Mother’s Day + a fresh flowers giveaway to WIN

Disclosure: This Mother’s Day musing and giveaway is brought to you by http://www.freshflowers.com.au

For flowers this Mother’s Day visit Fresh Flowers.

“There’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.” ~ Mitch Albom

Like many fifty-somethings, I no longer have my mum around for me to phone when something fabulous happens (or not so fabulous), to ask for sage advice on life’s biggies or to share my everyday moments with.

And, she’s no longer here for me to spoil with fresh flowers.

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May 10th will mark my eleventh Mother’s Day without Mum and I’ll be thinking of her, as I do every day, meandering through memories and wishing I could send her a bloom-a-licious bouquet of fresh flowers.

I love to remember Mum like this …

 

… as a stunning young woman with her life in front of her.

I wear a signet ring, given to her by a boyfriend before she met Dad. It’s not a betrayal of Dad; it’s acknowledgement that Mum was more than someone’s mother, or wife or daughter … she was her own person.

I also love to remember the mum who was always there for me, the mum who was inexplicably ironing in the kitchen each day when I returned home from school. I picture her wearing a tweed skirt, hand-knitted cardigan, slippers and white anklet socks.

That curious “ironing smell” takes me straight back to our little kitchen. Mum would down iron to organise a cordial and three (always three) biscuits for me to snack on while we chatted about my day at school.

In my mind’s eye, there’s just me and Mum chatting. In reality, there would always have been one or two (or more) sisters milling around in the kitchen with us. It’s a measure of how Mum made me feel that I recall our conversations as intimate, one-on-one chats.

Mostly, I love to remember Mum at my niece E’s wedding. She looked a million dollars in her sparkly, beaded, teal blue outfit and she shone bright, even though she was well into her cancer treatment by then.

Her outfit reminded me of the glorious ball gowns she wore in the fifties, when she’d dance the night away at a country ball, often in the arms of Dad.

As children, we dressed up in Mum’s ball gowns, delighting in the shiny fabrics and colourful beading embellishing them, and the incredible costume jewellery that matched each dress.

For us, it was a window into another world, a world Mum loved to reminisce about.

I hope she, too, was reminiscing about those glory days when she slipped into her sparkly beaded outfit for E’s wedding.

Within a year, she was carefully slipped back into that same outfit for her final journey.

 

FRESH FLOWERS G I V E A W A Y:

I’d love for you to spoil your special mum (or someone else in your life, maybe even yourself!) with a beautiful bouquet of blooms for Mother’s Day.

Thanks to the kind folk at FRESH FLOWERS you can WIN a bouquet worth $70.

Because Mother’s Day is all about love (and not likes), I’m not asking you to jump through any follow, like, share hoops. Neither is FRESH FLOWERS.

All you need do to be in the running is visit FRESH FLOWERS, check out their Mother’s Day range (eye candy galore) and let me know in the comments below which arrangement you’d choose for your mum.

Oh, and tell me why. Because “why” is where the stories live.

And, if you want to share the comp, go ahead. Maybe you’ll get lucky, and someone will send you a glorious FRESH FLOWERS bouquet!

Me? Mmmm … it’s so hard to decide, but if Mum were here, I’d send her this …

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Tulips – Serendipity in Glass Vase (which includes the vase and bloom box). Because, well, tulips (and Mum would have loved that she didn’t have to go rabbiting in the cupboard for a vase).

Good luck!

 Competition rules of engagement:

  1. The prize is a bouquet of blooms valued at up to $70, from the Mother’s Day Range at http://www.freshflowers.com.au which the winner can send to their desired address (see 2)
  2. Check that FRESH FLOWERS delivers to the postcode where you’ll send the bouquet if you win: visit http://www.freshflowers.com.au and click on the Do we deliver to your area? Link at the top of the page
  3. You must be an Australian resident
  4. To enter, comment below and tell me which bouquet you’d love to send and why
  5. The competition will run until 5pm (EST) Thursday, 30 April 2015.
  6. Winner will be chosen, notified and announced on Friday 1 May 2015.
  7. Winner must respond within 36 hours, or I reserve the right to choose a new winner.
  8. The prize is not transferable for cash
  9. Once notified, the winner must provide the following details: Name, Mobile Number, Address Type, Address, Suburb/Postcode, Delivery Date and Card Message

Dirty Dancing, the classic story on stage

Me: (excitedly): I won tickets to see Dirty Dancing! Woohoot!

He: To see what?

Me: The stage show of that movie, Dirty Dancing.

He: What movie?

Me: Dirty Dancing. You know … with Patrick Swayze.

He: Patrick who?

Me: You know … nobody puts Baby in the corner.

He: Whose baby?

Me: We can make a night of it in Melbourne. Dinner and show.

He: Can we go to Whisky and Alement after the show?

Me: Sure. Why not?

He: I’m in.

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And so it was that we headed off to the big smoke to see Dirty Dancing – the classic story on stage, having won tickets via a social media competition run by Robbie at King of the Castle Cafe. (Thanks, Robbie!)

Now, I admit that I didn’t mention the word “musical” during the above conversation.

Nor did I seek to elaborate on what Dirty Dancing was about. I figured I’d let Mr P leap to his own assumptions. No wonder he was surprised when we headed to the beautifully historic Princess Theatre in the top end of Melbourne’s CBD (rather than than some seedy dive in the other end).

We collected our A-Reserve tickets at the Box Office and I noted (with delight) that we’d be seated in the Grand Dress Circle.

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“Just follow the marble stairs,” directed the staff.

And so we did, climbing the beautiful old marble and brass staircase up to the elegant upper bar area then up another flight of stairs where we were ushered to our seats.

Below us, the stage was bathed in blue and above us was the intricate and ornate ceiling and this grand chandelier.

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The show began and we were transfixed (yes, even he).

I’d been intrigued to see how the movie’s narrative would translate to the stage.  Turned out, it was brought to life with an abundance of talent, on stage and off.

All the familiar characters were there and they danced (boy, did they dance!), sang and acted their way through an almost-true-to-the-movie script.

The stagecraft was crazy with a rolling turntable, drop-down screens and micro-second moves synchronising the scene changes.

The dancing was amazing. Their legs went on forever and executed contortionist-worthy moves.

The two lead characters didn’t sing but those who did were awesome, filling that theatre with astounding, tingle-inducing vocals.

The dancing was a little dirtier (in an arty way, of course) than I remembered. All in good taste, and beautifully executed … but not ideally suited for young children, I’d have thought. I was surprised to see some families there with primary school aged kids. There are some very adult themes in the Dirty Dancing script and this production didn’t hold back on them. I fancy those families had some interesting conversations in the car on the way home. Their call.

We didn’t have any of those conversations to worry about. So it was a joint selfie (just for the blog) …

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… and then a nightcap at Whisky and Alement to top off a perfectly entertaining evening.

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Adventures into subdivision #1

Being fifty-something often means change. Physical changes, outlook changes, family changes, housing changes.

For us, Boy Wonder’s recent shift to the big smoke signals that we are (like it or not) empty-nesters. Just me, Mr P and Jack Sparrow (Pirate Cat) remain aboard the Mothership. This house is a far heavier footprint than we need (or want).

We’ve been hokey-pokeying around the downsizing dance for a while now. And here. We’ve thought about selling up and moving to a smaller place nearby, renting out the lower level of our house, perhaps even jumping on the air B&B bandwagon. We’ve even considered selling up and “rational renting” to taste-test some other living locales.

And then the universe delivered us another option. I started working with a new client, a specialist in residential property subdivision. As I took the brief at our initial meeting (asking about ideal clients, demographics, key messages, value propositions, what’s different?) it dawned on me that we were smack-bang in the demographic and that we might have an opportunity to subdivide and unlock the equity in our backyard.

We live in a high-demand area and our block’s reasonably large (628 square metres) with front and rear access. The main part of our home (to the front of the block) is an Edwardian beauty with original period features. On a lower level to the rear is a seventies extension, a triple garage and some decking.

We’ve had a follow-up meeting and site visit with the subdivision specialist and an architect and we’re looking at an option to demolish the non-original buildings to the rear of the property and subdivide the space into two titles.

There are lots of hoops to jump through and a motherlode of what ifs to consider. If it’s possible to subdivide, do we sell both properties? build ourselves a townhouse on the rear block? live in the front property? keep them both as rentals?

We have a whole lot more hokey pokeying to do.

For now we have this:

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It’s a rough plan created to go with an application for approval to put a crossover (driveway) at the front of the property. That’s our first stumbling block. A yay or nay there will help us decide what our real options are.

Wish us luck as we put our left leg in and shake it all about on this down-the-rabbit-hole adventure into subdivision.

 

 

 

Cleverpatch and our (pagan) Good Friday barbecue


*Disclosure: CleverPatch provided me with craft products free of charge. Opinions are my own. Creativity rests with the artists (big and small).

Just before Christmas the kind folk at CleverPatch shipped a big box of crafty fabulousness for me to share with the little humans in my life.

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While we have no grandies of our own, we do have two great nieces and a great nephew, Miss A (6), Miss E (5) and Master S (3), thanks to the work of my amazing niece E and her husband A. They’re the cutest, cleverest chillens in the whole wide world and we’re blessed to have them in our lives.

Now, Christmas 2014 zoomed around faster than ever before (did anyone else notice that?) and, before we knew it, the cutest little chillens were back at school and kinder and my plans for a holiday afternoon of crafty fun were thwarted.

Then there were consecutive cases of chicken pox (!) and a bit of travelling (them and us).

All the while the CleverPatch box languished on the bed in our guest room, waiting to strut its stuff.

Easter soon loomed on the calendar (what is it with religious holidays?) along with our family’s traditional Good Friday pagan barbecue (don’t judge). Perfect opportunity.

So, I grabbed the CleverPatch box by the horns and busied those chillens for a few hours.

What fun they had with Porcelain & Glass Markers, Ceramic & Terracotta Markers and an array of blank canvases: pots, hangers, plant markers, votive candle holders, coffee mugs and more. They drew and created and coloured up a perfect storm, making very little mess as they went.

The chillens (and the bigguns) voted the colours bright and rich and the application on the various surfaces ever so simple (and much more fun than the adult conversation).

Their work on the glass and porcelain products will be permanent … the markers are designed to be oven-baked to cure them onto the products. They’re keepers (the creative masterpieces AND the chillens).

Here’s a little of what they got up to.

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Even Ms K (26) got in on the fun.

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Smiles all ’round. And I’ve left them with a box of CleverPatch products for next time they get the urge to create. Thanks CleverPatch.

 

All That I Am by Anna Funder (a book review)

Don’t be fooled by the cover of Anna Funder’s All That I am. This achingly beautiful novel is anything but “chick lit”.

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At 370 pages, it’s a solid read that ribbons through an in-between-the-big-wars time, when lines were blurred between friend and foe.

Funder cleverly chooses two alternating narrative POV’s from within the ranks of the four key characters: Ernst Toller and Ruth Becker. Ernst tells us his story from 1939 as an exile in New York while Ruth speaks to us from modern day Sydney, reflecting back 70 years to the nub of the tale. Their alternating perspectives weave a story of love, courage, war, desperation, doubt, regret and unthinkable betrayal that treks from Nazi Germany to London and beyond.

At the heart of the story is Dora, the fiercely committed Nazi resistance activist who never wavers from her ideals and the dangerous struggle of achieving change. She’s a heroine of the highest order. If Dora lived in 2015, she would be an underground sensation … a trending hashtag, achieving change and educating the world through an anonymous identity on multiple social media platforms. I’m certain of it.

For me, All That I Am illuminates the politics of a time I know little about, but have loved discovering. It weds history and emotion to believable characters who I find myself urging on. Sometimes, it feels like a thriller, replete with espionage and faceless men. Who knows who the enemy is?  Through it all is a love story of cousins who are more like sisters and romantic hearts that battle to beat as one.

It’s frightening to reflect on the events of All That I Am, knowing the characters are based on real people. I ask myself: how did we let this happen? And then I remember that we’re still letting similar things happen today. All That I Am speaks to the plight of refugees, people living under despotic regimes, and ordinary citizens hoping for political change and a better way of life. It also speaks to love, loss and trust, to the choices we make in life and how they play out in the bigger world.

What will stay with me most is Anna Funder’s superb prose. It’s imaginative, sometimes ethereal and sometimes sparse. Above all it’s consistent. From the opening paragraph to the very end, every passage features beautifully crafted words. On every page, there’s a sentence, a metaphor or a passage that I wish I’d written. Expositional, descriptive, observational, philosophical or speculative … it is all charmingly expressed.

By example, I found these quotes on random pages as I flipped the book open …

p 243
“Books lay pulled open and broken-backed over the rug: the scrolled curtain-rod ends had been unscrewed, as if they might hold something. They lay oddly on the ground like severed ears, or question marks.”

p198
“It is hard to know when something begins, when the result first becomes possible.  And then there is the other point, the point at which there is no pulling back from what you have set in train. Take this cup from me, Christ said, didn’t he? But by then it was already too late.”

p 129
“In the mirror an ashen-faced man stares back at me, grey hair spiralling off his forehead. My mother is dead now, but I try to find, here, some remnant of what she loved.”

p 65
“I watched Hans’s chest moving under his shirt, the soft sheen of his skin. I forced my gaze away to his feet but my eyes travelled back up over his legs, long and splayed, and I wondered how he was made.”

All That I Am won the 2012 Miles Franklin Award, along with many other accolades. I concur … this one is a worthy addition to your “to read” list.

From the www.bookdepository.com

“Anna Funder, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize and author of “Stasiland”, offers a thrilling tale and powerful love story that tells the heroic and tragic true story of the German resistance in World War II in “All That I Am”. When Hitler comes to power in 1933, a tight-knit group of friends and lovers become hunted outlaws overnight. United in their resistance to the madness and tyranny of Nazism, they must flee the country. Dora, passionate and fearless, her lover, the great playwright Ernst Toller, her younger cousin Ruth and Ruth’s husband Hans find refuge in London. Here they take breath-taking risks in order to continue their work in secret. But England is not the safe-haven they think it to be, and a single, chilling act of betrayal will tear them apart…”

 

 

Mirepoix Fine Foods, Meredith (Victoria, Australia)

Being fifty-something, I know the value of making a snap decision when you spy an A-frame promo sign. How else do you get to suss out new things?

This afternoon, when Mr P and I went in search of a cuppa after a bush walk in the Steiglitz Historic Park, we drove 10km up the road to Meredith, a small on-the-highway town with a couple of pubs and takeaway places likely to be open on this Easter holiday.

Then I spotted the A-frame boasting “gourmet coffee” and arrowing off the highway. Mr P executed a scenic blockie and we arrived at Mirepoix Fine Foods, with its colourful flags aflying and its little lace-trimmed door akimbo. We’re so glad we did.

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Mirepoix is a newbie, only about 2 months old, and housed in a period style home. It has a quirky English-tearooms-come-nanna’s-front-room vibe. Think: leadlight bay windows, dark tea-for-two tables and chairs, ruby red decor accents, lace, more lace, floral carpet and chandeliers. I know. I know. But it works. And it’s a refreshing change to the industrial-come-skandi interiors of most other new eateries we’re seeing.

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Behind the jump today was a lovely lady (of a certain age) with a beautiful lilting voice and a smile bigger than Texas. She knew her stuff and was happy not just to serve, but to guide menu choices and chatter.

We found ourselves adding a MirepoixTasting Platter to our coffee order. Why not? Locally made free-range small goods, Meredith Goats Cheese, grilled kransky bites, housemade terrine, dip, daily salad and antipasto including pickled beetroot, with chunky sourdough bread. All for $16.50. (They’d run out of terrine so we opted for a changeout of spinach and bacon quiche. There’s also a vegetarian option with stuffed mushroom.)

The platter was fresh, tasty and generous.

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mirepoix fine foods, meredith, visit victoria, travel victoria, geelong, midlife, boomers,

The counter area groans with fresh baked goods and sweet indulgences. Today I spied honey joys (yes, honey joys!), muffins and slices. Mr P vacillated (endlessly) before deciding on a coffee and walnut muffin, while I honed in on the tea selection, singling out a peppermint tea, which came served in a lovely, larger-than-expected glass teapot.

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The menu brims with local, fresh produce and is boosted with daily specials. It’s high-value with extremely reasonable pricing and generous servings.

Choices include:
Corn fritters with a fresh avocado salsa and house made  relish and side salad ($12.50 or $15 with a bacon side)
Sourdough toasties with various fillings ($6 – $8.50)
Bruschetta – sourdough toast smeared with olive oil and garlic, with diced tomato, red onion and fresh basil ($8 or $9 with fetta)
Eggs Benedict with wicked lashings of house made hollandaise sauce ($12).

We’re planning a return visit soon and highly recommend you give this little gem a try yourself. Especially if you love the sound of cheerful (sometimes singing) staff emanating from the kitchen while you chow down.

Can’t think of a better spot to stop when you’re travelling between Geelong and Ballarat, even if just for a coffee. Best to plan for an upgrade to a snack or even lunch, though. You won’t regret it.

Look for the A-frame on the highway.

mirepoix: [mir -pwah]  a flavoring made from diced vegetables, seasonings, herbs, andsometimes meat, often placed in a pan to cook with meat or fish.

Mirepoix Fine Foods
32 Staughton Street, Meredith, VIC
Ph: 03 5286 1264
Open: 8am – 5pm (closed Tues & Wed)

NOTE: This is NOT a sponsored post. We dined at our own cost.

A little home office update

Being fifty-something, I know the value of brightening up my work space now and again. It’s easy to get complacent about your work environment, especially when you work from a home office. My space was well overdue for a declutter, reorganise and update. I decided to devote a recent Saturday afternoon to spiffying it up. No more and no less.

My first task (and I admit it’s low hanging fruit) was to tidy up my reference books. I’ve been swooning over amazing images on the interwebs of entire walls of books arranged by colour, graduating through the hues of the rainbow.

I only had three shelves to worry about. By the time I culled and decluttered, I only had two … and I’m loving how they shaped up. What do you think? I feel more creative just gazing at them.

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With that done, I turned to my desk, which had degenerated into a beautiful mess of paperwork, books, files, stationery and small electrical appliances (you know: labeller, desk lamp, digital recorder, flash drives, radio, laptop, iPad, camera). I found homes for most of them, but was left with some tired pieces that screamed out for update … a brass desk lamp that I picked up at the market a few years back (the finish is corroded), a wire basket which I use to store reference journals (also a $2 market find), a red cube shaped vessel that held my pens for an eon and a chrome-finished figural ampersand (thrift shop).


copper_12

Being in my second year of buying nothing new, any updates would have to be cosmetic, second-hand, upcycled. I’m still yearning for the warm metals, especially copper; this decor trend just keeps on hanging around. I’d noticed copper basketware was hot in the decor magazines I flipped through at the hairdresser. This became my inspiration.

One $4 can of spray paint and a little blue masking tape was all that stood between me and some on-trend office accessories.

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rainbow book shelf, office update, DIY update, upcycling, copper DIY, office makeoverHow do you think I did?

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copper desklamp photo by sheryl allen

 

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