Bits and pieces.

Well, life is never dull.

Yesterday I intelligently included my iPhone into the load of washing that I put on before I went to work. It’s now absolutely cactus. It’s frustrating because I usually hang onto a phone for at least 5 years before upgrading so that I get my money’s worth, but this one is only a year old.

I’ll be going to the Apple Shop in an hour, so if you hear a shriek coming from the direction of Southland you’ll know that it’s me seeing how much a single second’s inattention has cost.

I’m trying to console myself by saying that I’ll be able to take REALLY GOOD photos at Antarctica, but really… they would’ve been just fine with the old camera.

Last weekend I went away with David28 and Evan25’s girlfriends and my two nieces. It dawned on me a while ago that Izzy and Gemma have never had a conversation without the boys being around. That simply can’t be allowed to continue. So I whisked them all away – it was FANTASTIC! Blog post about it HERE.

I’ve picked up 7 week’s of fulltime work at school. It’ll be interesting to see if I like having a regular teacher’s workload (with some periods off but with marking) or a CRT’s workload (working every single period + a yard duty each day but no marking or meetings.) Every now and then contracts come up when people go on Long Service Leave or holidays and it might be a fun thing to do. OR I’ll get to the September holidays and gasp, “Never again!!!”

Preparations for Antarctica in December are coming along. Aldi had a sale of merino tops and some gloves that have different tips on the fingers so you can use a mobile while wearing them. I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a lot of complaints all over Twitter and Facebook about airlines losing people’s luggage. It seems to be a lot more than usiual.

I’m heavily leaning towards just taking carry-on baggage so that my clothes stay with me. Can you imagine how awful my Antarctic cruise would be without warm clothes? It’s going to be hard enough finding my way around South America with no Spanish, without being half-naked at the same time! Well, that might be overstating it a bit, but you know what I mean.

I still have to buy things like waterproof trousers. The cruise ship supplies a parka and boots for when we go on the ice. I experimented with packing light when I went on the girls’ weekend and it worked out fine, thouggh to be fair that was only for 4 nights, not 15.

I’m also REALLY hoping that I avoid covid, which will be a feat on a long-haul flight. However, if I must get it, fingers crossed that I get it on the way home. Anyway, I’ll be masking up exactly as I do every time I go to work, avoiding taking the mask off when at all possible and hoping for the best. After all, I’m Fortunate Frogdancer!

Dad joke of the day:

Did you hear about the guy who evaporated?

He will be mist.

Skinflint Sunday: Tom30 bought a house!

Well, a unit, but it’s a free-standing unit so it’s like a little house.

As you can imagine, it was a very exciting time when he was told that the vendor said “yes.” But get this – he was actually outbid by 5K by a couple who were buying their 9th rental. The vendor decided that he’d rather sell to a young guy just starting off. Phew!

It hasn’t been all fun and games. Long-term readers of this blog won’t be surprised to hear that my ex-husband behaved appallingly yet again. Just when I think I’m free of his shenanigans, he turns up again to cause emotional angst. Anyway, I blogged about it HERE, along with the reasoning behind my decision to help Tom30 with his deposit.

As I sit here, late on a Sunday morning, dressed in my pjs and Oodie, it’s raining. It’s a perfect day for quilting, so as soon as I finish this post and get dressed, I’ll be heading into the sewing room. I checked the dates of the Quilt-a-long for the 5,000+ piece quilt I’m making and I’m a month behind. Doing all this CRT work certainly puts a dent in my sewing time!

Speaking of working, I don’t know if I’ve written here that I’ve accepted a 6 week contract to teach geography at the end of this term. At first I knocked it back, but when I saw that year 8’s learn about Antarctica, of course I had to say yes! I’ll be doing my research AND getting paid for it!

I’ve booked my flights and accommodation in December, but sadly I won’t be travelling to Easter Island. It is all booked up after my Antarctica cruise, and my travel agent said she saw a lot of people complaining about flights FROM Easter Island being cancelled. She said, “I’d hate to see you get stranded there and miss Antarctica.” I agreed.

Mum is slowly recovering from her fractured pelvis. She’s back home and she and Dad are hobbling around looking after each other. Seeing as they live a couple of suburbs away from the school, I usually drop in after work to see them and add a little variety to their day. Their world is very restricted at the moment, poor things.

Dad joke of the day:

To whoever stole my dictionary – I’m at a loss for words.

Food safety and getaway plans.

Today I’m sitting in a Food Safety Course that the year 9s are doing. The instructor has worked in hospo for years and some of the stories he’s telling would make your hair curl! I said, just before recess, that we’ll all walk out of here with our hands held, high, avoiding contact with anyone, with the intention to never eat out again.

The year 9s are doing a two-week course, where for 3 days they’re away at camp in the country, but for the rest of the time they’re doing courses in CPR, food safety, barista, study skills and other things. It’s a goldmine for CRT teachers, with lots of smaller groups needing to be covered.

So I’ve been driving in every day for the last two weeks, with a full week’s work ahead of me. Today I was talking with a guy who retired a year or two ahead of me, who has just started doing CRT work because the school is desperate for teachers. We agreed that the absolute worst thing about coming back to work is the alarm going off when it’s still dark.

On Thursday and Friday last week, kids doing the barista course made me a cup of coffee to drink after lunch. They’re learning to make lattes and cappuccinos with all the froth etc, but I hate milk in my coffee, so I just asked for a long black without sugar. The kids on Friday were boys I’d taught in year 7 and we’re good mates. I’m pretty sure they gave me a triple shot of coffee. There was no chance of me needing a little nap when I got home!

In other news, I’m very excited about a trip I have planned.

I’ve decided to take the young women in my family away for a girls’ weekend. My two nieces, Izzy and Jenna. Izzy is going to be an official family member when she gets married to David28 next year, and even though Evan25 and Jenna have no plans to get married, they also have no plans to split up any time soon.

Women tend to be the ones who keep families together. We’re the glue. Seeing as how I have sons, the next-best thing I can do to keep my family flourishing is to provide times for the girls to get to know each other.

Whenever they see each other, they all chatter away like magpies, but these events are usually only a few hours long. You know, birthday parties, Christmas, etc. What we’re going to do in July is to go away for a Friday and Saturday night, with people peeling away to return home on Sunday. That’s a decent chunk of time for them to relax, sit back and get to know each other in a little more depth.

Of course, my nieces already have that last part sorted! I’m visualising a couple of days where the four of them chill, chat and go out to see various things. We’ll be close to Daylesford and Ballarat, so we’ll probably do some wandering around to see whatever’s on offer. Bushwalks, art galleries, markets.. who knows?

I’m even thinking that I might work an extra couple of days to pay for a hot air balloon ride for everyone. That’d be something memorable! Not sure if they run in the middle of winter, but it’ll be easy enough to find out.

We’ll be staying in one of the time-share properties I have. I was only able to book it for the particular weekend we wanted if I booked for 4 nights, so I’m giving myself a little getaway for two nights before they arrive. When Friday comes, I’ll have the fire burning, wine, and a piping hot vegetarian curry ready, for when they come through the door after the drive down from Melbourne. Ballarat is FREEZING at the best of times, so it works out pretty well that I’ll be there to make the place as warm and welcoming as possible.

I’m hoping that this will be a weekend that they’ll all enjoy. I’d like the bonds between these lovely young women to be slightly more than just, “Nice talking to you; see you next Christmas!”

Dad joke of the day:

I bought a dog from a blacksmith.

As soon as I got him home, he made a bolt for the door.

Skinflint Sunday: A peaceful day planned.

Poppy.

The dogs let me sleep in till 8 AM this morning! Now that I’m doing CRT work, I absolutely love it when I can get up after the sun rises. It’s one of life’s luxuries.

Yesterday I spent a very girly afternoon with Izzy, her sister and her Mum going wedding dress shopping. Apart from shopping for my own, many many years ago, I’ve never done it before. There’s a warehouse/shopping outlet near their place in Rowville, so off we went to have a look.

I’ve never seen so much beading and lace in one place in my life!

She didn’t find THE dress. On the way back we stopped off for coffee and cake and had a good old natter. I feel like I know Izzy’s sister much better now, which is a very good thing.

A little while later, Jeff joined her.

Today I’m going to make another couple of batches of bread rolls, take the little woofs for a walk, piece together a little more of my quilt, do some reading and maybe even get out into the garden and do some much-needed work.

Sounds like a nice day, just for me.

I’ve got a chicken carcass bubbling away on the stove that’ll end up being the base for a chicken and vegetable soup for lunch. I set that going as soon as I got up, in case I forgot about it later. Waste not, want not!

Ryan27 and Tom30 are both recovering from the flu (Ryan) and a cold (Tom.) I’ve been making them wear a mask whenever they’re with me, so hopefully I’ll dodge their bugs. I’m vaxxed for the flu and triple vaxxed for covid, but anyway, we’ll wait and see.

It looks like today is going to be a perfect autumn day. Hope everyone has a good one!

Dad joke of the day:

Did you hear about the cheese factory in France that exploded?

There was nothing left but de Brie. 

Skinflint Sunday: Dad’s birthday.

Meme

Dad turns 84 in a few days, so my sister Kate has organised a quiet get-together at my parents’ house to celebrate. Dad had a hip replacement a few weeks ago, so Mum and Dad have had a very ‘stay-at-home’ life since then, as she doesn’t drive anymore and he can’t at the moment.

I’m in charge of the birthday cake. Turns out Mum is gluten intolerant – she only found out a year ago – and so I’ll be making a torte caprese. It’s made with ground almonds, lots of dark chocolate and it means we can leave them with the remains to nibble on throughout the week and she doesn’t have to resist temptation.

Most of the grandchildren are coming, though my brother and his wife aren’t. Since his stroke, my brother has very little energy and by 3 PM he’s normally having a nap.

So what do you buy for the man who pretty much has everything?

And, I might add, a man who’s a collector and has knick-knacks and clocks on every flat surface? That house definitely doesn’t need more things brought into it.

Why, you go to Aldi and buy him a gift box of “Dad’s Snacks”, of course! I bought liquorice, small bars of chocolate, some nuts and some M-and-Ms. He’ll stash that little box beside his chair and happily munch away on his snacks after dinner, happy as a pig in muck.

Dad joke of the day:

When I told my builder I didn’t want carpeted steps, they gave me a blank stare.

The Engagement Party.

After 8 months, David28 and Izzy were finally able to throw their engagement party. He published these photos on FB, so I screenshot them to share with you all here. Some of you have been reading this blog for years – if not decades – and have ‘seen’ these boys grow up. You’re practically family!

Seems weird to have a girl-child n the mix, doesn’t it? But Izzy assures me she’s happy to be one of ‘the boys’.

From left to right: Jack30, David28, Izzy, Ryan27 and Evan25. The youngest is the tallest.

It was a stinking hot day, so Izzy’s parents had a couple of marquees in the backyard that she borrowed from school. She’s a primary teacher. We all ended up sitting out under a red one, which turned our faces a funny colour, because My brother and sister-in-law turned up. He’s been in poor health since his stroke a couple of years ago and he was worried about catching Covid. (To be fair – a LOT of Izzy’s family have had it, so it was a warranted fear on his part.)

So when you see the reddish tint in the later photos, you know why. It’s the sunlight shining through the tent roof.

It’s nice when our little family gets bigger.

Izzy comes from a very large and exuberant Italian family, so even with my sister’s family there, my brother and his wife, Evan25’s girlfriend Jenna and my parents all in the mix – we were swamped. They’re planning to get married in a church, because Izzy’s family is religious, so I’m guessing the bride’s side will be overflowing and our side will only have a couple of pews filled.

Mum and Dad were so happy to be there.

I swear Mum’s shrinking as she gets older! She was always tiny – “Four for ten and a half inches”, she’d say, clinging to that half inch.

They also included a cake for Tom30. He didn’t get a family party to celebrate his birthday, so they sprang a surprise on him.

David28 said he thought he was ok to get up in front of everyone and make a speech, but when he saw how many eyes were on him he froze.

I didn’t have that problem!

So the engagement is now official. A wedding date has been set for April next year and I made sure to put it straight in my calendar. Imagine my dilemma if I double-booked myself on that day…

oh, the embarrassment.

I’m including this one because I love this shot of Izzy. It captures her beautifully.

It was a bit of a crazy day because the night before, Tom30’s housemate of 7 years broke the Bro Code in one of the most fundamental of ways. In the photo below, I’m pretty sure the photographer snapped my sister’s reaction as he was telling her what happened.

David28 left his own engagement party early to come back and help us move as much stuff out from the flat as we could. As Tom30 said, living with this guy is now “untenable.” It’s a shame. They’ve known each other for 15 years, but I agree with Tom30. When someone betrays you, it requires a surgical break.

It’s been a week and now Tom30 has moved into The Best House in Melbourne. After David28 finally packed up his things and moved out after Christmas, I had a guest bedroom for about a month! He’ll stay here for a few months and save some money while he decides where he wants to live next.

I knew when I saw the houseplan online, before I even set foot in this place, that this house would be a perfect home for Boomerang kids. The only shared rooms are the kitchen and laundry, so I have my personal space at the front of the house while any housemates have their living space towards the back.

I’m sure this is a fundamental reason why Ryan27 and I have been so harmonious through all 6 lockdowns.

Our house is not so calm and peaceful anymore though. Tom30 is LOUD.

The good side of all of this is that it’ll give us a chance to recomnnect again. I haven’t lived in the same house as Tom30 for 7 years. It’ll be nice to share the little interactions that day to day life holds.

Dad joke of the day:

Skinflint Sunday: It’s bean a nice week.

It’s been a big week for a couple of the boys.

Ryan27 started his first job this week as a myotherapist. Currently, it’s a part-time position but as he builds his clients up, I’m sure that will change. For the present, it’s not a bad thing that he’s working part-time. I don’t know if was the same for you, but I remember how exhausted I was when I started full-time work. The body really has to adjust.

He’s enjoying it. The people he’s working with seem nice and it’s only a few train stations away, with a 30-minute walk. Fortunately, he likes walking. When he gets sick of it, then maybe he’ll finally get his license???

Here he is on his 27th birthday. He’s such a great person to share a house with. Our place is probably the most chilled, serene house on the planet. Though having said that, I don’t know why he can’t seem to shut a cupboard door or put dishes in the dishwasher. Still, if they’re the worst things to complain about, then I think I’m one lucky house-mate!

Look at these two lovebirds! This shot was taken last year when they went to Sydney to see ‘Hamilton’, but I love it. A couple of days ago Evan25 and Jenna moved into their own place. Just the two of them. They’ve found a flat above a pizza shop (convenient!) and the last time I spoke to them they were living on a mattress on the floor surrounded by boxes, waiting for their furniture to be delivered.

Blissfully happy. Oh, to be young and foolish again!

Evan25 has been the child who has asked for the least amount of financial help from me – not that any of them have asked for much – so when he said that they were having trouble finding a washing machine on Marketplace, I thought, ‘Bugger it’ and jumped on Appliances Online and ordered them a brand new Bosch washing machine. The company will deliver it, which is good. Apparently they live at the top of a very long set of stairs, so I’d rather the delivery guy get it up there rather than the kids.

You should have heard him when I rang him yesterday morning to find out which day someone would be home so I could order it. He’s such a nice young man. I’m glad I made him.

Look at this fine sinkful of potatoes! When I first had the wicking beds put in, around 3 years ago, I bought some seed potatoes from Aldi and chucked them into one of the beds. Since then, every so often I get a new batch of spuds. They just keep on reproducing.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – free food is definitely my favourite flavour!

The garden is also awash with beans. Luckily Ryan27 and I love love love them.

We’re eating the green Lazy Housewife and Pioneer beans, while this is a mix of Belotti and Lazy Housewife beans that I’m soaking before chucking them in the slow cooker. When that’s done I’ll freeze them in 250g batches to use in soups and stews.

The flowers have gone crazy in the front yard orchard. If I’d known how big those orange daisies would get, I definitely wouldn’t have planted all 5 of them together on that corner! I like them though, so I’m planning to dig a few up and transplant them when the weather gets cooler.

The lemon tree is the only one with any fruit to speak of. The mandarin has only 1 left. It better taste good!

Here’s how the back yard is looking at the moment. The veggie garden is the least productive it’s been for ages, but it’s still fun to go out there and cut things for dinner. I’m so glad I put the brick paving in. The thought of having to drag the lawnmower up there is awful.

And just to finish, here’s the arum lillies that I planted a couple of days before Christmas. They’ve grown this much in the space of 6 weeks. If only my tomatoes were this prolific…

Dad joke of the day:

What do cows dance to?

Moosic.

Jesse’s Quilt.

Here’s quilt #2 of the Christmas quilts.

I had my niece Jesse as my Secret Santa this year. I decided that I’d make her a quilt instead of simply buying something. I saw a photo on Pinterest that I liked the look of and thought I’d have a crack at something similar.

I had lots of black and white fabric, as well as some rainbow-coloured solids that I bought a while ago because they looked pretty all bundled up together. Time to cut into them!

Just quilted with my usual loopy quilting.

I was determined to make this with everything from my stash. Fortunately, I had a big piece of this heart fabric that I bought YEARS ago at Spotlight when the kids were small. I made the binding out of pieces of black and white fabric.

This is a lap-sized quilt, perfect for curling up on the couch and bingeing a show on Netflix.

Mum and Dad’s Christmas Quilt.

This Christmas I made 4 quilts as gifts.

Mum and Dad’s quilt was a replacement for The Inverloch Quilt that I made for them 10 years ago. It suffered some water damage so they needed a new quilt for their bed.

This one was fun to piece. I went through the stash a couple of months ago and sorted it into colours, so each day I’d go to a drawer, grab the colour and start piecing. Some of the pieces are largeish, but a lot are as tiny as half an inch wide. It got to be a quest of ‘no scrap left behind!’

From memory, each square is 12.5″ and the quilt is a double bed size. I used golf ball fabric from the 4th quilt I ever made to make it slightly more ‘manly’ for Dad.

Even though I’ve made 44 quilts so far, this is the first one I’ve made en pointe.

The whole quilt is a pandemic/lockdown quilt, made entirely from stash. I make all my own bindings and I save every scrap not used. This certainly came in handy with this quilt! I’ve used nearly every scrap of saved binding – some going back YEARS – and I didn’t have to make any more. There’s something incredibly satisfying about using up something inherently useless and turning it into something useful and beautiful.

When I look at the date and start to freak out slightly.

Scout looking soulful.

How is it possible that it’s only 5 days until Christmas? I swear December has just grown wheels and whizzed by. I’m hosting Christmas again this year, but unlike last year when I nearly killed myself making double lots of 5 salads, ham, roast beef, roast chickens, and a spinach and feta pie for the vegetarians… this year I’m making the adult children each bring a bottla wine and a salad. David28 said he’ll bring a charcuterie board for entree, Ryan26 is in charge of the roast pork and crackling, (I don’t cook crackling as I don’t like it much), and Tom29 said he’ll bring a box of cherries, but the rest of the kids will bring salads. Seeing as my nieces are both coming, that means there’ll be 3 salads. Same as last year, I’m feeding 13 people.

I’ll probably make a potato salad – gotta have those carbs! – and this year we’re having a ham and roast lamb as well. I’ll also be trying my hand at a ‘neatloaf’ for the vegetarians. My sister Kate is bringing a trifle – she’s never made one before but for some reason she has her heart set on it – and I’ll told Mum to bring a small Christmas pudding. Only 3 people like it, but one of them is Dad so she always has one. She had another fall last week so for the first time ever she’s BOUGHT one. She didn’t feel up to going through the rigmarole of making one.

Ever since the first dinner party I ever gave, where I started dishing up and then had to being the initial plates back to the kitchen to be able to feed the last couple of people – the recipe that said ‘serves 6’ didn’t cater for feeding 3 burly fruiterers with huge appetites – I’ve always been one who prefers to over cater. I love having leftovers in the fridge after Christmas, so I’ll probably sneak in an extra salad or some roast veggies or something.

People always remember when they HAVEN’T been well-fed, so I always take steps to make sure that doesn’t happen here!

I tried to take a photo with just the Cavaliers, but when Scout saw Jeffrey was getting attention she pushed in, as always. Poppy is at the back, clearly unimpressed with Scout’s shenanigans.

All I have to do now is finish a quilt and clean the house and get the veggie garden looking good. At the moment Saturday’s weather is 20C/68F so we’ll be eating outside. Spare a thought for the poor Perth people – they’re looking at 40C/104F on Christmas Day. Of course, Christmas Day should be warm and sunny, but that’s just ridiculous!

Speaking of making quilts, it seems that I’ve started a tradition over the last year. Nearly every quilt I’ve made, I’ve managed to stitch my quilting glove to the top of it. Without even trying. This is the tip of a glove’s thumb, just before I had to get the quikunpick to veeeery carefully get rid of it.

D’Oh! So annoying.

It’s so strange to think that if Covid hadn’t run crazy, I’d be in Antarctica now. Instead, I’ll be there next year. The dates are a little different, so I’ll probably be home for Christmas next year as well, but I’ll be jet-lagged as hell, so next year Kate will be doing the honours.

It’s also strange to think that I’ve been retired for a year. I wrote about it on the other blog, as FIRE people are always interested to read how retirement pans out for people who have reached there earlier. It’s called ‘One year of early(ish) retirement.

I probably won’t write another post before Christmas, so I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season. I absolutely love this time of year and I know that I’ll be so happy when all of my people are sitting around the table on Saturday, eating and drinking and laughing their fill.

Merry Christmas!

Dad joke of the day:

Same here except my wireless doorbells are smaller!