30 November 2010

The forgotten art of 'baby-proofing'

It's been an awfully long time since I've had to truly baby-proof my house and I've realised just how much I've 'forgotten' the in's and out's of this artform.

New Mum Chick is dropping off our littlest chickadee tomorrow afternoon and she's spending the night with us.  We're all looking forward to the event, but it's the first time she's sleeping over since she learnt how to crawl. Fast!  And she pulls herself up on absolutely everything before coasting around to the next piece of furniture so I have to make sure that there's nothing she can overbalance on.  We've seen her stand bolt upright on her own too before realising what she's doing and sitting down as fast as possible. This kids in a hurry!

I've spent the day washing off furniture that might resemble something delectably irrestable to gnaw on and I'm in the process of vacuuming the house (truly... just stopped by the computer to check my emails and thought I should really create a post...)and I'll steam the tiles downstairs early tomorrow morning...

We don't have gates on our stairs, but I do have very large couches that I can place in front of the stairs so we'll tick those boxes.  Might have to put another large couch in front of the entertainment centre too!  We don't want her climbing on top of that and it's at such a great height for climbing too! 

I have plenty of ribbon to tie my kitchen cupboards shut, but that can wait until tomorrow morning.  Fortunately my cupboards have the sort of handles that lend themselves to being tied shut.  So tick that box too.

Ornaments don't really pose a big problem as I don't have many standing about.  Those I do have will get popped into the cupboards before she arrives.

So, I think we're safe.  Little Miss C has learnt the meaning of the word 'no' too!  Which definitely helps and it amuses us all to watch her shaking her little head as she mimics us by repeating 'no, no' while smiling sweetly back at us.  She actually leaves off 'touching' or 'doing' when we ask her to now.  At least for a while.  Hey, we may have changed our minds and it might be perfectly allowable a few minutes later.  One never knows until one tries.  Does one?

Needless to say, she keeps us all highly amused by her antics and her grandfather and I are looking really forward to the privilege of the impending 'sleep-over'. 

April Blackbird

28 November 2010

Another card challenge entry

I had such a fun afternoon making cards with BB the other day!  It was great to spread our stuff out and have a good play. Of course we discovered that there was more stuff that we absolutely need (brads, bling, Glossy accents etc...), so we will just have to order it online.

This is my favourite card from our session....  I seem to have an obsession with blue/green and orange lately.

This cute little Send Me a Sign Bugg is a digi stamp from Tiddly Inks.  I fell in love with these Buggs as soon as I saw them!  I added polka dots to her dress with my copic multiliner.  The snowflakes are made with a white Hybrid Gel grip pen from Pentel and the colouring of course is done with my Copics.  The crochet flower is one I made to go with this card.

I am going to enter this card into two challenges... Christmas with a Twist (Challenge 5) at Copic Oz, and Non-Traditional Christmas colours at Mad for Markers challenge blog.

Skin: E0000, E000, E00 and R00
Dress and hat: BG0000, BG10, BG45, BG49, YR000, YR04, and YR07
Wings: B0000

Send Me a Sign Bugg from Tiddly Inks (digital stamp)

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

25 November 2010

A table spread with all sorts of bits and pieces...!

What a beautiful afternoon I had the other day with my friend Arabella, we spread out all her card-making paraphernalia and (just like in my former life!) had a great few hours working on some cards, which I've not done forever. And LOVED. I was not quite as productive as my card-making colleague, with some eating and tummy-dragging policing for my little chick, but I had a ball.

We were aiming to complete a little comp run by Mad for Markers - A Christmas card in non-traditional colours - and here 'tis!

This is the Christmas Pixie stamp from Tiddlyinks.  

Hope all of your preparations for this special season are coming along well.

I am about to welcome my most wonderful folks-in-law on Saturday, who are coming for a delicious 6 weeks - of company, of someone else cooking sometimes, of an extra pair of extremely capable hands with our little Noah, and of some exploring companions! We are so excited about some little driving trips and maybe nights away to see some of this new country we've found ourselves in.

Happy Christmas preparations!

Bookie Bird

Tonight we'll light a candle for the Pike River miners and their families

Our hearts go out to the families of all involved at the Pike River mine disaster.

May those who have passed rest in peace knowing the world sends love and light to comfort their families, friends and the communities they lived in.

Please join us and light your candle as you send loving thoughts their way tonight.

April Blackbird

24 November 2010

Inspired by a wee gnome...

I am really enjoying this crocheting thing... It is so easy to make your own creations come off the page and into 3D.  Recently I came across I a little picture of a clay gnome I had saved  from Etsy (for just that reason) and was inspired to make a crochet gnome.

Here is my inspiration picture...

When I saved this picture to my "Sewing Ideas and Inspiration" folder, I wrote that it was Wee Gnome from Beas Wees on Etsy, but I can't find it or the seller anywhere there now.

Here is my crochet version... Her name is Gunilla Gnome.  Gunilla is a little bit shy, but she can be quite chatty once she gets to know you.  Her job in the World of Gnome is to paint the spots on ladybirds.

Okay, so Gunilla is really nothing like the inspiration version, but I love how she turned out so much that I have decided not to give her away (she was going to be a gift for a new baby girl).  As with most of my crocheted toys, she has moveable arms sewn on with buttons... and actually now that I think about it, buttons probably are not that suitable for a baby anyway so she will just have to stay here with me and I will have to make something else instead.  

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

22 November 2010

Ribbons, lovely ribbons!

Look what just arrived in the post for me...

Yes, I have been busy ordering online again.  But how could I resist these gorgeous ribbons from The Ribbon Girl?!  I have decided that even though I don't have three quarters of my crafting gear here in Greece with me, there is no reason why I can't make some simple cards.  

See that package of green, pink and yellow ribbons on the right?  Those were a gift to me from the girls at The Ribbon Girl.  Isn't that lovely?

I was so excited to see that they had Baker's twine (in the little packages centre left) available in short lengths.  I have been dying to get some for ages, but really couldn't justify getting a whole reel of each colour.  

I am looking forward to having a play this week.  BB and I are going to get together and do some crafting... Yay!

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece  

20 November 2010

I'm so excited!

I've been busy these last few weeks with my parents visiting (we had a lovely time, but that is for another post) and haven't had much time to blog lately or to blog surf, so imagine my surprise when I started reading blogs again this evening (Mum and Dad are heading back to NZ as we speak) and found that I made Runner up in the Anything but a card challenge at Mad for Markers!

Woohoo!  I'm so excited!  I even get a prize!  ... a Copic Swatch book so I can keep adding to my copic collection and still know what is what colour wise!  Hhhmmm, I bet my husband will be super excited about that... 

The new challenge up at Mad for Markers is to create a Christmas card in non traditional Christmas colours.  I will definitely be getting right on to that when we get back from work Sunday night.

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

19 November 2010

Amazing new web app for iPhones - The Michael Morcombe e guide to the birds of Australia

A family member has a company which has developed this application for bird watchers in Australia.  We don't have an iPhone or I might just have put it into my man's Christmas stocking.  I love that you can listen to the bird calls.  We have a 'mystery' bird in the bush nearby and in the five years we've lived in this house, we haven't been able to identify the bird.  Doesn't help that we never get to see it.  We just listen to its call.

They also have titles relevant to South Africa.

Take a look at   and while you're at it have a look at their other website...


April Blackbird

16 November 2010

Attitude of Gratitude # 13

It's been a long, long while since I wrote one of these. It isn't that I haven't found lots to be grateful for, quite the contrary actually, life has been very kind to me and I have many blessings to count.

UK chickie typed a message to me on Skype this morning; it concerns my 82 year old father and it really touched me so I thought I'd share it with you. 

"Grandad really chuffed as he babysat the little guy a couple of times for me today and Alex has really taken to him....walks up to him and asks to be picked up then puts his head down on Vic's shoulder....for a split second then he's off again!"

These two are as alike as two peas in a pod.  In nature and in looks.  When Alex was first born, my son was a bit freaked out by the likeness.  This is the first time they've ever been in each other's company though as my dad lives in Africa and it's truly food for my soul to see them together like this. 

My dad arrived in London the morning Kate was discharged from hospital and they hadn't seen each other since she was 11 months old.  She walked into the house and went straight to her great-grandfather for a cuddle.  She climbed up onto his lap and lay down on his chest with her head on his shoulder.  I could see how moved he was!  She stayed there for ages.  We were all absolutely amazed!

There is this saying that comes to mind from somewhere... 'in the end the love you take, is equal to the love you make'... maybe it's part of a song as I seem to hear a tune playing somewhere in the deepest reaches of my brain.  Maybe a Beetles song, anyone remember?

It's so true of my dad.  All my life, he has been my rock.  He has stood by me through some very trying times and he has never failed to ensure I know how much he loves me and mine.  He's been the same with my children and it's wonderful to see him getting so much love back from my children and now my grand-children.  Little and innocent as they are.

And for this I am profoundly grateful.

April Blackbird

13 November 2010

Places I have been - No. 8

I've always wanted to visit Greece.  Even before that Shirley Valentine movie was made.  I've always had lots of Greek friends and their tales of home fascinate me.  I also love their food... particulary that delicious spinach and feta pie they make. 

So, picture just how excited I was when my Greece based chickadees offered to book me a ticket to visit!  What an absolutely unexpected and ever so welcome treat it was.  Quick as a flash, Arabella had organised my flights and I was making plans on how to get to Gatwick airport from Wimbledon before the early morning rush hour.

One cab drive to Gatwick and a (somewhat delayed) EasyJet flight to Athens later and I was being hugged by my Greek chickies and handed a (strong) Frappe. It was so very good to see them both again and as a special bonus, I got to meet Bookie Bird, her chicco and her gorgeous little chickadee later that night too.

Our drive from Athens to Lavrio was incredibly interesting.  I hadn't ever fully understood just how dry that area is.  My chickies had told me about the numerous unfinished and abandoned buildings that abound in Greece, but it was quite something to see them for myself.  There is something incredibly sad about an abandoned building.  They whisper to me of lost dreams and I can't  help but wonder what happened that saw their owners walk away from their creations.

We had delicious assorted baklava for afternoon tea back at the flat and then went down to the marina for a quick look at the yacht.  It's especially impressive in real life!

I'll have to ask Arabella for the name of the taverna where we had dinner that night!  It was really good and we got to eat the most amazing calamari and squid.  The Greek salad was wonderful, as were the other dishes, but that calamari and squid were so well done that it will be a hard act for any place to follow.

Lavrio is a thriving little port.  There's lots of redevelopment and building going on and the people in the shops and market seemed incredibly friendly despite the language barrier.  My chickadees stay in a modern, light and bright apartment near the marina and it was good to see them so comfortably settled and 'at home' there. 

We took a trip into Athens from the port of Piraeus (we drove down to Piraeus so I could see the countryside) and it was quite humbling to see the remains of such ancient civilization still standing proudly (if somewhat the worse for wear at times... very little can withstand earthquakes and wars and get away with it completely).  It quite puts you back into your place!

It was hot and very humid that day and my throat was seriously sore so I probably wasn't the best tourist in town, but I did so enjoy the experience.   Athens is such a place of contrasts.  The old sits squarely and quite comfortably amongst the new.

We stopped for lunch in a lovely cobbled, and very shady, courtyard type area just up from here.  It was cool and restful and lunch was served by a smiling and very friendly local. 

 The main restaurant was across a small cobbled road... I love this idea, reminded me of another lunch in Paris a while ago...

The next day we went for a drive to the top of the mountains above Lavrio.  It was interesting to see where the mining takes place and there were quite a few really nice villages up there.  I wonder if they are actually 'mining' villages... somewhere the mine bosses and staff get to live.  Some gorgeous churchs too.  Perhaps Arabella will share her photos of them with us?  I didn't manage to get any.

The view over Lavrio

They call it a sink hole but I couldn't help wondering if it was actually caused by open mining

These beautiful 'Cyclamen' type flowers are everywhere... no leaves, just the flowers.

See what I mean about dry?  

The next day was a work day for my family so I went with Arabella to the market in the morning and was suitably impressed by the variety of fabulously fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood available.  They also have a 'general' section where you can buy everything from toilet paper to Spanish dresses.

Grocery shopping in the village was very rewarding too and we went back to the boat with everything Arabella needed.  Beautiful fresh bread too!

My four days with them (well, 3 1/2 actually) went far too quickly and I've promised my man and I will go back to visit them sometime next year.  I know he'd like to share their lives with them too.  My EasyJet flight back to Gatwick when smoothly and I arrived a little ahead of time; bought my Express train ticket without any fuss; walked down the station stairs onto the departing train; got off at Clapham Junction; walked across the platform and onto the train to Wimbledon.  Twenty minutes later I was in a cab on my way back to our UK chickies home.  Have quite decided that (if possible) all future travel to the UK should arrive/depart via Gatwick. 

So... if I didn't say it properly before... 'Thank you both so very, very much for my very special time in Greece with you!'  It's something I will never forget.

A very spoilt

April Blackbird

11 November 2010

A quick trip to NZ

We've just returned from a week in New Zealand's beautiful South Island. Hubby had a conference to attend in Christchurch, which always seems like an excellent excuse for me to have a holiday!  It was wonderful returning to Christchurch (I studied there many moons ago) and being able to do some of the things I couldn't afford as a student ... such as eating in a real restaurant and (highlight of my trip) having a punt on the Avon river on a glorious sunny afternoon. Chickie particularly enjoyed that experience though I had to hold on to her for dear life ... she refused to acknowledge that a swim in the River Avon at her age would actually be a bad thing! Off course the exchange rate was in our favour, so I managed to justify a spot of shopping too!

After a few days in Christchurch we went on to Lake Tekapo, Wanaka and then flew home from Queenstown. I forgot just how beautiful that part of the world is, and hubby was quite taken with it all (having never been to the South Island).  We managed to eat lots of delicious seafood (incl those delicious NZ mussels) and drink many fabulous Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs, my favourite tipple by far. Chickie traveled well though was extremely tired all week. I had bought her a Baby Bjorn Light travel cot prior to the trip ... it only weighs 5 kilos and is super easy to put up and pack away. Best thing I have bought ... Chickie adored it. I had concerns that it might be a little on the small side, but she loves to be in tight spaces, so insisted on snuggling up into the corners of the cot and was really content. It meant that despite staying in several different apartments over the week Chickie always had her same cot for the night. It was a bit of a drag having to keep packing and unpacking all our stuff though, and boy did we (Chickie) have a lot of stuff! We decided that next time we go on a 'road trip' we will rent a camper van (large) so we only have to unpack once!

Despite having a really wonderful holiday I was quite pleased to get home last night, and so was Chickie. Best of all, today she got to see Granny April Blackbird and boy was she excited. I think April Blackbird was very relieved to know that Chickie had remembered who she was!

Well my body is still on NZ time hence it thinks its now midnight and I'm struggling to stay awake! Time for bed.

I will try and get very clever and insert some photos later when they have been downloaded off the camera!

New Mum Chick

10 November 2010

Anything but a card

Mad for Markers has another challenge on at the moment... to create anything but a card and use your copic markers.  Since I love using my copics on anything, I decided to join in.  I made some framed pics to make our little house look more like a home...

The frames are from Ikea and the embellishments are mainly crochet flowers I made when I was learning how to crochet and a couple of little craft hearts.  The tape is from Accessorize of all places!  The little house is a freebie digi from Pollycraft Designs and the little girl is Hope and Grace Rain Rain from The Greeting Farm.

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

08 November 2010

Halloween pumpkins

I'm posting this on behalf of our 'UK Chickie' who is far too busy running after her two chickadees to be able to spend time blogging at present.  We're all hoping that will change sometime soon and that she'll once again add her personal touch to this blog. 

Halloween wasn't quite the event it generally is in this household.  The eldest chickadee had just had her tonsils and adenoids removed and 'trick or treating' (amongst close friends only and with close parental supervision) was absolutely out of the question this year.  UK Chickie made a big effort to ensure the littlies didn't miss out totally and three pumpkins were duly purchased from Sainsbury's. 

I've never seen this done before and had visions of huge carving knives being used (dangerously) to etch out faces!  It wasn't the case at all.  Pumpkin carving kit to the rescue and even the littlest of hands were able to help with the task.  I looked on in admiration and stand in awe of the finished results (which I have permission to post).

The pumpkins stood outside the back door and we watched as the local squirrels wangled their way into the pumpkins... we managed to stop them eating too much of the bat, but a certain amount of re-modelling had to take place pronto.  Cheeky squirrels! They'd been eating the newly planted bulbs before that!

April Blackbird

Pottery painting memories...

It's almost exactly three years ago (give or take a month) that our UK chickie took Arabella and I with her on a pottery painting expedition.  Now I can picture that shop quite vividly (we spent the best part of the day there in the end) and I remember the fun we had drinking good coffee and scoffing yummy cookies while we painted our pottery, but I can't remember what the suburb was called... just remember it was somewhere in London.  Sigh.

Arabella painted the beautiful penguin below and I'm not sure she ever got to see the results of her work so I took some photos of said penguin while I was visiting my UK chickies last month.  The photos aren't as good as I would have liked, but I think you'll all agree this is one gorgeous little penguin chick.  Just look at those eyes!

April Blackbird