Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This week I'm thankful for...toeless stockings

Yep that's right. This week I'm thankful for toeless stockings. And here's why.

I popped into Myer earlier this week for a couple of pairs of stockings. I came across toeless stockings that promised to look like a tan. At $15 a pair I was a bit hesitant but thought they might be worth a try.

And they were. They were fabulous. After I managed to squeeze my toes into the little holes.

No streaks from tanning moisturizer. No stripping down to my underwear for a spray tan. Instant tan = thankful.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The perfect ingredients for an afternoon tea

Friends bring joy and laughter to our lives and what better way to spend an afternoon than with friends, laughter, good conversation and yummy food.

And that’s how I spent yesterday afternoon - a ladies afternoon tea. I invited a group of beautiful girls to share our newly renovated home over some delicious treats, tea and a good old chat.

I know I had a wonderful time and I sincerely hope my guests did too. I love the experience of high tea; the tradition, the style and the timeless elegance of another era. The Tea Room at the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney offers the experience and it’s definitely worth a visit. So with all that in mind, I set about planning and delivering an elegant afternoon tea.

The menu

Herb, garlic and parmesan pastry rolls
Cucumber and tzatiki sandwiches

Ham and tomato sandwiches
Cherry ripe chocolate cupcakes
Mini vanilla cupcakes with pink buttercream icing and sugar butterflies

Apple and cinnamon muffins
Cookies and cream truffles

The girls brought some delicious dishes of their own to share:

Chicken and vegetable rice paper rolls


Lemon pie with hand made pastry

Rich chocolate cake (containing four blocks of chocolate and double cream)

All accompanied by a selection of tea.

With my new camera in hand, I snapped some images to share. A huge thank you to my gorgeous friends for a lovely afternoon, despite the mid afternoon downpour.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The model pooch

Instead of writing today, I'm going to let my photos tell a story.

Our little dog Max has spent most of the weekend with a new camera in his face. Here are some of the results. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

I think he'll be making another appearance on the family christmas card this year. His first appearance was a huge hit. Amazingly the Christmas cards are still pinned to the fridges and work cubicles of quite a few family and friends.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Distracted...but with good reason

I've been a little distracted this week. I usually aim to write a new post a couple of times of week. I would love to write every day but unfortunately I just don't get to it (after an 11 hour day of travel and work it just doesn't happen).

I usually get my self organised for a Wednesday post to write about what I'm thankful for each week. Unfortunately this week I missed it. Oops.

But I really did have a good excuse. Hubby and I bought a new digital SLR camera yesterday and of course after lugging it home, I had to try it out. So I spent the night delicately unpacking all the bits and pieces, briefly reading the instruction booklet, charging the battery (hate that part) and then taking photos of my poor husband (very camera shy) and our little dog Max.

And before I knew it and after a phone call to my mum and sister, it was bed time. So my poor little blog was neglected for the night.

But the great news - be sure to look out for some photos as I attempt to get back in touch with my creative side. For those who are wondering we got a Nikon D3100 aimed at the beginner level SLR photographer.

I did a bit of photography at school, college (that was in the days of film) and I do still have a good old film SLR (that I can't bear to part with). However we thought this was the best option for us. The camera is for both of us, it's been a while since I regularly used an SLR and any fancier and it was out of our budget. Plus it's a great size and it offers full HD video.

Anyway, after a few weeks of ownership and driving my friends and family crazy as I shout cheese, I will share my thoughts on the camera and what it offers. But for now, I'm just going to play.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kitchen renovations are officially done!

Ok, we’re done! Kitchen renovation is complete and now we’re enjoying our new kitchen.

It’s been a hectic and expensive nine months. Our bathroom renovations started in January when we attempted to get a plumber, 19 enquiries to plumbers later and we had one. We met the deadline of Easter for a functioning bathroom when my family came to stay thanks to a stylish brown tarp as a shower screen.

We then worked on finishing the bathroom and en suite and ensuring they were as stylish as could be. Then as we were beginning to plan our kitchen renovation, our oven which we suspected was nearing the end, gave up the ghost and we were suddenly in the thick of organising a new kitchen.

We opted for a semi DIY. I've written about our renovations a few times, including our bathroom, a before shot of our kitchen and progress along the way. Hubby removed all the tiles and the cupboard doors and completed the painting, and the professionals came in and delivered new doors, benchtops, splashback and appliances. Hubby then finished off the floor tiles and the blind. I threw in a few design ideas and we now have a stunning, sparkling kitchen. Finally it’s time to enjoy!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Time for a little respect

My visit to the Berlin Wall 2005
Freedom is something that most of us take for granted. Here in Australia we are free to express our opinion, free to associate with who we want to, free to vote and free to travel. There are and have been parts of the world where these simple freedoms are simply not allowed.

I came across this story during the week and my first reaction was how insensitive and then how sad. According to the Daily Telegraph story, a new virtual game is set in 1976 in Germany and allows players to take on the role of an East German border guard or an East German refugee trying to escape.

Have we as a world really forgotten about the awful events experienced by ordinary people as little as 25 years ago? Did we not learn anything from the Cold War when basic freedoms were denied to people in countries a lot of us visit today? A little bit of background.

My mum has a friend in Germany, a friend she has had for 40 years. At the age of 15 my mum as a young girl living in country NSW started a friendship with a young German girl living in the eastern or communist half of Germany. The Berlin Wall was erected by the German Democratic Republic in 1961 and momentously torn down in 1989.

They wrote for a number of years before my mum at the age of 18 visited Europe and bravely crossed Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin in order to visit her friend. For me, I still find that incredible. A young country girl crossing into a communist country at the height of the Cold War to visit a friend she knew only through letters and had never met. That trip was a great success and both my sister and I have visited with my mum on two separate occasions. However, we were nowhere near as brave and our visits in recent years have been to a united Germany. My mum’s friend and her family have also visited us on their first visit out of Europe.

I find this period of history incredibly interesting, partly because of this personal connection. I asked a lot of questions of our friends in Germany; sometimes to the point where Mum at times felt she needed to ask me to ease up. I wanted to know what life was like in a communist country, did you want to leave, did you wonder about the rest of the world, what did you know about the rest of the world, do you miss it?

There are a few stories our friends have shared with us about life in eastern Germany during this time. Many of them are private and very personal. They do include tales of letters and parcels being opened and inspected before continuing onto Mum in Australia and vice versa. Innocent letters and parcels between teenage girls.

Around the time of my visit to Germany, I read a book by Anna Funder, Stasiland, which shared some of the experiences of Germans during this period. Files and investigations were conducted into citizens that had aroused the suspicions of the Stasi or Security Police. Did such a file exist on my Mum’s friend, or even my Mum? As a foreigner entering Eastern Germany she attracted attention. Was her friend ever in danger because of a friendship with someone in the West?

So getting back to the story I read this week, did the people who created this video game stop and think about the people in Eastern Germany for whom this experience was more than a video game, it was a reality. For those behind the Berlin Wall who made the decision to risk all for freedom? For some it was a success, but for others it was met with imprisonment or worse, death. Many of those who attempted to cross were young people struggling to cope with life under communism or socialism as our friends refer to it as.

What about the young guards, for many the time spent guarding the wall was part of national service. Imagine being faced with the prospect of being ordered to shoot someone attempting to cross the wall or being imprisoned yourself? Such a decision may still haunt people alive today. The game was due to be released today - October 3; the day Germany celebrates 20 years since reunification.

I guess this all comes back to respect. Respect for those who have suffered and how this is not the appropriate content for a video game. The stories behind the Berlin Wall are too real. They have an important place in the world’s modern history - to serve as a reminder of what war and fear can do to the lives of innocent people. These are the stories of real people and for that they deserve our utmost respect.


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