Welcome to my blog.....

I guess I can say that I have spent a lot of time telling many friends and family members about my life's happenings via the internet. This is due to the fact that I have many friends and family who live all over Australia and indeed all over the world and the time differences makes email easier than phonecalls.

Feedback from a variety of these have included words of encouragement like "maybe you should write a book" not because my life is full of dramas, well not too many anyway, more so that my style of writing is an enjoyable read, so they tell me anyway. A book would be nice at some time however short stories appeal to me more at the moment and hence the creation of Blogtastical Banter.

I hope you enjoy my views on my life's situations and also situations which interest me, so sit back, relax and enjoy my ride.

Follow me on Twitter @couturechicness
My wares can be purchased at www.etsy.com/shop/CreativelyCouture

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Total eclipse of the sun here in Australia, far north Queensland.....incredible!

As life's daily events continue each an every day, I must write a few words and voice my opinion on fabulous mother nature and her solar eclipse witnessed here down under today.

Just minutes ago, here in Australia's far North Queensland, we witnessed a total eclipse of the sun as per my photo. I am not a scientist nor have any real fascination with science as such, but I think it would be a little sad if I didn't acknowledge this sometimes once in a lifetime experience and praise mother nature for her work.

This photo shows the total eclipse of the sun taken just minutes ago and oh now mother nature continues to amaze me.

I really have nothing more to say. I will let the picture say the rest. Enjoy!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

London Olympics....sending my hugs!

I think I would be a poor blogger if I didn’t write about the current Olympic games being held in London.

I admit, like many of my dear friends, the washing, ironing and general work has been put on hold whilst I catch up each morning and evening with the progress of Australia and no doubt as is the rest of the world and theirs. The achievements, disappointments and general euphoria of the games are relayed to us beautifully via our Australian journalists currently experiencing the excitement in London and clearly loving each minute of it.
Our wonderful Australian swimmers (and I have a penchant for our swimming prowess) are achieving well and we are so proud of them all (75% of the team, I might add, come from my home state of Queensland and naturally I must boast about this, especially having been a very decent swimmer in my youth. There must be something in the water here, pardon the pun). I was, however, nearly brought to tears yesterday when one of our wonderful female swimmers was clearly devastated she had not procured a gold medal but a silver. It was not the clear disappointment expressed in tears that I wanted to jump through the TV screen and hug her for but the words she spoke basically saying that she hoped that because she procured the silver medal and not the gold, she hoped her parents would still love her. It felt like my heart had stopped for a few seconds after hearing these words and oh how my empathy flowed to her. The questions going through my head was firstly do we have a family here who requires Olympic gold medals for satisfaction?

This became our family discussion and indeed the discussion of a plethora of Australian media for the next 24 hours but none of us could believe we had heard these words. Our fabulous Ray Warren, our legendary Australian swimming and general sports commentator clearly felt for her too the same way I did. After hearing the same words I did he sent a message to her via the TV airwaves assuring her she is much loved.  Me and mine came to the decision that this gorgeous young lady had clearly conjured a few slightly crazy thoughts in her mind over a period of time which she released by verbalising these words simply expressing her own personal disappointment and the need to confirm her need for unconditional love from those she loves and who clearly love her. Totally understandable.
This also lead to a discussion amongst ourselves in front of our television that evening, about how none of us could ever imagine the mental pressure these amazing athletes must have to endure and overcome to be able to prepare themselves and focus entirely on themselves and their events allowing them to achieve their very best, leaving no stone unturned.

Our amazing Susie O’Neill, a past Australian Olympic gold medallist was interviewed just previous to the commencement of the games. Susie stated that to be able to succeed as an elite athlete that you must become totally selfish in your journey to be coming an Olympian. Susie also stated that, since becoming a mum, she found it hard to look back and to remember just how incredibly selfish a person she was during  those years but that it had to be or you would not be able to give 110% to your sport.
I often wonder what that must feel like to be totally engrossed in your life whether it is an elite athlete and quite frankly I envy their selfishness. Clearly complete selfishness works and as we sit and watch these amazing human beings achieve greatness. We forget about what they have sacrificed and also very importantly what their families too have had to sacrifice to be able to support these young people in totality when one of them is being preened to becoming an elite athlete with an Olympic goal. My imagination cannot take me down that road but how I admire them all for it.

Mental agility, through life, is a huge asset to behold. It determines how we manage to cope or not with life’s curve balls and being able to cast aside mentally, things that really do not have any real weight in the grand scheme of things is a talent clearly to behold. One of mine told me that she very recently had had a discussion with some friends who are students of psychology; these students had been in a tutorial discussing just this subject, the Olympics and the mental preparation of athletes. The conclusion was that mental strength held 80% weight of an elite athlete’s preparation and physiology was just 20%.

So as I sit in awe of these amazing humans, whilst watching the day’s achievements and disappointments, I can do nothing but admire each and every one of them. Their disappointments and their triumphs must be experienced because that is what life consists of and I have no doubt that after such extreme mental agility as an elite athlete, their coping mechanisms with their future lives would be better than most of us.

To each and every one of them I wish them well and no matter what, ladies and gents, we, your admirers do truly love your work and I will continue to enjoy your fabulous achievements.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My shop on the corner

I have spent a lot of time driving in my car over the last six months, more so than usual for family reasons.

I love driving. I love plugging my phone in to my radio and listening to my personal music collection, music I love. (When my loved ones are with me, I also love them asking if they could skip that song or even plug their music supply in just for a change and yep, that is fine too. As they say, variety is the spice of life.) Yes it is true that I often break into song in my car and pretend to be Gaga, The Beach Boys, Cher, Michael Buble and so many more.

I used to work for a pathology company and was in charge of answering a plethora of phone calls from hospitals, doctors, nursing homes, our clinic rooms etc and can say quite honestly the job was very stressful at times. Theatre rooms calling to order more blood urgently ‘stat.’ The process of making sure you had the correct patient name, date of birth etc, relaying that info to our cross-matching lab and getting it to that hospital urgently was a real challenge. Some days it seemed that everyone in the city needed urgent blood and the end of my shift was very welcomed. I often looked over to our courier department which was just across the corridor from our nurse’s station and thought how nice it would be to be in a car and picking up pathology products from clinics, hospitals, surgeries etc and not have to deal with the urgent medical side of my job. I have digressed..

These many many trips over the last six months brought me day after day passing a particular shop on a corner which is quite dilapidated but at the same time quite appealing. Quirky, eclectic are certainly words I would use to describe this shop. It is dark brown in colour, two storeys and has a wonderful large window in the front of it allowing us to view the contents. It is a book shop but not just any book shop. It sells antiquated books including military and historical books and I am sure many others. The shop has what appears to be living quarters attached to the rear of it, also looking like they need a bit of love but I guess this is clearly what makes it look more appealing at the same time.

As I sat in my driver’s seat, day after day, taking the same route taking me past this shop, I would often imagine myself (and still do) as the owner of this lovely eclectic shop. However I am not selling military or historical books. No, I am selling my lovely handmade wares; my lovely up cycled bling denim handbags (made from preloved jeans I source from our charity shops); my hand made cushions; my hand made cards featuring gorgeous origami dresses and ladies in gorgeous hats; my hand painted coffee mugs and tea pots lovingly painted with designs which make my heart sing. These are the items adorning this lovely shop as I stand behind a small but welcoming counter, fussing over the appearance of my shop and ensuring that visitors feel very welcome and always greeting each with a smile and welcoming words.

My dream expanded with the idea of having the shop not just as hand craft shop but also as a cafe where people could come, admire and relax, have a cup of tea or coffee (yes, served in my hand painted mugs and tea poured from my hand painted tea pots) accompanied by some fabulous home-cooked food of their choice.

Naturally this leads me to needing to dream about the cafe menu. What would it include? Cooking has always been a huge part of my life and I have developed some fabulous recipes over the years, I have tried and tested recipes found in my plethora of cook books, as well as recipes which have been handed over to me from friends and family. In fact I am about to commence my third recipe book of hand written recipes I continue to accrue and which my girls continually debate amongst themselves as to who will acquire which book when I am no longer walking God’s earth. I take all of this in good stead naturally hoping that this event will not occur for a long time yet.

Back to that menu....I couldn’t possibly commence my menu without scones, jam and cream which are always a winner  with a lovely hot cup of tea or coffee and I can admit that I have a fabulous recipe for scones which rise so high they nearly touch the clouds. I would even attempt to make my own jam with berries which were in season. Next would have to be chocolate cake. Not just any chocolate cake though. It would be my chocolate and orange cake with genache.  An entire navel orange is cooked then processed, skins included to give this magnificent cake a flavour to remember and my oldest has often requested it as a birthday cake and yes, has even requested it for her eventual wedding cake. My youngest has become the best bruschetta cook so I am hoping she would allow me to follow in her footsteps and include it as some savoury offerings into my menu. I wouldn’t be happy if I failed to include some gorgeous finger sandwiches made with the freshest bread, delivered each day (oh now I must consider finding a baker who delivers maybe?) The fillings for these would include my chicken with tarragon mayonnaise; tabouleh and lovely leg ham; sundried tomato, walnut and ham; smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill and for those vegetarians and royalists good old cucumber sandwiches would be fun too. There, I think that would do.

I would ask my gorgeous loved ones to help me out on those days they could spare me. They are both great cooks and very attractive and would be nothing less than a huge asset to my dream. I think I would make the tablecloths and put my helpers in gorgeous handmade aprons. These would not be able to be too over the top and I know they would like to be included in the choice of fabric.

A dilemma whilst dreaming was if I should also offer classes in craft making? Well clearly I would need someone to manage the cafe/shop section whilst I tutored my classes. Yes, good idea. These would include basic knitting and crocheting leading to advanced classes. Basic sewing then leading to creating cushions and I may even touch on basic clothes such as pyjamas and shorts (it is quite a while since I constructed lined blazers and skirts –this was all during my pre-mother days and some time ago.) Anyway, that would be a good start.

Yep, I like this dream very much. Life would be very busy but fun too. May be I would build the business up so well that reservations would be required for this very busy cafe. Wow, reservations......that would be amazing.

That very important name for my shop, well it would have to be Creatively Couture, my current business name. I thought long and hard about this name prior to my decision and I think it sums up my work beautifully.

You would all be most welcome. Please come along with a good heart, the willingness to have a good giggle and a chat if you would, and I hope it would be a place you would enter possibly with a few of life’s troubles niggling in your head but then leave with those troubles feeling a little lighter. I hope a smile would adorn your face along with the memory of having had a wonderful experience and wanting to return soon. That would be my dream for all of us at my special shop on the corner and you have to be able to dream.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Find the creative you and turn your lows into highs

Every one of us is tested off and on through life and I am no exception. Over the last five months a loved one has been faced with a grave health situation which caused our lives to be turned upside down and quite frankly I felt my life had come to an abrupt stop. My brand new business had to be put on hold as this young lady is 100% reliant on me for the time being and that is OK. Hospital admissions followed by discharge then second daily blood tests which turned into us spending six hours each of these days waiting for blood results and future medication instructions was our life for the first three months of this year. It has basically been this way now for five months now but we are used to it I guess.
Through these months her health concerns continued but I knew that I had to have another focus because we had started to feel a little low as she could not study nor work either as she was so unwell and we have no idea how long she would be under this “medical microscope.” I can certainly say that if it wasn’t for my creative side, I would have suffered. I have always been a very keen crafter and cook and love these so so much they both make my heart sing and this has been my saving grace. My teenager had never ever shown any interest in craft and in fact I know she would agree that she found craft possibly the lowest thing on her list of things I find incredibly boring. However, after months of nothingness except hospital visits and medication changes, I suggested I teach her to crochet and to my amazement she took me up on the offer. I was so impressed with her change of heart. So she now knows how to crochet. The blanket she is creating is still a work in progress but that is OK too. You see, anything is possible.

With her happily occupied with her new creativity, I went back to stocking up for my new business www.creativelycouture.aradium.com and I am more than happy to continue to sew and stock up until we have a more definite medical outcome and I have time to spend more time on my business, finding stockists etc. On one of my 'not so great' days I sat in front of my computer and googled, trying to find somewhere, anywhere to possibly stock my wares which I thought was going to be an impossibility due to my mental attitude. How wrong I was. I have found a fab shop where I rent a space each month and that makes my heart sing. All it took was a simple email and hey presto!

It was while signing the contract for this shop space that the owner and I were chatting and I was singing the praises of this fabulous shop which supports us, the local artists and it was she who suggested that she felt that if more people were creative that possibly mental health problems would be less and I absolutely agreed and so too did my “new to the craft of crocheting” daughter. I truly believe this.

Now by being creative I don’t mean to go and buy yourself a kiln or sewing machine or easel and become Andy Warhol overnight. No, I simply mean I know we all have some creativity in us and we just need to find it. What makes you smile? Gardening, painting, drawing (even stick men), writing a blog, reading, cooking, dog walking, maybe sounds like you? These are all signs of creativity in my opinion. Sitting alone in a house/apartment day after day is not good for your mental health, research has proven this. I rented an apartment many years ago and lived by myself and I know it was the loneliest time of my life, so I am speaking from experience. Even living with friends/family and just working to pay those bills, in my opinion, is not living. We all need to have interests, each and every one of us. Creativity makes my heart sing and I know always will.

So for those of you out there who have just been ‘hit’ by some gut-wrenching news or just feel that life is just not what it should be, that nothing seems to make your heart sing, hang in there. Life can get better but you need to help find that positivity by finding your creative side and then get moving, literally, because no one can find it for you but you. Going for daily walks is great. Too lazy or just couldn’t be bothered to go for a walk......make the effort, please. You will not regret it. If you are living alone and feel low, find someone to apartment-share. If you have just lost the love of your life recently, yes feel sad for a while but please get out there and do something positive.   

I know your creative side exists. Only you can find yours. It is there somewhere. My daughter who detested craft found hers. Make an effort and free up those concerns about life. There will always be clouds in the sky but we need them to allow us to appreciate the better days and make your heart sing just as mine does, it may be a little off key some days but that is OK.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

An ultracrepidarian I am not, but I know one or two

Growing up I was never really into my English classes nor reading and so my appreciation for the English language didn’t rate very high at all in my world back then. My father, however, has a verbal repertoire which would have challenged William Wordsworth if Wordsworth was still with us.

My father, having grown up in South Australia, is often mistaken for English gentry due to his pronunciations of particular words. South Australia is the state where the English gentry settled and it was a “convict free” settlement when Australia was 'invaded' by the English. I grew up being corrected often with my Queensland pronunciations of certain words. For example, dad pronounced the word ‘castle’ as if he had been educated at Oxford, England, and so his pronunciation was ‘carsel’ where as the good ol’ Australian accent simply stated it as 'casel,' much to dad’s annoyance. He would state that we were going to a ‘darnce’ where I would say dance etc. A rockmelon fruit to us was just that, a rockmelon. However a South Australian would call it a cantelope. A school case or bag to Dad was known as a port and so it went on. Back then and to this day, friends will ask me if dad is English by birth due to his fabulous Oxford accent to which I explain the first settlement story to them.

Apart from his correct pronunciation of the English language, he is also a fabulous orator along with a magnificent wordsmith. I am sure that if you walked into his abode today and peruse the various magazines and newspapers containing crosswords that not one would not have been completed by my father.

It was not until later in my life that I started showing any real appreciation of the language which clearly Dad had grabbed on to at an early age. I commenced writing letters etc to which Dad commended me on my writing prowess and is one of the reasons I now have this blog. Regardless, I think I have come of age now and can now exclaim with pride that I currently have three books I am currently reading  and my blogtastical banter has given me the freedom to exercise my talents of writing which clearly did not arrive until fairly recently.

I have clearly inherited Dad’s love for words. All through my life and particularly during my schooling I would approach Dad for some assistance with regards assignments etc. He would always captivate me with his responses which would always contain at least one word which I had no idea meant. Feeling inferior, often I would simply nod and thank him for his help and hope that by the time I reached my study desk, I could hold that word in my head long enough to clamber through the dictionary and find not only the word but also the meaning and hence be able to complete the entire conversation we had just had together which would then make sense to me. I think it was from these ‘get togethers’ that finally, I realised there was much to learn when it came to my native tongue and that I should really show more appreciation of it by learning more about it.

Consequently, as my girls have walked through their years of education, the two books which I purchased when they were very young were indeed the Concise Oxford Dictionary and the accompanying Thesaurus. These two books still adorn my bookshelf and always will until I am some ‘six foot under.’

It is just recently that I too have commenced the challenge of crosswords in my local newspaper which apparently makes me a cruciverbalist. I do so enjoy the occasional medical question which occurs sometimes and which I usually have the answer to due to my nursing background. One beauty which is not found very often at all is the word choleduchojejunostomy which is a surgical procedure of the gastrointestinal system which I learnt in my nursing days but is seldom used now but I hold on to regardless. Regardless, to be brutally honest here I have a very long way to go to even becoming remotely close to Dad’s talents but that is OK. Words like belligerent, sanctimonious, ultracrepidarian are just a few I do so love to use when I can. Autolatry is one word some may currently use to describe me as I type this blog.

Regardless, I hope that I never grow tired of improving my English vocabulary. As my darling grandfather would often say to me, ‘every day you learn something which you should file away for future reference.’ How true this statement is. So clearly I have not only my wonderful father to thank for my newly found talents but also Poppa for forecasting what I do so appreciate....the magic of words and how I do so love to refer to those extra special ones on a regular basis.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Self-praise....it should be mandatory

Oh wow, photos I can hear you say. Yes, I know, I tend to just write my blog without any photos. I figure that my Lady Lou Lettuce blog has enough lovely photos in it. However, as I have found another love in my life, sewing, I have decided to share my wares with you all. I am now selling them on EBay.

This love commenced after I sat down a week ago and created some very much needed cushion covers for our sofa. The little beauties have turned out better than expected and consequently I cannot stop sewing!

I have found a wonderful shop selling gorgeous quilting fabrics and I am using these for my creations. Yes the fabrics are a little more expensive to purchase than your average fabrics but worth it in the end. Aren't they gorgeous! As an added bonus, I have managed to perfect my zip insertion technique too and for the first time have decided to use piping on my cushions. All in all, things are great and these gorgeous creations have already started to sell in just 24 hours of being on EBay. Life is good. Interested? You will notice them in the "Home Decor", "cushions" section as they will always be propped up on my cream sofa chair as per above as you scroll through the cushion section on EBay. Overseas readers....if you are interested in them, let me know by sending me a comment via below comment section.

They can be found on EBay

Have a great day :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

That makes cents

I guess it is because of the past three years and the economic climate, every time I download a newspaper or walk past one in the news agency, the headlines seem to be topical of this economic climate. Let's face it a country can't survive without trade, tourism etc and being a proud Australian has shown me that regardless of how small, young a country is, good economic policies leads to a wealthy country and Australia is certainly right up the top of that list.

I pride myself on having taken my own advice early on and set up savings bank accounts for the girls with regular direct deposits into them. Last year my eighteen year old travelled overseas instead of presenting herself at the annual schoolies event and her savings account was her saving grace for her overseas spending monies. Actually she took far too much of the princely sum of money I had managed to save for her but as I told her, once it is gone, it is gone and therefore future savings would be her responsibility.

My youngest is 'in the same boat' with a nice little bundle but has decided to do the schoolies thing instead of overseas travel (she accompanied us overseas not so long ago and I think she is a little 'over' it for the time being.)

I was recently at lunch with some girlfriends and we we were discussing our children and the road ahead for them. I mentioned the savings accounts to them and they both commented on what a great mum I was to initate the savings. I honestly didn't think much of it back when I signed them up so I patted myself on the back for my efforts.

I often joke around with my own girls about probably not being able to leave them too much financially when I am gone. My jewellery collection will probably have to suffice which interestingly my youngest informs both myself and her sister that she would prefer my collection of hand-compiled cookbooks instead of the jewellery (yes I am a very keen cook and I am thrilled my girls have caught my 'bug'). At this point my eldest 'chimes in' and states that she too would like the recipe books. I advise them that they will just have to work that out for themselves when I am 'gone.'

The experience of being a single mum for a number of years back then, and needing to have a meeting with our then bank manager and explain to her that it will be 'me' that she will need to communicate with in future due to my ex jumping on a plane and heading back to his motherland, apparently because I just wasn't giving him enough attention (his words to the marriage counsellor, not mine) and so ending our marriage. The bank manager's response was that she always liked me more anyway, to which we both giggled like school girls, shared a cup of coffee whilst she attempted to console me and help me hold back my tears and she and I became great mates. The tears are well and truly gone I can assure you. So whilst my marriage had ended, this time was also the most character-building time of my life and I am not just saying that. It is absolutely true. I grew so much as a person and as a female some days I do feel I can take on the world.

So I managed to be able to put aside these savings for the girls which would be no more than enough to be able to assist on the purchasing of maybe a decent second-hand car, maybe but that is okay. Knowing how financially tough things are out there I also yearn to also be able to leave them well 'cashed-up' when I am gone, and wouldn't we all want the same for our children? However I know that, from my own personal experiences, having to strive for your money and ensure there is enough to pay those bills and to also have some set aside for those rainy days, makes us all the more appreciative of our purchases.

I reassure myself at these reflective times and having been able to give them a good education for which I do expect them to work hard toward a good occupation. I explain that this will allow them to fall back on their education/degrees no matter what they are dealt in life, and this is possibly the most valuable asset I can leave them and yes I am very satisfied with that. No I think that I can remove the word 'possibly' from that last sentence.