Using Success.



I still have a lot of plastic in my cupboards.

I have been making a real effort to re-purpose a lot of it because I don't think there is any sense in just throwing it all into landfill. It defeats the purpose.

Slowly but surely I have been changing over some of the storage containers in my cooking cupboard, a cupboard I have above my main prep area so I can just reach up and grab everything I need.
The large glass jars are from buying coffee in bulk and the smaller jars are from local oysters. They have a plastic lid unfortunately, but I still like to re-use them.

I have labeled the jars very simply with a permanent texta.

I enjoy opening the cupboard and looking at all the cooking supplies. I can see at a glance what needs to be topped up, often from a bigger supply in the pantry. I especially enjoy decanting the farmer's market honey into my little pour bottle which makes it easier to manage and easier to pour out a little for a cup of tea or to add to a recipe. I also like having my spices in bigger containers because I use so much of them.

But most of all I love the fact that the containers are NUDE. There are no brand names, no bold colours and no in your face slogans. It makes me feel all 'Little House on the Prairie -ish' LOL or maybe even a bit 'Waltons-ish' - knowing I can send John Boy to the store for a pound of sugar any time soon!

- Gotta love a spoon full of madness each and every day.
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A Vision Splendid
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An Early Riser

An Early Riser





I am an early riser. Sometimes it is ridiculously early. Sometimes I am rising when others are just blowing out the lamp for the evening.


I wake naturally. I haven’t had an alarm clock for years. Somehow, I seem to have a built in one.

It wasn’t always this way, in fact, I used to be the complete opposite. When I was at uni the first time they ran evening exams and my housemate and I became completely nocturnal for a period of time! Then.... there was the time I overslept for a maths exam and bolted out the door ( thank goodness I had fallen asleep fully dressed) and was then told that I had the imprint of the electric blanket wires in the side of my face!!!!


But, alas that was almost 20 years ago (gulp!) and somehow I survived the lack of sleep and somehow managed to get a degree or two and somehow pick up a husband and a couple of children on the way to here. ... somehow.....

In between all of that I have lived at both ends of each 24 hour period. I have stayed up very late and I have gotten up very early. For me, the rising early habit really works.


1) I function better, no really.... a LOT better when I have had great sleep. When I don’t get enough sleep I not only lack energy, but my brain fogs over.


2) Quiet, uninterrupted morning time. Whether you use this time for meditation, reading, blogging or just sitting.....the peace and still of the morning really centres you.


3) No rush: getting up early means having enough time to eat a proper breakfast, snuggle with the family, think through your day, get ahead with some housekeeping jobs to free up extra play time etc


4) Seeing the sunrise is a powerful moment. That clear reminder that today is a new day and that everything is fresh and ready to start again. ( contrast this with the buzz of an alarm clock and rush rush rush.....)

Do you want to become an early riser ?

Try these tips.

Go to bed earlier – read if you need to wind down.

Make slow and steady changes, try 15 minutes earlier every second day.

Do something ‘lovely’ with your new time so that getting up early becomes a treat not a punishment.

Read up on the health benefits of getting sufficient sleep

http://www.abc.net.au/health/minutes/stories/2009/04/06/2532293.htm


Are you an early riser ? If you are a night owl, would you say you are productive or have 'quality' time in the evenings ? Have you tried to become an early riser ?

"She rises whilst it is yet night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens" - prov 31:15



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A Vision Splendid
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This Home Made Life

This Home Made Life


I have really enjoyed the last few days. I have been busy baking, making and gardening up a storm.

Today I came to realise how 'normal' these things are for us now.

On Friday I made a huge batch of washing powder. As I was grating up the soap I watched "Harp in The South" on my laptop. This is a beautiful Australian story about a poor family living in Surrey Hills Sydney in the 1940s. As I was grating away I felt like Olivia Walton making butter on the front porch while Grandma knitted!

Friday night is pizza night and we do it so often now that we can slap together a batch of beautiful half plain/ half wholemeal with the toppings that each person wants before you can even find the number of your local delivery boy!

On Saturday we made fettuccine that was so damn yummy I had a dream about it and could have easily made some for breakfast on Sunday! Because we have our own eggs, this fresh and tasty pasta only cost us 27 cents to feed the four of us !!!

Sunday was of course the Sunday roast and the weekly apple pie to go with it.

I also managed to plant some garlic, lettuce, onions and carrots.

Soon I will make another batch of homemade soap and this time I would like to have a go at making a liquid hand soap.

I am loving this home made life.
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A Vision Splendid
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Indulgent Ironing

Indulgent Ironing






Have you heard about the latest craze ........? Indulgent ironing!!


Okay, so it may not be the latest craze, but as it's originator I am doing my damnest to turn the world around and spread the craze of indulgent ironing.


It is simple really, all you need is a great DVD, podcast, CD or radio program and all your ironing paraphernalia. Then, iron away.... mindlessly off in a meditative state.... enjoying your movie, music or lecture.

I am always on the lookout for good ironing material. Often I podcast episodes from ABC Radio National, or borrow DVD's from the town library ( at the moment I have Singing In The Rain). But.... my latest indulgence is to record episodes of 'I Dream of Jeannie' and 'Bewitched' and meditate away in the 1960s houses that are depicted in those shows.

Oh...... the luxury of it all............... a perfectly ironed hankie and some nostalgia.
Last week when I was out and about I was talking to a woman who brought up the fact that she detests ironing! I launched into a starry eyed lecture about how indulgent it truly was and how it is so lovely to have some relaxation time with your favourite show whilst making a perfect, crease free pillow case.....

..... she replied ' Good! I'll supply the DVD and you can do my ironing!'

Oh dear! There are clearly two groups of people in this world.......... the sane and the insane.
I will leave it to you to decide where I sit. lol
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A Vision Splendid
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The Jam Stick

The Jam Stick



Can you see the 'jam stick' in this picture ? It has such a history.


My grandmother gave it to me a couple of years ago. The story is that when she was making jam on the farm one day a visitor noticed that the spoon she used was too short and she often burnt her hand.

The kind visitor went down the paddock got a piece of wood and crafted a new, longer handled jam stirrer and gave it to her. She used it for many many years.


Here I am, some sixty years later, using it again - bringing it back to life. I use it as a spatula in my mix master. I love the long handle.

I am not sure what type of wood it is, it is so weathered now - but still quite strong.

Not long ago, hubbie and I were fooling around in the kitchen comparing our favourite cooking items. His consists of an old frypan with no handle that he uses to make a perfect omelette ( so perfect in fact that he brings the pan, held in a tea towel, into my office to show me just how clever he is!), and an old scraper that he says he is going to pot rivet back together because 'they just don't make them like this anymore'.

Mine consists of the mix master ( an anniversary present about three years ago), an old spoon and the jam stick. You can read about the spoon here

All of our favourite cooking utensils were really old! I guess Hubbie is right ... they just don't make them like they used to!

You know what is really sad though....... when we were studying the jam stick the other day, Hubbie smelt it and said......
........ 'it smells like Nanna's kitchen '
. ...... and I smelt it ...............
.....and it does .............
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A Vision Splendid
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Back From My Blogging Break

Back From My Blogging Break



Ahhhhhhh!!! { Standing and Stretching}.




Time to return from my blogging break. It has been rather nice to have a break from writing, although my brain didn't take much of a holiday. It is always churning through philosophical analysis of events that are taking place around here.


Thank you to all the readers who sent me emails worrying about where I was {lol} I didn't realise you cared so much! {blush}. Your kind words were very encouraging.


One of the fabulous things about working from home or for yourself is the ability to take time out as required, depending on your family's needs or the need for a personal sabbatical.


So..... what have I been doing ?


Well, quite a bit actually. I have been teaching a lot more card making classes, organising ourselves for Christmas, 'gyming it' every day, learning lots more 'from scratch' recipes, planting lots of things in the garden ready for summer and selling excess possessions on E-Bay to create extra spending money for the holidays.


I am hoping that you are all ready for Christmas. You may enjoy reading Seven Steps To A Simple Christmas that I put together for the ABC radio interview last year.


And lastly....... I have written previously about having problems with my email system directing emails from the website to my inbox. I have been able to access the emails ( particularly the newsletter email form) from inside the site and there are over 200 emails yet to process! I am working through them, but please be patient if I take a little while to get to yours. I will do my best to respond.



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A Vision Splendid
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Garden Update: Tears of {Onion} Joy

Garden Update: Tears of {Onion} Joy


I will be crying tears of joy when I finally chop and cook this little baby! Actually, it is not so little. They are remarkably huge!

This is the first time that I have grown onions. I always had it in the back of my mind that onions take too long and they take up too much space. But..... the time was going to pass anyway and I don't believe they took a lot of space. They are now ready to be pulled out, tied and hung up until we need them. I will be planting more for sure!

  Everything else is plodding along nicely. This silverbeet is going much better since a relocation into a much wetter area.

Rows of beans are powering now that the weather is warming. So too is the sweet corn. This year we are really trying to get our succession planting worked out. We always struggle with feast or famine when it comes to our garden so this year we are determined to try and stagger the plantings and have an ongoing supply of produce.





Tucked away there is the shadow is a little pumpkin that wasn't there yesterday. They say magic doesn't exist, but how was there nothing yesterday and today there is a pumpkin ? That is a miracle in my books!
There are also some exciting chook house renovations happening to prepare the girls for a luxurious summer in their new penthouse. Stay tuned for further updates.
A question for you.... how do you plan and/or organise your succession planting so that there are no gaps in your backyard production ? I have been really encouraged by the show River Cottage and borrowed the DVD from the town library. I like the way Hugh has his seedlings starting again as soon as the last lot go into the ground. He has a great system worked out.
Do you have any fabulous system for what to plant when ? I'd love to know what you do.





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A Vision Splendid
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Yesterday We Owned The River

Yesterday We Owned The River


When we are cruising around our beautiful river and there is no one else about I always think that the river belongs to us - that {we} own the river. Of course I know it is exactly the opposite, we don't own the river - the river owns us!

I had the camera with me yesterday so I snapped some shots of the old buildings around the banks.

There are lots of old dairy farms on this island. There is also a lot of history around the area, with the river being used as the main transportation link for freight and milk. The whole area was once a bustling hive of activity. Now days, the river winds its way through the valley with most people too busy to even stop and look.

But I look....... and dream of days gone by. Days when being 10 kilometres from town was a long way and could only justify a trip there once a week at most. Days when the river was the centre of life - providing goods from afar and fish, prawns and crabs from it's depths.



You can see that cruising up the river, turning off the motor and drifting in the silence for a while, taking in the sounds of the birds, the lapping of the water on the bank, the friendly dolphins.... would make anyone realise after a while that {we} don't own the river, the {river} owns us!

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A Vision Splendid
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Garden Update: Compost Bin Changeover

Garden Update: Compost Bin Changeover


The time had arrived to empty the compost bin. We have a pretty plain compost bin. I won it in a radio trivia competition. That was about ten years ago and it still seems to be going strong.

I don't know whether we do it the 'right' way or not, but for years we have been using the same system with great success. We simply fill the bin with scraps from the kitchen, the garden and the some paper and try to keep the balance right between wet and dry materials.

The bin is made of two halves that are wired together in the middle on both sides. When the bin is full I simply undo the wire twists and am left with a perfect pile. You can see in the picture above that the material on the top hasn't broken down yet but as you look down the pile - it is perfect.

By this stage the girls get a whiff of what is happening and they start hanging around - begging to be let into the garden area.

I then move the compost to a new location (this time it is right next to where it was) and wire it back together. I sit the bin up on a couple of bricks and put some twigs in the bottom for air circulation. I then lift the top centimetres off the old pile and put it back in the bottom of the compost bin in the new location.

We then fenced off a small area and let the girls come in and have a good dig through everything for a couple of hours before we scraped it all up and put it on the garden. The girls went absolutely mad! They scratched and pecked and jumped on bugs. It really was a joy to watch!
We also cleaned out the chook house and added the manure to the compost.
It is amazing to think that we put the soil compost on the garden and grow things and then mulch up the plants and put them in the compost which in turn becomes the dirt that we grow things in again. It is a complete circle....... the circle of {life} !
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A Vision Splendid
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Milk Bubbles

Milk Bubbles




Take one straw

One glass of milk

and two boys


...



who should be getting ready for bed


...



add a giggling mother

grabbing the camera

when she should really be cross


...



the waste

that's a half a glass of milk


...

haven't I taught you better than that


...



{giggle from mother}



{naughty giggle from the boys}

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A Vision Splendid
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Yesterday Was That Day

Yesterday Was That Day




There comes a day every year when you pull out the first pair of shorts after the winter. Yesterday was that day.


When that feeling comes, there is no denying the need to ditch the long track pants and pull on something shorter. Often it means bearing an ankle, perhaps a mid calf as you move into a ¾ length pant. But, yesterday was hot and to my surprise the temperature demanded that I move straight to the short shorts.



As I applied sunscreen and headed out into the garden I wondered whether I would do damage to any low flying aircraft as the glare coming off my beautiful lily white legs was enough to blind anyone within a 200 metre radius. But alas, I pushed on with my gardening feeling half naked as you do when you pull on your first shorts for the season.



The good news was that last year’s shorts can be pulled on without undoing the buttons which means there must have been some body shrinking compared to summer last year, hence the proud baring of flesh in the back yard.
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A Vision Splendid
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A New Space

A New Space




I have found myself a new space.


I used to have a creative space in the small office that we have. It used to be one of the boys' bedrooms a few years ago and I loved the bright blue walls.


Since being so sick, I found it really difficult to go and work in that space. It only has a small window and I was having trouble seeing the true colours of papers I was working with. I could match two pieces of paper and then view them in different light and see that they were two completely different shades of the one colour.


When I was so sick I was drawn to the light. Wherever the sun was shining, I had to be - curled up under a blanket. As the sun moved around the house I followed it, starting for a couple of hours in my bedroom and then slowly moving around the house until it started to shine through the lounge room window and I could curl up on the lounge.

I decided that I would take over the front bedroom. It used to be my youngest son's room, but he decided to move in with his big brother a few months ago. They had been using this room as a 'games' room. It had lego and toys and their play station and piano keyboard.

On one of the days when I was feeling better I worked like a little ant to swap the rooms over. I would pick up four or five books from one room and shuffle them into the other room and bring four or five books from there back to this room. It was a very slow process, but like a little ant I just kept shuffling along moving things from one room to the other. It took a long time.

Now I have this fabulous spot to work. It is right at the front of the house. I can look out and see the chooks pecking around in the front yard. I see people walking past with their dogs and kids riding their bikes. If you look at the photo you will notice a little rose - that is where the sun peaks over the horizon every morning. I love to sit here and greet it.

I haven't got the room set up exactly the way I want it yet. I have to sit around in here for a while and do a few projects and get the feel for it. Then I will reorganise it to suit me better. It's all about feeling glorious in your space and not feeling cluttered and overwhelmed. I need it to be functional, yet highly motivating and inspiring.

For now, I am loving sitting here with a hot cup of tea and looking out at the world. I love the light. I am so glad that I found this space. I can't believe it has been here all along.

It just goes to show that changes come from within. Sometimes, the things that we are looking for have been here all along.
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A Vision Splendid
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Finding The Joy.

Finding The Joy.




It really has been a good month that I have been in hibernation. A combination of illness and events have resulted in a well needed break. Today I am running about 65% - which compared to where I have been is really quite okay.


Yesterday I noticed that I was starting to feel better. I think the sunshine had a lot to do with it. Never have I dreaded the winter so much.




I noticed that I was drawn to the colour combination in the jelly bean jar and just had to snap a picture of them in the sun - I will have to make something with these colours soon - they are so delightful. ( The jelly beans are because we have a diabetic in the family)


Then I heard the laughter of the children in the front yard. I love when they get bored and start thinking up these fabulous things to do. This game involved part of an old climbing gym, a skateboard and lots of protective gear. The big brother hooked the rope around himself and towed the little brother at pace down the driveway until the little brother skidded across the cement and onto the grass and they both fell into fits of laughter.

Honestly boys! Life would be much safer if you just sat down in front of the television all day.


Today we also went on a bit of a cruise around our fabulous waterways. Even though it was too cold to ski, the sun was shining and we cruised around the river system. At one point the water temperature was 18 degrees, so I am sure a few more weeks will see us back on the water again.

Bring on the summer, I say. Usually I love the change in seasons and the different jobs that come with the change in temperature, but this winter I have really struggled. We had so much rain, our garden flooded out at least twice and there were days when I didn't even feel like venturing outside.

But today, today is different and I feel a change on the horizon. Bring it on !!!






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A Vision Splendid
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Confession Time

Confession Time



My name is Michelle. I have a coloured paper addiction.

It has been two hours since my last crafting session.

My addiction is serious.

It is starting to interfere with my daily functioning.

It is preventing me from blogging as regularly as I should.... and from.........ironing!

Must.....look.......away.......must not be seduced...by the .......beautiful

colours.............must......not........... ( well maybe a little bit won't hurt.........)
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A Vision Splendid
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Changing Seasons

Changing Seasons







Autumn really snuck up on me this year. We were swimming, water-skiing and applying sunscreen right up until about 3 weeks ago. That's when I saw the first red/yellow leaf drop to the ground. As soon as that leaf hit, everything started to change. Step by step I noticed that nature had begun preparing for the change of season and I instinctively started doing the same.


Don't you think it is funny how we naturally follow the course of nature - although we rarely stop and think about it. The biggest changes for me seem to be at the beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn. In the spring time we start to open up the house again. The front door starts letting the sun in through the day, the windows are opened up wide to let as much warmth in as possible and you feel the need to clean everything out and start afresh. It reminds me of a flower coming into bloom and slowly opening each of it's petals.


Autumn is the opposite. The flower starts to close and tuck itself in tight to weather the cooler months. The jumpers come out, the socks go on and the snuggle rugs are put out on the lounge. In our house the change of season means that we put blankets on each of the beds and even an electric blanket, ready to warm the beds before getting in each night.


Each winter I add the old pink blanket ( pictured above) to our bed. It is one that belonged to hubbie's mum and dad. It is so old, it even has their surname (and ours) embroidered in the corner. I love things that stand the test of time. They seem to bring their story with them!


In the garden there has been a period of nothingness. The last of the summer crops come out and the winter ones go in. Until they emerge, it looks like a heap of dirt with nothing to show! Lately things have started to come to life. There are potatoes, broad beans, peas, beetroot, carrots, broccoli, onions and still loads of celery, spinach and a few different herbs. I am just hoping the garden survives this awful weather we are having. We have had very wild damaging winds and about 71mm of rain in the last four days. Once again the back yard is completely flooded. This morning I had to go out a dig a trench to let the water out of the chook pen as they only had one little island to stand on !
Do you like the roses pictured above ? They are from my garden. I have them beside my bed because they make a room so pleasant and lovely and their smell is beautiful! So, does he love me, or does he love me not ? Considering he gave them to me from our own garden...... I'd say he loves me !

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A Vision Splendid
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