Making our Home Christmasy in a Small Space

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It’s been some time now since we’ve spent Christmas in Australia.  It’s become a bit of a tradition that we fly overseas to celebrate with family and friends — sipping hot chocolate, wearing Christmasy PJ bottoms, playing boardgames, cooking up a feast, having great conversations and spending time together (just thinking about it now makes me a tee bit homesick).  This year however, we are staying put because well, being heavily pregnant prevents me from getting on the plane (understatement of the year).  In fact, we may get to meet our little girl on Christmas Day! (depending on whether she feels like making an appearance then or not).

I’ve been spending the last few days, busying myself with making our home feel as Christmasy as possible…..it takes a little bit of thinking because we live in quite a cosy space.

*I bought a small (but real!) Christmas tree from our local florist; the picea glauca Christmas star which I decorated.

*We got two advent Calendars filled with yummy Darrell Lea chocolates.  If I had more time and wasn’t so baby obsessed, I would’ve invested some time in making this beautiful clutter-free advent calendar.

*I’m still on the lookout for a good Christmas wreath; perhaps I can make my own?

*I’ve started listening to Christmas songs on repeat:

*We will attend a Christmas service on Christmas Day – because ultimately Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

What about you?  How do you and your family celebrate?  Do you have any tips on how to decorate a small place with lots of Christmasy joy?

‘California’ by Edan Lepucki

This book fell into my lap (literally).  Stephen Colbert encouraged his late night TV show viewers to purchase this book in support of first-time publishing author Edan Lepucki who was affected by the Amazon-Hachette saga.  My hubby, the ever devoted Colbert enthusiast, heeded his exhortation.  However even if it hadn’t been for my hubby, this was still the type of book which I likely would’ve picked of my own volition.  Young couple.  Post-apocalyptic landscape.  Survival.  Yep, sounds like something I would read.

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What I loved about the book was that its focus was on the nature of relationships.  How we love when the familiar is taken away.  How we choose our allies.  The lengths we would go to, to protect the ones we love.  One of the main characters Frida suspects that she is pregnant and fluctuates between feelings of great love and great fear for her unborn child.  This particularly struck a chord with me (particularly as I’m reading this in my third trimester of pregnancy!), as I’ve faced moments when I’ve pondered, ‘What sort of a world am I bringing this child into?’  My conclusion (for now) is that whilst I cannot know what the future holds, I live trusting that ultimately there is enough love to go around.  (There’s a great reflection on Brain Pickings titled ‘Margaret Mead’s Beautiful Letter of Advice to her Younger Sister on Starting a Family in an Uncertain World which is definitely worth a read).  It’s interesting to explore this very same question in Frida’s life and how she tries to resolve this tension in her not-too-distant and frighteningly realistic post-apocalyptic world.

The novel is a bit slow-paced at times (for an impatient reader as myself).  Whilst the story is carefully drawn and beautifully crafted, I felt that the plot was a bit flat and could’ve been told with fewer words.

Recommendation:  I’d recommend this book for readers who are looking for a ‘twist’ to the typical post-apocalyptic genre (ie. one more focused on relationships than one which imagines the logistics of the future-world in great detail).

Rating: 3.5/ 5

 

Reverse Bucket List: October 2015

Bucket Lists stress me out.  The idea is that you make a list (surprise!) of all the things that you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’ (morbid indeed).  However, a reverse bucket list is a lot more cheerful.  I first came across the idea from Mel who blogs at the well-planned wife.  Instead of focusing on all the things you’re yet to accomplish, you focus instead on all the things that you’ve achieved.  It slows me down, helps me to take stock and is a great way to remind myself that no I’m not perfect but I did manage to do some things!  So, for the first time in the history of Brunch with Viv, I’m going to give it a go.  Feel free to join in the fun!  Create a post on your blog and share the link in the comments below – I’d love to read yours x

What I’ve Achieved:

  • I wrote a blog post (this one haha!) and gave my blog a new look (do you like the gold sparkles?)
  • I turned 30!  I’m not sure whether that is an achievement as such but I had a lovely celebration (many thanks to my hubby) where a bunch of us crowded together at our favourite local pasta bar, ate good food and had good conversations.  I put my brush-lettering skills to good practice and lettered some thank you cards (see below picture!).
  • My hubby and I completed the birthwell birthright lamaze childbirth classes with the lovely Tanya.  Here’s a great blog post that she wrote recently which I really enjoyed reading.  Whilst giving birth can be unpredictable and you can’t ‘plan’ for every scenario, the classes helped me to feel more empowered and less anxious about the upcoming excitement.
  • I’ve started making a ‘labour music’ playlist on Spotify (if you have any suggestions- funny or otherwise, please let me know!)
  • I’ve started packing my hospital bag.

What I’ve Read and Watched:

  • Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke – great for helping me to focus on the here and now, instead of thinking too far ahead.  I have a tendency to be so far ahead of myself that I miss out on the experiencing the now.
  • Great with Child by Beth Ann Fennelly – The book is a collation of letters from Beth to a newly pregnant friend.  I’ve enjoyed reading this book on and off throughout my pregnancy (on purpose) to coincide with the stage of the pregnancy that the pregnant friend is at.  It’s a beautiful book filled with lots of honest moments and insights and is one of the few books on motherhood which doesn’t freak me out!  I pick it up whenever I have one of those little doubting moments about whether I’m cut out to be a Mum. It centres me and reminds me that I’m about to be part of something huge and life-changing.
  • The Martian – I love space movies.  And movies about the uniqueness of the human spirit.

What I’m Loving:

  • This Glass Water Bottle with Cup – perfect for putting on the bedside table.  (I often wake up in the middle of the night, parched and thirsty, needing water).  Now I don’t have to walk to the kitchen 🙂

You can gain a sense of where my headspace is at! (baby stuff).  I think perhaps in the month of November, I’ll need to consciously take some time out to do non-baby stuff! 🙂

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Brush Lettering Workshop

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What’s your handwriting like?  When I was in High School, I went through a phase where I would practice writing with both hands, just because I thought being ambidextrous was cool.  Then for my 12th birthday, my Dad got me a Calligraphy Kit and I spent many nights practicing writing with a nib…..I was obsessed.  Somewhere between High School and now, my fascination with the letterform dropped and I mostly forgot about it…..perhaps because Uni was more concerned with what I had to say, rather than how pretty my letters looked.

Lately, I was reminded of my love of the letterform.  My hubby came across the Brush Lettering Workshops organised by Carla and taught by Barbara Enright and suggested that I attend.  I’m glad I did because it was terribly fun!

I spent a sunny Melbourne weekend with a bunch of creative gals in a beautiful light-filled studio trying my hand at brush lettering!  I walked away with a brush lettering kit, the basics of brush lettering demystified and lots of enthusiasm to practice, practice and practice!  Watching Barbara’s demo was therapeutic and hearing her story was inspiring.  I really want to get better at this.  The photo above was the piece I completed at the end of the workshop 🙂 An apt reminder that great Art comes with practice.

If you’d like to try your hand at it too – it’s not as tricky as you think to get started.  All you need is a visual diary (I got mine at a two dollar shop), a brush of some sort and some basic flat brush script samples that you might like to examine (and emulate).  Obviously there’s some tips and tricks that a great teacher/ mentor will help lots with.  And if you can make the workshops I’d highly recommend it.  But there’s nothing stopping you from just writing, writing and writing on a lazy Saturday arvo x

Some ideas to kick-start your Dreaming, Creating, Writing, Living!

Whilst I haven’t been blogging for the past few months (due to feeling ugh from morning sickness), this hasn’t stopped me from snooping around the internet — dreaming of exciting things to be doing.  Here are some of them below, that you may wish to try!

Have you seen some of those cool, sculptured, geometric, tote bags around?  Here’s a great tutorial on how to make your own.

Easy-peasy recipe to satisfy your sweet tooth.  Well-presented too.

The cutest softies to crochet.

This three-ingredient tomato sandwich looks super yummy.

A morning spent with Lucy Feagins, behind the scenes at the Design Files.  Love watching someone completely in their element.

This post (Intersection between motherhood, career and identity) helped to articulate some of the thoughts that have been floating around in my head.

Gemma Burgess on finding your tone of voice in writing.

Shy Gestures. 

Beautiful Places to stay (we stayed here for our wedding in Kyneton).

Hope you had an enjoyable and relaxing weekend.

PS Lately I’ve been stressing out over baby stuff – feeling very ill-prepared about the actual process of giving birth….and we haven’t bought anything yet for the baby 🙁 (I don’t want to spend too much and I feel overwhelmed by the huge amount of stuff out there).  Any advice from anyone on books, things to get etc will be greatly appreciated.

We have some News!!

I’ve been silent on the blogging front for awhile.  Part of it was because I needed to take a break from recording to focus on being.  Part of it was because I was really, really tired…….from being preggy!  My hubby made the following comic strip to announce our pregnancy – I’m so proud of him.  And in case you were wondering, yes, I did manage to stuff up the pee-on-a-stick pregnancy test (story for another time).  Now that I’m into my second trimester, I should be feeling more re-energised to get back into writing.  I’ve missed my blogging home and creating things for this space.

I hope that the past few months have treated you well and that those in Melbourne are surviving this dreary, crazy cold weather! x10295227_10153111378279143_1044812205682295160_o

Being Present in the Moment

For the past month or so, I’ve taken a pause from this blog.  In addition to pouring my energy into starting a new job, I’ve felt that I need to relearn the ability to experience things in the moment without the need to record it.

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I don’t have anything against taking photos, recording a clip or blogging about it.  Sometimes the very act of recording things in material form helps me to remember and to savour the moment all the more.  But lately I’ve noticed that in trying to get the perfect shot or in thinking about blogging angles, I’ve lost the ability to enjoy the moment.  Freely.  Without judgement.

Last week, I went to see one of my favourite bands, Switchfoot, live.  I refrained from taking too many shots, except for the moment above.  The real thing is always better.  The last time that I saw Switchfoot live was in the same venue 5 years ago; it was two jobs prior, when I had awful skin and was lonely and doubting God.  I remember listening to their song twenty-four on the night (I was twenty-four then!) and thinking “life is not what I thought it was” but that’s okay, I’m not copping out – I’m going to go out into this world with renewed energy and make something of it.

Now five years down the track, I’m thankful for the journey.  The concert was a celebration.  Of the past 5 years.  Of working out that which is important to me.  Of moving past unforgiveness.  Of waning faith and being carried through moments of doubt.  Of loosing my footing and finding it again.  Of coming out of it with a deeper understanding of who I am as a person.

PS.  Jon Foreman (lead singer of Switchfoot) wrote a beautiful piece titled Recording is the Art of Forgetting – Enjoy Yourself which expressed very well the tension between the desire to record, and fully embracing each moment; I highly recommend a read.

Fashion Illustration Course has Started!

Over here I wrote about rediscovering what I love to do and enrolling in a fashion illustration course.  The first lesson started yesterday.  It was great fun – lots of talented, like-minded people, listening to music, eating cheese and drawing.  What I love about drawing is that it forces you not just to look at things, but to see things.  It also improves your hand-eye coordination and slows you down.  Sometimes the character staring back takes on a life of its own and surprises even me.  I’ve also discovered that I’m terrible at drawing limbs – especially legs!  Gosh, if anyone has any tips on how to draw legs, please throw some pennies my way.  For those of you thinking, how hard can it possibly be?  Give it a try – I dare you……