Saturday, December 20, 2014

Detailed posts to follow but I'm back from holidays

Connor said something amazing (at least to us), "Daddy, isn't it strange how 7 days goes quicker than 4 days away?"

We looked at each other and thought, "FIVE?!"

But that's the truth.

We went to the Drakensberg in April/ May for 4 nights and this time we were away for 7 nights, and I swear this felt shorter.

Connor and I are the same thought - we LOVE being away and we LOVE being back.

We stopped at that ginormous place on the N3 (Bergview) and he said to me, "I wish I could be in Jhb NOW" and I said, "SO DO I".

Because heat + two chattering/ whining twins + heat = discomfort.

When we got back this afternoon, we unpacked the car and my rule is to unpack everything there and then before anything else because I can't bear a house with STUFF lying around without purpose.

D, Connor and I were unpacked within 20 minutes and Kendra took 2 hours....

Story of my life.

I'll be back in the next few days with more tales of the Twins who Lost their Ears, the Mummy who Shouted too much, the GORGEOUS rusty car and all of our 3 best things about being away on holiday.

What were you up to over the last 7 days?
PS Louisa, how was the party?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The search for the jacarandas

People think I like always going on walks but I've said this before, once I'm out the gate, I'm good. I just don't think about it til I get out the gate.

(same with gym - I don't even give myself an option. On a Sat morning I roll out of bed, pull on my gym clothes, brush my teeth, etc. and off I go)

And I always enjoy "having done" the activity.

I find the kids are excellent at keeping me focussed. So if I say, "we really should go for a photowalk to look for jacarandas" they remind me til we do it.

This time, we even got D excited so he drove us to a street where he'd seen "good jacaranda trees" and the kids and I went mad!

purple carpets (imagine how close I was to the ground... and then imagine the people watching us... yes, I don't care at all. I want the pictures!

then we drove to more "good trees" and got out to walk around

isn't this a cool shot? All artsyish

don't worry, we were watching her

So that's it for another year. I just love looking out for these beautiful purple flowers.

What are your spring photo obsessions?

Mine? Any flowers and definitely these beautiful purple trees.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monochrome Monday and Glamming...

One of my favourite ways to use black and white is when the colours are too busy, nothing complements each other and you almost don't know what to focus on in the photo.

It's really easy for the mother who couldn't care less about the clothes to still have nice pics.

My example... a bit too busy

Much better!

See? Now you don't have to make your kids wear the same/ co-ordinating clothes - just make the pic black and white!

And then that same night (our year-end), the kids took some photos of us.

Both the skew photos (remember when that was all the rage a few years ago? there was even a joke that a skew pic on Instagram got x times as many likes as a straight pic) and that canvas make me twitch but we'll take what we can get with our budding photographers.

In other news, Mandy told me how to access the monochrome setting on my Canon. I'm slightly embarrassed to say I'd never experimented before, and I've had the camera for THREE YEARS!


(read your manual if you don't want to be like me)

I posted a pic to FB saying it's been YEARS since we dressed up. I think it was probably 10 years ago at a work function and the two weddings we've been to, we just wear work clothes.

Which means I had to buy the dress.

What about you?
How often do you dress up?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Saturday Snapshots - the looking for beauty edition

I explained a lot here why I wanted to do this post.

So without further jibber jabber, let's get to it.

multi-layered chipped paint

oooh, rust

and some more rust

peeling blue paint on an old door

old wall, old wheelbarrow, chipped paint
Interesting facts...
  1. I went straight to my Marcia faves folder to find these.
  2. Apparently I have an obsession a thing for chipped paint, old anything and rust :)
  3. Many people walked right by these things and when I stopped to take these photos, I got the quizzical look which I love, because they deserve a second look, right?

Can't wait to pop over to see yours BUT I'm going to be wifi-challenged as I'm on HOLIDAYS!

Which is your favourite photo?

And that's our last for the year!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Let's talk about Christmas

Clearly people don't come here for my book choices. There are only 12 views on yesterday's book post :)

I posted about our simple Christmas a few weeks ago so I thought it was time to do a few quick updates and also talk about a few other things we're not doing.

The store-bought advent calendar was very well received by both kids and then about 5 days in, we arrived home to a bit of drama.

One child ate all the other child's chocolates from their calendar.

The "victim" was surprisingly chilled about it and very forgiving (more than I would have been).

Somehow they negotiated and sorted out the rest of the chocolates.

Bottom line - advent calendars are no more. And since willingly giving them chocolate was already a stretch for me, we decided not to replace either of them.

However, my lovely friend at the Se7en blog does a monthly calendar which I normally don't use but this time I printed them out for the kids to colour in.

They spent two evenings happily colouring in both sheets and now they're using that to cross off the days.

SO EASY - I might never go back to the difficult advent calendars again. D and I chatted about this advent calendar thing and he said (and here's where we act really old), in his day, the advent calendar just had a picture behind the window - the fun was in counting down and seeing the picture.

And then let's talk about the elf on the shelf.

Now I have two issues with this elf.

1) Really? The festive season is crazy enough all by itself. Everybody in the world says they're too busy except today I read on one blog that December always feels calm to her. She is the only person I've ever heard say that.

Anyway, so then we want to ADD to the craziness by making this elf do tricks for 25 days? No thanks, I'll say no to the extra crazy.

2) That thing is just creepy. If I were a little child, I'd be freaked out at the thought of something watching me and making sure I'm good.

Do you have an Elf?

Okay, one more thing about Christmas. And for this one, I'm very guilty. I bribe my children too. But it feels wrong. God gives me good gifts DESPITE my behaviour, and so a few nights ago when I said, if you guys are good this week, we'll let you open your Christmas presents on Friday night (mainly so they could charge the cameras before the holiday),that just felt wrong.

I don't want them to feel like they have to earn their gifts. We (not Father Christmas) give good gifts because we love them and feel that they would be delighted by something just like God gives good gifts even when we don't deserve them.

Also, like Mandy said, I'm all for imagination but I don't do all these fantasies like the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas. At school they do Father Christmas and I very reluctantly sent gifts to school and had to ooh and ah when they came home to show me the Lego they got.

Tell me how you approach all this Father Christmas/ Santa/ Mr Kringle business.

PS Don't forget about our Saturday Snapshots tomorrow!
PPS My annual Christmas sale is on - scroll right down the page to see all of the detail.

And then I looked through my Feedly and found this post which ties in very nicely here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

My top books of 2014 - fiction and non-fiction

The end of year is upon us and as you know, I like a lot of recapping, because this is how I think through things, so best I start with some easy things.

Like books.

I'm doing a #DecemberReflections on Instagram. I was honestly stumped to think of the best book of 2014.

So I went through my Goodreads account. To be honest, I've read 73 books so far (my 2014 challenge was 70) and I fully intend to read 7 more this month, so these might change a bit....I'll come back and edit if it does.

Without further ado...

I read 5 of Emily Giffin's 7 books this year - the others are above my threshold. (I have a rule - I don't buy books above $11.99 because then I might as well have bought the physical copy and the whole justification for me getting the Kindle was that it was cheaper than my Exclusive Books habit).

Something Borrowed (this was made into a movie which is not at all as good as the book - The Runaway Jury is still the only movie made that is as good as the book - it may or may not be due to John Cusack...) and Something Blue are lighter and more fun.

(Do you like John Cusack?)

But the one that tops my list is Heart of the Matter. It was so thought-provoking and if you're someone who likes to think through issues (especially on working women and staying home and that sort of thing), definitely get it, read it and let's have a chat about it :)

(it's only $7,99 at the moment if you want it)

The Rose Petal Beach - Dorothy Koomson
I've raved about Dorothy Koomson before. I love ALL her books. ALL.

This was her latest one - I've read them all except her recipe book because, well, a recipe book!

(And Louisa, I see I bought my copy on Nicola's birthday last year :))

Still life - Joy Fielding

The last time I read a Joy Fielding was 5 years ago and I forgot how she writes these page-turners. Never mind sleep; I was up at least an hour later than I normally am (1 am and onwards...) for a good 2 - 3 nights.

Well worth it to be so thoroughly captivated.

Most disappointing - I think I love you - Alison Pearson (probably because I loved "I don't know how she does it" so much when I first read it years ago) and How to fall in love - Cecilia Ahern (she just writes so much better usually).

If you've read those two, tell me what you thought.

Special mention - Momfriends - Ariella Papa. Some editing needed which normally annoys me too much but I loved the honesty, authenticity, great characters and story. It's my 4th most enjoyable book which has got to tell you something!!!

And then, non-fiction reads

My goal was to read 15 non-fiction; I read 18 already and will definitely read another 2 this year.

Favourites were...

1. The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful - Myquillyn Smith

This is not only a book about decorating... it's so full of beautiful life lessons.

Really, get it and enjoy it with a cup of tea and your highlighter or post-it flags.

2. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess Jen Hatmaker

Loved! I still want to do a 7 project of my own... and D really liked the sub-title ;)

3. Daring Greatly - Brene Brown

I still liked the other two better, but this one speaks to me a lot now that I'm a parent. Some really great insights.

(Glennon Melton calls Brene Brown "Queen Brene" :))

Most disappointing reads

Is everyone hanging out without me? - I feel a little very annoyed at myself for keeping this on my wish list for 2 - 3 years and paying money to read it. Don't bother unless you're a fan and want some insights to her personality.

Let's all be brave - I read this author's entire courage series for 31 days a few years ago and loved it. This was... not the same. It seemed way too "young" for me, like 2 on the scale of brave things. That sounds ruder than it's intended to be but is why I felt it was maybe intended for a younger audience with not much of life behind them :)

Most fun read -There, Their, They're - a no tears guide to grammar from the Word Nerd. I paid about $2 for this and I was thoroughly entertained. If you're also a Word Nerd (D and I are), you will find yourself nodding away smugly :)

So that's where I'm at!

What were your top fiction and non-fiction reads of 2014?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

When you get home a little earlier, what do you do?

I like to have a plan if I miraculously get home a little bit early, a little something extra that I can quickly do with the kids.

So on this particular day a meeting finished early and I decided we should go for a walk.

These photos were taken with my little pink friend #Nikon

Do you ever get home earlier than expected? How do you use the time? Or do you just get straight on with supper?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Looking for beauty

Oops - we forgot about Saturday Snapshots.

I've wanted to do this one for the longest time so I'm going to do it anyway. But this weekend on the 13th.

Our theme is looking for beauty.

Something particularly important for me to realise at this time of year.

I was thinking about this concept as I started working through my goals review for this past year.

This has been one of those years that we want to put behind us as quickly as possible, right?

But through it all, it's important to remember that there's beauty everywhere.

I looked through some of my Instagrams and iphone pics that didn't make it to instagram last year when I worked in the CBD, and there are some AMAZING pics. Now you all know that was a horrible, horrible time in my life but maybe that's why God had to show me beautiful angles, light, snippets of beauty amidst all that drama.

And that's why I want to do this version of Saturday Snapshots.

So let's do it together.

Let's post 5 pics of things that nobody else would spare a second glance at but YOU saw something and captured it!

Those are the ones I want!

Who's in?

Sunday, December 07, 2014

So, let's talk about the load-shedding...

This might be an unpopular stance but I'm actually enjoying the load-shedding.

Especially at this time of year because it's forcing me to slow down and just be...

I've figured out the best positions for all the candles so we have maximum light throughout the house (the old-fashioned tall ones are still the best) and yes, I use my fancier ones too so I only have 3 new ones not yet lit. They'll be put to use later this week if this continues. 

I'm reading a physical book at the moment so instead of reading the iPad,  I'm going to pack my work bag, edit photos til the laptop gives in (we have a flask of boiling water ready for tea!) and be ready to jump into bed at 10 pm when the power comes back on.

Are you just totally annoyed by the load-shedding... Or have you adapted yet?

P.S. We won't talk about the traffic!

Friday, December 05, 2014

{Friendship Friday} with the Youngs, and no-plans weekends

A slight diversion - someone I follow linked to someone who linked to a post about how to pluralise surnames and that post went viral. Did you see it?

But as usual, you had to read the comments. Oh my word!

When I typed Youngs, it made me think of that post :)

This meet-up was way, way overdue.

As in... we were supposed to meet up last December at Bambanani when Kade got sick.

So basically Sam and I have always had 1:1 friend dates which is lovely but it restricts meeting times when you're both mothers.

Sam, did you read that? MOTHERS!

Moving on (I sometimes still can't believe that!)

This is the first time I saw this little one in the flesh and OH, she is a delight. A delight I tell you.

My kids love this child.

Even tonight K was looking through my phone and squealed (I wonder where she gets that from?!) when she saw Gemma.

As for Kade, he is such a well-mannered little boy (you all know I have a soft spot for kids with good manners).

Do you know what he said to me????


My lamp!

(It is nothing fancy!)

Kade and my kids played together so nicely and you may recall a pic of the 3 of them eating ice-cream.

We had such a lovely afternoon with all of them and I can't wait to do it more often.

It's so nice when the husbands and kids get on, isn't it?

Sam is one of the most encouraging and generous-spirited people I know. I love seeing her comments on my blog and on other blogs and Instagram feeds.

Such a blessing you are :)

And yet she can also speak the truth in love. I love people like this in my life and I appreciate it in you, Sam!

This one was taken right after the kids' baths in my very sunny kitchen.

Well now, I do believe I'm finally caught up with October posts!!!

Every year, at this time, D comes up with this theory that we're too busy and we need to only socialise on max two weekends a month.

That's all well and good but this is a bad time of year and because of recency, everything feels worse.

And obviously in winter, Joburgers hibernate so it all evens out (in my mind).

But I wonder if there might be something to having a very loose plan.

Do you do intentional socials, or more to the point, intentional no-plans weekends?


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