Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good Night 2013

It is ten minutes past eight on this, the last night of 2013.  I am sitting in the corner of my bedroom and typing this last blog post of the year.  Out of the corner of my eye I see Hagrid flopped on my bed in the shadows of the bedside lamp.  I hear a season 6 episode of The  Big Bang Theory.  The soft breeze from the Onix Air Circulator is a welcome relief from the humid day.  Shelly meows!

This year is swiftly ticking towards the next and as always, I begin to reflect.  What a year it has been.  What a month.  What a week.  What a day!

Regardless of our intentions, much can change in a year.  The best any of us can do is go with it.  I was asked today, if I have listed any New Year's Resolutions.  In the past 20 years I have learned from experience that resolving on New Year's Eve is a sure fire way to fail.  Tomorrow morning, the breakfast shows will feature experts speaking about the various types of resolutions and how to keep them going.  The latest and greatest fitness fad, diet, medical breakthrough and educational theory will be flashed across our screens over and over again.

Therefore, I am not going to 'resolve' to do anything.  I will not write a meaningless list of wishes for the year ahead.  I will not berate myself in February for all the failures of January.  I will not disappoint myself in 2014.  I will not allow the festivities to befuddle me.

Tonight I will go to bed at the regular time.  Tomorrow I will go to my sister's house.  The first Annual Family Art Day will make a marvelous mess in the backyard.  The kids will have a blast!  I will have a blast!  This time tomorrow there will be glitter in my hair and paint on my face.  I will soak in a hot bath and fall into bed with that happy exhausted feeling that only comes from having fun.  I will be ready to sleep.

I hope you party tonight. Whether that means streamers and balloons, or tidying up a room, finishing a puzzle, watching fireworks, dancing in the streets or getting to bed for an early sleep.  May your evening allow you to send out the year with a smile and welcome the new beginning with another one.

Good Night, Dear Readers.
Good Night, 2013.
Good Night.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Tree is Back in the Box

Mum pulled down the Christmas tree yesterday.  In our house, this is the signal from Mum that Christmas is done.  She is sick of eating left over ham and ready to run head long into the new year.  Mum doesn't do anything without running into it and the first of January is no different.  Now that the joyous season of Christmas is over, it is time to tell you all about the fun we've had.  It is also a perfect opportunity to step back into the writing world.  I've felt a little lost lately and couldn't quite work out how to get back into the ink well.  

Shelly cleaned up this year!  It was her first Christmas with us, after all.  Watching her play with all her new toys was great fun.  It was much like having a child opening gifts on Christmas morning and then yo-yo-ing between them all day.  Of course we had to leave my poor kitty at home for our trip to the Sister's house.  But Shelly forgave us when we came home and the playtime continued.  

I suppose you want to see some photos.  We will start with a few 'pre-Christmas' pics that prove how helpful Shelly is at this time of year.  

On Christmas Eve, I decided to get the festivities rolling by giving Shelly two of her bigger gifts (from me, of course).  I brought a box, with the gifts inside, into the lounge room and called Shelly.  She came trotting over nonchalantly and sniffed.  I whispered, "ooh, what's in the box, Shelly? what's in here?" Her brown eyes fixed on mine and then flicked back to the box.  Curiosity had finally got the better of her - she tiptoed closer to the box and lifted a paw to the lid.  I sat on the floor beside her and lifted the flaps to reveal what was inside.  A fold-able tunnel and a ball track with spring mouse.  You can see below.  "Wow," I exclaimed as I lifted out each item and untied the tunnel allowing it to unfold.  Her wide eyes stared and her head cocked to the side before she took another cautious look at her gifts, now laid out on the floor ready for her to play.  She looked from me to the toys and then her eyes darted to the box her gifts came in.  She stepped slowly towards the three items then jumped up and landed gracefully in the box!  The adults on the couch, laughed and so did I, in spite of myself.  Shelly eventually discovered how much fun it was to hide in the tunnel and run through it.  She dived inside it and jumped from box to tunnel.  The mouse on her track bopped her in the nose and it was on.  

In the morning, Shelly was showered with even more gifts: tiny tennis balls from "Santa" were left in her personalised Christmas Stocking.  Nanny gave Shelly a soft bumble bee toy filled with catnip.  She threw in a bag of Shelly's favourite dental treats, for good measure.  My mum and dad gave Shelly a Cat Tricks and Treats gift box which contained two jingle balls and a string mouse laced with catnip.  There was also a recipe book of human friendly cat foods.  Well, at least the dishes are easily home-made using regular grocery items. Shelly loves the mouse and I love the recipes.  There are a few that I'm looking forward to trying out. You will hear about that when I get to it.  

The grown ups exchanged gifts (Nanny gave us cash!) before packing up and heading to my Sister's house.  Sis and her Hubby have seven kids and there's another one on the way.  They installed a new kitchen, complete with double oven and preparation/ serving island, a few months ago.  It made sense for them to host Christmas.  My cousins came too with their three boys and some family friends as well. The food was great the kids were delightful and my favourite part was the nap.  

That's that then, I suppose.  I hope you had a glorious Christmas with your family and/or friends, I did.  


Monday, December 23, 2013

More on GIFTS! Video and Links

Yesterday we looked at a video of Penny and Sheldon exchanging gifts at Christmas time.  For your viewing pleasure, check out this little snippet from season 5 of The Big Bang Theory when Amy gives Penny a 'small' token of appreciation.  Oh, WOW! 

You should be wrapping your gifts by now!  Want some inspiration?  Check out these links for some great tips and ideas for gift wrapping. :D


Happy Wrapping!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

what NOT to give this Christmas: 5 things that no one wants to find under their tree!

I'm all about accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative.   Today we are focusing on eliminating the negative and making sure there are no fake smiles being flashed  around on Christmas morning.  Some people are excellent at gift giving while others just can't seem to get it right.  There are plenty of blogs that will tell you what you should get for your loved-ones this year but very few of them will be as helpful as me! What are the 5 absolute no-no's for gift giving this year... or any year.

#1 Random Bath Item Gifts

You know that episode of the Big Bang Theory when Sheldon hugs Penny for the first time? 

The bath item gift baskets meant nothing compared to that hug.  I still have body lotions and shower gels and bubble bath from my teen years -that is more than ten years ago!!  I do not see myself using them either. There was a time when I used to like the idea of bubble bath and other beauty products.  I still say that a cute sample size bubble bath or facial cream is a nice idea for young girls (especially when they think they're too cool for a teddy bear) who are happy to experiment.  By the time a girl has made it to her twenties she should have developed a beauty routine and will probably have a preferred brand.  If you want to give a lady some sort of pamper product do a bit of research and find out what they use and like.  If you think that's too personal or too expensive a modest amount spent on an appropriate gift card or certificate is a far better option.  

#2 Same Old Same Old

I have developed a little tradition with many of my friends and family that I give everyone a calendar for Christmas.  When I was on a strict budget, calendars were an easy, inexpensive and practical gift for anyone and everyone on my list.  Since becoming a little richer and a little more creative, I now only give calendars to a select few.  However, I have one friend who insists that I give her a calendar every year.  She relies on it!! If the tradition has been set, that's great.  I know a few people who give a different Christmas decoration each year.  That's a nice idea.  I think I might not be making my point very well on this one. Let's try again. 

Tradition is great, but don't assume that everyone enjoys your stress-free gift giving system.  Some people prefer to buy their own calendars.  One year, I bought a diary for my sister -  I'm never doing that again!! It was the wrong size, the wrong layout, and even the wrong colour.  Sis, is quite particular, and so am I.  Remember that the polite and fake smile will come out if you have given a dud gift, so don't assume that the lack of complaint means that everyone loves your gift.  Mix it up this year and see who notices.  
One other thing about the 'same old' concept: Buying the same for everyone might make life easier for you but it doesn't say much for the relationships.  Imagine if you spent hours shopping for the perfect gift for a friend and then receive a token box of chocolates the same as everyone else.  Don't get me started on the obligation gifts either.  At the very least personalise the gifts by giving something extra that is individual.  Everyone gets a calendar - great!  But consider the images and match them to your friends.  Add a book or a gift voucher to your friend's favourite store.  

#3 Food 

Unless it is on their wishlist - click here to read more about wishlists - don't give food.  You don't know how long it will be sitting under a tree and/or you might not know what dietary requirements your mates have.  This is especially true for the relatives you haven't seen in a while or the friends that aren't snapping pics of everything they put in their mouth and posting it on facebook!  It also smacks of lazy same old gift giving.  Think before you buy.  If you are giving food, ensure ingredients are clearly labelled and check for allergies and favourite varieties.  Example: the BFF and I share a love for twirly chocolate wafer sticks and we always gave each other a tin of these for Christmas.  If the foodie gift prompts a memory or comes with a recipe book that makes it special, then by all means go for it.  But, if you are giving everyone a tin of short bread biscuits, most of them will end up in the bin.  

#4 Wishlist Wanna-be's

This one is really important.  In fact it probably should be first.  If your circle of friends (and or family) have chosen to go the 'wishlist' path, then do it properly.  There are several apps, websites and even store based services that will help you set up a wishlist (much like a wedding registry).  If you choose to purchase something from the wishlist make sure you know all the necessary details about the item. Gift details include colours, make and model, approximate prices, sizes, fabrics or materials used to make it, locations and stores that stock them.  Don't go and find a cheap alternative or settle for second best.  If it isn't just right, don't get it.  Wouldn't you rather give the perfect gift, than spend money on something second rate.  Either purchase something else on the list or find a gift voucher for one of the stockists so your friend can decide what is perfect.

#5 Just because you love it

We all have our little quirks and gadgets, bits and pieces, great discoveries that we love.  There will probably be at least one friend who shares your interests or will appreciate having the same thing as you and will love it just as much.  But, the latest techie-trend, fad diet or late night TV giveaway might not be everyone's cup of tea.  Just because you love it doesn't mean that they will.  Christmas is not the time for a crusade.  If you want to share your new love with people then perhaps bring it along or tell them about it when there is a lull in the conversation.  Don't waste your money and their closet space by giving everyone a sample that they won't use.

There are only a few more shopping days to go, so make a list, check it twice and get back out there.  Now you know what NOT to buy, it will be a snap.  Maybe. 

Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 16, 2013

FINALLY.... Holidays!

Lot's has happened in the last few weeks.  Even Hagrid and Shelly have been swamped! Here's the low down.

Students finished their assessment.  The team let me down and I lost my cool at school.  I had a birthday which involved 30 bells, cool presents and a picnic with teddy bears.  There was cake, cake and more cake.  Report cards somehow got finished.  There was chocolate, lots of chocolate.  Shelly had to go to the vet, TWICE!  "Mummy" needed ice cream.  The holidays are here and I'm slowly morphing back into a person after my little experiment with robotics (that is, my incredibly dodgy attempt to work non-stop for two weeks).  

I think I like being human better.