Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Facing facts, if I don't grab this opportunity now, I won't be back before Christmas. The early night I was aiming for was a pipe dream so I may as well pop in here and wish you a Merry Christmas while sharing a random selection from my phone and camera.

If you want publicity for your library, move to the country. This full page of the local paper was not paid for! I didn't suggest the pose either....

Andrew's (significant) birthday was on Saturday and his parents very kindly minded the children so we could go out on Friday night and we had a lovely evening at Three Chefs and then the cinema. Andrew chose Eton Mess for dessert on Saturday night so I didn't make a cake. Jen, from work, has a similarly horrible December birthday and Kristy made her this fabulous cake! If you like cake, work in a library.

For the last few years we have added gingerbread house to our list of Christmas traditions. I made the gingerbread one evening and left Sue to help the kids put it together while I was at work. It turns out they don't like gingerbread, just the lollies....... shame that, as I love gingerbread.

And so, to bed. I don't know when I'll be back. Have a wonderful Christmas celebrating God's great gift to us!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Two sleeps to go

There may be nine sleeps till Christmas but there are only two sleeps until Andrew's 40th! Of course, I have been in denial about both of these approaching events and we have been kept very busy. Last Friday night was the last Kids' Club for the year and we were all invited to a party at the Botanic Gardens. Bethany worked on her climbing skills.

We went on the model railway.... Bethany was pretty excited.

I made this luminaire at Liz' Stampin' Up workshop.

This is it when it isn't on the job.

We got to meet the lovely Peter who didn't wake up though we all had several holds.

We do love babies.

On Sunday evening we went to Carols in The Victory Memorial Gardens. The weather was lovely and hundreds of people came. Andrew did a kids' spot and Bethany and some of her school friends went on stage with him as elves to help him sing. Can you spot Bethany in this photo?

They all did a great job and the whole evening was lovely.

Andrew's parents are here now, minding the kids while we are at work. The weather is warming up again. We have had drought, flood and now plague as the locusts have moved in....... ah, the country. I do like this little bird that has made its nest on the grapevine out the back door. There are four little eggs in it :)

Reading update: Jasper Jones was brilliant. I really loved the banter between Charlie and Jeffrey, it must be an Australian classic. The Bell Jar was also a fascinating read. You have to read it to find out why Sylvia Plath gave it that title. I have already borrowed at least ten books to take away over Christmas. If only I was I was as organised in all areas.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Storms and floods can make everything topsy turvy. Bizarrely, the water damage done to the library is unrelated to the flooding river. The lagoon which overflowed into the library is fed by storm water and there was a massive storm with so much water in a short space of time. The library is still closed. We have spent many days alternately sitting around waiting and getting stuck in to hard, dirty, physical labour. We had to pull carpet out from the inside of built-in shelves, under heavy furniture and inside the compactus. Then we had to scrape off the underlay that had been glued down. This evening I realised that I was supposed to submit an article to the newspaper on Tuesday. Without a desk, phone or computer I completely forgot!

Life continues as normal in many ways and I was changing sheets in Jossie's room when I noticed something different about the Barbies on her bed. I remember giving my own Barbies crew cuts when I was her age but Jossie is piercing their faces with her own earrings!

We went to Andrew's work team Christmas Party on Sunday. The kids wouldn't have gotten out of the pool if it wasn't for the food. We had Bombe Alaska, tiramisu and the children loved the rainbow jelly.

Living on a hill we are pretty safe from the flooding Murrumbidgee. Wagga has a long history of floods and finally built the Gobbagombalin Bridge in 1997 to ensure that the city wouldn't be cut off. The Gobba is 1.2km long and traverses the Murrumbidgee and a lagoon but mostly we pass over paddocks. In the last few days, however, the river and lagoon covered the whole distance bar a few spots of higher ground.

This is the actual river. The little ball of greenery in the middle in all you can see of the island.

The library wasn't the only area to be damaged. The poor art gallery had a floating timber floor that is all uneven now and this is the garage, filled with documents hanging on washing lines.

We don't have desks, computers or phones yet and we probably won't open until Friday but at least we had rhubarb cake and custard. Thanks Kristy :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The aftermath

It's great to take photos of significant people and events - to have something to blog about if nothing else. Despite the fact that I have had a blog for years, I still regularly find that I get to the end of a lovely visit with friends and family and have no photos. Bethany probably won't be like that. When I hooked up my camera to get the photos of the flooded library I found this record of a play day Bethany must have had with her Liv dolls. This doll looks most uncomfortable - her back foot!

The driver is not watching the road and the girl in the blue dress knows it.

We had a downpour on Thursday night. It really did rain very hard for quite a while and Andrew got soaked getting from work to the car. I had to open our garage door to let out a lot of water but we were fine inside the house, not even afraid of the thunder and lightning. I had no idea of the damage caused in town. There is a gallery of photos here . Friday dawned bright and sunny and I drove the kids to school as normal. Just as I dropped them off the radio announced that the art gallery and library had been flooded and the whole Civic Centre was closed. The building has three floors (the library takes up part of two of them) and the roof collapsed over part of the third floor.

I didn't think that the building would be closed to staff but we were told, as we hung around outside, that we should go home and we probably wouldn't come back until Tuesday. At this point we had mixed feelings. Terrible damage...... surprise day off and super long weekend....After fiddling about with phone numbers and chute contingencies (if everyone came and returned their books over a very long weekend the chute would jam and the books would get damaged), I went home. I watched last week's episode of Spooks on iView, finished the third book in the Dark Heavens trilogy (not my normal type of thing at all, but compulsively engaging) and had just settled down in front of The Forsyte Saga on DVD and painted my fingernails. No sooner had I put the third coat on than my manager rang and asked me to come in and help to rip up the sodden, filthy with lagoon water carpet.

Everyone was pitching in. Directors, managers, outdoor council staff and library staff.

Wet carpet doesn't smell nice.

No power meant no air-conditioning.

Anne was at the Civic Theatre on Thursday night and raised the alarm about the flood. She and some others came in and moved all the books off bottom shelves and took everything off the floor in the workroom. The books are OK but the shelves will have to be replaced. We've been needing new carpet and now insurance will pay for it! It looks like we won't be open for a while but we'll be back at work on Monday trying to restore order. I think it may be a long haul.... My nailpolish was ruined and had to be removed.

I wasn't sure whether the timing was awful or brilliant but I decided to go ahead with the Stampin' Up! workshop I had planned. Liz had done a lot of preparation and I had made two cakes and bought many Lindor Balls so we forged ahead. Raspberry Lindor Balls, by the way, are pretty disgusting but the peanut butter ones are delicious.

I think it was just what we needed, particularly after such a physically draining afternoon.

We ate cheese and biscuits, lemon earl grey syrup cake (the recipe is here when you scroll past the tart and I highly recommend this cake - the texture is fabulous as it's made with cream rather than butter) and chocolate apple cake. Liz set up a fabulous display of cards - we didn't make these.....

We made a big mess.

Out of the mess came two each of two card designs and a box. I think an evening of food, cards and  conversation was perfect and we'll wish we were doing it again when we're back at work on Monday.

Liz made these lovely little gifts for everyone.

Now, to start thinking about Christmas.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


It is the silly season and when you already live life at a less than sensible pace, it can become quite ludicrous. If you're not careful you may become run down and fall ill. Being a night person I tend to stay up late during the week and catch up on sleep on Saturday and Sunday mornings. One weekend in Sydney for my reunion, the next in Melbourne for the twins' baptism and and the next Saturday at work made for a very tired woman with a nasty cough. After work on that third Saturday I filled a drink bottle with water to try and contain the coughing while Jossie, Toby and I went to see Andrew in The Boy From Oz. It was so good! The music was brilliant, the costumes and dancing fabulous and the young, local lad playing Peter Allen did such a good job. Flash photography is not allowed in the theatre and this is the best shot I took while trying to capture our pre-show excitement.

I stayed home from work for two and a half days last week, nobody being impressed with my coughing all over them, and Toby stayed home one day when we suspected whooping cough (he didn't have it!). I could have posted to the blog then, I suppose, but instead, I made cards and read books to convalesce. When lovely Liz found out that I was ill she brought around a care package of card making paraphernalia. Such fun! Here are the first of six cards that I made.

I finished reading The Girl Who Played With Fire, White Tiger by Kylie Chan and The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi (I highly recommend it - set in India, vibrant, full of life and not depressing). How I wish I could read for a living....

I went back to work on Friday (will I ever stop coughing?) just in time for the book club end of year party. George Negus was in town for a literary dinner and The Boy From Oz was still on so we had reduced numbers. This suited us very well as there could be 420 people if everyone in a book club came! We had around 70 people come (only three men) and it was lots of fun and well worth the dramas of running around madly dropping some children at Kids' Club, others at Liz' house and picking them all back up again.

A quiet weekend may have been a good idea but isn't possible at this time of year. I did get a sleep in before making three chocolate Marsala cakes, setting up the church and helping to run our annual Café by Candlelight. We made these tissue paper flower, ball decorations. It took me three goes before I made a decent one but I am now perfectly skilled.

Eighty desserts all ready to go.

We ate dessert, listened to a great talk about the real Jesus and made felt flowers. Jossie was a waitress for the night and really enjoyed the experience.... and the chocolate.

On Sunday afternoon, before the rain came, we walked to the park at the end of our street for the Estella Christmas party. I had a delicious coffee, the kids and Andrew had sausage sandwiches and the kids also had lots of lollies, some from Santa who arrived in a police car. Bethany loved the jumping castle.

It reminded me of when she went on one with Joss last year and was terrified. Click on the photo to best appreciate the expression on her face.

That brings us roughly up to date. Bethany received a merit award for improved listening :) I'm glad she is improving as I get rather tired of repeating myself when she asks a question but doesn't stop talking to hear the answer! The Boy From Oz began on a high and kept it up the whole way through. Now that it is all over we can start to work out the Christmas holidays, though the very thought overwhelms me..... I think I'll go and read a book (I have several on the go - The Red Phoenix, Jasper Jones, The Bell Jar and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Melbourne for the weekend

I'll admit that I'm getting a bit weary now. I have become very used to staying up late and saving up for weekend sleep ins (encouraging news for those with small children - you will get to sleep in before they leave home!). Last weekend I was in Sydney for the reunion and this past weekend was spent in Melbourne so I am running on empty but it was completely worth it!

Andrew had the opening night of The Boy From Oz on Saturday night so he wasn't able to come with us. The kids and I got up bright and early and had a great trip down to Melbourne, arriving in time for lunch. The men very kindly minded the children while the women headed to the shops on Maling Road. The shops were lovely for window shopping. We saw a dress that we'd have loved to buy for Tim and Shona's Pumpkin but it was $250! (we really missed them, especially the new Gumnut.) After that I had no qualms at all about buying some chocolate at Xocolatl. I don't remember all the flavours and they don't have them on the website but the red one is strawberry balsamic, the long one had macadamias and honey, the silver one was creme brulée and the white one was raspberry and lime. Delicious.

And pretty.

We had a fabulous dinner of ribs which the kids enjoyed with gusto and necessitated serious cleaning of faces and fingers.

Poor Phil and Kristin had a rough night when Henry was too excited to sleep and he and Georgiana woke up very early. How can you be angry with these sweet faces?

The early start enabled us to fit in two coffees and all the lunch preparation without stress. We all got dressed in our finery and Henry and Georgiana wore their special baptism outfits. This is Henry smiling out the window at the trees - he has the loveliest nature!

Georgiana's outfit was beautiful and I do apologise for not having more photos of her - it's because I was spending time with my godson on the day of his baptism!

Matching side ponytails. Not matching height despite there being only three weeks between their birth dates!

Henry with his godparents. Wayne is Kristin's brother.

After the ceremony we went back to Phil and Kristin's for a delicious lunch and a piece of this cake - not fruit cake but mud cake with a layer of ganache in the middle. There is a great photo on facebook of Toby's eyes bulging at the sight of it.

It is always great to get the cousins together and Bethany even made some new friends at the lunch. Charlotte has great dress ups.

Jossie held babies all weekend.

Thanks for having us P,K,C,H and G!

We got home around 9.30 pm, probably 10 minutes before Stephen Fry would have finished reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone! Audio books are the best. Andrew's opening night was fabulous and they were given a standing ovation. Jossie, Toby and I are going to be in the audience on Saturday night and can't wait to see it. Now, I need to sort the three loads of washing I did last night.......

Sunday, November 7, 2010


OK, this is a bit embarrassing. I went to Sydney for my 20 year school reunion and have come back with photos of what I ate. Embarrassing but not really surprising I suppose. I changed handbags for the reunion and forgot my camera! I'm hoping photos will turn up on Facebook at some stage but there didn't seem to be a lot of photo taking, which is a shame.

I may have had reservations about going, and many people told me stories of unpleasant reunion experiences, but I am so pleased that I went. I did have a couple of odd conversations with people I didn't know and certainly didn't like while at school (which doesn't narrow it down very much I must admit!) and the speeches were entirely directed at a different group and were not representative of my time at school but I was able to see and catch up with a lot of people I did like at school, some very good friends, whom I haven't seen for many years and for that it was completely worth it. It was nice to remember that I have grown up and am not the irritating, irrational and prickly teenager I was at school. We had to wear name tags, which was very handy, and they had the photos from our yearbook on them. This is mine.

Sad to say, it isn't just a bad photo. I think it was a fair representation of me whilst at school. Jossie and Bethany think it is very funny. It is hard to tell if I look the same as you can't really see my face. Lots of people looked almost exactly the same, my friends and I, for example, haven't aged at all ;), some people had really improved and there were a few people who have passed their peak (Sue said that, not I!). I was very disappointed not to see some people who didn't come but I think I'll make an effort to catch up another time and am definitely planning to see some people before another 20 years goes by.

So, that's the reunion. Now, back to the food. Janice very kindly picked me up from what I like to call the plane station and we drove to Newtown where we stayed with friends of hers. King Street offers all options for dining but we chose, typically, Japanese. Janice's usual choice of Asakusa was closed so we went over the road to Hikaru and it was an excellent substitute. Thankfully Janice likes to share! We had mixed sushi,

gyoza and soft shell crab don. Oh, so very good.

Here is the one photo I took with a person in it. Janice, holding our yearbook which we were studying in the hope of knowing more people. It didn't really help. Nathan drew the cover picture - what talent!

The theory was that we probably wouldn't get much food at the reunion so I thought we should splurge on afternoon tea (what we generally call high tea). Having dithered over the idea I didn't research properly and thought you could just show up at the QVB unannounced. Not so. They had a private function on and told us that Saturdays are booked out four weeks in advance. Janice asked if he could recommend somewhere else and he said "Nowhere does what we do". Very helpful man. So we went to the Lindt Café - not new for me as I go there every time I go to the State Library, but I usually only have coffee and maybe a macaron (I'm totally over them now), so we had cake. We shared the St Moritz, dark, milk and white chocolate mousse with almond cake, and the Wimbledon, mascarpone and vanilla cream, vanilla almond cake and strawberry purée. Both were delicious but we especially like the mascarpone - I must make something with mascarpone soon.

We got home from the reunion just before 1am and were up and ready to go out for breakfast by 8.30. We went to the end of the street to Urban Bites where Janice had eggs benedict with bacon.

I had corn fritters with tomato, spinach and bacon.

Seeing as I had been considering pancakes, I thought we were up for breakfast dessert and we shared this strawberry, rose and watermelon cake at Black Star Pastry.

When you catch the plane from Wagga you need to be at the airport half an hour before the plane leaves. At Sydney they close the baggage check in half an hour before the plane leaves, something I completely forgot about, so I was told off for having only just made it. The flight was pleasant as I am reading I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes by Jaclyn Moriarty. Such whimsy! At Wagga airport a wonderful surprise was waiting, Mim and Bill were driving through Wagga and came to say hello! It was so lovely to see them.

It will be hard to do my 10 hour day at work after such a weekend. I had so much fun hanging out with Janice. I really wish I had bought some chocolate though - I was right near Haighs!