Sunday, April 29, 2012

Making progress

I managed to get a few bits and pieces done this weekend. Cleaned out the shed, got out the winter clothes and hung up a painting that'd been lying around on the floor since we moved in last September.

While sorting out the clothes I put aside some clothes the boys had grown out of to give away. I must admit I shed a tear or two as I packed them away. Sometimes I just want to stop time and keep them as my little boys forever. Of course, that would mean I would spend the rest of my life with a huge pile of Lego on my living room floor. Those little suckers really hurt when you step on them.

I was very glad to get that painting up. The scene is of Mannin Bay on the west coast of Ireland. I lived there in Ireland for four years and it was our favourite beach. It was painted by R's brother, Gavin Lavelle, who is a painter and also owns an art gallery. While he doesn't paint in this particular style anymore he does the most wonderful collages and mixed media pieces on paper and wood.

Anyway, the colours in this painting are my starting point for this room.  Green, turquoise, aqua and white. So far, we've just got the white, but when I finally get my curtains and chairs I'll be able to add a bit of colour to the room!

Hope you all have a great week.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

War stories

This is a bit of a different post but ANZAC day got me thinking. My parents emigrated to Australia in the 1950's so there aren't any ANZACs in our family background, nevertheless there is an experience of war.

My mother was 5 and dad was 9 when WWII ended. They both lived in the same little village on the island of Zakynthos, Greece.

Zakynthos was initially occupied by the Italians, whom my parents describe as not being too bad. Apparently they conformed to the cliche and were more interested in wine, singing and whistling at pretty girls than fighting. But this relatively benign state of occupation rapidly changed when the Germans arrived. My parents have memories of villages youths being killed in reprisals and of hiding in the olive groves when the village was shelled by the retreating Germans. My father's house was destroyed by a mortar but thankfully no one was injured.

Moonrise over Zakynthos town

But in the horror of the German occupation of Zakynthos there is one wonderful story:

In 1944 Mayor Carrer was ordered at gunpoint to hand over a list of Jews residing on the island. The list was presented to the Germans containing only two names: Mayor Carrer and Bishop Chrysostomos.
The Bishop bravely told the Germans, "Here are your Jews. If you choose to deport the Jews of Zakynthos, you must also take me and I will share their fate."
In the interim, all the Jews of the island were safely hidden in the mountainous villages. While the whole island knew what was happening, not one person revealed their whereabouts.
The Jews of Zakynthos share a similar history with the Jews of the Ionian islands, except that all 275 Jews of Zakynthos survived the Holocaust. The courageous actions of Bishop Chrysostomos and Mayor Loukas Carrer in helping these individuals led Yad Vashem to include them in the "Righteous Among Nations."
There is evidence that Chrysostomos actually communicated with Hitler himself, to beg for the lives of the Jews on the island. Unfortunately, a devastating earthquake in1953 destroyed all archives on the island, making proof of the correspondence impossible.
Historians do know that a boat was never sent to deport the Jews of Zakynthos and that all 275 of the island’s Jews survived the Holocaust.
The first boat to arrivewith aid to the victims of the 1953 earthquake was from Israel, with a message that read, "The Jews of Zakynthos have never forgotten their Mayor or their beloved Bishop and what they did for us."

Lest we forget.


Thursday, April 19, 2012


One of the rooms in my "dream house" is a library. I would love to have a room full of books and a couple of cosy armchairs by the window.

I don't think I'd ever leave that window seat.
Walls of book, walls of art, comfy sofa - it doesn't get any better than this

I usually like bright, airy rooms like the ones above, but with libraries I'm conflicted. I love big picture windows to read by but I also think a little bit of atmospheric gloominess just the thing for a library. Also, it can't be too perfect or formal - I need to feel that I can sprawl comfortably and read.

Drinks tray on the bookshelves - brilliant!
I think that pile of books could crush a small child - but what a way to go...
love the organised chaos
Way too formal for me but I can't go past a secret door!
All images via Pinterest.

Unfortunately there's no room for a library in our house. We are however getting bookshelves installed in the dining room. The final measurements have been taken and they should hopefully be installed in the next couple of weeks.

Bookshelves to be installed on both sides and over passageway

We'll finally be able to get our books out of the cupboard!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Boys beds

I've started giving some thought to new beds for the boys. Eoin is really overdue an upgrade from his toddler bed as he barely fits in. But as usual while there are many lovely styles for girls the selection is a bit more limited for boys. I was thinking of getting something in white like this "Drover" bed from Snooze..

But then I found this gorgeous "Oscar" bed by Incy Interiors over at My First Room. I love it! It's gorgeous and whimsical. It's also a lot more expensive than the other bed ...  I think I have to head over to Bulimba tomorrow to check it out in the flesh.

Here's a question though: what colour walls would suit? I was going to go blue/green shade and of course with a white bed any shade would suit (we have timber floors).

But what shade would suit the dark brown bed frame?

I'm home alone with the boys this weekend as R is at a conference down in Melbourne.  I dragged the poor boys to the Woolloongabba Antiques Centre but they discovered a Pac Man games table so they were happy and I actually got to browse!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Holidays

We just got back from four glorious days at Straddie (Stradbroke Island). Straddie is an island in Moreton Bay just off the Brisbane shore.  You catch the barge from Cleveland (on the outskirts of Brisbane) and 45 mins later you are on paradise!

This is the second year that we've spent the Easter long weekend at a house on the highest point of Point Lookout.  The view is spectacular.  Thanks to the northerly aspect you get to see both the sunrise and sunset from up on the whale watching tower (no whales this time of year though).

We stayed with a group of 10 adults and 4 children spread over two houses.  Lots of good company, big communal meals and happy children.  There is something so special about the beach for little kids - and mine had a fantastic time.

On a more adventurous note I went Scuba diving for the first time since 1998!  On our first morning I went out with friends. Unfortunately the swell was huge and diving conditions a bit difficult with a very strong surge and current.  I was quite nervous on the first dive but managed to relax and enjoy the second.  Saw a green turtle and a leopard shark, reef manta and gorgeous brightly coloured fish. Amazing experience and will try to do it a bit more regularly from now on.

So now we're back at work, living off the sunny memories of a wonderful weekend.  I hope Straddie at Easter is going to become a family tradition!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Missing the northern spring

For those of you who don't know, from 1998 - 2003 I lived in Europe. Mainly in Ireland but also in England and Greece. There are many things I miss about living in Europe and here are a few:

1. The seasons especially spring and autumn.

Photos by Ben Pentreath
 The thrill of the first daffodils after a long dark winter, the blossoming coconut scented gorse, the carpet of bluebells and bright green buds on trees. The spindly legged ponies and black-nosed lambs.

 And in autumn, the wonderful colours as the leaves turned.

I've been seeing these wonderful photos of spring lately. Some gorgeous ones from my sister-in-law Debbie Watkins, on the west coast of Ireland and these from blogger Ben Pentreath in England.

Photo by Debbie Watkins

2. Cobbled streets - even though they are lethal in heels, town squares and piazzas. History at every turn.

3. Getting on a plane for two hours and emerging somewhere completely different. Different landscape, food, language, architecture.

Had dinner here December 2009!   image from Skycraper City

4. Cosy pubs with open fires.

We"ll hopefully make it over next year but in the meantime I'm yearning for a northern spring...