Friday 25 December 2009

Today's the day - Celebrating & Woot Wooting!!!

Finally Christmas has arrived - the preparation seemed endless but of course it was well worth it in the end.

We have four exhausted but very happy children & I think we were pretty much spot on with the gifts we selected for them. Cami & Reilly are worn out from boxing {Wii} & Chelsea & Jack have both had music blaring & booming out from separate docking stations {okay, now maybe that wasn't such a good idea...} but finally they have what they all have been hankering after for months & I don't think that's a bad thing as long as they are not over-indulged. After the best part of 40 years living in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe - of which during the last 10 - 15 years we had to do our Christmas shopping in a neighbouring country - here in South Africa - I'm all for a modicum of commercialism once a year!

I also have a Christmas gift on the way to me from Prima, in the form of this! This is the international prize pack I won for my layout in Iris Babao Uy's "Class for a Cause" - as per my blog post here.

Remember when I showed you this layout below? I loved the $5 class, with all proceeds going to charity, & I am so happy to have won all the lovely goodies above - especially the canvas mini-album, I've wanted one for some months now & can't wait to fill it ;-D

I also have some MORE scrappy goodness on it's way to me too for the layout below - winner of November layout of the month over at The Scrappiest. My prize being November's kit "Grandma's Attic" from Jen's House of Scrap. Read all about it here - it definitely is a buzz seeing your name "up in lights" on another blog!! I have all of this on it's way to me as we speak! 2010 is going to have to be a prolifically scrappy year for me to get through all my new stash!!!

And on the home front my resident Mr. Clause has a few things on order for me from Amazon - currently snail pacing their way to me here in darkest Africa...

At last I am getting my Nikon DSLR sorted out with just a couple of basic accessories. For my birthday in March I have this coming...
After all my reading & my photography lesson I have decided to prioritise these two as I'm not going to be able to achieve the type of shots I am wanting to take without them. I wish I could be happy with a point & shoot, from the convenience aspect, as I feel very self-conscious shooting with a DSLR in public, but that is just something I am going to have to overcome because there really is no comparison between the two.

I also have some scrappy books coming my way soon...

Elizabeth Kartchner's latest offering - I LOVE her blog, I LOVE her work, I can't wait to work my way through her book!

And this one from Anna Bowkis, the founder of Pencil Lines, Pencil Lines - The Sketch Book, sounds exciting - especially as I recognise quite a few names on the collaborative designers list. I KNOW I have told you all in the past that I am not a fan of sketches! What's the saying about it being a woman's prerogative to change her mind?! I have come to understand the advantages in terms of getting a head start on a project & think that in order to maximise my time usage sketches are definitely useful as a starting point!

Click here to order your signed copy {Anna has offerred this on her blog but you'll need to let her know that you would liked it signed - if you would!} I love this kind of personalisation ;-D

That said I'm off to enjoy the rest of my Christmas day! Hope yours is special too!!

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas Y'All !!!

Long time no hear I know! We have been away in the local mountains, the Drakensberg, enjoying a wonderful week of peace & family fun. We returned on Friday & since then it has been all systems go on our countdown to Christmas so I take this opportunity to wish all my blogging friends a blessed Christmas & a New Year filled with all that is good for you!

We always pass this "People's Market" & I try for a better photograph each time, bearing in mind that we are constantly moving & I have to make it quick at the traffic lights!

This was the view from our Chalet in the early morning...mountains & trees...just beautiful...

This is the identical view taken during the day. I was surprised to find that there was a local photographer offering one-on-one lessons at the resort so I spent 2 hours with him & learnt loads about my Nikon DSLR.

Our view to the left of our chalet & our braai (barbeque) area, which we never used because it was either raining hail or it was 36 degrees! Talk about from one extreme to the other LOL!

The flower bed in front of our chalet - there was an army of staff maintaining the property - they appear to do a wonderful job but boy are they noisy as they go about their business...especially when they all walk up from the staff accomodation & right past our chalet, first thing in the morning...definitely NOT appreciated!!!

We found Cami a Hawaiian outfit at the little hotel shop - she has wanted one for years so she was delighted! With a body like hers it certainly suits her ;-D

My two teenagers insisted on leaving their packing 'til the last minute & forgot ALL the board games so joined me at the dining-room table & made Christmas cards instead - yes, even Jack, & his were surprisingly artistic!

Chelsea made a really cute little one for her beloved...and Cami & Reilly made one every night! We also played chirades - ridiculously funny...

It's hard to believe that there is so much beautiful, open space only a few hours from home...

We have stayed in the Drakensberg before, but we rented a house, never again...this was waaaaaaaaaaaay more fun & every day was filled with swimming, tennis, golf, walking... loads & loads on offer...

There is a hotel with a restaurant & coffee shop aswell as many chalets for families. Our chalet was large, with 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms & a large kitchen/dining/living area with a fireplace. I got 7 layouts done & loads of cards!

This is the side view of the main hotel. All the lawns were beautifully kept & the golf course was spectacular!

An overall view of the entire resort - I only wish we had discovered it sooner! To think that we have lived here for 4 years & never been before!

One of the FIVE pools on offer! The funny thing is I had made NO holiday plans this Christmas because we had had such a gloomy year that I didn't want to add to DH's stress levels, then a cancellation here came up at the last minute & someone ASKED us if we would like to buy their week, at a reduced price I might add...score!

Shane & Jack were so active every day & Reilly was appointed the golf cart driver so was very happy with that arrangement!

The kids absolutely LOVED every minute!

I took tons of photos practising all my MANUAL settings - so glad I finally have some basic knowledge ;-D

Unfortunately the M-Xit signal was strong at the resort so there was no keeping the teens off their mobiles!

Chelsea took 5 matric set books to read but spent most of her time in this position watching DVD's!

She complained of being bored but there were tons of other teens there - all of whom she was sure didn't like her LOL!

Cami enjoyed ordering room-service every time she took a bath - amazing how at 9 that novelty still hasn't worn off!

We had to make our bed every day which was a bit of a downer - if we left it to the chalet lady this was the result - yes really - this is the AFTER she made it picture!!!

Looking at her effort in the kids' rooms perhaps we should have been grateful!

Is it just me or is this a mess???!!!

All I could do to stop myself from remaking all the beds was just to stay out of the kids' rooms!

I finally learnt how to take perfect NIGHT photos without a blur & yellow flash tint - took the one above on manual when we returned from dinner out.

Doing my best now to get the blurry backgrounds but really need a longer lens to acheive a better effect.

So into manual now that I am not operating on auto at all any more & have already devoured all my course notes...

These were taken at mid day would you believe - but luckily we found a shady patch...

Poor Chelsea is really getting beyond sharing her bedroom with a 9 year old!

I caught Reilly making faces at himself in the mirror...something that he does often LOL!

I'm itching to cut off Jack's fringe but he's not having any of it...

Trying to get a decent photo of the 4 of them in holiday mode was {almost} impossible! Merry Christmas everyone! I have lots of layouts, cards & scrappy news to share but right now I am off to the mall - what am I thinking?!

Friday 11 December 2009

Festive Evidence!

Wrapping gifts is a tedious task! I make work for myself by wrapping all "Santa's" stocking-fillers too!! It draws the excitement out so much more if the kids have to unwrap each individual gift as opposed to just tipping everything out onto the floor. But boy does it take scrapping time unfortunately...but the good news it is almost done! I have made some time to edit my Christmas photos & create some collages though - all ready to scrap!

TOP LEFT:- Our dining-room dresser with wooden sign "Blessings - Count them" bought at C.U.M. Bookshop - I love the sentiment but hate the colour & can't wait to repaint it. TOP RIGHT:- Our Christmas paper serviettes - retro cool, in sisal holder. BOTTOM LEFT:- Our dining-room server - "Faith" sentiment from Home, etc - Gateway. BOTTOM RIGHT:- Overall view of our dining-room.

Above:- Close-ups of our server {the angel is musical - turn the base & it sings "Silent Night as it rotates -bought it at CNA Fourways Centre on sale last January}.

Top Left:- Our counter (dividing the dining-room from the lounge). I found the "Santa Claus" runner at the Hypermarket for only R60. Top Right:- Our table decor {2 x gold Christmas trees with pearl embellishments & a candle centrepiece on top of my new Tall Trees trivet}.

Close-ups of the runner & counter decorations. Lots of candles, lanterns & tealight holders.

Bauble Mania! We own far too many Christmas Decorations. I am a sucker for them & add on each year. This year I decided to keep the baubles off the tree & rather add them to my glass plate & put them inside my glass fishbowl vase. Much more effective & the Christmas tree looks slicker as a result too...

TOP LEFT:- I love the smell of Vanilla candles so have a few of them in my dining-room. I'm not buying new ones for Christmas so they need to fit in with my festive decor too. I can't find any nice candle-surrounds so made my own using a small gold wreath I bought last December at @Home. I placed it on a large trivet & wrapped a string of small Christmas beads around the base, cut to size & joined the ends together using a glue gun. I placed the candle on a green glass candle base-plate from Mr. Price then added another string of gold beads around the candle {which I will remove before lighting}.

I love the "depth of field" photos I took while Jack & Reilly were admiring the Christmas tree! Top Right:- Cami insists on adding her Father Christmas snow-dome to the mix every Christmas! The gold angels in the same photo have spiral halos because they are place setters & you insert the name cards into the spirals. Bottom Left:- The top of our small Christmas tree.

What does your home look like this festive season? If you have posted any photos to your blog I'd love to take a look! Christmas decorations are such fun - I only wish we could enjoy them for longer than a month a year!!

Thursday 10 December 2009

Achievements & Rewards

I like to record my kids' academic achievements come year end. All 4 of them take a different approach to their schooling but fortunately they all achieve their own version/level of success. Camryn & Reilly enjoy school & have both managed to secure an "Academic Progress" badge at the end of every term this year. They are never "over the moon" about this as they are always hoping for an "Academic Merit" badge instead, but these are only given out to a select few who achieve 80% & above in all subjects, consistently throughout each term. My 2 little ones are far too busy enjoying life to actually commit themselves to making that happen, & I am fine with that, I believe that raising well-rounded individuals is more important than concentrating solely on academic excellence.

Cami has worn that huge white aliceband to school every year since she started & now it is so small for her head that she is coming home with a headache every day. She has finally conceded that it has to this is a very special portrait of not only her badge, but also her aliceband.

I had to crop this photo drastically to get the "Academic Progress" text on the badge to be clearly visible - but I like how the photo looks with the heavy cropping. DH rewarded Reilly incredibly by buying him "Jabulani" the day he went on sale last week {he is the official World Cup ball & World Cup Fever is definitely starting to settle in now that the match draw has taken place}. You will be hearing a lot more about it here on my blog over the next 6 months as we are all football fanatics in this house.

I had to laugh & grab my camera when the boys called me into their room to meet Jabulani - & I was impressed at his "stand" that they had made using a melamine cereal bowl! They placed him strategically between Reilly's "Most Improved Player of the year" award on the left & Jack's "Player of the year" Award on the right - directly in front of their Manchester United poster. These boys have a lot of differences but football is their common thread.

Someone has been staying up far too late watching "essential" Premiership matches recently, now that school is almost over & there is no work getting done, just class parties, sport, etc - total waste of time really but an extra 2 weeks has been legislated so that next July the school holidays will be 4 weeks instead of 2, to reduce the congestion on the roads during the World Cup & to allow for match attendance.

Cami's reward was a new set of batteries for her "piano" & a baking date with dad {photos to follow}. She has owned this book for about 3 years now but just loves tinkling out the toons...

This is definitely a possession that will end up in her "special box" rather than being handed on to my neice - as this will definitely bring back many happy memories for her when she discovers it years down the line.

It was pretty pricey originally but has been worth it's weight in gold as she has spent many a happy hour entertaining herself with it & it is still in relatively good condition as it is a "board" book with thick chipboard pages with a glossy, wipeable finish.

She chose this mix at the supermarket for her baking date with dad! Shane is absolutely besotted with her & she with him so they had a great evening preparing this together. DH is thankfully very hands-on...

She insisted on coloured sprinkles on the icing...they have to go on everything at the moment!

She sure was one happy & exhausted girl after her baking adventure!

Thankfully the rain has ceased during the day this week, which means our clothes can finally dry! Instead we are having a thunderstorm each night which is very typical of an African Summer & something that I for one, love...