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Happy New Year

1 Jan

Wow, 2014 crept up pretty quickly. I wasn’t really expecting to be watching fireworks and sipping bubbles quite this soon, but there we were last night, with the rest of Sydney sitting by the harbour, picnicking and bathing in the spectacular fireworks that Sydney New Years Eve is famous for.

Sydney celebrates New Years Eve exceptionally well. Take one of the worlds prettiest harbour cities, add gorgeous summer weather (except for the 10 minute freak rain shower) and top it off with one of the world’s best fireworks display, and you have a Sydney New Years Eve.

If you don’t have a party to go to, if you forget to plan something huge, then all you need to do in Sydney is head on down to the harbour foreshore. With around 2 million partygoers lining the harbour’s edge, every vantage point becomes a huge multicultural communal celebration farewelling the old and welcoming the new.

When all the fun and games are over, it’s a great time to think and take stock about the year that was, and the year that will be. I love making resolutions, I’m generally not so great at keeping them, but my heart is in the right place. This year I’ve decided to keep it simple, just three resolutions that are hopefully very easy to keep. I’m thinking of them in a purely selfish way, something for my mind – blog more (not hard given 2013’s very ordinary effort), something for my heart – reach out and contact old friends, organise those catch ups and basically see more of people, and something for my body and soul – get out into nature and visit as many National Parks as I can (I would love to visit all of the National Parks in NSW one day). While they are resolutions that are purely for my own improvement, they are also definitely things that I can and will share.

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Most importantly I hope that 2014 brings laughter, love and happy memories. Cheers to the new year!
Sam

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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

31 days in May and I blogged them all!

31 May

I thought I was biting off more than I could chew, thought I had over estimated my blogging prowess, but I proved myself wrong.  There’s nothing like setting yourself a challenge and rising to meet it.  I have had so much fun posting every day in May, but I know that it’s not something that I’ll be doing regularly.  My usual 1-2 per week, with the special edition of 3 or 4 is more my style, less structured and also gives me time to feed my ideas a little more.  There is one thing I will miss just a little bit, with the regular blogging my stats have skyrocketed.  While I don’t blog for the numbers it’s nice to know people are reading, and with fewer posts will come fewer views (theoretically), though I have mades some great new blogging friends who I hope will stick around!

The good news now is that I’ll have a bit more time to get back too the real world work of designing.  The Daredevil is set to have his first full day of child care on Monday, so watch out world here I come, munchkin free, and ready for inspired designing and busting barriers in my way.  Who knows, maybe our garden will finally be designed and built.  Maybe I could get myself a cool super outfit to bust out in, some ideas…

It’s also the last day of my Happy Days in May project, so to wrap it all up…

28 May 2012 – Child free for an hour while the Daredevil had his child care orientation, time to breathe and clear my head and enjoy a coffee without a babycino friend.

29 May 2012 – Hair cuts for the munchkins, the Drama Queen was right at home, and the Daredevil cruised through his first haircut – mullet be gone!  I have the best kids!

30 May 2012 – Frustrating but fulfilling, spent a large chunk of the day sorting out household and business accounts and records – feel much happier having completed them.

31 May 2012 – Crazy time with the cousins – how much fun can you have with 6 kids under 5 – apparently never too much!

Short, sweet, and time for a little feet up time, though I will be back tomorrow for Friday Finds – damn I didn’t time that one well.

Sam

Glass Beach

29 May

What happens when people dispose of their waste in the most irresponsible way, try to clean it up, until it all gets a bit too hard, then when they can’t think of any other way to repair the damage, they close up and move on?  OK, maybe I’m being a bit harsh, but I’m filing this one under “what the hell were they thinking until it becomes wow that is just too spectacular for words”.

I am a beach glass collector.  I like to find it, feel it, decorate sandcastles with it and then leave it for the next person to enjoy.  I rarely take it home with me unless it is quite spectacular or the Drama Queen insists.  I love its smoothness, the way that time and energy have ground down all the sharp bits to make something soft and subtle.  I really like the blue ones, though they are really hard to find.

I think I would be in beach glass meltdown if I ever manage to visit Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California.  In the early part of the 20th century the residents of Fort Bragg disposed of their waste by hurling it off the cliffs onto the beach below.  No object was too big, too toxic or too much.  Household appliances, cars, trash all were tossed over the cliffs until the 1960’s when attempts were made to clean up the dump.  Despite clean up attempts, nothing could be done about the masses of glass that remained on the beach.  This is the result, a now protected altered beach landscape.

Pity it took such a gross act of human laziness to make something so beautiful.  What do you think?

Sam

images from digggsmeganpru,lee rentz

Pages – Kitchen Gardens of Australia

23 May

I have been looking for inspiration in the form of kitchen gardens. I have a client who is planning to renovate and create a conservatory kitchen which will open onto a kitchen garden space. While most of my research is done on the internet, I also spend a bit of time in the local library. There’s nothing like turning the pages of real books. I love the small sense of anticipation as you open the cover of a new book, hoping that it lives up to it’s promise delivered in the cover.

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I found this gem of a book today at the library. Kitchen Gardens of Australia by Kate Herd profiles 18 productive gardens throughout Australia. The profiles include plans, photos, interviews with the gardeners and hints and tips learnt from each garden.

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I love that the garden profiles tell the story of the garden and the gardeners as well as providing the more technical specifications. The photographs by Simon Griffiths are inspiring and showcase the gardens perfectly.

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I’ve only had a chance to have a quick
Look and to read one garden profile, but I already know that this is a book I would love to add to my library. There are so many lessons to learn from these gardens and design ideas to adapt into future garden designs.

Hint hint for Christmas Mr Perfect!!

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

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