Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In my Neighbourhood - Birds of Prey, Kangaroo Island

So technically not actually in my neighbourhood as such... a car and boat ride(!) away in fact.

We attended both the birds of prey show and the fang-tastic at Raptor Domain.

First up, the tickets we were issued with made me very happy. Instead of printing out reams of paper they gave us all a laminated feather as our entry for the birds of prey and a piece of laminated snake skin (the ones they shed) for the reptiles. Then of course they collect them in so they can be used again and again. Top marks for interesting and environmentally friendly I thought.

We were there on what was probably their busiest day of the year so both shows were rather packed and the staff (who there was only one of doing tickets and shop!) were a little frazzled - but still friendly and polite.

There were obviously other staff for the shows, these have a huge hands on element and had we been there on a less busy day I think both the boys would have had a chance to wear a glove and have a bird land on them.

As it was Flip had a wonderful opportunity to have a Kestral on his arm and the 2 bird keepers (if that is what they are called) made a huge effort to get the birds nice and close to the audience members, including posing very patiently again and again for a rather elderly audience member who didn't have the best camera/skills but wanted a photo of everything. (!!)

The presenters/keepers for the birds had a genuine rapport with the birds and just seemed to absolutely love their job. In both presentations you could really tell that the message of conservation and care rather than fear was a real message they wanted to convey.

In fang-tastic we got to handle lizards, of several kinds and snakes. Again the quantity of people there made it a little tricky and some people seemed to be less aware of sharing them around than others but it was still pretty amazing to be up so close to these 'foreign' creatures and able to touch them.

The boys really enjoyed these and I think they were worth the investment for them as a true Aussie experience. Personally I found the birds more interesting but as a non-creepy crawly kind of person that was no surprise to me.

Sorry about all the photos it was so hard to pick just a couple!

love you more than an audience member who wants to contribute more than the presenters at a show xxx

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

More Reading - Delicious!

Delicious! Is one of those lovely chic-lit novels that you can munch your way through in a day or two. It's all about food and the little hidden places in a city (New York) that make city living so appealing.

The story follows Billie who has landed her dream job as a food writer. As she works she comes into contact with a caste of gorgeous food loving characters who are well realised and delightfully quirky. She also embarks on her own journey of facing up to things in her own life and allowing herself to be honest with herself and with her heart.

The author Ruth Reichl, is herself a cookbook writer, food critic and has been an editor-in-chief for Gourmet magazine, so you can imagine there are plenty of wonderful foodie scenes in the book. This is her first novel but I think it's well written and fun to read. The narrative keeps moving and includes some extra mysteries to keep the pace moving along.

Being that I love books about food I would be happy to read other novels she writes and I'm keen to look up some of her cookbooks now too. An enjoyable read with romance, food, mystery and lovable characters... what's not to enjoy?

details - Allen and Unwin, April 2014 RRP$ 29.99 Aus also available as an ebook.

Monday, April 28, 2014

If Lists Could Talk

See this shopping list?

Notice the black writing that says - Maple Syrup (real deal) and Lemon Cordial (good stuff)? Those are The Atlas additions to the list.

See those brackets?? Tells you something about the difference between us aye, that after nearly 15 years together he knows I'll buy some cheap stuff unless he specifies it.

If you are how you shop - I'm cheap and he's classy!

love you more than a cheeky addition to the shoppping list xxx

Sunday, April 27, 2014

17 of 52

Little brother there to cheer big brother on

Big brother competing with grace and perseverance in his first weetbix try-athalon

so sweet, these boys have been absolutely beautiful wit each other all holidays.

They are lovely.

love you more than losing your voice cheering xxx

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Holiday Reads - something for everyone

So, one of my aims in doing more reading (apart from upping my cultured cred!) is to engage with Australian culture more.

Today I want to profile 4 books I've read recently that do just that.

Crooked Leg Road by Jennifer Walsh
In the way back past I taught intermediate aged children (11-13) and one of the challenges with this age is a) introducing them to new authors  and b) engaging them in literature they can read, that is relevant and not babyish - some of them arrive reading below their chronological age. Usually I would do this by reading aloud a whole book and then letting them loose on other books by that author. Crooked Leg Road works for me like this. It is set in Australia with male and female lead characters. It is a mystery and adventure. The chapters are short and readable and the action is fast paced and it is also appropriate for this age group. The characters are about the right age and they are behaving that way. I like that these are both believable and down to earth (no Hollywood soaps or sex here). Definitely one I'd recommend to a 'tween' who's looking for readable and engaging. Details - Allen&Unwin April 2014 RRP $14.99, also available as an ebook.

Women of Spirit by Anne Crawford
This is a book of true life collections of women who have lived, breathed and conquered true country living in Australia. Some were born to it others drawn to it - all have done it tough, survived and succeeded. Each chapter profiles a different women and the collection is varied. These are women who are still alive today and have made a real impact through their service and passion for the roles they have taken. By the time I finished reading this book I felt like I had the orange dust of the outback under my fingernails but I was equally relieved that I didn't! I'm not a country girl by any means the toughness, the isolation, all of it - so not me but I so enjoyed 'meeting' and being inspired by these women. Easy read because of the fact it is just a chapter each - pick it up for 10-20 minutes and you get through another character. I think men and women would get a lot from this book. I was especially pleased to see both Aboriginal and white Australians represented. Details - Allen&Unwin April 2014 RRP $29.99

Charlotte's Creek by Therese Creed
This is chic-lit Australian style. Again a thoroughly readable book with a really strong range of characters. Unlike your usual 'totally removed from real people's reality', this book delivers a strong message about the toughness and un-relentingness of outback life. It slips in some daunting home truths during an engaging story-line about an inexperienced, young governess who takes on the thankless job of teaching (or taming) some wild country children in a difficult environment. There's some romance and family drama and a lot more. Don't read the back of the book though - it gives too much information about the plot, which I don't like - a small taste test is what I want, not a major plot summary. (That's my only complaint though). A properly Aussie chic lit that doesn't try to be anything other than Australian and genuine. You can tell the author has lived the outback life. I even shed a couple of tears in the reading! Details - Allen&Unwin April 2014 RRP $29.99

The Power of Bones by Keelen Mailman
This is another outback book, (can you believe it? for a non-country girl such as myself). This autobiography is story of a woman, who is Aboriginal, who is the first such woman to run a station. This is a woman who is doing her bit for the land she traces all the way back to her ancestors, who is making a place for her people, her culture and her ways to integrate and be successful in present time. Keelen has lived anything but an easy life. She has worked hard and learned fast. Her writing style is just as I imagine she talks - sometimes rambling, it has that 'storyteller' style to it where you can almost hear a her voice and you are drawn in to the twists and turns of its conversational style. This is a book for anyone who's missed out on an easy upbringing, who's missed out on formal education, who's been down trodden or abused or forgotten or ignored. It's a book for victims and champions. It's a book for Australians and people who long to love and protect their own country and cultural ways.

As a mother I have found this book so challenging - you know that kid from the rough side with a potty mouth? That kid is possibly/probably dealing with abuse and difficulties I cannot begin to imagine and the smallest kindness might be something that stays with them their entire life. This book isn't an easy read - it is horrifying and heartbreaking and hopeful. More than those things it is real - Keelen is a woman of today and there are probably still children living childhoods similar to hers in this country and in NZ too. Whilst it is a book of success and triumph it is also for me a challenge to anyone who has lived a life of privilege - and by that I mean access to education, food in your tummy consistently and safe adults to look after you. Even though it's probably not the point of the book, more than anything this book has challenged me to think about how I can support and learn from people like Keelen who have wisdom and answers for ways too look after indigenous children (and any children who are falling through the gaps), to protect and nourish and celebrate who they are without imposing, condescending or judging.   Details - Allen&Unwin April 2014 RRP $29.99, also available as an ebook.

All these are new out but should be available where-ever you usually buy books or you can get your library to order a couple of copies and elbow your way to the front of the line!

love you more than a holiday full of indulgent book reading xxx

Friday, April 25, 2014

Hold Your Nose I'm Sailing

The trip home from Kangaroo Island started with a short ferry trip. No probs - the one there was fast and easy.

Not so much on the way home.

when you leave the dock and the boat starts whooshing up and down so violently that your 2 children laugh and carry one like they are on a fun fair ride - it's not going to end well

when 2 or 3 of the staff stop to ask you how you are going, you know you're not looking pretty

when you stumble eventually to the end of the boat to lean against the stair rail in a cold sweat as the boat continues to learch, you will vow never to travel by boat again

when you vomit so violently you drop your sick bag and the sick explodes all over the deck, this will be a low point in your life and you will be grateful you are not famous after all

when you have to sit (because you still feel violently ill) clinging to the steps while everyone else and their 17 dogs (!!!) disembark and you listen to them make rude comments about the awful vomit smell, you will feel vaguely amused

then you will finally leave the boat sunglasses down and do the vomity walk of shame out to the car park where you will continue to feel awful for some time, but you will also laugh about that girl who freaked out when your vomity cloths (kindly laid down by staff over your 'incident') blew up onto her trousers

I know, I am sick right??

love you more than cool water and terra firma xxxx

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Make My Week - Chevron Dress

I actually made this dress last year over the Christmas holidays when I was desperately trying to use up some of my stash when we were packing (and de-stashing for our move to Aus).

It's a repeat of McCalls 6379 here are 2 other versions I've made of it. The Ladybird and the Vintage Swiss

Rather than do my head in with trying to pattern match on a bais strip I cut the middle section in denim. Everything I used was in my stash and although it's not perfect it's comfortable and lined with something breathable I found in my stash. I realise the photos aren't the best but you get the general idea, right?

Because it's all cotton it got a lot of wear in the super hot weather but I think it will transition well to cooler weather too.

I am also getting ready for lovely Zoe's MMM (me made may) in which I shall endeavour to wear only handmade (not including hosiery, underwear and shoes, or warm things). I will also attempt to make at least 3 garments from fabric I have accumulated whilst living here. Why don't you join up this year? You set your own challenge so it could just be once a week, or handmade accessories or finishing that half-finished dress???

Joining in with lovely ladies at Leonie's terrific party.

 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than cooler weather xxx

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

in my neighbourhood - Blackebys

So... when we left NZ and I had to clean out my pantry I discovered I am somewhat of a magpie for sweets. This is strange given that we rarely (and I mean rarely) finish a bag - even a 50c mixture. So there were just so many sweets in the pantry it was embarrassing.

Truth be told I'm not much of a sweet/lollies person. I am a chocolate person and a marshmallow person most of all. I also like red and yellow lollies and black jelly beans and aniseed, pineapple lumps and licorice allsorts. But I never buy party mix.

But there is something about sweets that gets me every time. I love the way they are so pretty to look at and I mourn the loss of the dairy where you could create your own pick n mix. (Even though I worked at one and being on the other side of that - whole other story!)

So a while ago I did a chocolate walking tour (the best kind, I'll blog about it another time) and she took us to Blackebys which is like the oldest sweet shop ever.

I was in sweetie heaven.

The colours, the selection, the old fashioned window displays.

and... scripture mints!!! Look at these aren't they awesome? Love it.

My favourite thing? MnMs separated by colour. It's so pretty.

Blackebys is situated on a little side street off the pedestrian shopping strip called Rundle Mall.

If you are looking for eye candy or real candy this place won't disappoint.

** In my neighbourhood, recording our journey and writing the kind of posts about living in Adelaide I wanted to find before we left NZ**

love you more than a perfectly curated chocolate rainbow xxx 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

sixteen of fifty-two

We spent Easter at Kangaroo Island.

It was lovely.

The boys arranged their own egg hunts for each other. Here is the little one watching the big one hunt - love that joy.

It felt 'properly Australian'

you might see this from the photos!

love you more than avoiding holding a snake, in a  room full of them xxx

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday

Here's to victory and resurrection and death turned inside out,

to Jesus who appears first to a woman - declaring her testimony to be trustworthy in a culture where it meant nothing

here's to the one who calls us ever on to transformation and life that is fuller than life

to the one who embraces the doubters, gives Hope to the hopeless and welcomes us all into the family,

he calls us friends

Happy Easter dear ones on this the day that reminds me not to fret I am not enough but to rejoice that He is.

this is the love that moves mountains xxx

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holiday Reading - Jodi Picoult

Will you think less of me if I confess this is the first Jodi Picoult I've read?? I'll remind you of course that I finally feel at a life stage where I have time to really read and enjoy good novels and I'm thinking I should have done it earlier :o).

So... it's so easy to see why Jodi Picoult is such a successful author. She is a supreme story teller and by that I mean that she writes stories about people who do and believe bad, terrible even, things but she writes their story. Without any 'teaching tone' she gently confronts the reader with the fact that everyone has a story. That person you judge from the outside - the boy that guns down students at his high-school, the scientist that believes in eugenics... the monster is a person and that person has a story. But, so do all the people they effect with their decisions.

Our lives are complex and complicated and we are pushed forward more often by our reaction to our past than by some lofty 'bettering ourselves' ideals.This is where I find these novels so irresistible. These, it feels, are real people not perfect nor entirely evil. People who struggle to come to terms with both their past and possible future. People who are engaged fully in their present while drawn back and forward over the narrative of their lives.

This latest publication includes 3 of Picoult's novels: Second Glance, The Tenth Circle, and  Nineteen Minutes. I'm not going to precis the plots for you, suffice to say they cover the entire rangeof circumstances - eugenics, the paranormal, rape, high school shootings, family life, falling in love, parenting.... but they are so much more than their big themes they are people, tangled, loving and loved, hiding and disclosing. They are stories to draw you in and when you finish you feel you are saying goodbye to friends and you want to know how their lives continue. - Don't you both love and hate that in books - when you want to know more about how things unfold for them?

These aren't quick reads (even for me). They bounce forward and back in time and between characters with seamlessness. You get totally drawn into the current tale and feel disappointed when it jumps only to find yourself totally locked into what you have just landed on.

As a holiday read 3 novels in 1 book (albeit heavy) is perfect. One book that can keep you satisfied for the whole holiday has to be a good thing right?

I'll be reading more of Jodi Picoult for sure. Her work is intelligent, well written and has more depth than anything I might spend time watching on TV.

Have you read any of her work? What would you recommend I try from her next?

Details - Published by Allen and Unwin 1st of April 2014. RRP $32.99 Au.

love you more than being late to the party but finding it still in full swing xxx

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Best Friday

However you spend today may you find Hope in anguished places and may you know Peace when the storm rages

may you be convinced of a Love that steps into time and a death that tears down forever a wall between those who are on the in and those who aren't.
By Italian painter Masaccio - we saw this in real life when we travelled in Florence.

Mark 15: 33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b]
35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion,who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

may we all be convinced of this life changing Love xxx

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Make My Week - the extras

So last week when I made my special dress (thanks for everyone who visited and voted, whoever you voted for) I wanted to make all the accessories.

I made the plastic purse - which I think still needs some refining and an underskirt. (Because you can never have too many tulle underskirts right?)Very simple just 2 rows of very gathered tulle slipped onto a simple elastic waisted calico petticoat.

Not too exciting but a make all the same.

Joining in with inspirational ladies (and men I'm sure they would be welcome too) here

 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than a cheeky peek of tulle xxx

Monday, April 14, 2014

Holiday Reads - Making Soapies in Kabul

Seeing as we're suddenly in holidays I thought I'd take some time over the next 2 weeks to share some reads I've recently been enjoying. (Including a special guest review by Flip!)

Making Soapies in Kabul by Trudi-Ann Tierney is the kind of book The Atlas usually picks up at the library, it's an autobiographical book with some kind of travel element involved. The book covers the 3 years Trudi-Ann spent working in the world of making TV in Afghanistan.

This book is one of those that gives a human insight into the crazy world of living in 'the Ghan' and making soap operas. As you can imagine things aren't straight forward but Trudi-Ann's warmth and genuine love of her crazy role takes you in and envelopes you in all the madness. Trudi-Ann doesn't down play the crazy or the cultural disconnects and mis-connects but she writes with humanity and warmth and has a deep affection for the cast of crazy expats and Afghans she meets in her time there.

I enjoyed reading it. It's a bit like intimate emails from a loved one in a far off land and it captures an Afghanistan that doesn't feature in news stories and western perceptions. It's not a picture of perfection though, far from, it's riotous, shocking and hilarious, but I like that - real but different.

If you like the thought of far-flung adventures and peaking behind the doors of making soapies with culture clashes and the insanity of doing anything in a war zone this is a book that you'll love. It's both readable and put down-able; you can read large chunks or just pick up here and there with snatches of time in between holiday activities with your loved ones.

Details - PUBLISHED: March 2014 IMPRINT: Allen & Unwin CATEGORY: Autobiography  RRP: $29.99 EBOOK: Yes

love you more than taking an adventure into a danger-zone without the danger xxx

Sunday, April 13, 2014


This boy playing mix and match with my shoes.

This boy after 2 lessons playing (and singing his heart out) at church this morning.

These are the boys I was given and I couldn't be more grateful for them, and for the great man they call Dad.

love you more than a bum note in a first performance xxx

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Make My Week - Will You Vote

So I am about to write a very long post to tell you about my entry into the Offset Warehouse Competition. If you're not one for reading these could I still ask you (very nicely) to go over and vote here.

There are four of us bloggers who have used some beautiful Offset Warehouse fabric to create something and it would be so nice if lots of people voted. Please vote for the one you genuinely like the best. Don't vote for me because you love me - vote for your fav. Ok?

So vote, vote, vote and make us feel like people are interested in our creations :o)

I was accepted with my idea by Zoe under the theme of Everyday Awesome and these are my thoughts.
When I read Zoe’s theme – everyday awesome – I loved it. What better thought to carry around in your heart than: there are ways as creative people to make everyday awesome.

We are given this day, others were not.  Some people’s days are taken from them by death, by force, by poverty, by slavery, by chance. We are given this day. This is a day to celebrate.  As a mama I have well known the pyjama filled days, those days of distaste at the stretch marks that have turned my tummy into something that resembles a deflating balloon. But I also know that getting up and dressing up for the day, choosing that favourite dress, those shoes that make you feel indestructible, those earrings given to you by someone who thinks you are wonderful – those days are better days.

Sometimes by being everyday awesome and wearing something special instead of saving it for a ‘proper’ occasion, we make someone smile. Maybe the person who smiles is the little person who looks up at a ‘dressed up’ grown up and thinks, ‘one day I will still dress-up too’. I think we owe it to ourselves and our children to send a message out to the world that we are more than bill payers, notice signers, dinner makers, environmental worriers/warriors, we are still just a little bit lot, wonderfully made. 

And so I was so thrilled to be chosen to make a dress from Offset Warehouse’s collection. Because I believe creativity is important and I am excited to see people helping us to do that in better ways – ethically, sustain-ably, leaving a gentle footprint. I am trying to make choices that reflect my respect for this great human family and for this wonderful earth we are charged to steward.

For the last 3 years we have journeyed through 10,000s of earthquakes in Christchurch, as the earth has destroyed grandma’s china, houses, sewer lines and lives it has also built communities that are knit together, it has made empty spaces that creative people have filled and it has taught us that what matters and what remains unshakable are relationships. It has taught me that joy and love and shared laughter are my gifts to the world and I will give them with all the generosity I have and in every creative way I can think of.  

It has taught me that I can, and should, use and enjoy my special things everyday or I can save them, only to find they are destroyed anyway. The value is not in the things themselves, it is in the use and pleasure we derive from them. It has taught me to use, wear, enjoy, and share today.

I’m not waiting for a special occasion. Today is awesome. Every day is awesome. I am not the youngest, oldest, wisest, strongest, prettiest, cleverest, slimmest woman in the world and so I owe it to myself, to other women, to my children and to others to declare (often with how I dress,) I’m not waiting for a special occasion, a better body, a better day. 

Maybe someone whose day is very far from awesome today needs to look at you and feel the hope of a better tomorrow. Go out with some glitter in your pocket (metaphorically) and make the world awesome.
Stop saving your blanks (in scrabble) until the end of the game. Wear your favourite dress, use your favourite china, use that massage voucher you were given, paint your toenails…. Or pay it forward and let someone else enjoy it.

I leave you with one of my favourite (slightly doctored) quotes:

Life may not be the party we expected, but while we’re here we might as well (don our favourite dress) dance (in public).

March to the beat of your own drum, dress with attitude, be imperfect, be everyday awesome.
Miriam x

Self-made flouncy petticoat, shoes from the goodwill op-shop, hand me down tights, also earrings made from wood from deconstructed houses (as a result of earthquakes).

My sincere thanks to the fabulous folks at offset warehouse for the opportunity to make this ensemble and for their enthusiasm in all our correspondence.

Hugethanks to lovely Zoe for picking my entry and for her continued challenge and inspiration to make good, ethical choices in my own crafting. I hope I have made something you think is beautiful. Good luck to my fellow contestants I so look forward to being inspired by your fabulous makes. 

More crafty ladies over here

 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than a brand new stranger-stopping dress xxx