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Watch out UFOs about!

2 Jul

Have small green freaky looking creatures invaded Drawn Outdoors HQ? No, but we do have a lot of UFOs, UFPs and just a whole lotta stuff that needs to be done.  Not UFOs in the sense of strange flying saucer shaped alien transportation devices, UFOs in the sense of UnFinished Objects, UnFinished Projects and yes, just general stuff to be done.  I’ve talked about my powers of procrastination (check that one out here) and my list making love (that one is here) but I have another confession to make…

I’m not very good at finishing things.

I’m fabulous at starting, at dreaming, at thinking big.  If you need ideas, and you need them big, fantastic and mind blowing, I’m your girl.  The more freedom my mind is given to wander the better the idea.  I’m glad that this is a fabulous skill to have in the wonderful world of design.  It is so much fun to take an idea for a wander and see where it ends up taking you.

If you need a project planned and started, I’ll also put my hand up for that one.  I’m great at identifying what needs to be done and finding a pathway through the murky depths of “it’s too hard”, breaking problems down and then building up a solution.  My problem comes when I start to walk the pathway and something more shiny gets in my way, or another problem or idea jumps up and shouts out “look at me!”

I think my problem is deadlines.  When a project has a deadline, has a finish point, a clearly defined date and time, I manage to knock it out of the park.  When a deadline is a little bit  more flexible, or even worse, non existent, we have a problem.  I’ve worked out that when I’m wearing my Drawn Outdoors hat things are completed, on time and well.  It’s when things matter or people are relying on me that I tend to do my best work.  Why can’t I apply this dedication to all those incomplete little projects?  Why is the dress I started in my dressmaking class 3 years ago still not finished, and the 30th birthday present for my now 32 year old sister still waiting for its final touches?  Not to mention the multitude of stitches, sewings and ideas who’s seeds have been planted, allowed to germinate but not been able to grow and bloom.

I’m finding that blogging is helping with this problem.  When I blog about doing something, I tend to do it – I think it’s the guilt feeling I get when I don’t achieve a goal and too many people know about it.  Our 1000 things in winter is coming along fabulously, the girls are a third of the way there – Yay girls!  And my 31 posts in May was a total success.  But on the down side some things have slipped through the cracks, most obviously our own garden design and the Drawn Outdoors office.

To bust out of the half done rut that some things have found themselves falling into, I’m making a new financial year resolution.  When I have an idea that needs to be done, I’m giving it a deadline, letting someone who cares know about it, and then doing my best to stick to it.  I’m hoping that extra rewards won’t be needed along the way, the feeling of sheer unadulterated satisfaction when I”m finished should be sweet enough.

So here it is, my new financial year resolution to do list, with some deadlines and “reporting mechanisms” – I know you’ll hold me to it!  I’m starting small, just ten UFOs to start with, I don’t want any aliens messing with the engine.

1. Finish the 1000 things in winter challenge – and win!  This one’s a no brainer in terms of time – I have until the end of August, but just to make sure we’re on track I want to hit 500 things by 15 July, and 700 by 1 August.

2. Design OUR garden.  I’ve been designing a few gardens lately, but not ours. It  has been placed on the “when I get to it” pile for a bit too long.  I’ve measured the yard, analysed it to within an inch of its life, and now it’s time to turn my seeds of ideas into a reality.  Deadline – 1 September , or the first day of spring, ready for us to start building and enjoying this summer.

3. Set up Drawn Outdoors Office – I should really say finish setting up the office.  At the moment it’s working, but not well.  I need a desk.  It’s hard keeping things on a tilted drawing board and not so easy drawing on a flat one, and the computer desk is tiny.  I need to streamline and organise what I have so it works for me and so the office looks like an office and not a halfway house for anything without a home.  Target dates are 31 July for desk, then 15 August for office organisation.

4. Knit the Drama Queen’s scarf – I have taught myself how to knit (Yay me!) and my first project is a scarf.  I will have it finished so it can be worn this winter.  Completion date 31 July.

5. Finish the 30th birthday present – can’t say what it is, that would give away the surprise, but I will share when I get there. I’d like to have it done before Christmas.  30 November is the deadline.

6. Repair our walls – When we moved in, just over a year ago we repainted then replaced the light fittings.  Most are fine, but there are a couple of holes and patches of wall that need painting.  Deadline 31 August.

7. Plan a ski trip.  Mr Perfect and I love the snow, but The Drama Queen and the Daredevil have never seen it, and we’re feeling a bit sad about that.  We have decided that this year we will take them.  Holidays don’t plan themselves, someone needs to do it.  Deadline 20 July, any later and it might melt!

8. Finish the stitching for the Drama Queen’s new cushion – You know, the one I blogged about here.  Done by 31 August.

9. Plan our christmas presents – I like to make rather than buy, but I tend to get my great ideas around the end of October, and I’m left scrambling to get things done.  This year I’m going to be a bit more organised and get my plan ready before the end of July

10. Make myself an exceptionally cool post it note list that I can keep track of all my things to do on.  Just like this one from Cornflower Blue Studio.  I’ll show you this one by the 10th of July, and I will only use materials we currently have in the house.

There are so many more things I will need to add to this list, but if I just focus on 10 at a time I think my success rate might be a little bit higher, don’t you?

Sam

1000 things in winter

30 May

We have too much stuff.  At least that’s what Mr Perfect thinks.  The Drama Queen can’t get enough stuff, the Daredevil is just happy to get any stuff, and I think maybe we do have too much, but I’m also a bit too sentimental when it comes to stuff.  With a little inspiration from Minimalist Living and his great post about The Summer of 1000 Things Challenge, we have decided that we will hold an in house competition to de-stuff a bit.  We’ve had to re-word a little bit, after all we are “down under” so it’s the WINTER of 1000 things.  We’ve also added another level of difficulty, teamed up and challenged ourselves to 1000 things each – it’s boys versus girls, so the first to 1000 wins.  The Drama Queen and I think we have it in the bag, after all we do have the most stuff to get rid of!

I’ve enlisted a bit of help from the team at  Did You Remember the Milk, I’ve written about them before, here.  Brigitte has just released a new e-book – The Biggest Tosser, so the Drama Queen and I will be implementing their expert advice in our de-stuffing quest.  It is “The 7 step guide to a bigger life with less stuff.” Sounds perfect for us, particularly since the claim is that they “do the bossing and you do the tossing”.  I think the girls might need a little bit of hard love along the way.

Part of my rationale for embarking on this challenge is a bit of re-education for the Drama Queen.  As the first child, first grandchild, and more importantly the only girl child in our family, she’s been just a little bit spoilt.  I know I’m guilty of it, Mr Perfect’s guilty of it, and particularly Nanna is guilty of it!  But the Drama Queen generally gets what the Drama Queen wants, and as a result she doesn’t always really value what she has.  She appreciates her stuff, she doesn’t like to part with any of it, but she has a constant quest to get more and more. Now she’s getting a little bit older it’s time for her to work out what is really important and how to let go of stuff you don’t need any more.  Lets face it, I don’t want to see her on an episode of hoarders in 30 years time still holding onto her 30 My Little Ponies because she didn’t learn it was OK to let go sometimes.

The other lesson we will need to teach is how to get rid of the stuff with a little bit of eco-cred.  I don’t want to just toss everything, that’s way too environmentally evil for my liking, so there will be a lot of donating, re-homing and maybe a market stall at the end of winter.

As much as Mr Perfect would love our house to look like this, I don’t think it’s quite us, but we can come closer…

 

The good news is that the Drama Queen has started stockpiling stuff ready for the 1st of June when the competition begins.  It’s not much but it’s a start.  Anyone feel like joining us?

Sam

Does kindness = happiness?

27 May

I’ve been trying to be kinder lately.  I recently asked the question “have you been kind today?” in a post.  I’ve not really gone out of my way, haven’t planned any over the top grand kindness gestures, I’ve just been doing the things we should really be doing, but that are sometimes forgotten in the daily rush of things.  I’ve been doing things that don’t come so naturally to my generally more shy personality.  I’ve been chatting to more people, saying hello more often and definitely smiling more.  I’ve helped upset kids in the playground find their lost Mums and let the Drama Queen’s friends at child care treat me like their climbing frame.  I’ve tried to help where I can, and generally spread some happy karma into the world.

I thought I might take stock of this kindness and see if it has made a difference to my general happiness, and because I’ve been joining in the Seven Cherubs Happy Days in May project, it’s perfect timing to reflect while I’m posting my weekly happiness post.

Has it made me happier? Has mindful kindness affected my general mood and made my world a happier place? The short answer is yes, or at least I think it has.  I feel as though the people I interact with seem happier.  Maybe it’s because I’m reaping what I sow and the energy I’m sending into the world is being reflected back.  I’ve definitely had a lot more casual conversations with strangers in the street.  I have seen a lot more people smiling, and it looks like they’re returning my smile a lot of the time.  My general mood has been a lot better and my patience with the little inconveniences of life is definitely improving.  I haven’t measured anything, don’t have any facts and figures, just a general feeling and a hunch, and that hunch says that kindness does equal happiness.

I do have a kindness highlight that I would love to share.  About 18 months ago I had a bus trip into the city.  While this in itself isn’t extraordinary, I catch a bus quite often, the bus driver I had on this trip was extraordinary.  She embodied all that is kind and happy.  In a world where it is all too easy to just go through the motions, this bus driver went out of her way to greet every single passenger onto her bus.  I chatted to her on the trip into the city, and it made my journey unforgettable.  I went home and sent an e-mail to the transit authority thanking and praising this bus driver.  I hoped that she had received a copy of the e-mail because I knew she deserved to know how much happiness she had injected into my day.  This isn’t where my story ends.

This week I was out shopping with the Daredevil, I was waiting for a lift and started chatting to a lady about the lifts and which one would come first.  The lady looked familiar, and when I saw the Sydney Buses logo on her shirt the penny dropped.  This was my bus driver, the one who had given me the best bus riding experience ever!  I couldn’t let the opportunity pass, I mustered up the courage and asked.  It turns out that not only was she my bus driver, but she had also recognised my face and remembered that I had been on my first night out without the Daredevil (he was only 6 months old at the time).  Unfortunately she hadn’t received a copy of my e-mail, but I think I made her day by remembering her and thanking her in person.  I know it made my day!

Now for my Happy Days in May update.  If you want to catch up on the last couple of weeks, you can see post 1 here, post 2 here and post 3 here.

21 May 2012 – I ran into my bus driver lady today!

22 May 2012 – Today I got to be a eucalyptus tree for the Drama Queen’s imaginative child care Koala friends –  lots and lots of laughing.

23 May 2012 – Mt Perfect went away for a boys golf escape, so the Munchkins and I got to have carpet picnics for dinner.

24 May 2012 – Mr Perfect and I escaped for our night of culture at the theatre, I always feel happy being immersed in another world, another reality and expanding my creative horizons, though Jack Thompson’s smooth voice almost put me to sleep!

25 May 2012 – An afternoon nap for all of us recharged the batteries.

26 May 2012 – Lunch with the family at the Hard Rock Cafe – cocktails, too much food and Brownies to die for, Yum!

27 May 2012 – A morning of garden creation with the family lead to smiles,  a lot of mud and a big mess to clean up, hope our green grows!

I’m off to polish up my smile for tomorrow!

Sam

All sewn up

26 May

We’ve had a bit of a blow out at our place.

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The poor cushion couldn’t handle the munchkin torment any more and gave in. The Drama Queen’s not very happy about it, it was her “favourite”! The cushion did have a sibling, but apparently it’s not as good as the favourite, I actually prefer the sibling, but I’m not 4.

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Both cushions were made for my sister’s wedding, quite a few years ago. She had a beautiful garden wedding with masses of handmade touches. I’ll have to borrow her wedding photos one day if she’ll let me share them! With such a sentimental beginning it is sad to say goodbye to the cushion, but we’ve taken the opportunity to redesign and remake. The Drama Queen has helped me pick out some material and a cross stitch design and we’re about to start the hard work.

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The Drama Queen has picked a cross stitch design from a French cross stitch book. I borrowed it from the library, and have renewed it twice already, it is beautiful, full of patterns based on French deserts like croissants and macaroons. the Drama Queen has chosen cupcakes, which fortunately seems pretty easy.

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I’ll let you know how we go!

Sam

Oliver Jeffers at Sydney Writers’ Festival

21 May

Last week Sydney hosted it’s annual Writers’ Festival.  It’s the largest writers’ festival in Australia (which isn’t too hard), and the fifth largest in the world, which is kind of impressive given how far away we are from everyone else.  I have always watched the festival from afar.  I’ve never managed to get myself there, just wished and regretted when I hadn’t quite made it.  This year there was a reason to go.  My favourite children’s author was talking.  He also happens to be the Drama Queen’s favourite author too.  Every time she has to choose a present for a friend or cousin she goes straight to his books.

Oliver Jeffers creates beautiful children’s books.  I’m so glad I had children because without them I might not have discovered his books.  When I saw him listed as part of the festival I knew that I had to go and see him talk.  Fortunately Mr Perfect gave me a day off, so I ventured out on my own, such a rare treat.  Another bonus was that the Festival is held in Sydney’s Walsh Bay, on the historic finger wharves.  I love this part of Sydney.  To reach Walsh Bay from the bus I had to walk through the Rocks.  I’m not sure if its the historic architecture and atmosphere or the memory of too many nights mis spent in the pubs, but I always feel happy in The Rocks.  I love imagining the society that grew up around this area, Sydney’s oldest and probably most interesting.

There was a buzz around Walsh Bay that I hadn’t witnessed before.  With a diverse collection of writers speaking, I witnessed the whole spectrum of the book loving community.  There were babies, kids, adults and seniors, all equally as excited to soak up a little piece of knowledge and inspiration.  I wish I could have seen some more writers, Roddy Doyle was also speaking, but he clashed with the Daredevil’s birthday, so I had to give him a miss.

After queuing in the rain, which was so much fun as I taught people how to make hats out of newspaper, the doors were opened and we filed into the space that would provide us with an hour of Oliver Jeffers’ time and inspiration.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I knew he was and Irishman living in New York, kinda cool, but when I saw a very creative looking soul in a hat, vest and jacket I knew I was in for an interesting hour.

I wish I had the memory to recall Oliver’s stories word for word, but I was too mesmerised by his Irish accent tinged with the slightest little bit of New York, and can only remember the feeling of happiness that I felt as he told us how his stories are created.  He doesn’t consider himself a writer, he is an artist first, and it’s the weaving of words and images that make his books so interesting and attractive.  It may be the fact the the books are not created for children, not really created for any audience besides himself that might be the real reason that they work so well.  Oliver Jeffers doesn’t write children’s stories, he creates picture books, picture books he would like to read, and I’m another reader who is hooked.

The best part of my day was that I got to take a little piece of Oliver Jeffers home to the Drama Queen.  I picked up two of his books and got them signed for the munchkins. When she opened the book and saw her name, she couldn’t believe that Oliver Jeffers had signed a book just for her.  She asked me to say thank you to him and tell him that he wrote her favourite books.  The good news was that I had already told him.  So, if by the odd chance that you happen to read this post Oliver Jeffers, you made a 4 year old and her much older Mum’s day.

If you haven’t read any of Oliver Jeffers books, you really should.  You can find them on his website here.  The Drama Queen’s favourites are Lost and Found and Up and Down (she has a bit of a thing for the penguin), though she is also rather fond of The Heart in the Bottle and the Incredible Book Eating Boy as well.

Sam

Going to my happy place

20 May

Doesn’t everyone have a happy place?  The place that you go, whether it be a physical or more metaphorical, when you’re not really feeling the happy vibe.  When you want  to pick up those failing spirits, or when you just want a happiness boost.  Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and go to your happy place.  I’m loving joining in the Seven Cherubs Happy Days in May Project, but thought I’d switch it around just a little this week.  I’ve concentrated my happiness sentences on the happy places that I visited this week.  In this instance the happy places are physical, though they definitely did have an emotional effect.

This is part three in the Happy Days in May series, you can check out part one here and part two here if you want to catch up on the happiness goodness, and with a couple more parts to come, it really has helped make a happy May around our place.

14 May 2012 – In all the party planning pandemonium I took the opportunity to visit Spotlight to collect some “essential” supplies for the party, I also managed to do a little bit of other looking too!

15 May 2012 – Headed over to Haberfield to catch up for coffee, great coffee, great company and lots of fun with the Daredevil and his new “friend” in the park.

16 May 2012 – Ordered balloons at the party shop – how can a party shop not be a happy place???

17 May 2012 – With Mr Perfect taking a day off work, I got to go to the supermarket alone!  Not normally an exceptionally happy place, but this time a tranquil haven of happiness without two munchkins sneaking contraband into the trolley or running away.

18 May 2012 – A trip over to Surry Hills with the Daredevil to see the doctor is a trip down childhood memory lane, plus a brush with fame as I park behind Hugo Weaving (mmmmm….)

19 May 2012 – We don’t have to travel far to find a happy place today as the party comes to our home – perfect people, weather and location!

20 May 2012 – A walk through The Rocks to get to Walsh Bay for the Sydney Writers Festival – inspiring talk and buzzing atmosphere, but more about that tomorrow!

I do have to admit that sometimes I do feel like my happy place is a little bit like this….

… though fortunately not very often!

Where was your happy place this week?

Sam

Party like a 2 year old

19 May

Happy birthday to my little Daredevil.  He has made it to two despite every attempt to jump, fall, climb, and run into the face of danger.  Although I had fantastic plans for a gorgeously themed second birthday party, we settled for a “theme” of good food, good friends and good fun out in the late autumn sun.

Utilising a big open common area within our villa complex we were able to have enough room for munchkins to run and adults to relax and soak up the blue sky sun.  I realised how good it is to have a big garden space that is able to be adapted and utilised as an extension to your inside living space.  If we had tried to have the 30 odd people fit into our place it just would not have worked.  While the space is nothing special, there is a lot of potential, and the potential is the best part about it.  It is almost a blank canvas waiting for users to shape it.

It has been a very big day, I’m exhausted and ready for bed, so thought I would just share some of our photos from today.

Time to blow out the candles and go to bed!

Sam

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