Sunday 16 December 2018

Pick of my Posts - 2018

As these posts are beginning to do the rounds, I thought I'd squeeze mine in before I shutdown.

My January saw us in Finland and Switzerland, with only one post on our return, of you guessed it - Finland! The travel blog also posted on Rovaniemi and the Glass igloos.

February saw me philosophical with a little thought on Appreciation (& a challenge), a post about managing worry and wisdom on a life's purpose.

In the throws of a terrible month, I discovered the joy and uplifting, healing powers of music and dance.

May saw me reflecting on the importance of who we share our time with and discussing Eddie Ayres and following your own compass.

Midyear we took a seaplane to the Great Barrier Reef on a very indulgent and unforgettable tour!

By August I was in the throws of HSC circus, and discussed the brilliant Augusten Burroughs advice that got me through a major loss earlier in the year, once you're in it, it's okay. I also gave advice about that unnecessary back up plan.

On the travel blog we went to Floriade for the first time and had a surprisingly excellent and fun packed time in Canberra.

In October I was discussing secrets.

In the midst of all the Christmas posts, I also wrote my advice on that HSC experience.

Putting this year in review together, I realise I need to write more - I've become very photo focused. So next year I'll try to return to my more traditional style.

Happy Christmas to you all! Stay safe and happy over the holidays. See you all in Feb!

Linking with #TriumphantTales, #DreamTeam, #FridayFeature #FreshMarket #TwinklyTuesday #GlobalBlogging #Randomosity and #RubyTuesdayToo

Friday 14 December 2018

Great gifts for men

Miles & Smiles. Dan Marshall
In the last minute Xmas dash, I want to alert you to 2 great finds for gift for men. They look great, but they also do good for others and possibly start conversations...

1. Headset Art and Apparel. 22 artists designed shirts and prints for Headset, with the aim of promoting cycling because of the benefits of getting outdoors to exercise, getting together with others to exercise, all with the bonus of improving mental health. A portion of the proceeds goes to Black Dog Australia, and more than $5500 was donated this year. Great gifts and a great way to start the conversation or improve lifestyle. Browse styles here for funky tees, totes or the wall art.

2. My other hot fav is CYA - Choose your animal. Stylish activewear and swimwear made from recycled plastic bottles. You select the animal print that you like, and 10% of the profits go to that cause. If you have a passion for saving the Rhino, Sloth, Elephant, Tiger or Shark or if you just want to help reduce that mountain of plastic bottle waste we've created, then these are a brilliant way to fill your wardrobe.
Browse selection here.

What's been your go to with the men in your life this Christmas?

Please note, I have no affiliation with these brands, I just really liked the ideas behind them. Please check out their sites and my photography is not doing them any favours, due to rushing and reflections!!

Linking with #OpenSlather

What I learnt from the HSC

I honestly believe the parents have turned the HSC year into a nightmare for most students. The expectation that they must go to Uni, the idea that the ATAR is so important and that it's the only thing that matters. Here are a few things I've learnt over the last year.

1. Two Universities mentioned that only 26% of students get in on ATAR. That to me also said that 74% get in some other way. So I started looking at the other ways, and let me tell you, there are plenty! In year 11 start checking out the Uni websites. There are scholarships and many early entry options. My daughter had one early entry offer prior to sitting the HSC, then got 2 more offers, all prior to receiving her ATAR. She did get guaranteed entry to the University of her choice with her ATAR, but there were options already there if she didn't. As I always say, you want options. If you have a choice, then it's your decision.

2. When the marks come out, celebrate the HSC day. Those HSC marks really don't mean anything (they're just numbers that look good and add up all together to a big number) so celebrate those. Even with a good ATAR, a lot of kids are disappointed because they didn't meet their expectation, so better if you're already had the celebration the day before.

3. Once you get in to Uni, or decide you aren't going to Uni, the HSC doesn't mean anything. And the ATAR is irrelevant. So breathe easy.

4. You want to travel or work straight from school, get that dream happening as quickly as possible. Satisfaction and self esteem (and drive) will thrive if you do. Not to mention you'll be getting real money. There's no need not to start working straight after exams.

5. If you want to go to TAFE or learn a trade, there are great options where you are paid to do the course. Track those down. It's just as good getting paid to learn as paying to learn. (Hint, it's actually better to be paid - they already see your potential).

6. If others don't see the value in what you want to do, hold your ground, keep your head high and prove them wrong. There are no jobs better than other jobs if they make you happy. Don't believe anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.

7. Don't be scared if you don't have a dream. Just apply yourself to whatever the job is in front of you. There used to be a word meaning to travel purposefully toward an as-yet-unknown destination. It's Coddiwomple. Do that.

8. You don't have to wait until you reach your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud (and celebrate) every step you take. (quote from Karen Salmansohn).

9. If you like it, it doesn't feel like work. Maybe that's what you need to look for in a career path. And when you don't like it, maybe you change path. What you decide to do now, may (and probably will) change. What you actually start to do now, doesn't send you to an unalterable destination.

10. Always remember, opportunity dances with those already on the dancefloor. There is no right path, but you do need to get moving!

Last one is for the parents. You love your child but they aren't you. What you think is important might be irrelevant to them. Or they might need time to work out what makes them tick. When talking stress to a GP, she said 'I didn't get the mark I wanted out of school, and I couldn't get into the course I wanted to do, and I didn't even want to be a doctor. I started a different course, transferred into my course and realised I hated it. THAT was the moment I realised I wanted to do medicine.' Our measure of success applies to us alone. Everyone else has their own yardstick.

Good luck to future students, and to those starting out on their futures, remember the world is your oyster. Enjoy the exciting time of possibilities. Job satisfaction is the measure of success. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make that happen.

Linking with #Lifethisweek because point 2 is really important and now is a good time to remind people!

Thursday 13 December 2018

Sydney from Different Angles


I love this view of the Opera House - it makes it seem so other worldly.

These three photos are all taken in Sydney. It is a beautifully diverse city.

And a splash of colour in farewell. 

I want to say thank you for hosting MakroTex. I really am sorry to see it go. I've enjoyed this little window into Finland and having to follow the theme each week. I do hope you decide to come back in a while. Maybe you will miss us as we'll miss you? (I will be honest I only learnt today that it could be a macro photo OR on theme....I am seemingly getting stupider with age).

Thank you, it's been a lot of fun...and the link up world shrinks a little more....

Pieni Lintu - MakroTex challenge

Wednesday 12 December 2018

More little things

I have had a very difficult week for a number of reasons, and certainly not helped by the anxiety (or grief) of Dad not being around for Christmas (for the first time) turning into rage. I am fed up with a lot of things and I am sick of biting my tongue. While I normally just keep quiet when people are being jerks, I've mouthed off a few times this week. Anyway, I can see it's probably a deflection of what is actually causing me distress, and anger is certainly easier (though probably not for everyone else). I will be glad when Christmas is over, truth be told. However, here is a tip. If you always talk about yourself and your interests, don't assume it's because the other person thinks it's interesting or you are always right, sometimes they're just polite. Perhaps show the same courtesy to them in return. It reminds me of The Second Best Exotic  Marigold Hotel - always be person B, never person C. 

Our Gingerbread house went missing in the post (along with a few gifts) - but I guess I should be grateful that it's the first time it's happened, and because the gingerbread house was in it, I chased up sooner than I would have, so have time to rebuy gifts for those people - and rush out and get a gingerbread house today for the little one.

I had a lovely much needed catch up with friends, that put me in a much better mood, and am off to a curious sort of escape room in a bar tonight! These little things make me happy.

My eldest got fabulous HSC results so assuming the ATAR matches tomorrow, she can breath easy for a few months! Hope everyone got what they were after, and if they didn't, there are open days this weekend to work out your pathways. Plenty of roads to Rome. It's just the beginning, not the conclusion.

Lastly, I will be away but if you are in Sydney, I would look no further than Furnace and the Fundamentals xmas party on the 20th. Best fun! You will dance all night! Buy tix here.

Until Feb, Happy Christmas everyone! Keep safe over the holidays and may 2019 bring with it all things wonderful for you.

Linking with #KCACOLS  #ThatFridayLinky and #FridayFeature

Saturday 8 December 2018

Sydney in December - Share My Snaps!

I will be closing the blog this week until after Australia day, so I wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, safe travels and safe driving over the holidays and a very happy celebration to herald in 2019.

My Insta will continue because I can't detox completely!

Thank you all for swinging by over the year - it is an evolving landscape this blogging but I still get so much joy from it all.

Sydney in December means sneaking off to the Grounds to see the snow (Actual quote from an 20-something behind me "Real snow is so much better" - really????)

It means seeing Santa and the David Jones windows, all the sparkly Christmas decorations around the city and the highlight - discovering the Golden Gaytime store is back (in Myer) with a ginger flavoured Xmas gaytime. Fabulous!!

There's the Ikea Christmas lights at home, solar lights in the garden and plenty of parties to go to.

Most of all, it's plenty of time swimming in the many glorious spots around this very beautiful city.

Whatever you do, enjoy Sydney in December!

Linking with #Allseasons

Thursday 6 December 2018

A little visitor

I like this one for #WeekendReflection as when you first glance at it, it's unclear as to where the reflection starts. The wallaby below is for the link ups in the UK and US, not my best roo photo but nice to see on your doorstep none the less. This one had a few scratch marks, I suspect as a result from run ins with the resident goanna - not to be messed with! All in the heart of Sydney....

More pictures of Currawong Beach Cottages here. 

Linking with #AwwMondays

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Loving Life - Little things

As I have mentioned, I put things toys, books, clothes that the kids have outgrown on the fence for people to take - some are brand new and never used, some are a little tatty. I just can't bear the idea of it going to landfill, and I love that it finds a new home. Strollers, baby monitors and other items also make the grade. Yesterday a woman was taking something as I was leaving and she said "Thank you, we have your Genie outfit from the other week, and we still have all your playdoh cutters from about four years ago". It made me so happy that these little kids were getting such joy out of them. Today, a woman at school stopped my youngest and said "Aren't you so very kind to give away your toys to other children? It's so lovely of you". My youngest blushed but was chuffed. The woman then said to me "I grew up in an orphanage, it would have made the world of difference to us if someone did that. We would would have cleared you out every day". A few years ago a man came and introduced himself to me in the street, stopping his bike as he rode past. He said he had kids at the school and they regularly took things from our fence, so he felt he needed to say hi. I have since bumped into him in the playground many times, heard the stories of his reno and moving house, where his wife works and about the kids. It's a really nice sense of community. So I am loving that people who take the things like to share their pleasure in the items. That is a gift in itself. Though I am still hoping the new little Flash makes an appearance soon.

We had a big 18th and the recycling flowed into two bins, so I had to trawl the neighbourhood putting glass bottles and cans in the streets bins. Shortly after, I came out to catch an uber and a woman was going through our bin taking out all the empties. I told her if I knew she was coming, I could have bagged them up for her, as I'd just had to fill up other people's bins (and pointed out which ones to go to next). She then informed me that she was giving money to the farmers. Apparently you can get cash back OR you can direct it to a charity, and she chose the drought relief. I LOVE this story. I LOVE that this woman is putting effort into help others, and that the bottles and cans would indeed be recycled.

We had our bookclub xmas party last night, and one of the traditions is a book swap. One friend, equally waste conscious, has been wrapping her presents in red (and green) boxes. I am a HUGE fan of this idea, and will be stealing once I've used up all the gift bags. We can all make a difference, with small and easy changes. For other environmental ideas, with the bonus cost savings thrown in for nothing, see here.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” 
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Lastly, it is advent calendar time. I got a T2 one, which I'm enjoying trying a new tea each day, and I got myself the L'Occitane one. I love that feeling of a few seconds excitement as I open it each day, and I love the luxury of the new smells in body wash and hand creams each day. I'm actually waking with anticipatory excitement, which is a lovely feeling - a long lost joy. That feeling is actually the gift, not the tea or the lotion. Sometimes it's the little things that make a difference.

If you are after gift ideas next year for people that don't need anything, I thoroughly recommend an 'adult' advent calendar.

All these stories make me love life. As the wise Dr. Seuss said in The Lorax, “It's not about what it is, it's about what it can become.” 

What are you loving this week?

Linking with #TrafficJamWeekend. And note this year's #XmasLinky is now live.

Monday 3 December 2018

Giving Gifts that Give Twice

If buying for people that really don't need anything, try to find something that gives to those that do. It doesn't lessen the enjoyment of the gift, but it does add to your pleasure, knowing that it's helping someone.

Consider the following:

Lush has bath melts that raise money for Transcend and Minus 18; the Inner Truth bath melt is raising awareness for Transgender and non-binary people. There's even a free booklet on how to be a trans ally, however just the bath melt as a stocking stuffer is doing good.

Thank You has gorgeous gift packs starting at just $16.  Thank you is a company that commits 100% of it's profits to end global poverty. The products have a number so you can see exactly where the funds are being directed from your purchase. If you don't want the gorgeous gift boxes, just go with a body wash or coffee scrub as a stocking stuffer.

Who Gives a Crap? has festively wrapped toilet paper or tissues with slogans on the box, that make a fun joke present, while also building toilets around the world. Perfect Kris Kringle to give 'in case someone gives you the sh#ts this xmas'

Oxfam always has a fabulous range of gifts that offer outreach to those in need or build communities around the world. The online shop has a fabulous range of xmas goodies to suit any budget. Plenty of Kris Kingle ideas here.

For little people, if in Sydney, head to Little Shop in the CBD for gorgeous hand knitted gifts that give proceeds to the hospital.

L'Occitane has partnered with Unicef and raising fund to help end childhood blindness. A little $4.50 soap is a great stocking filler or little gift.

A great family present for next year is the Camp Quality Advent Calendar. It has actvities that the family must do together - play an outdoor game in the evening, craft with nature, have a water fight and so on.

If they really need nothing, why not donate a plate to the Wayside Chapel to feed the homeless this Christmas? You get a paper plate to give to the person you gifted on the behalf of.

Given we spend almost 9 billion dollars on Christmas presents in Australia, let's try to make a sizeable chunk of that go to something worthwhile.

What are your fav charitable gifts for this Christmas?

Linking with #IBOT for the very last time. When my blog started back in 2012, #IBOT was the first link up I joined, and I met many bloggers that way. It's evolved over the years and the faces change, but it's been a steady commitment to write something new to post every Tuesday. I want to thank Kylie for keeping it alive as long as she did.

Linking also with #OpenSlather

Saturday 1 December 2018

Taking Stock - December

Cooking: On Friday night the eldest had her 18th. I spent the night literally cooking non stop - it started at 5 so I was determined to keep people eating to balance the alcohol. It was a success, though apparently my presence, even only as waitress and glassy was enough to weird out some of the teens.

Drinking: Not much at the moment, as I've been 'responsible supervising adult' two nights in a row - zero alcohol in case I have to drive someone to the hospital...

Listening to: Mares. They're hilarious and make me dance. I've started calling high heels Hoga Klackar and amusing myself no end...not so much everyone else around me. 

Reading: Absolutely adoring Robert Webb's How not to be a boy. I don't really know him as a comedian but the book is hilarious and so insightful. I'm seeing a lot of divorced men with anger issues at the moment and gaining the understanding into why they're so angry all of a sudden. But you will be hearing a lot from this book on the blog soon, so buy a copy for our bookclub discussions.

Liking: Our young people for taking to the streets on Climate Change when we did not. Their protest shone a light on how we, the adults, have dropped the ball.

Watching: Enjoying Man in the High Castle

Next watch: No idea - give me some suggestions. Netflix is rubbish.

Hoping: I can get my writing mojo back. I haven't written a decent story in almost a year.

Cringing:At the Liberal Party. Their immature comments to the media are getting really embarrassing when you consider the rest of the world is seeing them. They need to hire a PR manager - even a junior assistant would tell them that the comments to the teenage protesters reflects badly on them and they need to grow up and at least try for more Statesmen-like behaviour. (Ditto other politicians but at least their comments won't make world attention. We look like childish idiots.)

Needing: You to vote for my photo of Furnace so I can get tickets to sold out Field Day to see Rufus Du Sol. (I know, childish idiot myself).

Questioning: How that dress Sarah Hansen-Young wore was deemed inappropriate. I'm an old lady and it is something I would wear. How has our parliament come to this? And why are we talking about all this rubbish instead of what needs to be done -which is a lot if you ask me - to fix where the country is heading?

Smelling: Jasmine and Gardenias everywhere I go. It's divine.

Following: The Finnish Embassy in Canberra on Facebook. They have the best page. It's interesting and constantly delights. A few times this week, it's been the highlight of my day.

Disliking: The behaviour of the people we pay to run the country. They are not earning their salaries if you ask me. We need to demand better. This is our tax dollars they are wasting.

Loving: My new kicks.

Did you take stock? What should we watch on TV?

Linking with #TriumphantTales