Working at the carwash

Working at the carwash, yeah! Hands up if the Rose Royce tune is now going through your head.

Yes, the cars were  dirty enough that I was finally motivated to clean them. DH will testify that this happens only once every couple of years (he’s the one who usually undertakes the car-washing chore).

Carwash1Cleaning the Nissan Sentra was a breeze – it’s a short car. However I needed a stepladder to get to the top of the Hilux!  Carwash2It was great to have some help too – DS’s girlfriend did the low down bits while I tackled the roof.

Carwash3DS was not to be outdone – he vacuumed the Sentra while we washed outside. Do you think it was a wise decision on his part to avoid his mother and girlfriend who were so handy to the hose outside?

Conducted touring

Isn’t it wonderful when a friend or relative visits and thus gives you permission to do the tour guide thing?

I’m in that lucky position right now, with my second cousin visiting from the UK. When I collected Kirsty from the Interisland Ferry on Sunday, she was my excuse to have coffee at an Oriental Bay cafe, drive to the top of Mount Victoria, cruise through central Wellington and to visit my own personal food Mecca, La Bella Italia, in Petone.

Today my sister joined us to ride the Rimutaka Incline bike trail. We were a bit dubious about (a) hangovers and (b) the wind (which was blowing rather fiercely) but the whole thing was an inspired choice for a New Year’s day excursion. The wind provided very useful assistance in blowing us up the hill (so glad it was behind us), and for dispersing the cobwebs and tiredness. We had a wonderful time!

Richard met us on the other side, and we later took in views of Wairarapa from the Mt Dick Lookout before heading home.

All in all a great start to 2013. Happy New Year!

Nearly one year later….

Ninja-tree-2011Just over a year ago, Ninja joined the family. Her early exploits included climbing the Christmas tree, as you can see here.

Ninja-tree-decorations-2012Earlier this month she ‘helped’ me sort through the Christmas decorations, before we brought our potted tree indoors for the holiday season. Fortunately, she hasn’t tried to climb the tree this year – she’s a whole lot bigger than she was!

Sensing Christmas

Seeing – the lights twinkling on trees, houses and in shop windows

Hearing – the sweet sound of Christmas songs and carols sung by the Wairarapa Singers at last night’s New Rags Market

Smelling – the pine scent of our tree, now inside and decorated

Tasting – gingerbread men, from the St Patrick’s School stall at the market last night

Feeling – the smooth, shiny surface of the glass ornaments I hung on the tree today

Reflecting

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?

Counting down

When I was a child one of the things that told me Christmas was coming was the steady arrival of parcels from Britain and Canada. I remember the British parcels in particular, because they were wrapped in a special sort of brown paper we don’t get in New Zealand – it’s almost striped, with a subtle tone-on-tone pattern, and a more rusty brown colour than ours. There were stamps – lots and lots of them – some with the Queen’s profile, others with a Christmas theme. I also remember the careful writing of my Aunts – Madge’s small tidy script and Sandra’s bolder, rounded hand, and my Dad’s sister Elaine’s untidy scrawl. The Canadian parcels didn’t have any string, but my Mum’s sisters clearly had a lower opinion of postal workers and had meters (yards, in those days!) of string and a multiplicity of knots to ensure the parcel would survive intact to its destination.

In the absence of parcels, nowadays my countdown begins with making the Christmas Cake. True to tradition, I aim to make it on ‘stir-up Sunday’, the Sunday-next-before-Advent. It is so called because the Collect (prayer) for the day in the old 1662 Anglican Prayer Book begins “Stir up, O Lord, the hearts of thy people…” – and was taken as a useful reminder by the women of the congregation to get on with the job of making the traditional fruit cake. I was on time this year – and our cake will have a chance to improve not only with keeping, but also with a weekly brushing with brandy!

Today I performed another part of the Christmas countdown, and wrote and posted off the overseas cards. This year I’ve managed to make them all – nothing too fancy as I needed 16 cards and so I made a few each of several designs – none of which took longer than a few minutes to make. There are two really important parts of the process for me. The first is constructing a newsletter that rounds up the events of the year for each of us, and I   love doing this. Looking back on the year gone by is a chance to reflect and enjoy again the highlights we have experienced. The second important part of writing the overseas cards is to write some words in each card that are chosen for that recipient. A little story, a wish or a shared memory – I like to add a little something special along with holiday greetings.

What do you remember from your childhood countdown to Christmas? Is this still in your life, or has something else replaced it?

First Signs

Yesterday I was a stallholder at the New Rags Market in Greytown. Business was slow, so Jannelle of Heartfelt and I moved our tables outside under the trees to make it more obvious that there was a market going on inside the Town Centre.

From my position I had a great view of the traffic on Main Street, and no sooner had I put the camera away after taking this shot, I saw one of the first signs of Christmas. A car with a tree in a trailer.

For me, putting up the  tree on 1 December seems a bit early – but I’m not sure when the ‘right time’ is. I do know that I left it a bit late last year (it was Christmas week!), so this year I’m aiming for a happy medium. We have a live tree in a pot, and it will come inside next weekend, on 9 December.

Do you put up a tree? What’s the right time for you?

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?

Tales of a feline weight watcher

Ninja’s diet and exercise programme resulted in her losing the grand total of 70g in her first month of the new regime. This isn’t as much as she needs to lose, but any loss is better than a gain, right? I worked it out in human terms, based on percentage of body-weight, and if I were to lose the same percentage, it would be around 800g. I think that’s significant enough to count, don’t you?

More ‘tales from the scale’ after her next appointment (19 November). The food part’s going well but the exercise part has fallen away (yesterday she ‘didn’t hear me’ when I called her to accompany me on a walk!).

Hooray!

I’m a winner!

If you have never visited Christie Zimmer’s blog you are in for treat. Christie designs the most amazing journal pages (most of which she makes available free from the blog). Recently Christie has been making ‘doodle notes’ where she has employed her awesome calligraphy and painting skills to create beautiful cards. Over the last couple of weeks some of her lucky readers have been chosen to receive one of these lovelies.

And today it was me! Go here to see the post where it was announced, and see the beautiful card I have won. I am looking forward to receiving it in the post – it looks so pretty in the photograph. I totally endorse the sentiment too.

So what about you – have you won anything lately?