Friday, December 31, 2010

The Top Ten for 2010 Post

That last post was going to be my last one this year but it's hot outside, the trifle is waiting in the fridge again, the kids have been in the pool and I have a nice glass of wine in hand so thought I'd do a quick top ten wrap-up.

10 Favourite Photos

This one was a hard one, but here's my pick.  I find my favourite photos are usually more about the moment rather than being technically good.

My creation

10 Highlights

1. When my Big Girl went against the trend and did what was right in spite of what other people told her.
2.  When my Little Girl did the same earlier in the year ... I realised the effort of parenting and our example does pay off.
3.  Signing the building contract for our new house.  Many, many hours of meetings and lots of decisions finally finished in a marathon post midnight contract checking session and last discussions and signing on the working day of the year.
4.  Our family birthday dinner at Jaques Raymond ... yummy!!
5.  Skiing holidays here, here and here.
6.  Little Girl giving up her thumb sucking.
7.  The Boy's fantastic year 1 ... in large part to a fabulous teacher.
8.  Little Girl passing her first violin exam with honours ... in spite of a less than perfect lead up.
9.  Seeing our mainly music group go from nothing at the start of the year to a waiting list by the end and a host a wonderful connections formed.
10. Baptism of our friend and small group member ... eagerly awaiting the next.

10 Favourite Books Read

1.  The Grace of God by Andy Stanley
2.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
3.  The Road by Cormac McCarthy
4.  The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers
5.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society by MaryAnn Shaffer
6.  Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
7.  Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabraldon
8.  The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
9.  The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson
10. Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati

10 Favourite TV Shows

1. Glee
2. House
3. Masterchef
4. Junior Masterchef
6. Modern Family
7. United States of Tara
8. How I Met Your Mother
9. So You Think You Can Dance
10.  Brothers and Sisters

10 Favourite Layouts (of mine)
My creation

New Year's Eve

This last day of the year we spent the morning at nippers (junior lifesaving).  Big Girl is hitting her straps and finally making top ten finishes in the swim, flags, board and sprints (not bad out of 30 considering she started out a few years go struggling to complete the swim).

Little Girl has made a bargain with me that she will do the swim each day as long as she doesn't have to do boards.  The waves the last few days have been a decent size and quite a few kids in each age group have come in crying after being hit in the head by flying boards so I was happy to agree to this compromise.  She nearly reneged on her deal this morning ... I had to wade into where the instructors were trying to cajole her further into the water and remind her.  She smiled wryly and agreed to go out and made it round the buoys and back with a lot of help from her instructors.  She's doing squad swimming in the pool so it's not her swimming ability that's letting her down but her fear of the waves and being out over her head in the sea which can only get better with more practise.

Since we got back home the north wind has sprung up and it's HOT.  Most of the state is heading for temps around 40 and we have a total fire ban in force.

We have prawns and whiting planned for dinner (I think with pasta) and I'm in the middle of making trifle for dessert (just waiting for the jelly to set)  It looks to be a quiet one again.  The kids are hanging around hoping to go next door for a swim in the pool.

Today is the last day of my project365.  I've made it ... as long as I take a photo in the next 9hrs.  Another year is about to finish ... gone poof ... can you believe it?  It's been a good one.

Have a safe and Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What's in a Name Wrap-Up

This challenge is all finished.  My books:

1. A book with a food in the title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
2. A book with a body of water in the title: The Secret River by Kate Grenville
3. A book with a title (queen, president) in the title: The Grey King by Susan Cooper
4. A book with a plant in the title: Silver in the Tree by Susan Cooper
5. A book with a place name (city, country) in the title: Paris Trout by Pete Dexter
6. A book with a music term in the title: An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabraldon

The Dark is Rising Sequence (Books 1-5) by Susan Cooper

The Dark Is Rising SequenceThe Dark Is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description: "When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back, 
Three from the circle, three from the track; 
Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone; 
Five will return, and one go alone." 
With these mysterious words, Will Stanton discovers on his 11th birthday that he is no mere boy. He is the Sign-Seeker, last of the immortal Old Ones, destined to battle the powers of evil that trouble the land. His task is monumental: he must find and guard the six great Signs of the Light, which, when joined, will create a force strong enough to match and perhaps overcome that of the Dark. Embarking on this endeavor is dangerous as well as deeply rewarding; Will must work within a continuum of time and space much broader than he ever imagined. 

These were probably one of the earliest fantasy series I remember reading. I began with book two then devoured the rest. My daughter is keen on fantasy so when I went looking for a book to read together I settled on the first one in the Dark is Rising series hoping she would enjoy them just as much. We haven't yet got fully into the reading, she's a little hard to convince but I couldn't help myself and went on ahead reading the other four books and devoured them just as eagerly as before.

A classic fight between the light and dark, flitting between times and drawing on the celtic legends, these are wonderful books which should be better known.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

The Secret RiverThe Secret River by Kate Grenville

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

William Thornhill a bargeman on the Thames is transported to Sydney with his young family. Despair is replaced by a slim hope for the future. A rather depressing look at human nature. We have the completely awful characters and those who, in order to hang onto their slim hope for the future compromise what they know is right. It's probably an entirely realistic look at human nature even if I would want it to be wrong. An enjoyable read, I'd be interested in reading more historical fiction set in this time period.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas, contract ... this week's P365

The kids enjoy playing the four player games.

Day 251 - Playstation 2

Up until 12:10 am checking through the building contract. (private photo)

Tasting loganberries picked from our garden before it gets flattened.

Day 253 - Loganberries

My boy's enjoying turning the lights on each night.

Day 254 - The Christmas Tree

Putting out a snack for Santa and his reindeers.

Day 255 - Snacks

The kids waiting for present time after lunch.

Day 256 - Christmas Lunch

Continuing a tradition ... starting the Christmas jigsaw.

Day 257 - Jigsaw

Broad Bean Dip

Recipe from a facebook friend.  Made for my nephew's third birthday party in December.


Pod, steam and then skin broad beans. Blend with stick mixer with some lemon, olive oil and pepper and salt. I didn't use precise amounts ... just go by what tastes good to you.  A hit at the party.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

I finished my Christmas shopping today.  I know, last minute and all that, but I didn't want to shop before we moved and then I had to wait for a time when Hubby was home and we didn't have anything on so I could shop for the kids.  The good news ... I got there early and had a written list so I finished in a couple of hours leaving the rest of this Christmas Eve to get Big Girls hair cut, watch the kids swim in the pool, browse the internet etc.  This afternoon I'm going to pack for the beach then we will go to church tonight.

Anyway, enough blathering from me, I really only ventured on here to wish you a Merry Christmas, may it be filled with all that makes life good ... and here's a shot of our tree this year :)


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Battle of the Prizes Wrap-Up

I finished Rose City Reader's Battle of the Prizes (American Version) for the second year in a row.  The idea is to read three books, a Pulitzer prize winner, a national book award winner and a book that one both prizes.  Once again I enjoyed the Pulitzer prize winners more than the National winners but only just.  I think it helped this year that my National Book award pick wasn't 500+ pages.  From the few I've read the Pulitzers are probably more entertaining reads.  That would be the list I would go to for a good read.
  1. The Color Purple by Alice White (double dipper)
  2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Pulitzer)
  3. Paris Trout by Pete Dexter (National)

Paris Trout by Pete Dexter

Paris TroutParis Trout by Pete Dexter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Could there be a more repellent main character than Paris trout? ... maybe, but it's been a while since I've come across one. Appearing early an as your standard variety racist mean-spirited person he soon murders a young black girl without a shred of guilt then proceeds to sink further into depravity and insanity until the final bloody climax. What is probably more chilling is the way the "decent" people in the town ignore and excuse his behaviour. A rather bleak but excellently written look at human nature.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Donna Duncombe's My Kind of Christmas

So breaking up the catch up of book reviews and challenge wrap-ups with some scrapping *gasp*.  Yes, I really did a page ... just one.  Donna Duncombe has a new Christmas kit, My Kind of Christmas.  It's perfect for those of us that have a warm Christmas.

My layout uses some photos from our early Christmas lunch two years ago.  Same venue ... much better weather than this year.

2nd Reading Challenge - Complete

I'm wrapping up this challenge too and exceeding the curious level I signed up for.

1. Earthsea Quartet - Ursula LeGuin
2. New Moon - Stephanie Meyer
3. Dawn on a Distant Shore - Sara Donati
4. The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larsson

1st in a Series Wrap-Up - Complete

I exceeded the curious level for the 1st in a Series Challenge.   Here's my completed list of firsts.

1. Earthsea Quartet - Ursula LeGuin
2. Twilight by Stephanie Meyers
3. Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
5. Magician by Raymond Feist

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless GodCrazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had mixed feelings about this book. While I recognise the need for much of the church to be woken up and understand that God wants our all not just our leftovers, this was maybe a little bit of too much guilt not enough focus on God. He describes what lukewarm Christians look like but the problem is we all look like that a lot of the time, the fact is we all fall short a lot of the time. I realise that we need to be challenged not to accept it but the answer isn't more effort but more focus on God and His grace.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chunkster Challenge Wrap-up

I well and truly completed this challenge, passing the level of Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big? to read 6 chunksters and achieve the Mor-book-ly Obese level.

My Chunksters:
  1. Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati (691pg)
  2. Dawn on a Distant Shore by Sara Donati (672pg)
  3. An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldron (992pg)
  4. Magician by Raymond Feist (681pg)
  5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson (533pg)
  6. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson (569pg)

The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Played with FireThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this. I read it quickly after the first one and couldn't put it down. I loved that we got much more of Lisbeth in all her strangeness and learnt more of her back story. Very entertaining, can't wait to read the next instalment.

We've moved ... now for Christmas

I can really only do one major thing at a time.  We've got ourselves moved and almost completely unpacked at my sister's place (who's off to Singapore) while house sitting for Hubby's sister.   So now I'm full swing into Christmas shopping ... completed for the extended family this morning ... and just a few more things to pick up for the kids.  I also picked up a dress this morning (#2 on the list) that I'll wear on Christmas day if the forecast doesn't change between now and then ... it's supposed to be warm.

Hubby and the kids put up the Christmas tree and advent calendar over at his sister's place on Saturday.


Then we met with his other two sisters for morning tea and an early Christmas with the one that won't be at Christmas lunch.

Sunday we met with my family for an early Christmas. My sister, the same one whose house we've taken over, is married to a New Zealander so she spends every second Christmas over there, which means we get together for an early Christmas dinner. It was the full deal ... turkey, pork, roast veges and plum pudding. My sister-in-law decorates the table, she's got a real knack for that type of thing. Due to a mega downpour we had to shift the tables inside my brother's man room to avoid getting soaked by the rain blowing under the roof. It was a lovely night, good food, good company and very relaxing.

My creation

Monday, December 20, 2010

Moving, Christmas ... last week's P365

Taking advantage of the different games while house sitting.

Day 244 - Pick Up Sticks

It was a success.

Day 245 - Moving Day

Eating lunch among the boxes.

Day 246 - Unpacking

So, I bribed them with icecream so they'd behave while we did Christmas shopping.

Day 247 - Trampoline

The boys putting the beds together.

Day 248 - Assembly

Finally got time and a space to put up the tree.

Day 249 - The Tree

Celebrating early before Tan leaves for New Zealand.

Day 250 - Percy Family Christmas

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Grace of God by Andy Stanley

The Grace of GodThe Grace of God by Andy Stanley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this book as part of Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program. Many people consider God as portrayed in the old testament to be vengeful compared with the picture of love displayed by Jesus. I find that quite puzzling. You don't need to read too far to find God offering forgiveness to those who don't deserve it. Andy Stanley starts in Genesis and works his way through the bible looking at how God has been offering grace to those who least deserve it from the time of Adam and Eve onwards. He also looks at how God's discipline shows His love for us.

The church has often failed to show the world what grace really looks like. It's hard to give others grace and often we fall into the temptation of thinking we can earn God's favour instead a realising that firstly, we are always going to fall short and secondly we don't need to earn anything. Grace is what the world needs. In Andy Stanley's words:

“Grace. It’s what we crave most when our guilt is exposed. It’s the very thing we are hesitant to extend when we are confronted with the guilt of others—especially when their guilt has robbed us of something we consider valuable.

Therein is the struggle, the struggle for grace. It’s this struggle that makes grace more story than doctrine. It’s the struggle that reminds us that grace is bigger than compassion or forgiveness. That struggle is the context for both. When we are on the receiving end, grace is refreshing. When it is required of us, it is often disturbing. But when correctly applied, it seems to solve just about everything. This struggle is not new; it has been going on since the beginning.”

An excellent book. I'd highly recommend this for Christians and also to those who haven't yet grasped what a gift the grace of God really is.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

39 Things to do Before I Turn 40

  1. Move into our new house.
  2. Buy a dress.
  3. Finish our US photo book.
  4. Go with the kids on a bike ride.
  5. Make sundried tomatoes.
  6. Put together a slide show of our US trip.
  7. Read Bonhoeffer.
  8. Reduce stored files by half - go paperless.
  9. Make glow cones.
  10. Finish my P365-2010 and print.
  11. Ski a black run.
  12. Throw a dinner party.
  13. Make a cupcake stand.
  14. Do Week in the Life.
  15. Sort and backup digital photos.
  16. Go bush walking.
  17. Finish and print 2009 album.
  18. Digitise APS films.
  19. Complete first set of the Riftwar Saga.
  20. Go back to uni.
  21. Make gnocchi.
  22. Read Anne of Green Gables with Little Girl.
  23. Spend an afternoon playing parlour games.
  24. Make a fancy cake.
  25. Read a book with Big Girl.
  26. Make a garland with the kids.
  27. Choose and complete a photo project.
  28. Catch up with school friends.
  29. Go for a night swim.
  30. Read another Famous Five book with The Boy.
  31. Make Icecream.
  32. Take the kids to ACMI.
  33. Go out for dinner with Hubby.
  34. Bottle fruit over summer.
  35. Put together the 2010 home video onto DVD.
  36. Play tennis.
  37. Read Jane Eyre.
  38. Make a photo kaleidocycle with the kids.
  39. Do my world map jigsaw that's been in the cupboard for who knows how long.

Packing, Christmassy stuff, a party ... this week's P365

We've moved and I've found the cord to connect my camera to the computer so here's last week's P365:

Yes he's in the dressup box which means the dressups are spread all over the room.

Day 338 - Dressups

The two little ones sharing the pool with the ducks and squad.

Day 339 - At the Pool

We've put up a small display ... so it feels a little bit Christmassy.

Day 340 - Christmas Angel

This is what I've been doing in my spare time.

Day 341 - Packing Boxes

Getting ready for our mainly music Christmas celebration.

Day 342 - Preparation

Lots of excitement over the whale cake.

Day 243 - A Party

Little Sis relaxing after a big day of helping pack

Day 243 - Well Earned rest

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What I've been up to ...

not sure if you've been wondering or not.  The kids finished school this week but all activities are still running.  The Big Girl has moved up to club swimming so there's been a fair bit of this ...


We move on Tuesday so a lot of this ...


We're knocking our place down and rebuilding and it looks like they'll be starting in the last week of January. We haven't put up a tree but we did get the advent calendar up. The socks have clinkers in them.


We didn't do a Jesse Tree this year but we are following the readings they gave out at church. Little Girl likes to do the honours.


I also finished a great book and need to write a review soon. I was meant to publish it on a certain date but I didn't get the book until after the date.

I celebrated my birthday and my present arrived in the mail this week.

Pip has had some good Christmassy posts lately ... 50 Edible Gifts to Make ... Printable Tags for Your Christmas gifts (unfortunately no time for me to do any of this).

A cute font I downloaded.

A good post to read ... Poverty, Oppression and Freedom.
We were designed for good: to love God, love each other, and cultivate this garden planet. Yet we’ve turned inward, self-righteously seeing the problem as ‘other’ than us.

Friday, December 10, 2010

White Chilli Chicken

When I roast a chicken I'll often do two so we have cooked chicken leftover for other meals.  I'd bookmarked this recipe for just such an occasion.  I was intrigued because I'd never had a white chilli before.


The verdict:  Very easy, very yummy.  Even the kids ate it, in spite of the capsicum.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

White Chocolate Meringues

I was browsing for a gluten free recipe I could make because Big Girl's best friend has just been diagnosed with celiac's when I came across these chocolate chip meringues .  I was intrigued.    We had some white chocolate that we were sure was gluten free so I processed it up into fine pieces to fold through the meringue and I left out the nuts.  They were so yummy and because you couldn't see the chocolate you got a wonderful surprise when you bit into the meringue.  Very, very good.

The photo is not a good one.  I meant to get another photo but our day on Sunday was crazy and they were all gone before I did.

Day 329 - Cooking done

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dinner, Bubbles and Harry Potter ... this week's P365

The girls checking out a new recipe ... it was a winner.

Day 331- Dinner time

Conscripted small group to wrap presents for mainly music.

Day 332 - Wrapping

Of course it has to start pouring at school pickup. After two schools and drop off and pickup from squad my shoes are soaked.

Day 333 - Wet

Waiting for the girls annual school carol service to start.

Day 344 - At the Carols

He got his hair done at a fundraiser. His verdict: "I look pretty cool"

Day 345 - Mohawk

Waiting to see the Harry Potter movie.

Day 346 - At the Movies

Blowing bubbles in the backyard. another birthday gift.

Day 347 - Bubbles

Friday, December 3, 2010

38 Things

So the year is ended and it's time to recap my list of 38 things before I turn 39.

1.  Make a photo book - I got close but no cigar.  My layouts for our US album are almost finished but I'm thinking I'll roll this over into my next list.

2.  Do the Rip View Classic Swim 

3.  Take the kids to the museum.

4.  Get old school friends together - Not done, but I'd still like to do this.

5.  Grow broccoli. -  tried and failed.  I have a real problem with getting broccoli to grow.  Will probably try again but not next year.

6.  Clean out the filing cabinet - no, but I'll probably be forced to in our moving.

7.  Go see some live music - Good Vibrations tickets bought and used.

8.  Make paper cranes with the girls.

9.  Have a dinner party - no.

10.  Do some TTVF - no

11.  See a movie by myself - no.  I've only seen kids movies this year in the cinema ... very sad.

12.  Go to a new restaurant with Hubby - no.

13.  Have a picnic at Hanging Rock.

14.  Play tennis - no.

15.  Make my APS photos digital - no

16.  Enjoy sunset in the backyard ... just Hubby and me - no

17.  Make relish.

18.  Perfect the bread recipe.

19.  Go for a bike ride with the kids - no, but we did get a new bike for Big Girl and all kids bikes are now in good working order.  Will probably do this over the Christmas holidays.

20.  Go out just to take photos - no

21.  Share one of my favourite childhood books with each of the kids.

  • started Finished Famous Five with The Boy
  • started Finished Heidi with little Girl
Both kids really enjoyed this.  I started Over Sea Under Stone with the Big Girl but she was not that keen.  

22.  Ski a black run - no.  Conditions and then being sick conspired against me on this one.  Hopefully next year so I can at least take the kids out even if I can't keep up with them.

23.  Dance in public.

24.  Make doughnuts - no.  Recipes called for a thermometer which I don't have and have no intention of getting.

25.  Finally sort and backup my digital photos - no.  Something I still need to do.

26.  Read The complete Works of Jane Austen - Read Sense and Sensibility ... this one was definitely a case of biting off more than I could chew.

27.  Make a slideshow of our US trip - no but I do do some video/photo slideshows and will add this to the list again.

28.  Grow veges from my own seeds - currently happening.

29.  Make a photo display for our wall - no because we are pulling down the house.

30.  Learn something new - I learnt how to write small grant applications (does that count?)

31.  Make cinnamon buns.

32.  Photograph a stranger - no

33.  Make the ultimate 90's party playlist - no.

34.  Start at the start of Feist's Riftwar Saga - yes

35.  Spend an afternoon playing parlour games - no

36.  Take 12 self-portraits - no, unless you include the ones that I set up and then handed over the camera ... actually I'm going to include them and call this a yes.

37.  Find some coffee tables for the lounge.  - found in dad's shed, thanks to my sister-in-law's love of redecorating.

38.  Video one of the kids impromptu plays.

Even though I didn't do everything on my list I'm glad I made an attempt because I got to do lots of things that I might have let slide if they hadn't been on the list.  With that in mind I plan to do another one  for next year ... not as a must do these things but as a reminder of some of the things that I want to do in the next year.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Peach Shortbread

Another crumbly, sweet fruity treat where the base is the same as the crumbly top.  This one a peach shortbread.


Yum and a hit with everyone round here except for the very fussy Big Girl.