Wednesday 31 December 2014

Last Sunrise of 2014

The last sunrise of 2014.

I'm not sure what I think about that.

Where did the year go? What filled it?

I have just over 14 000 photos that show part of what filled it. 
Glorious sunrises, even if they were greeted by tiredness. 
Birds and flowers showing the beauty and colours of nature.
A few photos of family but not nearly enough.
Amazing waterfalls showing that rain does happen.
Crazy whipped up waves and water cascading down the mountains showing that rain does happen but so do natural disasters.
Relaxing evening or morning beach scenes showing the beauty and how lucky I am to live in the tropical north.
Fun from work at Nova, fun and learning with students and experiencing everything through new eyes over and over again.
Tasty food filled with love for sharing.
Spectacular sunsets, when I could, that were cherished for their beautiful ending to a day.

I wouldn't say this year hasn't been a particular highlight but I won't write it off either. It had its ups and downs and sped by far too fast.

I've never come to the end of a year yet and thought, thank goodness it is over, and I hope I never do. There is a reason for everything and even when there are bad times, there are also good times.

I am eager for the next year, 2015, imagine that, 2015.

I am eager for more experiences, more learning, more special moments, more of the ordinary, more love, more time with family, more beautiful sunrises and sunsets and so much more.

Are you hanging out for the end of 2014 and ready for 2015?
Are you ready to seize every moment, the good and the bad, of the next year.

Do you have plans for New Years Eve or New Years Day?
We might make it to the fireworks, we might watch Sydney ones on T.V or we might sleep. New Years Day has nothing planned except probably lasagne for dinner. I will probably have a very sore toe so feet up will be how I spend my time. That is a thing I will be happy to leave in 2014, the experience of getting two ingrown toenails taken out within about 6 months of each other, same toe. Getting it done again today means I just fit both into 2014.

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Jojo is taking over ...

Hey there! Yes, you!
Hi! I'm Jojo. 
I live at the Cairns Wildlife Dome. 
You might have met me before.

I love snacks, I love people (sometimes), I love digging (and hate being interrupted) and I also like to show off! I can dance you know. I can also talk and yell, which not many are a fan of but I just like how it is magnified by my home and I don't want anyone to forget I am around either.

I think I'm pretty good looking, don't you?

Most of the time I go for the slicked back, cool dude look.

But then I do love showing off my bright yellow crest.

And for your entertainment ...

(17/12/14) This is from the Wildlife Dome, right in Cairns, when we had our last student. Jojo the Cockatoo is always a draw card especially when he is choosing to be friendly and social. Lucky he had chosen to be a people cockatoo that day. I'm not sure who entertains who though because the antics you can't see that get him to lift his wings and dance are pretty amusing.

Christmas Day ...

Well to be honest, it wasn't that thrilling a day. It dawned with a little excitement from the grown up child, Mr Sparky and a little from me as well.

 There were gifts under the tree.

The morning had a lovely glow, even with the clouds.

The lights inside also had a lovely glow, lending a little Christmas magic to the morning.

 Presents were opened and thanks were given. Mr Sparky received just what he asked for, socks and jocks. Okay, he also got a sandwich toaster for camping and a lovely green gift card for some manly shopping. I got something I racked my brain for as well, car seat covers. 

Both of us, having worked a fair bit lately, were a bit on the worn out and tired side, our batteries were flat. I headed back to bed around 11/ 11:30am and didn't see light again until almost 4pm. Sleep was maybe one of the best presents I got. Sad really. I did however wake in just enough time to put on a roast chook for dinner.

While waiting for it to cook we spent a large chunk of time playing UNO. I bit of fun and some nice time together.

The sun setting and a yummy dinner, another Christmas done and dusted. It want' as bad as I thought it would be, my second Christmas away from family, but I won't deny I missed the craziness and fun of our family Christmas. I was thankful most of all though, for the time spent with Mr Sparky. Simply getting the time to chat, muck around and be in the same place, something we don't get a whole lot of. It really is the time with people that you love that is the most beautiful gift for Christmas.

I hope you had a lovely Christmas no matter what you did and that it had moments that sparkled like ours.

New years is coming up fast and we have no plans. Actually New Years Day is the only night I don't work this week so nothing exciting will be happening, sleep again I think. What do you have planned?

Thursday 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas

My Christmas message to you ... 

... okay my Christmas messages as I couldn't decide which to use.

I hope your day is everything you wish for.

Merry Christmas 
Grit and Giggles

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Gingerbread Shapes and a touch of Christmas

Gingerbread Shapes

125g butter
½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup golden syrup
1 egg
2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup self-raising flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda

1 egg white
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup pure icing sugar
Food colourings

1.      Beat butter, sugar and golden syrup until light and creamy. Add egg and beat well.
2.      Add flours, spices & bi-carb soda – recipe says to use a knife to just mix – I use the beaters and mix.
3.      Knead gently (reportedly if you knead too much it becomes tough).
4.      Cover a baking tray with baking paper (I use two trays or three for a double mix).
5.      Roll out until 5mm thick. Place on baking trays and refrigerate for 15min.
6.      Cut out shapes & place onto lined baking trays – the dough is easier to handle when jus t out of the fridge, if it is a hot day you might want to chill again before moving shapes.
7.      Bake at 180°C for 10 min or until just colouring.
8.      Cool on trays – or as I do, transfer to cooling rack when solid/cool enough to move because you need the tray for the next batch.

1.      Beat egg white until soft peaks form
2.      Add lemon juice & icing sugar gradually.
3.      Transfer to small bowls to colour if using more than one colour.
4.      Use icing bags to decorate.

A huge thanks goes out to my Aunt for this recipe that occupied part of my morning. Between a crazy quick race to the shops for something they still didn't have and a snooze, oh and work. I can testify to their tastiness and I am sure my work mate would have too if the gingerbread stars had made it off the kitchen bench and into the car, as intended.

I can hardly believe it is the 24th of December already. Tomorrow it is Christmas day!

My Christmas Eve is calling on an old family carol watching tradition with lights twinkling in the house. I am missing having the family around and singing along but I will sing along all the same as I am sure they are. See we are still singing together. 

What is your favourite Christmas carol or song? I do love 'So this is Christmas' but then I also love many of the more traditional carols like 'Silent Night', 'Angels we have Heard on High', 'Oh Holy Night' and the list could go on and on. I also happily get on board with the Aussie version of well known Christmas songs and carols. So I am going to go back to watching carols with a festive beverage while nibbling on some tasty stars and maybe other goodies I have stashed after cooking.

What do you do on Christmas Eve? What are you must do traditions?

Also, just in case I don't get to it tomorrow, many good wishes for Christmas. May your day be filled with love, hope, joy, peace and may this carry though into the new year.
Merry Christmas!

Decisions, decisions ...

Exciting things are happening and maybe some big changes, but that would be counting eggs before they hatch and all that. This is what I wrote a bit over a week ago.

I had a phone interview that morning. This was what I wrote ... Now that was a strange experience. You miss the whole body language thing, the non verbal cues. I didn't think I would be so nervous about an interview I could have worn pjs to and no one would have noticed. Don't you hate it though when you think back and go 'I wonder if I gave what they wanted, knew what they wanted?' Well I think I must have somehow, between the nervous thinking and trying to get thoughts straight, given a good impression as I was contacted to have another 'chat' next Monday. Maybe this time I will wear my pjs and bed hair, just because I can. Then again, maybe not, I will have to leave for work as soon as I am done with my morning chat.

I'm feeling nervous and excited about the whole thing but I don't want to let anyone down, including my current job. This leads back to counting chickens before they hatch.

Now we get to this week.
Last Friday I got another phone call with good news. They offered me the job.
Now we really do need to decide. We need to decide if we want to do a long distance relationship for a while. We need to decide if I will move. We need to decide if this is the best thing and I need to decide if it is worth it for a job I've wanted for a long time. I need to decide if this is will make me happy.

Decisions, decisions ...It was something I was a bit excited about but where had the excitement gone?

Friday 12 December 2014

A Thursday in Photos

Good morning from my balcony.

Less than two weeks to Christmas Day. That makes it panic mode time, doesn't it?

I was hoping to be organised, to have gifts bought and ready to go in the mail. To have Christmas cards made to have ... done all those other things on my non existent list. It hasn't happened. I bought tyres for my car instead of gifts and have worked and slept instead of crafting. Well I guess these things are a little more important than gifts arriving in time for Christmas to family.

Plenty of wispy mare's tails there.

I've been busy with both my jobs, working everyday (except the weekends, well every second one anyway) at one or both. I've been doing one on one lessons with one student recently and it has been so much fun and so much learning, for both of us. I never knew how much I didn't know about how the English language works. Thank goodness for wifi and google.

I am trying to grasp some Christmas spirit, some Christmas fun but it just doesn't feel like Christmas here despite the decorations sprinkling the town. 

What I am however, is fascinated by this tree with its bell shaped flowers. Very apt that it flowers at this time of year. I think flame trees should be now knows as a Christmas bell tree. What do you think?

Actually there is a lot in flower now, mostly in reds and yellows. Very clever of the council that. There is the odd bit of pink about but I need to photograph that yet. So for now you get to see yellow and red.

One of the yellows is one I like and one of Mr Sparky's favourites, a golden shower tree. Thousands upon thousands of flowers cascade from the tree. A mass of yellow, all bright and cheerful. It immerses you in its yellow world when you stand under it marveling at the raining flowers.


This street is one I drive everyday that I head to Nova, so pretty much every day for the last month. I love the brightness these poinciana bring. The funny thing is that when me and my bad memory of street names describe it as the street with the round-a-bouts and all the red poincianas, most people know exactly what street it is. Tree lined streets filled with flowers do tend to stick in your mind, apparently. 

After stopping for photos a few times recently, I finally managed to get a rushed 'nearly in the middle of the road' photo of red lining the street. There is way too much traffic along here for what I want, I think. Maybe I need to have my own personal traffic controller so I can get photos I want in unideal places.

Today has seen clouds gathering and this afternoon we were being serenaded by thunder. Thunder and storms are something I have missed. Last weekend saw the first 'proper' thunderstorm since we moved here and, we missed it in Cairns, as we were on the Tablelands. Mind you it was wide spread so we saw it up there. Going on forecasts I guess you could say storm season is here, something we didn't have last year. Bring it on!