Sunday, 23 December 2012

2012 will always be a memorable year for our family for so many reasons. It was the year of first birthdays, first overseas family holidays and new business ventures. So much goodness has come our way... but not without enough struggle and sacrifice to make us really appreciate those good times.

I am ready to turn a new leaf; to embrace all that 2013 has in store for us. I have a feeling it's going to be a very good year.

Thank you all so much for your company this year. I am forever grateful for the support, encouragement and advice you so generously bring to this space.

Sending you and your family our warmest wishes for a safe and joyous Christmas.

In 2013, may you find magic in the most unexpected places.

Claire, Paddy and Eulalie xxx

a backyard christmas wreath

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Thinking back to Christmases spent in London and Sydney, it was such a novelty for us to go and choose a real Christmas tree and lug it home through the city (squeezing one on to an old London routemaster bus was quite an experience!). Nothing says Christmas more than the smell of fresh pine and a light scattering of green pine needles.

Unfortunately, the traditional pine trees don't fare particularly well in the northern Australian tropics. If you're lucky enough to find one, you'll be even luckier if the unrooted plant survives a brutally hot December. By the middle of the month, usually all that's left is a blanket of wilted pine needles covering the gifts below.

What we do have in abundance though, are palms... in all shapes and sizes. I must confess that palms aren't exactly my favourite type of plant, and if we didn't rely on them so much for privacy, we'd probably replace them with a whole range of eucalyptus and native shrubbery. This being said, the humble palm does offer up some pretty spectacular debris shortly after seeding.

Last week, in an attempt to avoid plastic fantastic and bring a bit of nature into the home, I took Lalie outside into the backyard to collect some seed fronds. The stalks had been curved into a rough semi-circle from the way they had drooped down after seeding.

While Lalie played around on the swings, I played around with my fronds, overlapping them until I had formed a circle. Before I knew it, I was staring at an enormous wreath - the perfect substitue for a real tree! I quickly pulled some vines from the fence and secured the wreath together. This whole process took less than half an hour and didn't cost a cent. Not a single tool was used; just my hands and what was available to me in the yard.

A paper star (lamp shade), a string of lights and a packet of $5 glitter baubles later, she was finished and hung.

Our backyard Christmas wreath isn't perfect - it embraces all that's wild, organic and handmade. It's a bit skew-if and completely untamed, but it reminds us that we're celebrating this holiday in true Australian spirit. Casual, carefree...anything goes!

Boston: the barking crab

Sunday, 16 December 2012

I was so surprised when I walked in the door of The Barking Crab - we'd just stepped out of the city's financial district and the sleek but somewhat sterile architecture that went with it. But entering this joint was like being transported to some quirky little coastal village. I couldn't put the camera down - between mouth fulls of the worlds best lobster roll*, I went a little crazy taking snaps of the nautical-kitsch decor, which really came to life under the filtered afternoon light. It was more than a gastronomical feast; it was a feast for the eyes!

The casual, cozy atmosphere was perfect for a chilly fall afternoon. We basically had the place to ourselves... but I was assured, come summertime, the place would be heaving. And I can see why - what a perfect waterfront spot for beer and seafood on balmy summer nights.

 * Okay, so it was the only lobster roll I've ever had... but I'm calling it!

Boston : a whirlwind visit

En route from Nashville to New York, we stopped in Boston for a day to catch up with close friends that have been living abroad for many years. Chris and Diana are one of the most intelligent couples we know, so it's no surprise that they've found themselves in one of the worlds most prestigious academic hubs.

We arrived on a chilly November evening and were welcomed into their cozy apartment, where we were offered warm mulled cider and the pure comfort of homemade spaghetti bolognese.

Diana spent the next morning playing tour guide as she led us through the Harvard campus filling us in on some of the university's 376 years of history. We then journeyed across town to meet Chris for a coffee and wander through the grounds of M.I.T (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), where Chris has been working for the past three years.

We spent the rest of the day strolling through parks and down gorgeous cobblestone streets before making our way to a quirky little seafood restaurant (deserving of it's own post all together!), where we filled up on fried clams, lobster rolls and fish and chips. That evening, we sat in the lounge room watching the presidential election news coverage and chatting about polotics (of course!), work, travel, babies and future plans. It was a memorable and enjoyable whirlwind visit - there's nothing like visiting friends and listening to stories of overseas adventures.

P.S - It might look a little out of place, but I just had to include the spider house! It was just after halloween and this was some seriously impressive festive decorating!


Thursday, 13 December 2012

Lychees*, mangoes*, outdoor tub baths... the tropical North Queensland summer is well and truly here - and this is what ours looks like.

What's summer like at your place?

* Straight from Nonno Sam's farm, the sweet juice still slightly warmed from the sun. The only way to eat them.

nature crafting for christmas

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

At last, the bubble has burst and I'm starting to get into the spirit of all things Christmassy.

Lalie and I have been spending our mornings in the backyard foraging for natural elements that we can transform into festive decor. Bringing the outdoors in has always been my favourite way to decorate, and this year I'm counting on the glitterisation of a few twigs, fronds and leaves to transform our home into a bit of a Queensland inspired Christmas wonderland.  I can't wait to share our creations with you... I've got a  'backyard wreath' underway that I'm pretty excited about.

Do you have a theme this year? Are you getting your Christmas craft on? If you have kids, do you get them involved? I'd love to hear about your traditions.

tennessee tales: country music city

Monday, 10 December 2012

A random selection of photos from our Nashville visit. We walked around Downtown, past the traditional Honky Tonk bars which were abuzz with the strum of guitars and drawly melodies of up-and-coming musicians trying to find their break in the birthplace of country music. We didn't pass a single bar that wasn't offering live music - even the airport restaurants were serving up impressive live acts!

Yet, just a couple of suburbs away from the twangy tunes and rowdy crowds, was a quaint little village-esque suburb called Hillsboro, which offered an array of independent boutiques, trendy cafe's, gourmet deli's and (the most amazing) organic grocer. It was like being in a different city altogether. It was hard to believe the contrast in lifestyles; hillbillies* and hipsters coexisting in perfect harmony.

Then, of course, there was the old-school side of it ; the traditional Southern roots. Home-style restaurants such as Monells, serving delicious southern food, family style, in historic settings. On our last day in Nashville, I tagged along for lunch with our friends Chris and Dee (there will be more on these guys later), who came to Nashville from Boston for the Thanksgiving holidays. We were seated around a large table with about ten complete strangers and encouraged to "pass the food 'round to the left". We piled our plates high with the most delicious southern fried chicken, corn bread, biscuits (think savory scones) and pumpkin pie while striking up conversation with our new friends. (Unfortunately I have no photographic evidence of this meal - it seemed inappropriate to pull the camera out at a table full of people you've only just met!).

I really did like Nashville - it was certainly full of surprises! Unfortunately, we were only there long enough to scratch the surface of what I felt was a place of many layers and many more stories to tell.

* Actually not hillbillies at all - rather quite endearing country folk - but I couldn't resist the alliteration!

the all-knowing west village sidewalk

Saturday, 8 December 2012

...and finding a little bit every day. I hope you are too.

Happy Weekend!

(on finding magic)


Thursday, 6 December 2012

Christmas is less than three weeks away?! How can it be? I think I'll just stay here in this little bubble they call denial.

Not a pressie purchased. Not a bauble hung. Not a light in sight.

Are you organised this year?

 * Unrelated set of images from a local cafe visit. I thought they looked a little festive... well, more festive than it looks 'round here at the moment anyways!

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