Monday, December 03, 2007

aussie christmas

My friend who is spending her first Christmas in a warm climate recently posted about how hard it is to hear all these Christmas songs talking about snow and winter weather and bundling up, etc. I used to feel the same way . . . now I embrace the winter imagery, even though I am no longer a part of it. And it seems many Aussies do the same thing. I see snowflakes everywhere from Christmas tree ornaments to decorating Christmas serving dishes. There are pine trees and snow men in abundance. But to give a firm nod to reality and also to try to help my friend, I've created a playlist of Christmas songs more suited to those of us who won't get to experience the thrill of the chilled nose this holiday season. And yes, for me and my lack of a real winter for the past 4 years, a chilled nose would be a thrill! Please enjoy.

1-Christmas Like a Lullaby by John Denver: especially suited to those of us Coloradans who've come down under, but applicable to all who are calling a new place home this Christmas.
2-Little Saint Nick by the Beach Boys: they just have a sunny feel, don't they?
3-I Saw Three Ships by Sting: to me this is a great arrangement, very bright and cheery.
4-Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano: gotta love that guitar and the horns!
5-The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir: MOTAB with steel drums! It's the best!
6-Mele Kalikimaka by Bing Crosby: what's a holiday play list without Bing! And a Hawaiian Christmas song, no less.

Any other suggestions out there, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

happy thanksgiving back

well, it's thanksgiving day already down under. of course, no one knows that here. yeah, yeah, i know it's an american holiday and everything, but it's a great one! they really should start celebrating it down here.

my whole family (and it's a huge family) is getting together this year, and we aussies are the only ones who can't come. so while i'm sitting here feeling sorry for myself, i thought i would practice our family thanksgiving tradition and say a few things that i'm thankful for.

i'm grateful for my great family, my supportive husband, beautiful and thriving kids, and extended family that are loving and thoughtful.

i'm grateful for good health (especially after a recent unexpected medical event), and i'm also very thankful for anaesthesia.

i'm grateful to a Father in Heaven who hears and answers my prayers and is patient with me despite the fact that i make silly mistakes over and over.

happy thanksgiving to everyone, and enjoy that turkey! it's expensive down here!

Monday, November 12, 2007

learning to fly

a couple of years ago i decided that i would like to learn how to draw. previously i had thought that i wasn't talented in this area (my beautiful twin sis really is) and so i thought i would leave the drawing to people who knew what they were doing. (like n.) all my life i have loved writing in my many journals and notebooks and filling their pages with doodles and various stickers, ticket stubs, and photos that i've come across in my life. and after a while i thought, "i want to draw in my journal, too." so i bought Drawing for Dummies and commenced teaching myself to draw. like most of the projects i start, this one went the way of, "i'm not good enough for this, i don't have a natural talent, so many other people are better than me, i'm not improving quickly enough..." so i stopped.
earlier this year traveltwin and i re-entered blog land and i started discovering crafting and art blogs. these people inspired me in a way i hadn't really been inspired before. i started drawing again even though i didn't feel good at it and a lot of the doubts kept creeping back in. but i had a different perspective now. i thought. "i stink at this. i know i stink. oh well, i like doing it and it's fun!" through a blog called i learned about a book called The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission the be the Artist You Truly Are by danny gregory. gregory is an artist/illustrator himself, and the book talks about pushing away all those doubts and just drawing everything. mostly it taught me to look at the objects, people, colors, and shapes that surround me in a different way. and i wasn't just drawing anymore, i was examining things. i was noticing beauty in places i'd never seen it before. and i started to like some of my drawings, even though i still think i'm not any good.
so, after showing traveltwin some pictures of my drawing, and her encouragement to post about it, here they are. some of the drawings and sketches i'm not completely ashamed of.
i'm not posting about this stuff because i think i'm getting good, or anything like that. one part of it is to encourage y'all to not stop yourselves from doing something you want to just because you think you're not good enough at it.
and one reason is to remind myself to keep going. see, i haven't been drawing lately. not for a couple of months. and now i'm starting to get discouraged about the whole thing again. so i pulled out The Creative License and i showed n. my drawings and i'm just going to get back to it. we'll see how it goes. for now, here are some of my drawings from a few months ago.
you can laugh, or hate them, or tell yourself you could do so much better (because let's face it, you can!) but that's ok! i'm just putting them out there to put them out there.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

so i'm just going to go ahead

and post, even though i have no pictures. sorry about the long absence, i've been crazy busy running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to get our house ready to put on the market (which it is now) and trying to keep it clean for showings (which it usually, miraculously, is), and looking for a new house. (which we might've found yesterday!!) so that's my life right now. more later, hopefully with pictures.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

my sis told me to

ok. i wouldn't have posted this, except my twinner asked me to. this is from the fair (they call them shows down here) and well, we just had to take one of these pics, couldn't resist. i guess i'll also post a normal looking pic, sans the green-gorilla-men-getup.

Monday, September 24, 2007

heater dies

Although spring has arrived, it definitely has it's sleepy days, and at night it seems it's just as cold as ever. Which, of course necessitates a heat source. This is especially true since the builders of homes in our area seem to have a complete lack of understanding of a little thing we like to call "insulation" back home. Yes, it's true . . . and to my mind the energy issue would have been way less serious if they had thought to actually insulate homes way back when, but then again hey, what do I know about building houses in Australia? As it is our brick abode bakes us like an oven in summer and cold seeps in through the walls and door frames in winter.

So, back at the beginning of winter our heat source of choice was a good sized electric space heater that we bought at Big W. Some of the bonuses included a thermostat and a timer. Little did we know that the timer function was not something that you could turn off, and in the days and weeks that followed we learned to deal with the slight ticking noise in the background--all for the comfort of being able to sleep at night without seeing our breath. Well, now that we've had the heater for several months the slight ticking noise has become more like the sound of a woodpecker on speed, and at some times gets so loud that I actually think there's a jackhammer in our bedroom. Well, last night I had had enough and let's just say, we won't be dealing with ticking noise any more. Ummmm, I hope it warms up soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

the best gift ever

Ok, so maybe you haven't heard of Etsy nor dared delve into the wonderful world of the handmade item . . . then again, maybe you have. One thing is certain, my dear twin sister has. That's where she found the unique Aunty Cookie ( and her lovely inked art. And while all her characters have bunny ears, (or whatever those are, I haven't quite figured it out yet,) and interesting noses, and very widely spaced eyes . . . there is something cute and strangely appealing about her art. Realism is highly overated anyway, don't you think? My favorite piece of art by Aunty Cookie? You guessed it, the one pictured above. And why? Well, it's my family, you see. There's my hubby, the boat builder, and below him is my stepdaughter who is the most ambitious teenager I've met and will soon become the world's best hairdresser, and my baby son who's favorite passtime at the moment is spitting his food at me, and me. I actually cried (ok, sobbed) when I opened this today, and not only because of the picture, but what it represents. So thanks to my most thoughtful twin sister who makes me feel like I'm right there by my family, despite being 10,000 miles away.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

spring has sprung

My original title for this post was going to be "spring is springing" but it's been at least a week since I took this picture. Most of the blossoms have given way to the little green leaves of spring. It's funny . . . I know that is going to be summer here soon. But in my mind I still think, it's September, that means back to school and autumn leaves and football season and soon there will be snow. I guess it's hard to get my brain to acclimate. One of the hardest things--not having fall leaves for Halloween! To me that's so much a part of that holiday. And the crispness of the air during Thanksgiving, and if you're lucky--snow on Christmas. I've been down here almost two years now, you'd think I would be adjusted, but I'm not.

Did anyone see the eclipse?

Did anyone catch the lunar eclipse the other night? Down here it was at its best at around 9pm, which made it very convenient for us to watch. Whenever any celestial event is going on I remember the astronomy class I took in college . . . and how much I have forgotten since then. Anyway, I love astronomy, I wish I could get one of those big telescopes and gaze heavenward for hours on end. This is my attempt at a picture of the eclipse, didn't turn out very well, but I don't have a tripod. Sorry!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

the longest scarf

i think i promised a while ago that i would post a picture of my scarf when i had finished it. well, i did finish it, about a week ago, but this picture is from way before then. so you can tell what it looks like on the needles! (how fun.) when the yarn ends are all tucked in, then i'll have m. model it for a proper picture, ok?
right now we are in the process of packing up/moving/getting the house ready to show, so no craftiness for a while. when things are settled, i'm thinking of knitting up a little-red-riding-hood for m., for a halloween costume. if that falls through, perhaps just a little red scarf. she is SO obsessed with red currently. (so much so that it's wearing off on me!)

my cute c.

i just love this picture of my cute little c. it shows so much of his personality. inquisitive, ("what's that grey thingy pointed at me?"), always on the go (he's pulling himself up on the sides of the bathtub), and easy-going, even when there's water dripping in his eyes, he just can't be bothered.
unless his teeth are coming in. which seems to be what is happening the last few days, because my little c. just isn't himself. he's crying and miserable and a different little baby. but soon his teeth will be in and he will be back to being my peaceful happy little baby. (let's hope.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

what i'm listening to now...

midlake. they sound like they're straight out of the seventies, classic rock, and i love it.

old school bob marley. i love "who the cap fits." when i was in high school i went through a major bob marley phase that was kind of crazy, and i always liked him but i got a little burned out in my later years. now i'm more into the older of his stuff.

france gall. emily over at the black apple blogged about her a few days ago, and i'm always up for some sweet french pop...

andrew bird's new album, armchair apocrypha. it's so good. i liked "the mysterious production of eggs" as well, but after a little while i got a little tired of it. this one, i think, will last and last. and how much do you like the back view of the owl, pretty cool, eh? and the word apocrypha? also pretty cool, eh? not what it means, but...
anyway, soon, a new playlist to get the singles i'm into now. but trust me about the albums, ok?

Monday, August 27, 2007

m. dresses herself, part 3

so this is m.'s idea of little red riding hood. i have absolutely no idea how she got the idea that little red riding hood wears a patriotic swimsuit and an orange tee on her head for a hood, but that's how she rolls. that's her easter basket which contains the "goodies" she was bringing to grandma, and by the way, all day long she called ME grandma, and dad "big bad wolf" and if we called her anything but little red riding hood, including shortening it to "red" or "little red" she would not respond. all day. she was really good at staying in character. maybe she'll be an actor?

Monday, August 20, 2007

why is it that...

whenever my house looks really pretty and clean, nobody just drops by. they always come when i haven't showered in 3 days and every dish we own is out on the counters and the kids have just ground goldfish into the rug and their toys are EVERYWHERE. this is when i get surprise visitors. i make a note of this because i just finished cleaning my house (at least the front rooms, which is, to me, the house.) "how nice," i was thinking, "if someone would come and visit right now." but they won't, i can guarantee you that.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

wishing it was winter

today when i woke up it was kind of cloudy and grey and i found myself wishing it was winter. (n. is probably wishing the opposite.) anyway i have a distorted view of weather. i love rainy and dismal days. so when i'm craving cold weather, here's a few albums i like to listen to. (they just sound cold to me.)

Belle and Sebastian's If You're Feeling Sinister, paritcularly the song "fox in the snow" is for cold and sad days. Jose Gonzalez's Veneer works in all seasons, but the sparseness of the guitar is perfect for winter. Denison Witmer's Are You a Dreamer? is all acoustic-y natural-ish, i'm out in a forest sounding. it works for me. The Innocence Mission's Birds of my Neighborhood. sometimes when i listen to this album with my eyes closed i think that if i open them i could actually see my breath. nice and chilly.

m. dresses herself, day two

so she didn't do a bad job today. the dress is one that nanny gave her a while ago for her birthday. but, as you can see, despite 90 degree+ weather, her obsession with tights continues. (i tried in vain to talk her out of it.) yesterday she wore her tights and a sun hat to the craft store. there were a few looks, but they don't really bother us. we're beyond these traditionalists and their tight views of fashion. :)

the library

ok, our bookshelves are in SERIOUS need of organization. i want pretty little book piles scattered (in an organized way) all over my rooms like you see in so many design mags/blogs, however, having little children who love putting their hands all over everything kind of precludes that kind of design motif for now. but i think i could do a lot better. recently the books have started overflowing their shelves, and although we have at least four other bookcases in the house besides the one pictured here, they seem to be all over and in a state of vast disarray. so, what do you think? move into a new place with built-in bookshelves? (i wish.) pull all the books off all the shelves and come up with some kind of organizational system? (i did used to work in a university library, for pete's sake), organize each case on its own? or just live with the chaos?
what would you do?

m. the author

today m. and i collaborated on a work of fiction. she came up with the basic plotline, which i fleshed out and wrote down for her. she illustrated completely on her own. man, that girl is a good artist! (at least i think so...)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

it's the wildlife, baby

From the day we brought him home from the hospital, my son has been intrigued with this stained glass panel in our kitchen. It's a rosella parrot, quite common in these parts. Nevertheless, everytime I see one I have to stand and stare a while. So I guess I'm like my baby boy, except he's in awe of the stained glass version and I'm in awe of the real thing. That's the great thing about living in Australia, there's such amazing wildlife. There's a park about a block away from where I live, and when it warms up I'll be able to see cockatoos there everyday. Real live cockatoos! And not birds that will be in a cage for the rest of their lives.

Driving around in the bush you can see kangaroos, wombats, and if you're very, very lucky, maybe even a koala or echidna. So when you're watching the Discovery Channel and all they can talk about is how many snakes and spiders there are in Australia that can kill you, just remember that there's also some very cool animals here that are not quite so deadly.

On the downside, those birds can be freakin' loud! They totally wake me up sometimes!

These are the birds of our neighborhood:

m. dresses herself, part 1

this is a post that i'm sure will become a series. m. has been dressing herself for a long time now, but i don't always get pictures, and her outfits aren't always so wild. anyway, here's the ensemble that she did herself up in today.

what my family had for dinner last night

ok. in an attempt to be honest here, i have to admit that frozen pizza is on the menu at our house a lot more lately than i would like. i wish every night could be a fabulous fresh meal, like n's cous cous a few nights ago, but unfortunately i have been repulsed by food lately. so that means that when it comes time to think of things to fix for dinner, my mind is a complete blank. cooking seems impossible. hence, frozen pizza. hopefully i will swing back into a "i'm a gourmet" mood quickly. in the meantime, i just want to say, frozen pizza is a reality around here, and i'm trying not to feel guilty about it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dinner Last Night

I love cooking, but am a beginner and always in need of new recipes . . . So here's my first attempt at couscous, with chicken in a sweet chilli sauce and a tomato and avocado salsa.

what i'm up to...

i'm knitting this scarf. (of course i'm not as cute as this chica, though.) i got the free pattern from i heart knitting. it makes me feel so good when i'm stressed out to have something repetitive like that to do. anyway, if it turns out ok, i'll post a picture of it when i'm done!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Here's my hubby as a Simpsons character. (And yes, he was consulted.)

i know i've been posting like crazy today, but...

here's one more thing. i just changed the playlist to the left, so check it out if you want to know what i'm listening to on those rare occasions when the kids aren't in the car with me. (and sometimes when they are)

austin city limits, hooray!

as a resident of a small-ish city in one of the nation's not so populated states, i'm hard-pressed to find access to good music. for me, it's all about the internet. (let's just say i'd usually rather listen to talk radio than listen to the music stations around here. and that, my friends, is saying a LOT, because i pretty much despise talk radio.) anyway, imagine my joy and surprise then, when i found that the local pbs station shows "austin city limits" every saturday night! and imagine my even greater joy when i found out who is scheduled to appear on the show this season: here's just a few of my fav's: arcade fire, wilco, the decemberists, explosions in the sky... and here is a link to the pitchfork article to find out more:

little piggy

little piggy, originally uploaded by jowrites365.

m. decorated this cupcake at her cousin's first birthday party last night. yum!

what a cute pair!

what a cute pair!, originally uploaded by jowrites365.

she's in charge!

she's in charge!, originally uploaded by jowrites365.

we went jet-skiing on the river last weekend. it was the most fun i've had in a long time!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Well, mine didn't turn out as good as yours, sis . . . but one of us has to be the cool twin, aye?
You should see the one I did for the hubby!
Miss you and hope you're doing good.

fun little ways to waste time online

hey, i've been simpsonized! i guess it's a promotion for the new simpsons movie. it's pretty funny, check out the site,, and simpsonize yourself or someone you love (or dislike intensely, for that matter.)
i also found this personality test thingy, called personal dna. here's mine:

and the link:
so have some fun and waste some time!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

icky sicko

just wanted you to know that even though it's yucky and cold and you're not feeling well, there's someone up over who is thinking of you...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

take away concerts

hey everyone, check out for really cool video of impromptu concerts all over paris. there's the shins in montmartre, sufjan stevens covering the innocence mission's "lakes of canada", and lots of other favs: arcade fire, andrew bird, of montreal, islands, jens lekman, i'm from barcelona, the spinto band, loney, dear, architecture in helsinki, and lots of others. i love the spontaneous nature of these videos, the scenes of paris and parisians enjoying or disdaining the music, and most of all, the joy that these people have in making music. and what good music! check it out on youtube or la blogotheque website, but just a warning, the website is all in french!

Monday, July 23, 2007

blue eyes

IMG_0854, originally uploaded by jowrites365.

Monday, July 16, 2007

after a very long time

so, after a long time without blogging, i saw a friend's new blog. it was pretty amazing, and so traveltwin and i got together and decided to start posting again. rather, we didn't get together so much as skyped each other, we do live on different continents.
anyway, we did just barely get to spend almost a month together, when tt. graced the states with her presence once again. you'll have to wait from a post from her to see how life in oz is going, but here's how my life in the middle of the u.s. is:

two kids are a challenge and a blessing! having been a mother for four years and a mother of two for seven months, i can tell you that two (to me at least) is better than one. i like having them both around, to interract with each other and see them love each other (most of the time.)

besides the kids there's been home improvements (which i am little or no help on, sorry hubby,) like new sod, a handbuilt (by hubby) swingset, and other stuff in progress.

lately i'm addicted to esty and i even bought myself a new ring to wear as a wedding band from a seller there! (my old one hasn't fit for a while--two kids later my fingers are no longer size 5!) i'm always up for new good music, and the list on the left is what i'm chilling to lately. i'm reading lots, trying to start doing my kundalini yoga daily again, not as interested in t.v. as i used to be, and that's about it.
maybe later i'll post something interesting, but for now, this'll have to do ya!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

together at last

the kids, originally uploaded by jowrites365.

this is all of our kids together, at last! we were so happy when the little ones got to meet.

Friday, January 26, 2007

where have you been?

Wow . . . we must get the award for going the longest between posts.

It's hard to believe it's been two years since I wrote my last entry . . . here's what's been going on. After I finished my stint in Ecuador I went "down under" to visit some friends that I met in London. I ended up getting engaged to one of them! What a friend, you might say! Now I live in Australia, I'm married, and I even have a kid!

That's what I wanted to write about actually, becoming a mother. It's a big deal, to become a parent. I read a lot about pregnancy and what labor and childbirth would be like. In the end I felt really prepared for all of that. But then I was in my room at the hospital, and all my family and my husband had gone (which is the policy in the public hospital we went to here) and I had this baby who was totally dependent on me. Not only that, but I discovered that my baby was not going to be like what they show in the cute Huggies ads. In my somewhat quixotic mind I had pictured one of those newborns that sleeps most of the day and night, eats really well, smiles a lot, and cries but a little. After the third night in the hospital with the babe screaming and keeping me and the woman who shared my room up til the wee hours of the morning, I started thinking, "Nobody told me it would be like this."

Well, it's been two and a half months since the little one was born. And yes, he still has his moments of inconsolable crying. [Ok, I'm going to get kind of cheesy here, so I apologize in advance.] But he really is the joy of my life. I've felt like this since the moment they put his bluish bloody newborn body on my chest the moment after he was delivered. And while some people would say what I experienced was a rush of hormones, I know that I also experienced the birth of a new, unconditional love for my son. It has only continued to grow.

Really, nobody told me it could be like this.