22 and a hump

Hello outside world! 

Upon consulting my calendar, it appears that it has been 22 (and a hump day) weeks since a whole slew of Melbourne folks, including me, started working from home and staying home more than usual. 

That’s a long time! Deep in the second trimester of growing a human in your guts kind of time, yeah? 

It seems both entirely normal and still surreal to be connecting to the office computer network from the small desk in my bedroom. I haven’t enjoyed a face to face chat with my workmates since early March. 

I mostly wear trackies and a hoodie or stay in my pjs as I read and send emails, arrange settlements, chase things up for the sixth time, and chat to clients over Skype and FaceTime. Who knew it was so easy to seem semi-profesh while wearing uggboots? Throwing a colourful scarf on is my no. 1 video chat hack. 

I think I’ve felt all the feelings in the past 22 weeks, from fear and loneliness to gratitude and moments of peace; and every adjacent emotion. Thankfully I’ve mostly been able to cope with it all. 

I like to pop outside mid-afternoon and see what the sky is doing. 

This week I discovered jasmine exploding over the back fence. 

I look up, take photos, say hello and thank you to the grocery delivery guy, check the letterbox every couple of days, and do the dishes before they pile up too high. I make the bed, most days! 

My oldest friend in the world and I have silly text chats and long phone conversations which range from uproarious laughter to the deep and meaningful. 

Today, my dad called me to make sure I have had the faulty airbags in my car replaced. Bless him! Get yours done if you haven’t, dad says so. 

I’ve misplaced my cooking mojo. It will return I’m sure. If you’ve got a great (vegetarian) pantry staples pasta sauce recipe, hit me up please. 

When I’m not working, you’ll mostly find me under this colourful blanket watching something on Netflix, Stan, SBS On Demand or Disney Plus. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched Hamilton. How good is it? 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 from me. 

I hope you’re keeping well, especially my fellow Victorian readers. 

We can do hard things! 

Keep going. Stay home as much as you can. Wear that mask. Wash those hands. 

Run your kids ragged in that one hour of exercise off the premises. 

Call an old friend and have a laugh. 

Read a blog you haven’t read for a while. 

Comment on someone’s Instagram feed. Spread some nice thoughts around. 

Return to an old album you loved, or a book that’s special to you. 

Most importantly, have flexible expectations around how you get through this exceedingly odd and challenging time. 

Baked beans on toast for dinner is 100% okay, and a delicious source of fibre. 

Home schooling hiccups are okay. 

Throwing in the towel (temporarily) is fine. 

Having a good week, fab. 

Dragging yourself through a bad week? Know this, you’re not alone. Have a quiet cuppa on the back porch. Text a friend for support. 

Don’t forget to keep an eye on your pals who live alone. Just a text or Instagram ❀️ reminds us we’re not alone. 

Keep going. 

I believe in us.  

 

Annette xx 

 

PS Comment at will, I love it when you do. 

How are you? Tell me how things are in your area. 

 

 

The Friday File – Springtime

Isn’t Spring a glorious season? Watching the trees bud and blossoms burst, it’s a tonic for the soul.  

The days are getting longer, daylight lingering until I get home from work. 

The drive home is becoming one where I have to resist being distracted by the colours of magical sunsets. 

I think a lot of us feel like we perk up in Spring, right along with the blossoms. 

The urge to shake things up and move things around must be why hard rubbish collections happen at this time of year! 

We might re-arrange furniture, pack away the winter woollies – well, not all of them, this is Melbourne after all – or dream up a new exercise program as we shed the layers of a stagnant, cosy winter. We pack away the slow cooker and start making salads again. We are seasonal creatures, without a doubt. 

Today I had to post some letters, so I wove through the back streets, admiring trees, and parked opposite an old church under renovation. 

I stopped to feel the coolness of the stone wall and wondered how long it’s been there. 

After dropping my letters off, I picked a blossom and took this photo. Fragile petals against solid rock; both elements of nature. 

I love the contrast of structure and wildness here, it feels like the branches and vines are trying to reclaim the very ground the church is standing on. 

Churches can be rigid places, focused on dogma and exclusion, rather than existing as compassionate, safe spaces for spiritual exploration. 

Nature just chuckles, and busts through every attempt to tame her. 

I do love that about her. 

 

Friday afternoon shadows create funhouse mirror-like silhouettes. 

Do you like my car’s waggly little ears? So funny and sweet! 

 

Look up, look around you, notice the moon hanging low in the afternoon sky. 

Keep an eye on the trees in your street. Are they budding or blooming yet? 

Pick a flower, lean on a cool stone wall, drink your coffee outside. 

 

Stop for a moment, breathe deeply. 

 

This life we often find ourselves rushing through – it’s precious. 

 

That’s all. I just wanted to pop in and share that with you tonight. 

 

Look after yourselves, won’t you? 

 

Annette xxxx

 

 

Sunday Stuff

Hello friends! 

I’m a super slapdash blogger these days, but never mind, here I am again. 

My Sunday matinee of choice, which I’m watching while wrapped up like a giant pink burrito in my exceedingly cosy (and very pink!) dressy gown, is Julie & Julia. 

Have you seen it? 

It is a charming film about the magically intertwined lives of American cooking legend Julia Child and a post 9/11, Queens-based, cubicle dweller, blogger and foodie Julie Powell. It’s a feel good film about food, marital love, exploring creative outlets, and it is served up with a sweet dollop of romance. I’m a mega fan of Amy Adams, Meryl Streep and Nora Ephron. So much talent! A perfect Sunday afternoon film. 

Aside from afternoon movies, I’ve been enjoying snapping photos of the glory that is autumn in Melbourne. 

I just CANNOT get enough of it. Can you? 

This glorious old house is just near the post office that I scurry to every few days, toting Very Important Packages. I couldn’t resist whipping out my phone and snapping the gorgeous branches, light and ironwork. Sigh. So beautiful. 

On the book front, I started reading this last weekend, Option B by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant. So far I am finding it really sad, and helpful and bolstering. I must finish it, my bookish mojo is hovering around the same low level as my bloggy mojo lately, but I always love the feeling of being lost in a book. 

Got any tips to help me get back on the bibliophile track? 

And for a seasonal treat, I bought myself new sheets! 

Is there anything more comforting and pleasing than the two-fold joy of finally finding cute and affordable printed sheets (on sale!) and then having them arrive on a day where you were able to wash and LINE DRY them?! I think not. They will never see an iron, just like me! I love them. 

While we’re in my bedroom (oooh saucy!), I will soon be framing a few new artworks – a collection of heart shields – and hanging them over my bed. The first one arrived this week. 

As some of you know, I’ve been having a few health issues recently, and I decided I need some good vibes in the form of paintings/sketches/collages above my bed, which I can draw strength and inspiration from. 

Ergo, #heartshields. 

My super talented Pipster pal Dawn painted this piece, and I am utterly delighted with it. Dawn was gracious enough to allow me to request some elements I wanted, and she surprised me with others. Can’t wait to frame and hang it. 

You should most definitely read Dawn’s blog Kangaroo Spotting and follow her on Instagram. She’s super rad! 

{You could even buy one of her incredible abstract works and hang it above your bed, in your stairwell, or on your living room wall. #notsubliminal #shamelessplug #notsponsored}

Autumn sunshine is the BEST sunshine of the whole year. 

Just look up! Isn’t it beautiful? 

******

In this life, we never know what’s around the corner. Never. 

We think we do, which is how we plan and keep going I’m sure, but we are at best, back seat drivers in the ride through life. 

One day I was feeling badly short of breath so I went to the GP, and she sent me off to get an X-ray. A few hours later – heart failure. Bam. Plan B. 

A lovely Instagram friend of mine just got diagnosed with cancer. All of a sudden, she’s in the midst of a massively unanticipated Option B pivot. She is navigating the ups and downs of absorbing shocking news, scheduling surgery, and she is still looking up, and drawing strength from her family and many friends. Bam. Plan B. 

We make so many plans, and while some of them fall beautifully into place, some of them crumble around us. 

We can’t control that part. Oh, we wish we could but we can’t. 

We have to hold our plans and dreams loosely.

Sometimes when Plan B drops out of the sky on us, we forget to blog, to paint, to create, to breathe – because we are consumed with getting our heads around the new realities we are facing. I am hoping this is a temporary lull. 

There is something I can do right now – a simple, deeply symbolic, powerful act – I can look up. You can too. 

I can look up, and I can take photos of the beauty I see. 

And I will. 

Feel free to join me. 

We’re all under the same sky. 

 

Annette x 

 

 

10 Things I Love About Autumn

It feels like it’s finally here – my favourite season.

Oh Autumn, how I love you. 

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Let me count just some of the ways…

  1. I love reaching for a cardigan, a blanket, or the dial on my trusty Vulcan heater. Cosiness is everything!
  2. I love the changing light. The brightness of summer mellows into wispy cloudy skies and I revel in the shortening of the days. 
  3. I love the food of cooler months. Today I got my slow cooker out for the first time since last winter. My gorgeous sister Lisa gave me a ‘grab bag’ from her freezer – satay chicken curry which will feed, and warm, me for days. 
  4. I love the sound of rain on the roof. This morning at about 6 o’clock, a thunderstorm rolled over my house. The windows rattled and the rain pelted down, and I smiled a big sleepy smile and snuggled further under the covers. 
  5. I simply ADORE autumnal foliage. The way the trees shed their incredibly brightly hued leaves… it utterly captivates me. A wet footpath strewn with a beautiful autumn leaves, yes please! 
  6. I love the way my home’s decor changes. Treasured vintage blankets come out of the ottoman, reminding me of my grandmother. Candles come out and create a cosy flickering glow at nighttime. 
  7. Hot showers become a place of refuge on chilly mornings. Steamed up bathroom mirrors make me happy. 
  8. Weekend drives up to yonder hills take on a magical quality. Between the bracing air that hits your face as you leave home and wait for the car’s heater to kick in, to the rich colours of the landscape and welcoming warmth of favourite cafes, a weekend drive is a special treat.  
  9. I’m inspired to create as the weather cools. I might pick up leaves that catch my eye, or snap 20 photos of a particularly gorgeous tree, or sketch leaves for days, and days. Autumn is my muse. It’s why I love to look up. 
  10. Last but not least, autumn reminds me that life is cyclical. It may look like an ending, but it is really an opportunity to recharge, to draw on unseen reserves, and embrace a few months of life at a slower pace. 

Welcome back autumn, I missed you. 

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Oh, I forgot one of my favourite things about autumn, it’s my birthday in a week! Autumn babies are the bestest. 

Are you a lover of autumn? What’s your favourite thing about this time of year? 

 

Annette x 

 

 

Taking Stock: Spring 2016

Spring has sprung! It has been a confusing start to the season, we’ve had an explosion of blossom trees, some gorgeous sunny days, tee shirt weather, followed by rainy days and rummaging for a jumper, then more sun… nobody knows what to expect! 

The new season seems like a good moment to stop and take stock of where things are at. This is a Pip Lincolne idea, which lots of us think is quite terrific, so you’ll see Taking Stock posts pop up here and there, and I find it’s always an exercise that takes me to unexpected places. 

Here we go!

Making: a mess as I tidy up, you’ve got to go backwards before you can go forwards it seems. 

Cooking: pikelets – they are so easy and deliver every single time. Yummo. 

Drinking: coffee in the mornings, peppermint tea when I have a tummy ache, and my afternoon beverage of choice is soda water and lemon cordial. Sometimes I add a splash of vodka as the sun goes down! 

Reading: I just read Ruby Wax’s (Waxes?!) book Sane New World, which I found super interesting and engaging. The  brain is an incredible organ. 

Smelling: spring blooms 

Wanting: work. 

Looking: up. Even on days when I’m feeling sub-chipper, I do try, literally and figuratively, to look up. The sky is such a reassuring presence. Clouds, sunshine through branches, all that blue that goes on forever. Sigh, I love it. 

Playing: old Tina Arena tunes; Chains, Sorrento Moon, Heaven Help My Heart. Such great songs and what a GREAT singer she is. 

Deciding: what’s for dinner every damn night is painful at the moment. I’ve temporarily lost my kitchen mojo. 

Wishing: I had a personal chef, or at least someone to stock my fridge. 

Enjoying:sunny days β˜€οΈβ˜€οΈ

Waiting: for my kitchen mojo to return. I’m hoping that flavoursome, simple, crunchy salad days aren’t far off. 

Liking: that other people seem to appreciate my artistic endeavours.

Loving: spending time with special friends. 

Pondering: where new things might take me. 

Buying: new pillows! I think it’s time, and a friend gave me a little “pick me up” voucher recently, so I can afford a simple treat. 

Watching: diverse documentaries on iTunes – Kill Switch, Tender, Herb & Dorothy, Copy & Paste. 

Hoping: for good things for you. Yep, really! 

Noticing: there’s strength in the sunshine again. 

Knowing: I have good people in my life, I am not in this alone. 

Thinking: about collaboration, encouragement, words, and creativity. 

Admiring: the makers, the dreamers, and those who get up and step into the arena. 

Disliking: #Trump2016 

Opening: new tubes of paint.

Feeling: positive again, after a shaky few weeks. 

Snacking: on strawberries, or Twisties. 

Hearing: birdsong #tweettweet πŸ₯πŸ₯

How are you feeling about the change of season? I’m happy to be seeing more blue skies than grey, that’s for sure. 

But I’m also a teensy bit jealous of those of you moving into autumn, spring is a beautiful season, but autumn will always have my heart. 

What’s your favourite season? 

Have you got a fabulous (and frugal) salad recipe for me?  

Keep looking up, 

Annette x 

Hey, Good Looking

Good morning.

I have a little challenge for you today, well, really it’s more of a treat than a challenge, so let’s get to it.

Whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re off to today, I want you to be Good Looking.

Now I know you’re thinking, what the what now, this girl has gone bonkers… let me explain.

You’re cute, that’s a given, you’ve got style and even if you’re a bit harried and rush-y today, I think you have really pretty eyes.

What I mean by Good Looking, is that you can see today in a couple of ways.

You can focus on the rushing, the bloody-kids-will-you-SHUT-UP moments, the ‘ugh, my boss is a crazed loon’ eye rolls you may share with a co-worker and you can see only those things today.

When you fall into bed, today can look batshit busy, stressful and blergh. (Some days are like that, they just kick your arse, and I really hope you don’t have a day like that.)

OR you can see the stuff that goes on in between the shouty, eye rolling, will this traffic ever get moving moments.

When you’re sitting at the level crossing and the stupid trains seem to be taking forever to cross, look up at the sky. Are there clouds skittering across it? Is it grey or blue? Whatever it’s doing, it’s pretty amazing isn’t it?

While the kids are playing at the park, look at the treetops.

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Treetops are really something.

The way the branches reach out and the shapes the leaves make. Maybe I’m a simpleton, but trees make me exceedingly happy.

That’s Good Looking.

After you wrangle your tired toddler into the car or pram, and they fall asleep, study that now cherubic little face.

That’s Good Looking.

When you are waiting for your latte in the coffee shop, or sitting on a tram, or even wheeling your shopping trolley around in the 8.4 minutes you’ve got to buy ALL THE THINGS, there are Good Looking opportunities right there – the way the tram lines criss cross the sky overhead, how the light hits the coffee machine… it’s about looking for something to appreciate.

Good Looking isn’t necessarily about ah-mazing sunsets or cliffside vistas, though those things are fab.

Good Looking is about seeking out and drinking in the little beauties of every day we get to spend on this blue ball spinning in space.

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So, my friends, that’s how you can be Good Looking today.

I hope you embrace it. I’d love to hear about what you see and how it makes you feel.

Later, good looking.

Annette x

 

 

Blue skies and gutters

Some days are kinda crazy making aren’t they? 

Demanding bosses, deadlines, kids to feed and ferry about, traffic jams, spreadsheets that freeze, unexpected bills or just “wrong side of the bed” days… nobody is immune to these, much as we might wish to be. 

Yesterday was a crap day for me. Stressful, tiring, and aggravating. I cried in the car on the way home. I felt, in that moment, just FED UP with things, not massive life-altering things, but just annoying, joy-sapping, nipping at my heels stuff. 

Ugh. I bore myself even typing that, but as the great sage once said – shit happens. 

What to do? 

Well last night, I applied a raft of balms – tears, KFC, chocolate, and a bit of in-car ranting and swearing. 

Later in the evening I applied creativity, which is much better for me. 

Today was better, but those niggling things are still there, stridently demanding my attention. It’s so easy for those things to take up my whole filed of vision. I’m not the only one that happens to, right? 

As I got out of my car this afternoon, I looked up. 

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That’s the answer some days, isn’t it? 

Look up. 

We are all under this vast blue sky – all of us, whether we’re having a run of the mill day, a moderately challenging day or a great day. We are all the same. All under the same sky, even if it isn’t blue where you are. 

So, look up. 

Then start counting. 

It’s something I try and do often – count my blessings. I know that this can seem super-trite in the face of genuinely ongoing shit times, sad times, times of loss and illness, so I’m not at all comparing a shit day at work with those things. Not at all. 

I just wanted to share what struck me today when I looked up at that amazing blue sky, and then grabbed my camera and took this photo. 

There’s this awe inspiring sky… so vast and such a delightful shade of blue, there are fluffy clouds and there’s the edge of my house and some manky guttering and rotting wood. 

What’s going to be the focus? I get to choose that. We all do. 

I could crop the gutter out of the shot, showing only blue sky, but that’s not the whole picture. 

I could crop out the sky and focus on this poorly maintained corner of my house – which reminds me that the walls feel wet after it rains and the plaster is breaking at the seams. Again, not the whole picture. 

It’s both, just like life.  Blue skies and gutters.  

Which do you see? 

Which will you choose? 

What we see, and what we choose to focus on, is so important. 

I hope you choose the sky. 

I do. 

 

Annette x