29 things before 30

So tomorrow I turn 30… and just like every other birthday for at least the last 10 years I am not excited about getting another year over… but this year I feel a little more ready for it.  30 has been something that has been looming for a while… 30 years in fact, but more so in the past 12 months.  Something that I have spent a lot of time thinking about and something that I have finally decided won’t be as bad as I think it will be.  So I thought I would continue my new tradition (from last year) to take a moment before it happens to reflect on the year that was 29 before it is gone altogether.  But before I can reflect on the last 12 months… because 30 is also the end of a decade… it only seems right to look at the last 10 years as well…

20-30 is a big time of change… a lot of growing up… and while I don’t think I have being an adult down pat yet, I certainly feel more like an adult than a young adult.  I am not sure if it’s my new found love of a quiet night in? Or my change in thinking around having to stand up and make a change if I don’t like something… but I feel like where I am at now, even though it may not be where I am forever, is an achievement…

20-30 has also been home to some of my happiest times as well as my most challenging…  I have changed and grown, physically, mentally and spiritually.  And while I wish I hadn’t grown quite as much physically… unless I could have gained some extra height… I am thankful for the lessons I have learned and the paths I have taken that have made my faith and mind stronger.

I have done so much in my 20s that I am not sure how my 30s will catch up, but I hope that they do… although, I am hoping our hardest path has already be walked… and the rocky patches ahead will not be quite as devastating.

Since I turned 20 I have…

  • Completed… well attempted to complete my very first list (2007) and since attempted 8 more… I am currently on my 9th
  • Returned to China to hang out with Dad and cross ‘Hong Kong Disney Land’ off my life long Disney visit bucket list (2007)
  • Had my life outlook changed by a uni placement to Bourke (2008)
  • Had 2 massive 21st parties
  • Finished my Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics (2008)
  • Started running the Kids Church at Church and had the most epic YP Anniversary of all time with ‘Talkin’ about my generation’ (2009)
  • Continued my red dirt obsession with trips to Broken Hill (2009) and Uluru (2016)
  • Got a job in the country… Castlemaine to be exact… moved out of home and spent a year blogging about it (2009-2010)
  • Had my 5 year and 10 year High School Reunions (2009 & 2014)
  • Starred in Box Hill Salvos “Nativity Play’
  • Got my first iPhone
  • Ran 2 Half Marathons (2008 & 2013)
  • Meet a cute little guy named Dex… and he moved in (2009)
  • Bought my first new car and said goodbye to my faithful Saabie (2010)
  • Experienced some snapshots of Europe… first with the Big Band in Sweden in 2010… then with Davo in 2015/2016
  • Got Engaged (2010) and Married my very own Prince Charming (2011)
  • Auditioned for Broadway (2010)
  • Visited Disneyworld with my new Husband (2011)
  • Visited NZ and my NZ family a couple of times (2012 & 2014/2015)
  • Watched one of my little brothers get married (2012)
  • Said goodbye to my second job as a Dietitian and moved to my current workplace at Link, where I have been able to expand my dietetics skills in to Marketing and IT (2013)
  • Been Bridesmaid for 2 of my best friends (2014 and here)
  • Brought my first house (2014)
  • Graduated from uni twice… one for dietetics and then again for my teaching degree (2014)
  • Watched both of my parents get remarried (2014, 2015)
  • Worked out how to long distance best friend (2015)
  • Recorded my first CD… well sung vocals on a Big Band CD (2017)
  • Became a mum and had to say goodbye to my little man (2016)
  • Got back up (2017)

A big 10 years… but I think the past 12 months have challenged who I am at my core more than any year before and I think lots of the things that I have done over the past decade have somehow prepared me for what happened…  But there has also been lots to be thankful for and I have learnt a lot… so in my new tradition… here are 29 things I have learned, loved and lived in the past year that have helped me prepare for 30…

  1. Birthdays are excellent… No matter how much I have been nervous about embracing them… they are always fun… especially when Dave helps to plan them… tomorrow will be good.
  2. Epic milkshakes are indeed epic… and often overwhelming, they should be consumed with caution… and preferably with no other sources of lactose.
  3. Having a celebrity like a post… even if they are a fake one… is more exciting than it should be… they are just people…but it was Russell Coight
  4. Dave makes driving a bus look grand
  5. Trimester 1 of pregnancy is the worst… it is hard keeping a secret, especially a when you feel like poop and you have to convince everyone else you are fine… lets hope that the next one is somehow easier.
  6. Jells Park is way more beautiful than I ever gave it credit for growing up… I am really glad that it is my local Parkrun venue.
  7. Dex looks great in a bow tie
  8. Family is messy and hard to fit on a wall, but I wouldn’t change any of it
  9. Pregnancy cravings are weird… but turkish delight milkshakes are the bomb
  10. Having Josh was the best thing I have ever done, but it was also the hardest knowing he wouldn’t stay.  Even if I knew what would happen I wouldn’t have swapped those 24weeks for anything.
  11. Colouring really is as good a distraction as they say it is…
  12. I still love my list, and I am really enjoying the simplicity of it this year, lots of local fun.
  13. 29 has been a year of home, embracing family, learning to breathe and dreaming for the future.
  14. This time last year I wrote ‘I am stronger and more capable then I think… I should remember this more often’, this is more true now then ever before.
  15. Whatsapp is great, but seeing your bestie face to face is greater, especially when you have time off to be able spend with them.
  16. I like being in the IT and Marketing teams… I also really like teaching.  I am pretty blessed to work for such great places that encourage me to grow and learn new skills.
  17. Dancing in a strawberry suit isn’t as embarrassing as you think it will be, you should just embrace it.
  18. Dave is still the best person to have ever entered my life.  He is strong, wise and loyal and I love him more than ever… plus he gets even better looking with age… who would have thought that was possible.
  19. I am getting better at throwing things out… lots of times you have to get rid of something old to make way for the new.  I don’t need to be a hoarder to keep the memories.
  20. I have good people around me, my community if vast and wide and I often take it for granted, but Dave and I could not have gotten through the last 6 months without them.
  21. I love the country
  22. I love the AFLW and I am glad I was part of the first season.
  23. I love singing in a recording studio… it makes me feel like a superstar.
  24. New cameras are the bomb… but I desperately need to improve my photography skills.
  25. Practicing gratitude is important… my new daily habit of writing down 3 things is helpful… it’s making me see the good… I should keep this going because I still can’t make happiness, or just choose to be happy, but I can choose to fill my life with people, things and places that make me happy, I can choose to see the good and I can choose to seek better.
  26. I still love blogging… and I think I am getting better at it… I suppose that’s the plus side of honesty.
  27. I love to worship… I love learning about worship and I love Jesus… He is the only one worthy of my worship.
  28. My plans for my life might be good, but as hard as it is to accept sometimes, His ways are better.  Life often seems unfair sometimes and we can’t always see the bigger picture… but we have to trust.
  29. I am still getting better at looking after myself, but just like last year I still have a long way to go… but this remains a top priority.  I can’t do what I am called to do, if I can’t function.

29 you have been a challenge, you have been hard, but you have been worth it all… in fact 20s you have been great… better than I had ever hoped and totally different from what I expected.

I am holding on to the promise that my 30s will bring better things… I hope that I continue to learn more, love more and live more… 30 I am now ready for you.

2016 – The Wrap Up

Wow… so that was 2016… probably one of the craziest years of my life.  I don’t think any other years of my life have had quite as many extreme highs and lows, and the list has once again been there through it all.  I am really glad that this year I chose to include some of my more deliberate holiday adventures.  I like that it has given me a reason to document them properly and that now I have them sitting right here to look back on whenever I want as many of them have a blog post just for them.

What about the rest… well that’s here too.  Some have links, and some I will tell you about right here, including the ones that didn’t… but they are all there ready and waiting for you to read all about…

  1. Start 2016 somewhere outside of Australia – completed: 01/01/2016
  2. Make a summer fruit platter in a watermelon – completed: 19/02/2016
  3. Send 12 hand written cards/letters – completed: 23/04/2016
  4. Make a lolly cake – completed: 31/11/2016
  5. Rearrange a space – completed: 17/02/2016
  6. Play my flute – completed: 29/12/2016
    This year was the first year in a long time that I have missed Christmas caroling, I didn’t miss it enough to get my flute out during caroling season, but I did get it out this week and play some carols.  It was really nice to play again and to know that I haven’t lost it.
  7. Go to Disneyland – completed: 24/01/2016
  8. Find out is our house has a legit hidden fireplace
    I am pretty sure that we do… but I have no proof and while my intention was to just kick a hole in the wall and find out what was there, some other things came up and I will have to wait a little longer to find out for sure. 
  9. Visit something older than colonised Australia – completed: 14/01/2016
  10. Have tea in London… Queen optional – completed: 19/01/2016
  11. Do a ridiculously cheesy tourist photo with a famous tourist attraction – completed: 22/01/2016
  12. Go to a country I have never been to before – completed: 02/01/2016
  13. Find a geocache – completed: 06/04/2016
  14. Hide a geocache – completed: 06/04/2016
  15. Watch the Prince of Egypt – completed: 18/03/2016
  16. Go in the 2016 Melbourne Marathon festival somehow… 5, 10, half or full
    When the 2016 Melbourne Marathon was on I was 23 weeks pregnant and running was even less of a strong suit than it was earlier in the year.  Maybe next year.
  17. Be a Victorian tourist and go somewhere all the tourists go – completed: 09/07/2016  
  18. See my bestie face to face – completed: 18/01/2016
  19. Get back in the pool and swim at least 5 times
    I am not really sure why I didn’t swim this year… I really enjoy it, I think that maybe it’s the thought of the effort of bathers, towels, public showers and goggles… sometimes it all just seems too hard.
  20. Go to the Zoo – completed: 03/02/2016
  21. Make some kind of festive seasonal dish – completed: 02/12/2016
  22. Use the fire pit – completed: 19/02/2016
    Not only did we use it, but there a perfect circle of dead grass where it was.
  23. Go skiing or snowboarding or tobogganing – completed: 03/01/2016
  24. Do you want to build a snowman? I do – completed: 04/01/2016
  25. Go Camping – completed: 04/04/2016
  26. See some Northern Hemisphere stars – completed: 06/01/2016
  27. Run with at least 3 different people – completed: 27/02/2016 
  28. Make a photo book or our Europe Adventures – completed: 29/12/2016
    Just sitting there waiting for the Christmas budget to cool it’s jets before we print it.
  29. Save money each pocket money
    It was not a good year for our fiances… well Dave’s pocket money card might be ok… but mine not so much.
  30. Go on a bush walk – completed: 05/04/2016
  31. Go to a farmers market – completed: 27/03/2016  
  32. Make some meringues – completed: 03/10/2016
  33. Learn how to spell meringues without having to check it every time – completed: 03/10/2016
  34. Keep my emails under control – no extreme amounts of notifications on my phone – completed: 31/12/2016
    Not at all times, but for most of the year I made a special effort to keep the notifications under control.
  35. Get and keep my photo storage under control – completed: 29/12/2016
    This is one I am really proud of, I love our photos and I am a little paranoid about losing them, but now I have them all backed up and safely stored, I just have to keep these backups up to date. 
  36. Sew something – completed: 30/12/2016
    Let’s not get too excited I repaired a jumper of Dave’s and pair of my pants, but I had to get the sewing machine out and use it to do so… that counts as sewing.
  37. Do some trivia – completed: 05/06/2016
  38. Bake some snacks – completed: 02/10/2016
  39. See a musical – completed: 13/05/2016   
  40. Read 16 books – completed: 20/11/2016
  41. Do a water aerobics class
    I am putting this in the same category as swimming, the whole idea was just too much for me this year.
  42. Do a spin class
    So I don’t really have an excuse, I left it too late and then when I could do a class again, I just didn’t want to.  Bikes and me… maybe we will never be.
  43. Have a BBQ Wednesday
    I wish we had, I really do, but we didn’t.  BBQ Wednesday’s seem a lot harder to organise and make happen than they ever did before.
  44. Go to a state of Australia that I haven’t been to before – completed: 03/04/2016
  45. Touch my feet to some red dirt – completed: 06/04/2016
  46. Clean up my iTunes playlists – completed: 29/12/2016
    Yep all clean, lots deleted and hopefully just the good ones left… I’ll just have to work my way through them again and check.
  47. Visit another international thermal pool – completed: 07/01/2016
  48. Clean my car more regularly
    Nup… it is really dirty and will be until next year… I really need to clean it more often. 
  49. Sort out my 2014 and 2015 scrap books – completed: 12/12/2016
    Turns out there were a few more years that I hadn’t done, but they are done now too… Now I just have to do 2016.
  50. Try at least 2 new park runs – completed: 12/03/2016
  51. Keep my apple things updated properly – completed: 31/12/2016
    This actually took a lot more work than this little list item implies, but it is done.  Laptop, iPad and iPhone.
  52. Go to Inverloch at least 5 times – completed: 15/12/2016
    I am not really sure what to say about this, I went down there 5 times… and really I should do it a lot more often.
  53. Swim in the Ocean
    I really wish I had done this too… but it just didn’t happen, when we were at the beach it was too cold, but when it was hot, we were no where near the beach. 
  54. Have high tea – completed: 09/07/2016 
  55. Walk to the end of a pier – completed: 30/10/2016
  56. Get some Fro-yo – completed: 11/02/2016
  57. Go roller skating
    Also a no for 2016… even though we live right near a skating rink… turns out I am just not that passionate about skating.
  58. Ride a bike – completed: 17/01/2016
  59. Have some pasta/ pizza/gelato in Italy – completed: 01/01/2016
  60. Have some processed meat in Germany – completed: 05/01/2016
  61. See the Myer windows – completed: 21/12/2016
    Dave and I spent a night strolling around the city checking out all the Melbourne Christmas fun… and that includes the Myer windows… but because it was a beautiful night and we went at peak time… I just looked through the very long line and Dave read the book to me.
  62. Go to a place I can’t pronounce – completed: 06/01/2016
  63. Do some more work as a teacher – completed: 29/02/2016
  64. Take a photo with an English Guard – completed: 20/01/2016
  65. Take the Eurostar – completed: 22/01/2016
  66. See an Emu – completed: 05/04/2016
  67. Experience the outback – completed: 04/04/2016
  68. Follow through on the date box again – completed: 27/12/2016
    Each year these seem to get harder to fit in, but always more important than they were the year before.
  69. Go to Sherbrook forest – completed: 09/04/2016
  70. Be on time… it’s time
    I don’t think I could honestly cross this off, but I am getting better and I am definitely making more of an effort to be on time.
  71. Have another Star Trek Movie Marathon – completed: 29/12/2016
    We had planned on doing this a little earlier in the year, but it didn’t quite happen, so this week I sat down and watched the two first movies back to back… which counts as a marathon.
  72. Make my own dumplings – completed: 28/11/2016
    With a trusty Donna Hay recipe which is always delicious.
  73. Be confronted by WWII – completed: 11/01/2016
  74. Go on a Gondola ride – completed: 01/01/2016
  75. Visit a real life old time castle…. like one that would inspire Disney – completed: 08/01/2016
  76. Visit at least 4 museums –  completed: 12/01/2016
  77. See the Berlin Wall – completed: 14/01/2016
  78. Taste some dutch cheese – completed: 16/01/2016
  79. Have a Shakespeare moment – completed: 02/01/2016
  80. Do a 3D jigsaw – completed: 21/09/2016
  81. Ride a Camel… or at least see one in Uluru – completed: 05/04/2016
  82. Have one of those epic milkshakes – completed: 09/04/2016
  83. Have a Random Acts of Kindness week
    This should have happened, and I even started a couple of times, but either forgot about it or started missing days.  Either way it didn’t happen.
  84. Go on  a Road Trip – completed: 06/05/2016
  85. Have a wardrobe purge – completed: 29/01/2016
  86. Do another Pinterest project – completed: 19/12/2016
    This year I made some DIY Pinterest Christmas gifts, including some sprinkle candles and something special for my friend Pheebs.  I like Pinterest!
  87. Help change something at home – completed: 20/11/2016
  88. See some carols by candle light – completed: 11/12/2016
    Thanks city of Monash, they were fun and I learnt that ‘Boomeranging’ fireworks is the best.
  89. Get a massage – completed: 23/11/2016
  90. Keep getting closer again
    I did for most of the year, but the back half of the year has not been great for my weight goals… but I have had some other things on my mind and I can try again next year.
  91. Make the most of my gym membership
    I don’t think I could honestly cross this off either… I have used the gym, but not as much as I could have or should have… I am going to put this with no. 90 and say I will try again next year.
  92. Get my menu planning and home cooking game on – completed: 31/12/2016
    I may have taken me all year… and I may not have written anything down, but at least I now think about what we could cook and plan ahead if I need to go to the shops… which is such an improvement from where I was that this is getting crossed off.
  93. Spend some time in the Old testament (Study at least 2 OT books) – completed: 29/12/2016
    This has been really good for me to do, I think I often forget about how much God has packed into the old testament because I spend so long focusing on the new one… but this year I have studied the book of Daniel and Judges and it has been really interesting.  I have learnt a lot more than I thought I would and I am hoping this is just the beginning.
  94. Eat something from out veggie garden – completed: 22/02/2016
  95. Play some badminton – completed: 28/12/2016
    So despite the very hot weather this week Dave and I went to the oval across the road and played some badminton, just for a few minutes because as well as the heat the wind had a mind of it’s own which doesn’t work well with a shuttlecock.
  96. Make sure I remember my secret list – completed: 29/12/2016
    I don’t think I could honestly say I have achieved my secret list, but I definitely thought about it, especially as the year has been coming to an end which is all this list asked me to do.  The secret list was just one to remind of the perhaps more important things that don’t often make it on to the regular list as they are hard to quantify, but that doesn’t make them less significant.  It included a reminder to slow down, work on my communication and to make time for God, Dave and myself in my sometimes way to busy life.  I have really liked having these little side goals to help me focus on the bigger picture.  We only get a short time on earth and I want to make sure I am making the time I have better and not worse for myself and those around me.
  97. Run 5km without walking
    Another thing I wish I could have crossed of the list but just like number 16 my motivations changed and it just didn’t happen.  It is still something that I want to do, but I think it is going to take a little longer than I had hoped.
  98. Have the parentals over for dinner… all of them… separately
    Well we did have them all over at different times but not for meals.  Well, sometimes we had a mid-meal…. like afternoon tea or morning tea and sometimes even lunch, but not a deliberate dinner.  I have certainly seen them all more this year than last year, and after this year will continue to see them more.  Their strength and support has been invaluable and I am truly blessed to have all 7 of them in my life. 
  99. Be more domestic – completed: 29/12/2016
    So given that Dave is the more domestic one in our household, he was the judge of this one and he says, and I quote “this was your best year so far”… a pretty overwhelming ‘more’
  100. Take Dex on a Doggy Adventure – completed: 07/10/16
    So the photo isn’t great but we took Dex to visit his friend Abe when we went to visit our friends Dust and Jess… he had a great time.  

So there you go… another year of listing done… and I think I have done pretty good… well actually I think this is my best attempt yet with 84 things crossed off.

Here’s to 2017… may it’s list offerings bring even more joy than 2016’s.

The Gingerbread House

Ok, so this blog is being written because even though this year I made my third gingerbread house (not this year… overall), every year it feels like I am starting again from the very beginning.  This year before I started baking I spent all morning looking through the internet and my cookbooks trying to remember which recipes I had tried and liked and despite my efforts, I just couldn’t remember… so now that it is done, I have decided that this year, instead of just posting a picture of the gingerbread house I am posting everything, the recipe, the template and the things that worked and the things that didn’t, so that next year I might save myself some time, stress and probably money.

Each year I like to make something slightly different from those I have tried before… except in 2014… where it appears I didn’t make one.  Anyway, so far my gingerbread creations have been a basic house, a few little houses and a village:

gingerbread-houses

This year I made a mixture… I returned to some of the houses from 2013 and added in a few new elements… a Christmas tree and a sleigh.  After all the searching beforehand I ended up returning to my trusty Donna Hay back catalogue where I pulled out the recipes for basic gingerbread cookie dough… which I used for my sleigh and tree and the recipe for the houses as well as the template from Donna’s website.

The Houses:

Ok, so lets start with the houses… because lets face it… they are the most important… Donna Hay’s Recipe comes from Issue 72 (Dec/Jan 2014 page 139) and the recipe is as follows:

Ingredients:

Gingerbread:
1.2kg plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tsps bicarb soda
1 1/2 cups (265g) brown sugar
1 tbsp ground ginger
380g unsalted butter, melted
1 2/3 cups (580g) golden syrup
icing sugar to decorate
Icing
4 cups (640g) icing sugar
3 eggwhites
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
1 tbsp lemon juice

 

 

 

 

 

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 180°C.  Place half the flour, bicarb, brown sugar and ginger in a large food processor and pulse until combined.  Add half the butter and golden syrup and process until the dough comes together.  Transfer to a large bowl.
2.  Repeat with the remaining dry and wet ingredients.  Add the two batches of dough together and knead until smooth and combined.
3.  Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.  Using your fingers, press each piece into a 37cm x 25cm Swiss roll tin. Smooth the top with the back of a metal spoon.
4.  Bake in 2 batches for 12-15minutes or until golden.
5.  Transfer gingerbread sheet onto a large chopping board and start cutting out the shapes while it is still hot using a metal ruler and a sharp knife.  Don’t forget to print out the template found here.
Donna Hay suggests the following order:

Sheet 2 & 4:
• Large house walls
• Front of small house
• Back of small house
• Small house roof
• Small house walls
• Chimney
Sheet 1 & 3:
• Large house roof
• Front of large house
• Back of large house

 

 

 

 

6.  To make the icing; place the sugar, egg-whites and cream of tartar in an electric mixer and beat for 4-5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
7.  Add the lemon juice and beat for a further 2 minutes or until well combined.
8.  Use a piping bag to use decorate the house with the icing and glue the houses together.  I used the icing recipe as my glue and for my own free style decoration rather than the prefect and very beautiful lattice design intend… as my decorating skills just aren’t that good.

Notes:
Initially I was worried that the pieces for each house were quite hard and tended to snap rather than break of nicely when cooled.  However, once assembled and no longer trapped in an air tight container, the gingerbread softened enough to break and eat, but not enough to collapse… which turned out perfectly, despite my initial concerns of broken teeth.

I only have a small oven, so I needed to cook the sheets of gingerbread all separately, and because I took a little longer preparing my dough, my oven was well and truly at temperature before starting.  I had to keep a close eye on the sheets and the more I cooked, the less time they required as my oven is also not as good at keeping temperature without going over as I would like.  So make sure you keep watch as you need all of the sheets to get all of the parts so some burnt sections can make it tricky to fit all of the template in… plus they taste and look pretty average.

The glue is also very good, it sets quickly and holds well, but once set is still able to be broken with ease for consumption while remaining strong enough to hold the untouched parts still in place.

The Sleigh and the Tree:

Okay… so once the house was done I started on the sleigh and tree.  For both of these is used Donna Hay‘s ‘basic gingerbread cookie dough’ recipe which can be found online here, or if you are bit lazy like me… I have done the non-lazy thing and typed it out, just in case I lose my copy of  Issue 78 (Dec/Jan 2015 page 156) or the website changes.  Anyway the recipe is as follows:

Ingredients:

•  125g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
•  ½ cup (90g) brown sugar
•  ⅔ cup (230g) golden syrup
•  2½ cups (375g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
•  1 teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda, sifted
•  2 teaspoons ground ginger
•  1 teaspoon mixed spice

Method (Emma’s modified version):

gingerbread61.  Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2.Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 6−8 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until pale and creamy.
3.  Add the golden syrup, flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and mixed spice and beat until a smooth dough forms.
4.  Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper to 5mm thick and then use the sleigh template (see below) and star cookie cutters (see tree assembly below) to make the pieces required.   If there is some left over use a gingerbread man cookie cutter to cut out men from the dough, re-rolling the dough as necessary.
5.  Bake on trays lined with non-stick baking paper for ~8mins or until golden (Donna’s recipe was for a gingerbread man wreath, so this is where the instructions get a little messy, but I left my oven hot from the gingerbread house and cooked for shorter time, but they turned out perfect, you just have to watch them).
6. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

Sleigh Assembly:

The sleigh template I used can be found here, it is one that I found thanks to Pinterest and I used the template to cut out the shapes before baking them.  I used the left over house ‘glue’ (icing) to put the sleigh together, using large candy canes as the sleigh’s runners as suggested by the blog.  The sleigh requires some holding while the glue sets as my pieces warped a little in the over, and the candy canes will only support the whole thing once it is just that… one piece.

Tree Assembly:

For this one I googled a couple of things to get the idea but didn’t follow anyone’s instructions so to speak.  I made the tree using different sized star cookie cutters.  I got a set of 5 sizes from my trusty k-mart and made ~4 of each size, so that I would have at least 3 good ones for my tree (I also made some extra ones for eating with the left over dough). Once the cookies were cooked, I used glue which I used green food dye to turn green to layer the stars on top of each other in height order. At the very top of the tree I used a small star cookie standing up to make a tree topper (with Davo’s encouragement I dyed some icing yellow just for a better star effect).  This actually worked out much better than I thought it would, and was the most popular component on movie marathon day.

Once all the bits were together and decorated, this is how it turned out…

gingerbread3

Pretty good if you ask me!  Well at least not bad for an amateur.  Hopefully I will remember that I wrote this blog and save myself some time next year… Oh and this also crossed no. 21 ‘Make some kind of festive seasonal dish’ off the list.

Ok so there you have it… I am going to go and eat some of the left overs.

Using My Good Days For Good… Finishing The List

Ok so 2016 is quickly disappearing and I figured that seeing as I am currently on leave from work… and I have good days and bad days at home…. but thankfully more good days than bad ones… I am going to use the rest of my good days this year doing 3 things…

1. Working out how to remember Joshua when things are good and joyful
2. Getting my Christmas shopping and planning sorted and…
3.  Finishing this year’s list.

This year’s list got a little ignored when I found out I was pregnant, because I was tired, some of the things were no longer possible and lets face it… my priorities had shifted… but now I am no longer pregnant and unfortunately don’t have little Josh to distract me… so the list has been bumped back up the priority list.  And lets face it… it’s supposed to be filled with things I want to achieve/do/try… so crossing things off it should bring me some joy… and I could do with some bonus joy.

So here is a recap of what I have done… and probably more importantly… what I haven’t…

  1. Start 2016 somewhere outside of Australia – completed: 01/01/2016
  2. Make a summer fruit platter in a watermelon – completed: 19/02/2016
    This one was actually crossed off way back in Feb… and it should have had its own blog because it is glorious… This delicious watermelon bowl of goodness… yep that’s it just on the right hand side there… was made for a girl’s night which I was privileged to lead for youth group… and both the evening and the watermelon bowl were spectacular. 
  3. Send 12 hand written cards/letters – completed: 23/04/16
    This one has also been done for a while thanks to my new subscription to ‘Happy mail‘ which I love… It has given me a reason to write more as well as pretty much the perfect card for every occasion.  
  4. Make a lolly cake – completed: 31/11/16
    Thanks to my Father-in-law and his trips to NZ this one is done… Turns out Eskimo lollies are harder to get in Australia than I had imagined… but once I got my hands on some of those the lolly cake happened… and I have it on the authority of a NZ local… (my father-in-law)… it was pretty good. 
  5. Rearrange a space – completed: 17/02/2016
  6. Play my flute
  7. Go to Disneyland – completed: 24/01/2016
  8. Find out is our house has a legit hidden fireplace
  9. Visit something older than colonised Australia – completed: 14/01/2016
  10. Have tea in London… Queen optional – completed: 19/01/2016
  11. Do a ridiculously cheesy tourist photo with a famous tourist attraction – completed: 22/01/2016
  12. Go to a country I have never been to before – completed: 02/01/2016
  13. Find a geocache – completed: 06/04/16
  14. Hide a geocache – completed: 06/04/16
  15. Watch the Prince of Egypt – completed: 18/03/2016
    This probably doesn’t need a lot of explaining… it happened and I enjoyed it… I had probably talked it up too much in my mind, but it was still good… I really love the music from The Prince of Egypt… just in case you were wondering.
  16. Go in the 2016 Melbourne Marathon festival somehow… 5, 10, half or full
  17. Be a Victorian tourist and go somewhere all the tourists go – completed: 09/07/16
    Dave and I were incredibly blessed by some parents from Dave’s work who spoiled us with a weekend away in the city and it was perfect and wonderful and just so overwhelmingly generous that I haven’t been able to put it down in words and do it justice.  But as part of this weekend we got to hang out in the city and go where all of the tourists go… we visited the National Gallery, hung out at crown, had scones with jam and cream at the Langham and window shopped in Bourke St and the Emporium… just like the tourists.  
  18. See my bestie face to face – completed: 18/01/2016
  19. Get back in the pool and swim at least 5 times
  20. Go to the Zoo – completed: 03/02/2016
  21. Make some kind of festive seasonal dish
  22. Use the fire pit
  23. Go skiing or snowboarding or tobogganing – completed: 03/01/2016
  24. Do you want to build a snowman? I do – completed: 04/01/2016
  25. Go Camping – completed: 04/04/16
  26. See some Northern Hemisphere stars – completed: 06/01/2016
  27. Run with at least 3 different people – completed: 27/02/2016
    My running game was strong for the first half of the year… it’s pretty average at the moment which certainly puts some doubt over some of the other list items, but not this one… I have run with more than 3 different friends, but the first three were Parkruns with Amy-Ruth and Annie and a fun run around the zoo with Kev and Suz. 
  28. Make a photo book or our Europe Adventures
  29. Save money each pocket money
  30. Go on a bush walk – completed: 05/04/16
  31. Go to a farmers market – completed: 27/03/2016
    Do you know what’s even better than a regular farmers market?  A twilight farmers market ’cause you don’t have to get up super early to be there and get things… you can sleep in and still enjoy all the spoils… it’s almost like you can have your cake and eat it too.    
  32. Make some meringues – completed: 03/10/16
    I don’t know why I don’t do this more often… I love meringues! 
  33. Learn how to spell meringues without having to check it every time – completed: 03/10/16
    While making my meringues I also learned how to spell the word… M E R I N G U E S… ta da! 
  34. Keep my emails under control – no extreme amounts of notifications on my phone
  35. Get and keep my photo storage under control
  36. Sew something
  37. Do some trivia – completed: 05/06/16
    There is not enough trivia in the world… I love it… although I am always disappointed if my team doesn’t win… especially if we don’t win a Disney themed trivia night… but despite my disappointment… the trivia was participated in which means it is off the list.
  38. Bake some snacks – completed: 02/10/16
    Being a little food safety paranoid while I was pregnant meant that I made some of my own snacks instead of purchasing them… which is probably just better to do anyway and they are even more delicious that store brought snacks. 
  39. See a musical – completed: 13/05/16
    When you work with a dancer extraordinaire who tells you that she is performing in Australia’s first Amateur theater production of Wicked… you get there as quick as you can, you fall in love with Wicked all over again and you celebrate this friend like never before… that’s what happened in May for me at least anyway.   
  40. Read 16 books – completed: 20/11/16
    Like I said at the top… I have had a little bit of extra down time… and reading is a good way to get out of your own head and into another land… so my book quota is now achieved, here are this years books:
    – The Revenant, Michael Punke
    – The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins,
    – Cinder, Marissa Meyer
    – The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel
    – Scarlet, Marissa Meyer
    –  The Happiness Project, Gretchen Ruben
    – The BFG, Roald Dahl
    – Cress, Marissa Meyer 
    – Simplicite, Dominique Loreau
    – Winter, Marissa Meyer
    – Jesus Is, Judah Smith
    – The Concrete Blonde, Michael Connelly
    – The Black Echo, Michael Connelly
    – Inferno, Dan Brown
    – The Black Ice, Michael Connelly
    – The Last Coyote, Michael Connelly
  41. Do a water aerobics class
  42. Do a spin class
  43. Have a BBQ Wednesday
  44. Go to a state of Australia that I haven’t been to before – completed: 03/04/16
  45. Touch my feet to some red dirt – completed: 06/04/16
  46. Clean up my iTunes playlists
  47. Visit another international thermal pool – completed: 07/01/2016
  48. Clean my car more regularly
  49. Sort out my 2014 and 2015 scrap books
  50. Try at least 2 new park runs – completed: 12/03/2016
    I mentioned before that my running game had been strong in the first half of the year, which made crossing this off easier.  We ran my home away from home Inverloch Parkrun and headed to Westerfolds parkun to celebrate our friend Bram’s 100th parkrun with him.
  51. Keep my apple things updated properly
  52. Go to Inverloch at least 5 times
  53. Swim in the Ocean
  54. Have high tea – completed: 09/07/16
    Technically I crossed this one off when I had tea in London – way back with no. 10, but while we were in the city on our little get away we also had a pregnancy friendly high tea at the Langham… well scones with jam and cream and of course tea… that’s pretty much all you need. 
  55. Walk to the end of a pier – completed: 30/10/16
    Well it’s not much more exciting than what it says… we walked to the end of the pier in Inverloch… and now it is off the list. 
  56. Get some Fro-yo – completed: 11/02/2016
  57. Go roller skating
  58. Ride a bike – completed: 17/01/2016
  59. Have some pasta/ pizza/gelato in Italy – completed: 01/01/2016
  60. Have some processed meat in Germany – completed: 05/01/2016
  61. See the Myer windows
  62. Go to a place I can’t pronounce – completed: 06/01/2016
  63. Do some more work as a teacher – completed: 29/02/2016
    This year has also seen the return of Mrs G.  Still just filling in every now and again, but still teaching. 
  64. Take a photo with an English Guard – completed: 20/01/2016
  65. Take the Eurostar – completed: 22/01/2016
  66. See an Emu – completed: 05/04/16
  67. Experience the outback – completed: 04/04/16
  68. Follow through on the date box again
  69. Go to Sherbrook forest – completed: 09/04/16
    Birthdays are a good reason to cross things off the list… and lets face it, you never really need a reason to visit Sherbrook forest because it is beautiful.  We went, we tried out our new little festival chairs and had a birthday picnic… it was perfect. 
  70. Be on time… it’s time
  71. Have another Star Trek Movie Marathon
  72. Make my own dumplings
  73. Be confronted by WWII – completed: 11/01/16
  74. Go on a Gondola ride – completed: 01/01/2016
  75. Visit a real life old time castle…. like one that would inspire Disney – completed: 08/01/16
  76. Visit at least 4 museums –  completed: 12/01/16
  77. See the Berlin Wall – completed: 14/01/16
  78. Taste some dutch cheese – completed: 16/01/16
  79. Have a Shakespeare moment – completed: 02/01/2016
  80. Do a 3D jigsaw – completed: 21/09/16
    While we were away on our little babymoon in Lakes Entrance I found a little 3D duck puzzle, which if I am honest looked very very lame… which made me think it would be easy… turns out I was wrong, the puzzle was not easy… and it turned out to be pretty cute… but in interest in decluttering our house to make space for baby George we left the little duck for the next guests lucky enough to have our room in Lakes Entrance.
  81. Ride a Camel… or at least see one in Uluru – completed: 05/04/16
  82. Have one of those epic milkshakes – completed: 09/04/16
    So birthday list days are also a great reason to have an epic milkshake… and I am talking mammoth honeycomb overflowing milkshake that hits that the lactose limit harder than you will ever know
  83. Have a Random Acts of Kindness week
  84. Go on  a Road Trip – completed: 06/05
    A road trip to Mount Gambier in SA, with 20ish of our closest student friends from the Jazz Band and Jazz Choir.  Sometimes it’s fun to be a music teachers wife and to go on band trips, especially when the kids are so much fun, incredibly talented and you get to stay at the most amazing homestead in which homemade treats appearing every time you look around.   
  85. Have a wardrobe purge – completed: 29/01/2016
    I started the year with a massive wardrobe purge and then since then I have had another couple, each time clearing out more bags of stuff than I care to admit I had… At first it was just for me to make space to appreciate what I had and to stop feeling guilty about the things I had that I didn’t want or use.  Then the task expanded from my wardrobe to every cupboard and every other room as we tried to clear out space to make way for Baby George… 
  86. Do another Pinterest project
  87. Help change something at home – completed: 20/11/16
    So this was going to be the almost finished nursery… but it didn’t really happen, the nursery is still a junk room and currently not required… so instead, we just built the new bed we brought at the same time as some of the nursery furniture and ‘changed’ the bedroom
  88. See some carols by candle light
  89. Get a massage – completed: 23/11/16
  90. Keep getting closer again
  91. Make the most of my gym membership
  92. Get my menu planning and home cooking game on
  93. Spend some time in the Old testament (Study at least 2 OT books)
  94. Eat something from out veggie garden – completed: 22/02/2016
  95. Play some badminton
  96. Make sure I remember my secret list
  97. Run 5km without walking
  98. Have the parentals over for dinner… all of them… separately
  99. Be more domestic
  100. Take Dex on a Doggy Adventure – completed: 07/10/16
    So the photo isn’t great but we took Dex to visit his friend Abe when we went to visit our friends Dust and Jess… he had a great time.  

So there you go… still a lot to go… at the moment we are sitting on 61% complete… which is pretty good… but it’s going to be a big run home… some may say impossible… but not me… bring it on… hopefully with lots of ‘good’ days… oh and if you want to help with the things that are left… I would really appreciate it…

Very Thankful

I have been thinking about blogging about this for a little while now and given than yesterday was Thanksgiving and as I type Dave is outside putting Christmas lights up that I have been nagging him for, I figured now would be appropriate.

It will be no surprise to you that I love photos and that I have probably millions of them.  After we came home from our European adventure I started the process of updating our back-ups so that these fun memories were included.  This project lost a little momentum when we found out that we were having Josh, but now it has shot back up the priority list with the edition of our very precious photo memories of our little boy.  So the last couple of weeks
while I have been on leave I have spent a lot of my time looking through, sorting, storing and re-storing our photos.

Projects like this always take me a long time because I like looking through the photos, reminiscing and reflecting on what we have done, where we have been and who we have been spending our time with.  It’s nice to look back sometimes and in true thanksgiving style it always makes me very thankful for the things, memories, experiences and people who make up my life.

Anyway, while I have been getting the photos sorted, I decided that I also needed to include the videos we have of things like our wedding.  I love our wedding video, but I can count on one hand the number of times I have actually sat down and watched it… but this week I found myself doing just that, watching it after I moved it over to the back-up drive.  Now, I pride myself on remembering most of our special occasions well, and in detail, but it turned out that I had completely forgotten about the song that was sung while Dave and I signed the registry.   It was a song that we chose for the lyrics and as I listened to the song again tears flowed from my eyes because I realised that the lyrics were more true that I had ever understood.

The song is “When God made you” by NewSong and the lyrics are as follows:

img_9200It’s always been a mystery to me
How two hearts can come together
And love can last for ever
But now that I have found you I believe
That a miracle has come
When god sends the perfect one

Now gone are all my questions about why
And I’ve never been so sure of anything
In my life

Oh I wonder what God
Was thinking
When he created you
I wonder if he
Knew everything I would need
Because he made all my dreams come true
When God made You
He must have been thinking about me

I promise that wherever you may go
Where ever life may lead you
With all my heart I’ll be their too
And from this moment on
I want you to know
I’ll let nothing come between us
And I will even love you more

Chorus

He made the sun
He made the moon
To harmonize a perfect tune
One can’t move without the other
They just have to be together

And that is why I know its true
Your for me
And I’m for you
Because my world just can’t be right
With out you in my life

Chorus 

At the time, I have to admit that while I agreed with the words, I found it a little corny, but now given the events of this year, traveling together, working on our house and with the addition of Joshua, I realise that there is no one else that I would have rather been with.

I don’t give Dave anywhere enough praise.  He is truly a wonderful, wonderful man.  A man who is brave and courageous, a man who is wiser than his years, more caring and more loving than I have ever known.  He is talented and good at everything he does, he is humble and serves people without expectation.  And in the last couple of months I have learnt that he is far stronger than I ever understood.  He has stood in the gap for me, been my voice, my comfort, my protector, my support and my love and he has done all of this without any return, knowing I have been completely empty and unable to look after myself at times.

So this thanksgiving, I need him and everyone else to know that I could not be more thankful for him if I tried.  I love him more than I could ever say or show and he deserves so much more than what I have to offer.  I know that when God made him, as selfish as it sounds, he was thinking about me, because there is no one else but him that completes me, compliments me or who loves me as well as he does.

Thank you Jesus for giving me Dave, and thank you Dave for loving me.

I love you.

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