In amongst the increasing busy-ness of the ‘getting ready for Christmas’ season, I am trying to make space for some daily reflection on what Christmas means to me, encouraged by the Journal Your Christmas class (yes, it’s Shimelle again).

There are lots of items on my list of things that would make Christmas ‘perfect’, and I have given them all up. If they get done, then that’s great. If not, then that’s great too. Far better to arrive at Christmas Eve feeling calm and relaxed than tense and stressed.

So if the mood takes me, and I have time, I will bake shortbread and gingerbread. I will buy mince pies because I could never make enough to satisfy DH’s appetite for them. We will bring in the tree tomorrow and I will enjoy decorating it – and I will treasure the mixed colours of the decorations because they all have memories attached. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good!

Why  not join me in giving up your ideas of ‘perfection’ this Christmas, and enjoy a ‘good enough’ Christmas with a little less stress?

5 reasons I’m thankful today

Not that I’m cheating or anything, but I am also very grateful for cupcakes as pretty as these ones, and you can choose whether this is item #0 or item #6 on the list!

1. I woke up breathing. Even when life is not wonderful, it sure beats the alternative!

2. Spring weather – with all its variability – means that Summer is coming (and I love Summer!).

3. I’m going to Stamp Camp this weekend – and I’m looking forward to learning new things and meeting new people.

4. I have wonderful people in my life – my family and friends are the best!

5. I work at something I love doing – with a job at the library where I get to mingle my love of books with loads of people interaction.

What items would be on your list of things that make you thankful today?

My signature

It’s no secret that I love to create and place a high priority on carving out creative time in my schedule.

My sewing machine is often used to create colourful quilts. While I enjoy the process of making them, the process of giving them to the recipient is actually more fun:

I made a quilt for my niece, using lots of different cat fabrics. This was so she could have cats on her bed even in the university hostel!

The first quilt that was entirely of my own design was a play-quilt (again featuring cats), made for my great-niece. Seeing her move the cats around their various homes on the quilt was such a thrill.

I have also enjoyed making albums for non-scrapbooking friends to easily show off their baby photographs (this one is based on a template shared by Angie Lucas in the Nove/Dec 2007 issue of Simple Scrapbooks):

As well as making gifts, my enthusiasm for hand-made items has led to work with children to create colourful art and crafts. There is something almost magical in children’s enthusiasm for learning and enjoyment in their finished product:

After a holiday craft session at the library, the children happily posed with their decorative kites – look at the wide smiles (but mine was probably wider!).

Through this reflection I have learned that I am happy to have ‘handmade’ as a signature trait. I have also learned that I am grateful for the photo organisation system DH has imposed on the photo files in the computer – I can find what I am looking for!

What is the pattern?

I’ve been thinking about the pattern of my days through the week, and trying to discern if there is one. Because I work every other week day, and every alternate Saturday, it takes longer than a week for any sequence to repeat (and then my job-share partner and I will probably alter it by swapping days around anyway).

Many years ago my days did follow a predictable pattern, but having a child and then getting sick changed all that.

But I don’t mind that there’s no discernible pattern to my days – I quite like the seeming randomness, and that only I know what’s coming next (as long as I look at the notes in my diary!).


Vocabulary extension

I love words. I love lots of words. I love words that roll around in your mouth when you say them (squirrel, squish, lisianthus, isthmus, apocalypse). I love words that trigger specific memories (punch-cards, jazz, Christmas, Grandad). I have always had a good vocabulary and I think being an only child for so many of my formative years (I was six when my sister arrived) was a key contributor to that, as most of my interactions were with adults. Of course learning to read, and loving reading, means I am continually extending my vocabulary, and I try to look up the meaning of words I don’t know. [As an aside, this is one of the benefits of an e-reader; it makes it so easy to determine the meaning of an unfamiliar word with a click providing the definition. I never thought I’d ever be saying that there was anything better than a real book, but for learning new words… I have to admit that e-readers have this slight advantage.]

Apart from discoveries through reading, in my daily life I don’t often come across chances to learn a new word, so it was with delight that I realised the sign above Martin Bosley‘s table at the City Market yesterday contained a word I didn’t know.

Martin was persuaded to pose and highlight the word for my photograph. The word is tracklements (ha – the WordPress dictionary doesn’t think it is a word!). Martin told me it has a similar meaning to condiments, but covers a broader range. Here’s a link to the dictionary definition on wiktionary, and another on World Wide Words which provides more information on the origin of the word.

Here are just two of Martin’s tracklements:

I’m so pleased to have learned a new word today!



Tulips from Wellington

Aren’t they gorgeous?!

I stopped to enjoy the tulips and other spring flowers at the Botanical Gardens this morning and took loads of photos too. The thing that strikes me the most as I look at them? The consistent colour in all of them is green! The gardeners had fun creating a vivid green border for another flower bed – can you see what it is?

Today I learned that parsley makes a great edging!

It’s all good

I had such a good time with Master 4, Miss 2 and their mother on Friday. It was a welcome break in the middle of another day getting through more ‘to do’ list items.

One of the reasons it’s so refreshing being with young children is the enthusiasm with which they tackle things. They have no fear of making mistakes. As we were looking at the pictures in the story together I suggested “Find the picture on the wall,” to Miss 2. She pointed to the clock on the wall on another page. “Yes, that’s the clock. Can you find another picture on the wall?” In the end I had to point it out to her. Did that bother Miss 2? Not a bit. Beside us, Master 4 was doing some water painting. He was happily sloshing water around on the page, and the image was messily appearing. It didn’t worry him in the slightest that the green and the orange were merging – he was having fun!

What a wonderful lesson for ‘grown ups’!

Taking photographs

In 2010 I took a photo every day (or mostly – if I missed a day I just took an extra photo the day after). I love the photographs that were put into  my Project 365 album, and look at them often.

There are many photographs in each month’s computer folder for 2010, because I always had my camera with me. I was constantly looking out for opportunities to capture at least something of my day. I often had several very different images to choose from when it came to selecting the photo that would represent that day, and the others remain in the folders and instantly bring back memories when I review them.

In 2011 the folders have far fewer images because I didn’t do the project, and my camera was sometimes at home when something captured my attention – I have no idea what those things were now, because there is nothing to prompt my memory.

So in 2012 I have again tried to take a photograph every day. The monthly folders on my computer are full of images and I am happy to have these reminders for my fickle memory to rely on. Today we are again in the midst of winter as a southerly front has come through dumping snow on the hills and cold rain and hail over us here in the valley. However I can look back on my photographs for August and find images that remind me it is really springtime, and that summer is undoubtedly on its way.

10 on the 10th – oh wait, it’s the 11th

Thanks to the wonders of the time difference, my contribution to Shimelle’s blogging meme 10 Things on the 10th is a day late. However it will hit the blogosphere at the same time as many of those actually written on the 10th in the northern hemisphere. Go figure.

For my list this month I’ve decided to give a shout out to the awesome women who’ve influenced my scrapbooking.

Sue – the first person I knew who actually scrapbooked (after I understood what it was, I thought I’d quite like to try it).

Rosalie – without whom I would possibly not be a scrapbooker. I attended a class she taught at the local craft store and was hooked.

Stacy Julian – I read her book Simple Scrapbooks before I even knew what ‘scrapbooking’ was. Rosalie pointed me in the direction of Stacy’s on-line education site, Big Picture Scrapbooking (now Big Picture Classes) and I was inspired all over again.

Amy Sorensen – who tutored the first Big Picture class I ever enrolled for – Write Now. It was amazing and I still refer to the class notes from time to time.

Lain Ehmann – whose Layout A Day (LOAD) challenge I signed up for in February 2009.

Krislyn – who was a participant in the same LOAD challenge in 2009, and who invited me to meet up in real life. As a result I joined the on-line group she co-ordinates and got to know the other members – who are also inspiring scrapbookers.

Cathy Zielske – whose books Clean and Simple Scrapbooking and Clean and Simple Scrapbooking II made it OK for me to make layouts that were, well, clean and simple.

Ali Edwards – whose ‘week in the life’ idea inspired me to make my first mini album, and whose blog is full of real life stories.

Shimelle Lane – who with her alter ego Glitter Girl, is so inspiring every week!

Becky HIggins – whose Project Life system provides such an easy way to scrapbook daily life that I still have some creative energy left for other projects.

And do you know what? I think I could list at least another 10 inspirational women who have made their mark on my scrapbooking! Thanks so much, gals, for everything!